Another NAD - DSL1CR (the ultimate bedroom map?)

Vinsanitizer

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Going against my own principles during these "mega-inflation" times regarding spending money on gear, I've been on the hunt for local deals and finding some cool things. I picked up this new DSL1CR yesterday for $50 off retail. Once you give it a chance, you just might get hooked.

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The tubes are: 2 x ECC83 (12AX7) for the preamp, and 1x ECC82 (12AU7) for the power tube. Seems pretty amazing to me that they're getting what is essentially, a low-gain preamp tube to suffice as an output tube. Then again, perhaps this is common in audio amps?

Upon first plug in, I checked the clean channel. It's ok, just one knob and that's it. The DSL clean channel was never a proper match for the gain channel(s), IMO. But it's there if you need it, and it sounds good with proper EQ'ing. It breaks up early, so if pristine is what you want, you'll have to keep it way down, and/or roll off your guitar volume.

The gain channel is the "Ultra" channel of the DSL line, which means GOBS of gain... too much gain. As with all DSL's, the Ultra channel control reaches full useful saturation at about 12:00. Beyond that, you're just adding more fizz and it gets pretty mushy. At first, I really didn't like the high-end fizz it had, but just lowered the gain as low as I could without losing too much sustain.

With moderate gain and the volume up around noon or more, the speaker will start to fart out a bit if you're palm muting. There also seemed to be a slight buzz in the speaker too. I hate dealing with buzzy combos, but I opened it up anyway to have a look inside. Sure enough, the speaker screws were a bit loose, so I tightened them about 1/4 turn each. Then I remembered I had a brand new EH-7025 (12AX7) laying around, so I popped that in V1 as well. I fired it back up again, and BINGO! Much of the fizz is gone, the lows are tighter - less mushy, and the midrange is very musical. For that reason, I just went ahead and ordered more EH-7025's for my other Marshalls, before those prices go to unobtanium.

The general voicing of this a bit unique, in that, it has a definite Marshall midrange voice almost like a vowel, with a lot of midrange harmonics. (You can get blooming feedback at about 3+ on the volume if you're close enough.) The EH-7025 tightens everything right up, and brings that out even more. When it warms up after 5 or 10 minutes of playing, you will feel and hear that there's a certain "chewiness" to the tone, which gives a bit of bounce to the strings, especially the G, B & E when soloing. It makes you want to dig into the notes and pull out some dynamics.

For a 1 watt combo with an 8" speaker, you can't expect a lot. It sounds great, but it's not going to exhibit full-on low bass (in fact, there really isn't much low-end to speak of), but it still does sound great for what it is. Running it through my 1960A 4 x12, the amp really sounds impressive, as you'd expect; it does not sound small at all, it sounds like a full-sized amp limited to a mere 1 watt of power. But is does sound much bigger and fuller than its size suggest. If you want a good DSL for back porch jamming, I'd suggest the DSL5CR.

The low power mode is excellent. It sounds as good as it can be without the speaker going loud enough to push some air. My wife can't hear it at all in the middle of the night from 3 doors down the hall, or between floor levels. Here's how I set it for "2:00 AM jamming": Power reduction set to low, master on exactly 1. That's about the best sounding bedroom volume you're going to get from a Marshall. It'll still push the reverb, while you won't hear your pick hitting the strings if you're up close.

Lastly, the reverb isn't the greatest, but it's there and it's useable. It's a shorter hall-type, and you have to crank it for the gain channel. But when you switch to the clean channels, you'll have to turn it way down because that channel sends a ton more signal to the reverb circuit. I really have no complaint about it.

Overall:
The DSL1CR/ HR is not intended to be cranked out to its max for "garage or basement-jamming" sound, it's meant to be a really good sounding table-top practice amp, and one that you can play into the wee hours of the morning without waking anyone in your house. It'll crank up and get a bit loud (for its size) by the time the master gets up to 12:00, and by 3:00 it's going to start freaking the speaker out. But you do get full volume travel from 0 to maybe 9 (as opposed to some amps where the master taps out at 6, etc.).

Pros:
-Great sounding, low-power Marshall tube tone.
-More than loud enough to jam to music from a typical home audio system.
-Has power reduction: 1w and 0.1w.
-As quiet as it normally gets (just a quiet "shhhhhhhh").
-Perfect "nighttime" practice amp.
-Has FX loop - Yay!
-Has reverb (digital) - Yay!
-Comes with footswitch for channel switching.
-Weighs only 17 lbs.
-Small enough for table top.
-Celestion speaker
-Single-ended output, meaning no bias adjustment required.

Cons:
-Not much low-end or punch to speak of.
-Stock tubes are decent, but maybe not the best. An EH-7025 in V1 tightens the top and bottom-ends from fizzes and farts.
-While the 8" speaker does sound good, a better speaker that won't fart out at higher volumes is always a better idea.
-Retail price due to inflation has gone from $499 to $599. $499 is a much better value, so it feels overpriced (but, so is everything anymore).

My settings using an Ibanez with a DiMarzio Tone Zone bridge pickup:

Classic gain channel:
Volume: 9:00

Ultra Gain channel:
Gain: 11-12:00
Volume: anywhere before 1:00
Tone Shift: (I wish they'd chuck this button in the garbage).
Treble: 9:00
Middle: 11-12:00
Bass: 12:00
Reverb: 1:00 (less is too little, more is too much).

Cheers!
 
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PelliX

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Nice score, I keep hearing good things about them!

Then again, perhaps this is common in audio amps?

No, not really, but when you only need a few mW, it fits the bill :)

I wonder what would happen if you fit it with only ECC82's....
 

Georgiatec

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Welcome to the 1 watt club Vin. I used to have a 50th DSL head, which had a different valve compliment to the DSL1r's. I found I didn't need it though as I already had JTM, JMP and JCM 1 watters. Try messing about with the ECC82. I found using one with unbalanced triodes can produce a much more harmonically rich tone at higher volumes....not always, but the right one can sound great.
 

Ufoscorpion

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My personal opinion is if you take a super lead for example and use a quality reactive load that capable of handling the power there’s your bedroom amp and stadium amp aswell , everyone’s a winner . There are no restrictions anymore .
 

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