Hi guys...What about the carvin "Tone navigator" (Gambale preamp)? I'd like to "hear" your opinion...I'd like to buy it and use with a Ts100 Tube power amp, oberheim rack effect and a 2x12 cabinet (carvin)...
I've never played the TN100 preamp, but I did own a TS100 power amp for a while.
What I liked about it: cost effective, durable, some unique features (ability to bias each channel separately for 6L6's and EL34's, ability to bridge two 50w channels into 100w mono), chrome finish looks killer
What I didn't like about it: Tone was okay, but not stellar. The amp struck me as being a bit cold and sterile--just sorta uninspiring. Volume pots had an odd and kinda useless taper.
I sold it and bought a Randall RT2/50. Best guitar-related decision I made in a long time.
I bought the TN100 along with the TS100 power amp and eventually returned both units.
The TS100 had EL34's in it, but before I sent them back, I did try the TN100 with my Boogie 50/50 (6L6's) and didn't notice a huge difference...
I remember writing a small review of it...so here's what I wrote...
Carvin TN100 Tone Navigator
First off, this is one of the coolest LOOKING preamps I've ever seen....chrome with blue LEDs... Very attractive and unique.
This preamp has incredible cleans and the most crystal clear high gains I think I've ever heard.
You can literally hear every single note when you are playing chords with total distinction, even when the gain is cranked to the max.
Now, speaking of cranking the gain to the max, this seems to be the only downfall that I can find with the preamp.
The gain controls go up to 64, but it seems that if it were to go to say, 75 it would be enough to please me.
To proclaim itself as the "Tone Navigator" I guess they decided to plot a course away from truly usable super hi gain to please the metal players. If I were in a classic rock band, this is definitely the preamp I would jump on, but for my needs (see this link for my bands for audio samples) the TN100 just can't seem to cut it. It gets me 90% of the way there but falls short in just over the top gain for that extra kick I need to make leads sing.
This unit does have an amazing EQ section that is very responsive and offers tonal control that's not typically found in any other amps or preamps.
The effects that are built in are decent for a tad bit of color here and there, but for the most part, I think I would still want to use an outboard effects unit. The reverbs are quite nice on the cleans though, nice flange tones as well.
I had a Carvin Quad-X preamp a while back and found that it also lacked in the high gain section but sounded incredible otherwise, so here's a note to Carvin.... GIVE US MORE GAIN!!!
Considering that a lot of the guys on this board are more into the Vai / Satriani soloish like tones -- the TN100 is a great piece... It just falls a tad bit short on the high gain crunch that I would need for the music my band does.
If I ever play anything a tad bit lighter than what I do now, it'd be amazing and I'd recommend it.