DSL20HR thoughts?

Guitarjon

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Update: I also tried the amp with a boost:



Hi everyone,

What do you guys think of the DSL20HR? I've had mine for a year or so, got it in a trade. It's affordable and also quite popular I think, you hear people talk about this model a lot! What do you guys think of this amp?

My thoughts: it's a cool amp and I like the ultra gain channel especially. The classic gain channel is capable of some good tones but the gain pot taper on mine is pretty weird. It starts to overdrive very fast and then the sound doesn't change for a large part of the sweep. So to clean it up I have to set the gain very low and it's also a very bright channel. Still, useful but not as good as the ultra gain channel.

The high gain channel sounds cutting and nicely saturated with a fairly thick bottom end and nice raspy mids and highs that do a great job at cutting through the mix. I'm not a fan of the toneshift knob so I never use it, it's just waaayy too scooped.

The reverb is fine but very subtle imho, would have been more useful if you could make it sound more strong.

Overall it's a fine amp with some flaws as I mentioned. The tone is cool but not classic Marshall or comparable to a more expensive boutique amp. It's a great amp for beginners or folks who just need a simple rock amp but don't expect it to do classic rock well imho.

Here's a little review video along with some tone demos and such:

 
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fitz288

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Hi everyone,

What do you guys think of the DSL20HR? I've had mine for a year or so, got it in a trade. It's affordable and also quite popular I think, you hear people talk about this model a lot! What do you guys think of this amp?

My thoughts: it's a cool amp and I like the ultra gain channel especially. The classic gain channel is capable of some good tones but the gain pot taper on mine is pretty weird. It starts to overdrive very fast and then the sound doesn't change for a large part of the sweep. So to clean it up I have to set the gain very low and it's also a very bright channel. Still, useful but not as good as the ultra gain channel.

The high gain channel sounds cutting and nicely saturated with a fairly thick bottom end and nice raspy mids and highs that do a great job at cutting through the mix. I'm not a fan of the toneshift knob so I never use it, it's just waaayy too scooped.

The reverb is fine but very subtle imho, would have been more useful if you could make it sound more strong.

Overall it's a fine amp with some flaws as I mentioned. The tone is cool but not classic Marshall or comparable to a more expensive boutique amp. It's a great amp for beginners or folks who just need a simple rock amp but don't expect it to do classic rock well imho.

Here's a little review video along with some tone demos and such:


Love my DSL20HR, the Ultra gain is why I have it.
(thanks for the video review)
20w & 2x12" will rattle the windows in my living room.
It's not a do-all, but covers a lot of bases, and it's not my only amp.
OD pedal(s) in front of the classic channel gets (me) that classic rock tone that the classic gain doesn't get to.
I like the tone shift on clean & off on ultra.
Not into heavy reverb, so the on-board works fine for me.
And, as always, EQ in the loop! (with a touch of chorus)
 

pedecamp

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Hi everyone,

What do you guys think of the DSL20HR? I've had mine for a year or so, got it in a trade. It's affordable and also quite popular I think, you hear people talk about this model a lot! What do you guys think of this amp?

My thoughts: it's a cool amp and I like the ultra gain channel especially. The classic gain channel is capable of some good tones but the gain pot taper on mine is pretty weird. It starts to overdrive very fast and then the sound doesn't change for a large part of the sweep. So to clean it up I have to set the gain very low and it's also a very bright channel. Still, useful but not as good as the ultra gain channel.

The high gain channel sounds cutting and nicely saturated with a fairly thick bottom end and nice raspy mids and highs that do a great job at cutting through the mix. I'm not a fan of the toneshift knob so I never use it, it's just waaayy too scooped.

The reverb is fine but very subtle imho, would have been more useful if you could make it sound more strong.

Overall it's a fine amp with some flaws as I mentioned. The tone is cool but not classic Marshall or comparable to a more expensive boutique amp. It's a great amp for beginners or folks who just need a simple rock amp but don't expect it to do classic rock well imho.

Here's a little review video along with some tone demos and such:


I had one briefly, its too scooped for my liking even with the mids dimed. This is typical of all DSLs in my opinion, I had a DSL50 at one time that displayed the same tonality I dont like.
 

