Albion TCT 50

August 17, 2011

imgArmed with two EL34 power tubes, the TCT 50 features two footswitchable channels with independent EQ, Gain, Drive, and Volume controls (along with Shift, Smooth, and Tight switches), a footswitchable Mix function that lets you combine the channels, and a clever Balance control that adjusts the level in “combined” mode to allow for a volume boost or cut.

The preamp section uses five 12AX7s, one of which works in tandem with a highvoltage FET (field effect transistor) in the input stage to accomplish three things: reduce noise, pump up the drive, and “provide a more pentode-like tonality.”

Another interesting feature is the Phase switch, which reverses the phase of the output stage. This is useful when using the TCT 50 in a multi-amp setup where the speakers in one amp may be out of phase with those in another, causing a loss of low end. You might also use the Phase switch to change the acoustic coupling between your guitar and the room in order to make it easier to get feedback sustain.

Other global controls that affect the power stage include Deep (enhances lowend response), F’BK switch with “tight” (more feedback) and “loose” (less feedback) settings, and Edge, which is like a presence control, but works with the type of feedback selected via the F’BK switch).

As with all models in the TCT series, the TCT 50’s channels have identical controls, but, like the TCT 35, Channel A is “pre EQ” (i.e., like blackface Fender) and Channel B is “post EQ” (like tweed Fender or Marshall). So despite having similar gain and voicing, each channel has its own particular response curve. In general, I found the best clean tones on channel A, though it can also deliver a stout distortion sound with excellent touch sensitivity. The dynamic qualities of this amp are very good and, again, the digital reverb is a welcome feature.

imgFor heavier and more sustaining tones, channel B offers more aggression and punch, as well as more saturation at high Gain and Drive settings. By deploying the “tight” setting on the F’BK and turning up the Deep control, you can concoct some thoroughly wicked metal tones. Here too, the EQ is more effective than you typically find with passive tone stacks, and Midrange control is extremely useful for getting exactly the right flavor of crunch. Depending on your guitar and the kinds of tones you’re going for, the Shift, Tight, and Smooth switches on both channels can really help to bring the sounds in focus. For example, using the Tight switch with a humbucker guitar can enhance its low-end wallop, while a single- coil bridge pickup will deliver a more buttery lead tone with the Smooth switch engaged. These functions respond differently on both channels too, so it pays to experiment.

The TCT 50 is a loud mofo when you crank up the master in full power mode, and the 33 percent setting, which drops the output appreciably enough to run the amp hard on a small stage, is a welcome feature. Albion has imbued the TCT 50 (and TCT 100) with as many useful functions as possible in order to obtain maximum flexibility without adding more channels, and the result is an easy-to-use amp that can do just about anything you ask of it.

More from this Roundup:

Albion AG10, AG40DFX, TCT 35, and TCT 50
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