The Engl Invader 100 amp head is loaded with EL34 tubes, people may tell you this offers more of a brighter mid and crisper crunch than an amp loaded with 6L6 tubes. If you are a fan of “classic Marshall” distortion sounds with cutting mids and crunchy gain than you're in the right area. If you're a fan of big bottom end metal, a hefty low end punch and smoother almost "fizzy" gain sound found in perhaps a Mesa, 6L6 tubes are probably more for you.
Due to the installed EL34 tubes this amp glows an attractive blue, lit up by LEDs within the casing.
This is in comparison to an amp such as the Powerball which glows red, as red LEDs equate to 6L6 tubes.
Installing a different type of tubes will change the colour of the glow.
Right, where to start regarding channels and operation, so many dials are presented to you at first glance of the Invader 100 but it's all actually quite simple to operate. There are 2 master volume controls controlling 4 channels on the amp.
Each channel has its own 3 band EQ consisting of Treble, Mid and Bass controls, a channel volume and gain control. The 5 dials per channel evidently equates to 20 dials of the many you can see on the front, so it's actually very logical and versatile.
Channel 1 - This is the top left channel on the amp and glows with a green light. This is your classic clean channel which comes across very nicely with a guitar set to the bridge pickup, not too sharp in the treble area but good clarity and good mids. It can be made to sound nicely warm with a decent neck pickup on the guitar and playing with the EQ. If you drive the channel with the gain control you can create a mildly crunchy sound akin to a driven Marshall amp with a single coil fender guitar set to the bridge position. I did find this kicked in rather quickly, especially if the “High gain” button was engaged, so it might not be a clean channel for long if you add some gain.
Channel 2 - Channel 2 is the top right channel and has an orange light. This channel features more gain than channel 1 and can be considered a crunch channel in its own right. When set to a light gain setting you might use the guitar for defining a dirty tone in music that doesn't normally equate itself to being heavy, such a filthy distorted sound in a Suede song or a nicely driven tone for playing blues. When driven further the tone becomes great for soft rock and even harder rock, it really depends what sort of music you play to determine if this is useful. Basically this is a nice emulation of Marshall Crunch, if you don’t need insane amounts of gain then start here.
Channel 3 - My most used channel, bottom left and has a red light. This channel is described by reviewers I've seen online as having "an insane amount of gain". Whilst I agree that you can dial up a very nice amount of gain I wouldn't describe it as insane, mostly spot on for what it needs to achieve, entirely useful and amazingly good. The channel is my choice for drive when I play in a band that is a slightly heavier version of Iron Maiden. When driven channel 3 delivers all the goods of a metal sound but via a bit of tweaking you can remove any present hiss and fizz to pack a bunch of balls with the sound but maintain a good level of tone. I believe one place that metal bands seriously fall down regarding tone is too much gain; they end up delivering a "bedroom" tone that falls over when used with a full band as the people in the audience can only hear high end hiss. This amp delivers exactly the correct amount of gain for a very nice heavy metal sound. I did find it mildly bass biased, but this is easily solved by turning the bass down, I play with it on 1.5 !
Channel 4 - This is what is considered the main lead channel. So far I have not played with it an awful amount but strangely I did find this channel a little bassy and in places, weirdly muffled. This channel is actually capable of delivering insane amounts of gain and can be a bit hard to control if you're not used it to. With a little obvious tweaking, such as turning the gain down a bit and upping the mids I was able to create a great lead tone that was cutting but not shrill, powerful and not too bassy. I put a line 6 pod xt live in front of the signal going into the amp and enabled a tube screamer emulator when using this channel to tighten the sound up a little, it works nicely.
The amp features presence and depth punch controls which affect all channels when altered. The presence control was especially useful for removing the high end hiss from the mix and bringing out some great tones from the guitar. The depth punch button seems to be more useful for people who want to play downtuned metal, as I tended to turn this control down to remove unwanted whopping bass from the mix. It is nice to have the control and option available however should I decide to do something a little different.
The amp also has a "bright" button on the left hand side which from what I could tell heightens the mids and the trebs slightly on each channel. It basically gives it a little bit of a different voicing. The same goes for the "high gain" button which affects all channels on this version. I used this function turned on the entire time and it adds a little edge to the gain whilst not ruining the tone. If you want gain, you got it in this amp without sacrificing the crunch of your riff or the tone of your guitar.
Overall this amp will deliver sounds all the way from great cleans, through soft rock and dirty pop, all the way past grunge and heavy metal right up to any sort of goregrind, downtuned music you care to play.
If you want to get the most out of this amp you’ll need a method of controlling the amp remotely, such as the ENGL Z9 footswitch. The Z9 is a normal latching footswitch in one mode of operation, and a midi controller in another. I really recommend using it in a midi mode, the amp will let you store up to 128 different modes of operations including holding the settings of any combination you care to place on the amp. The amp has 2 midi connections, input and thru, which let the amp be part of a series of controlled midi compliant devices or the endpoint of control via a single switch. The Z9 unit is self powered via the midi cable and is ideal for banking up to 10 presets across 2 different banks. The ENGL Z15 footswitch takes the power of midi to a another level and offers far greater flexibility to the more demanding professional featuring more banks and switches should more versatility be required.
Finally it's worth mentioning the built in noise gate that can be activated and controlled via a dial on the back of the box. At high volumes you need to turn the gate effectively up to full threshold but it will kick in and silence the rig when you deaden the strings. I utterly love this feature, everyone should have one :)
The amp is actually new so I am not in a great place to justify an answer to this yet. However it survived the trip from Germany to the UK then two trips round a delivery van where no doubt it got bounced around quite a bit. All good so far.
|Customer Support ||
Not dealt with ENGL but I would hope for a 2 grand amp if it went wrong someone might be willing to help...
|Liked about it ||
The versatility is great, you will find a tone and gain level you want with this amp.
The midi features of the amp are great, you can program in patches and switch between them without isses and it will store all the settings you need.
The amount of gain you can dial in without sacrificing tone is amazing, I will never go back to a different amp.
The noise gate is exceptional, you need to turn it up high but at concert level volume it will kick in and silence the setup effectively even with a noisey high output pickup. I got used to this feature in a single practise and I utterly depend upon it now already.
The master A/B volume is really useful and can be used as a kill switch if you need.
|Didn't like ||
There isn't anything specific I didn't like, seriously but here are a few potential conns:
El34 might not suit everyone, but I believe are better than 6L6 for tone
The price tag might alienate some people, it costs over £2k for the amp head.
The footswitch you need to control the amp from a midi perspective is not included and costs about £200 extra without a cable. Bare this in mind if you want the ultimate flexibility of midi.
Mar 28, 2010
Last updated: April 09, 2010
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