PelliX

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Love my DSL20HR, the Ultra gain is why I have it.
(thanks for the video review)
20w & 2x12" will rattle the windows in my living room.
It's not a do-all, but covers a lot of bases, and it's not my only amp.
OD pedal(s) in front of the classic channel gets (me) that classic rock tone that the classic gain doesn't get to.
I like the tone shift on clean & off on ultra.
Not into heavy reverb, so the on-board works fine for me.
And, as always, EQ in the loop! (with a touch of chorus)

This^ (well, I don't run FX in the loop on it but in front). I take the bite out of the Ultra channel a bit by substituting V1 for an ECC823, but if you like it as is, cool. Agree on the toneshift, but I don't like the reverb much. It's weak unless you turn it up to where it adds a considerable noise floor. I have it around 5.5 to moisten the sound a little, but without the windy beach sim.

The classic gain channel is capable of some good tones but the gain pot taper on mine is pretty weird. It starts to overdrive very fast and then the sound doesn't change for a large part of the sweep.

That's ... different to mine. I run single coils in the front, perhaps it behaves much differently with other pickups, but the Classic gain around 6 gets me a bit of crunch (same with the stock ECC83 in V1, FWIW). I prefer that together with the headroom on the Classic channel over the Ultra one, but Ultra has its uses. Long story short, the Classic gain control on mine works quite linear. Have you by any chance had a peek inside and checked whether you have the wrong (lin vs log) pot in that position for some funny reason? They should be the mini green sealed type and the value is stamped on the top or back of the plastic 'shell'.

I had one briefly, its too scooped for my liking even with the mids dimed. This is typical of all DSLs in my opinion, I had a DSL50 at one time that displayed the same tonality I dont like.

Takes a bit of messing with, yeah, I know what you mean. I end up with the presence relatively high and a TS9 on the Classic channel quite often. Bass down and Resonance up high also seem a lot more pleasant than vice versa.
 

Biff Maloy

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I had one for a good while. The ultra channel, I ran the mids high with bass backed off. Cranked the master volume up to around 7 or 8 with gain around 4 or so. I thought it was a good high gain NWOBHM sound to me. I also don't buy the notion the master doesn't matter on these amps. I guess if going for a scooped preamp sound it doesn't but a high master was key to getting what i liked. My stock Flying V was a great match on this. Classic channel, again cranked, i thought the basic old tubescreamer worked great with my LP.

I only got rid of it because i just had too much gear. I already had the Origin (sold also), 2525H i knew i was keeping and an SV20H on its way as well as SC sometime down the road. I just didn't need a wall of 20 watt heads.
 

LPMarshall hack

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I borrowed my friends DSL20H for band practice a couple times. Played thru my 4x12 with Greenies. Sounded awesome. Red channel was indeed thick and meaty. The green channel didnt seem to break up at all. Is that normal for this amp? If I remember right, on the green channel I had the gain cranked and the volume up high, but it still seemed pretty damn clean.
 

fitz288

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I borrowed my friends DSL20H for band practice a couple times. Played thru my 4x12 with Greenies. Sounded awesome. Red channel was indeed thick and meaty. The green channel didnt seem to break up at all. Is that normal for this amp? If I remember right, on the green channel I had the gain cranked and the volume up high, but it still seemed pretty damn clean.
Yes. Classic on mine just barely gets a little crunchy straight in, LP 490s, 20w, with the volume & gain on 10. (just confirmed)
But juice the front with a TS, and goose the loop with an EQ - different amp...
 

LPMarshall hack

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Yes. Classic on mine just barely gets a little crunchy straight in, LP 490s, 20w, with the volume & gain on 10. (just confirmed)
But juice the front with a TS, and goose the loop with an EQ - different amp...
Good to know for the next time I borrow it. I did not use a pedal the two times I tried it.
 

SkyMonkey

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The green channel didnt seem to break up at all. Is that normal for this amp? If I remember right, on the green channel I had the gain cranked and the volume up high, but it still seemed pretty damn clean.
Sounds similar to the 40CR Classic Clean.
I can crank the Gain (to 5) on the Classic channel to get the Crunch to crunch nicely, but the Clean stays clean.
 
