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Roundup: Albion AG10, AG40DFX, TCT 35, and TCT 50

August 17, 2011
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imgThough Albion was launched only this year, the joint venture between Steve Grindrod and Richie Onori has plenty of history behind it. For those who may not be familiar with Mr. Grindrod, he was the Chief Engineer and Director of Research and Development at Marshall Amplification for long enough to have designed everything from the post-plexi models to the JCM2000 series. Grindrod also served as Vox’s Managing Director and Chief Designer until 2008. On the other hand, Richie Onori is a member of the multi-platinum group Sweet, and also has had extensive experience in the musical product field.

Albion owns the factory in Shenzhen, China, where the amp line is produced, and Grindrod even lives next door to the 2,000-worker facility, which gives him unfettered ability to oversee the design and manufacturing of the entire product line. Despite his abundant experience with Marshall and Vox amps, Grindrod says he took a blank slate approach to designing the Albions, which—particularly in the TCT series—have some uncommon features, such as identically voiced channels (which differ by having pre- and post-gain tone stacks), as well as feedback and phase-reversal switches, and a footswitchable channel mix function (TCT 50 and TCT 100). The construction gets high marks across the board, and the TCT series models also feature hand-wired tube sockets for ruggedness and ease of servicing.

The models on review here cover the range of the Albion line, from the small 10-watt AG10 to the EL34- powered TCT 50. Due to the unavailability of an Albion speaker cabinet, the TC T50 head was run through a PRS Stealth 2x12. We also tested a TCT100 head, but since it has identical controls and features as the TCT 50, it’s really just a louder version of that amp. We auditioned the Albions with a Gibson Les Paul Historic, PRS SC58, Fender Stratocaster, and an ultra-limited-edition Seymour Duncan Thirty Five.

SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT Albion, (818) 888-4820; albionus.com

AG10

PRICE $149 retail/$99 street
CHANNELS One
CONTROLS Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Gain, Drive switch
TUBES 12AX7 preamp
POWER 10 watts
EXTRAS External Loudspeaker output (8Ω-16Ω, disconnects internal speaker)
SPEAKER 8" Albion AMI-G815-8
WEIGHT 15 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Loud. Relatively versatile. External Loudspeaker output allows use as small amp head. Super affordable.
CONCERNS Stock speaker somewhat harsh and boxy sounding at medium and higher volumes.

AG40DFX

PRICE $539 retail/$349 street
CHANNELS Two
CONTROLS Volume (2), Gain (2), Treble, Middle, Bass, effects Select, effects Depth, Normal/Overdrive switch
TUBES 12AX7 preamp
POWER 40 watts
EXTRAS Digital effects processor with16 presets, 1/8” Aux In and Headphone Out, External speaker jack (8Ω-16Ω, disconnects internal speaker)
SPEAKER 12" Albion AMI-G1240-8
WEIGHT 27.7 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Flexible. Good dynamic response.
CONCERNS Noisy on high-gain settings

TCT 35C

PRICE $1,079 retail/$699 street
CHANNELS Two
CONTROLS Gain, Drive, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume (channels A and B). Global controls: Edge, F’BK (feedback) switch, Reverb, Master
TUBES Four 12AX7 preamp tubes, two 6L6 power tubes, diode rectification
POWER 35 watts
EXTRAS 100 percent/33 percent power switch. External speaker jack (8Ω-16Ω). Series effect loop w/bypass and level switches. Two-button footswitch (channel A/B, reverb) included.
SPEAKER 12" Albion 80-watt
WEIGHT 48 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Excellent features. Happening overdriven sounds. CONCERNS Clean tones are a little flat.

TCT 50

PRICE $1,109 retail/$719 street
CHANNELS Two
CONTROLS Gain, Drive, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume; Shift, Smooth, Tight switches (channels A and B).
GLOBAL CONTROLS Master, Balance, Reverb, F’BK (feedback) switch, Reverb, Deep, Edge, Phase switch
TUBES Five 12AX7 preamp tubes, two EL34 power tubes, diode rectification
POWER 50 watts
EXTRAS 100 percent/33 percent. External speaker jack (8Ω-16Ω). Series effect loop w/bypass and level switches. Threebutton footswitch (channel A/B, mix, reverb) included.
SPEAKER N/A
WEIGHT 39 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Excellent features. Happening sounds. Channel Mix function.
CONCERNS None.

More from this Roundup:

AG10
AG40DFX
TCT 35C
TCT 50
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