This dual-channel 40-watt 1x12 combo features a hybrid highvoltage
FET/12AX7 tube preamp and a constant-current solidstate
power amplifier—both designed to sound as tube-like as
possible. The Normal and Overdrive channels each have individual
Volume and Gain controls, and share a common EQ section
comprising Treble, Middle, and Bass controls. The idea here isn’t
so much to have two distinctly different tones as it is to provide
one basic tone with two levels of gain/overdrive on tap. You can
toggle between the channels using either a switch on the control
panel or the included footswitch. There are also 1/8" jacks for connecting
a playback device such as an mp3 or CD player and monitoring
with headphones. The power receptacle, footswitch jack,
and external speaker jack are located on the underside of the amp
chassis, facing down. This shouldn’t pose any danger for the latter
two, but making it even slightly easier for the power cable to fall
or get pulled out isn’t ideal.
The AG40DFX also has an onboard digital effect processor with
16 presets. There is a rotary Select control and a numerical LED
readout indicating preset numbers, but the presets aren’t named,
so you have to remember which numbers correspond to which
effects. A Depth control blends the effected sound
with the dry sound, but there is no control over individual
effects parameters. The effects presets include
Slap (more like a doubler than a traditional slap-back),
Digital Delay (short delay with four repeats), Ambience
(resonant reverb with quick decay), Early Reflect
(short, gated reverb), Chorus, Echo (short delay with
nine repeats), Flange, Phaser, and eight types of reverb.
The selection of reverb effects is quite good, and includes
tasty Reverse and Gated presets along with the standard
Room, Hall, Chamber, and Spring options.
The three tone controls are pleasantly voiced, though
only the Bass control has much range—and it has a
nice bump in the mid-lows that provides a “loudness”
effect at lower volumes. The Normal channel produces
a full, warm, tube amp-like sound and stays relatively
clean and clear even with the Volume control cranked
and the Gain control at three o’clock. Upping the Gain
control beyond that point results in a more transistor-
like crunch. The Overdrive channel also produces
a relatively tube-like sound—particularly on mid- and
higher-gain settings—though things get a little noisy
with the Gain control much past halfway up.
The AG40DFX covers a fairly wide range of blues and classic
and modern rock tones, and I was even able to coax out some
chunky metal sounds thanks to the surprisingly deep and tight
low-end thump that ensues when the Bass control is cranked.
And the amp responded well to playing dynamics on both clean
and overdriven settings, in much the same way that a good tube
amp might. I can’t say that I was inspired by the tones, but they
were quite good considering the price.
With its switchable channels, onboard digital effects, and
complement of workhorse tones, the AG40DFX makes an excellent
choice for players on a budget, those in need of a versatile
rehearsal or practice amp.
More from this Roundup:
Albion AG10, AG40DFX, TCT 35, and TCT 50