Though probably the smallest 25-watt tube head around, the new TransAtlantic follows in true Mesa/Boogie form by being decked out with hip features, all of which are accessible from the front panel. This amp looks very purposeful with its combination of wrinkle- finish paint and stainless-steel trim on the all metal enclosure. The top grille is made from stainless-steel mesh, and the front and rear panels are powder coated in a matching stainless finish.
The TransAtlantic’s control panel is divided into two sections— Normal/Top BST (i.e. Top Boost) on the left side and Tweed/Hi 1/Hi 2 on the right side. A mini-toggle switch on each side selects these modes, and below each switch is a power switch with 25-, 15-, and 5-watt settings. A switch in the middle selects the channels, and putting it in the center setting lets you change channels via footswitch. Flanking these switches are the controls—Volume, Treble, Bass, and Cut (pulls to activate a Master Volume) for Channel 1, and Gain, Treble, Bass, Master for Channel 2.
Packed into its padded gig bag, the TransAtlantic is a cute and compact affair, yet its power and build quality make it completely gig worthy for pro players. The circuitry is laid on out in classic Mesa style on a heavy duty PC board, with flying leads to the pots and the power and standby switches. The tube sockets are board mounted as well. The all-steel chassis construction is extremely rugged, and looks like it could stand up to a lot of hard use on the road. The metal enclosure is also a very efficient heat conductor and the large amount of screening directly above the tubes allows heat to escape easily.
The TransAtlantic is a dynamic powerhouse that delivers a broad spectrum of tones. With the gain on either channel dialed back, the headroom is impressive and, on the 25-watt setting, it’s easy to feel like you’re playing an amp with significantly more power. Channel 1’s Normal setting provides sounds that are Vox-like and chiming, though not as aggressive as the Top BST mode, which delivers fabulously gritty tones that have that shimmer and explosive edge of an overdriven Vox AC30. There’s lots of gain available here, so you can morph from stout, Malcolm Young-style rhythm grind to soaring distortion à la Brian May. These tones clean up well when you turn down your guitar, and the tone controls have plenty of range to cover the needs of humbucker and single- coil players. The Cut control is particularly useful for putting just the right amount of sheen on the sounds, but if you’re more in need of a master volume, the knob pulls to provide that function.
Moving to Channel 2, the Tweed setting offers a more Fender-like vibe, with the gnarly grind of a ’50s-era Deluxe easily attainable with the gain turned up and driving a 1x12 cabinet. These sounds really roar when the power stage is running wide open though a 4x10 or 4x12 cabinet (ditto for Channel 1), and having three wattage options at your fingertips means you can “scale” the TransAtlantic to the gig, instead of always having to turn down the master volume to control the level. The Hi 1 and Hi 2 settings have approximately the same amount of gain (enough for practically endless sustain at maximum settings) but are voiced differently, with Hi 2 adding more low-end for hard rock and metal tones. Both settings sound great, and even when using lots of gain, the note definition and quick response to your pick attack gives the feeling of playing a bigger and more powerful amp.
The TransAtlantic offers an amazing array of sounds that can suit everyone from blues players and country rockers to Brit-pop janglers and metal shredders. For its outstanding flexibility and tones, the TransAtlantic earns an Editors’ Pick Award.
More from this Roundup:
5 Low-Wattage Amps
Dr. Z Monza
Victoria Ivy League
65 Amps Tupelo