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Albion AG10

August 17, 2011
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imgLike its larger siblings, this single-channel 10-watt 1x8 combo200 practice amp combines a hybrid high-voltage FET/12AX7 tube preamp with a constant-current solid-state power amplifier designed to emulate all-tube performance. The controls are simple and straightforward: Volume, Gain, Treble, Middle, and Bass, along with a Drive switch that significantly increases the gain. There are also two 1/8" jacks for connecting an audio playback device such as an mp3 or CD player, and for listening with headphones rather than the speaker. The power cable receptacle and external speaker jack are located on the underside of the amp chassis, facing down.

Although billed as a practice amp, this little titan gets surprisingly loud on both clean and distorted settings, and could easily hold its own in a moderately loud rehearsal or even performance setting. The three tone controls sweep a somewhat limited but tasteful range, and in combination with the Volume and Gain controls allow you to dial in sounds ranging from solid-state clarity to varying degrees of crunchiness—and engaging the Drive switch with the Gain control up past halfway pushes the amp into imgdeeply saturated distortion. The AG10’s weakest component is definitely its diminutive speaker, which can get somewhat harsh and boxy sounding as soon as the amp is turned up very far, though it is still more than adequate for practicing. Connect the AG10 to a cabinet containing a larger speaker via the External Loudspeaker output, however, and the sound improves dramatically. For example, when connected to a Rivera 1x12 cab loaded with a Celestion G12H, the sound smoothed out considerably, and I was able to get almost Polytone-like clean jazz tones, toothier and better-defined crunch tones, and fat, singing distorted tones. With the Gain control cranked and the Drive switch engaged, I was even able to elicit quasi-metal rhythm chunk-a-chunks and searing solo sounds. The only bugaboo was that it had a distinct “paint” smell when first removed from its box, and it took a while for it to fully dissipate.

Moral: The AG10 makes a perfectly fine practice amp as is— and it doubles as an inexpensive, relatively versatile, and loud amp head when needed.

More from this Roundup:

Albion AG10, AG40DFX, TCT 35, and TCT 50
AG40DFX
TCT 35C
TCT 50

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