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nickfox

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I'm not sure I agree with some of the things being said here. The DSL20HR is not simply a 20W version of the DSL40CR even if the channels are named the same. And the reason why is because the 20HR is cathode biased and the 40CR is fixed bias.

You guys know more about this stuff than I do so please correct me if I'm wrong.

I've owned a 40CR for some time now and it's a great amp. It's my daily player. The two times I played a 20HR, I thought it sounded better than my 40CR. And it has a different feel also. So much so that yesterday I ordered a 20HR from Thomanns.

And when I say "better" what I really mean is that I've discovered that I really like the sound of cathode biased amps.
 

Kutt

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I bought one when it was first released and had problems/oddities/quirks with channel switching using the footswitch. I posted a thread on here somewhere after returning it for a refund. I've since read a slew of others have had similar issues plus FX loop issues also.

Perhaps Marshall Vietnam has since ironed things out. Dunno.

A bit later down the road I got a new DSL 100HR. Guess what? This time last year it went in for warranty work after less than 25 hours of light use. They replaced the main PC board after the tech found that the Resonance circuit went bad (sounded identical to a bad preamp tube making white noise).

That's just my experience. You be the judge.
 

WiderGates

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I'm not sure I agree with some of the things being said here. The DSL20HR is not simply a 20W version of the DSL40CR even if the channels are named the same. And the reason why is because the 20HR is cathode biased and the 40CR is fixed bias.

Hello nickfox,
you are right, the DSL20HR is not simply a 20W version of the DSL40CR.
But the reason is that the DSL20HR has a very different preamp than the DSL40CR.

The Classic Gain channel of the DSL20HR has 2 gain stages, the Ultra Gain channel has 4 gain stages. No cathode follower in the DSL20HR.
Both Classic Gain channels of the DSL40CR or DSL100HR have 4 gain stages plus cathode follower, both Ultra Gain channels have 5 gain stages plus cathode follower.

Going from DSL20HR Send into the DSL100HR Return or vice versa:
There's no big difference in sound. Feeling is different, with the DSL100HR power amp the sound is fuller, not a surprise. Do a DSL20HR with 4 cathode biased power tubes and the difference would be even less.

I have a DSL20HR and a DSL100HR and had a DSL40CR for 4 weeks.
The DSL100HR has the same preamp, PI and poweramp as the DSL40CR, only 2 more power tubes and therefore other transformers.


I hope I could help a little.
 

scozz

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I played a Dsl20 one time in a store, it was fine, it sounded like a Dsl. It’s tough to get a feel for an amp just playing it once,… and not cranked either.

But what I was able to hear, it sounds similar to my Dsl1hr. Dsl’s can be dialed in, but it’s tough to tame the red channels gain and compression, and the slightly boomy low end, imo.

I much prefer the green channel in a Dsl to it’s red channel, the red channel is too compressed and a bit fizzy to my ears. :cool:
 

Seventh Son

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I agree with everything you said, @Guitarjon. In my opinion, the DSL20HR sounds classic Marshall with just a little extra sizzle in the top end. I mostly use the Ultra Gain channel. I wish the Classic Gain channel had a crunch mode like the DSL40.

I think it’s a bit unfair to judge it by the Classic Gain channel. It’s a Marshall. Few people buy Marshalls for their clean tones, and if you are buying a Marshall for the clean tone, you’re buying the wrong amp, in my opinion. Ditto for the reverb.

I typically run the mids one number higher than where I would set them on my 6100LM, but I find that the midrange is very similar. I set the treble to 3 and use presence (around noon) for brightness. Bass depends on the room, but recently I’ve been setting it to 8 for a nice, lush bottom end through my H&K Red Box Classic.
 

johnny q

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It's funny, I am listening to a recording of a gig in which I am using this very amp - literally as I saw the thread title, it plays! I borrow this amp from our sound guy and I think it is wonderful. My tone at this gig is crunchy Marshall goodness and the cleans are not too shabby either. I want one of my own....it's compact, sounds great and not over priced.

I played it through a 2x12 loaded w/ G1230 Anniversarys and I goosed the front end with a JRAD Archer.
 


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