B-52 AT-112

The heaviest combo in the group, the AT-112 also delivers the heaviest sounds. This stout combo offers independent tone controls for its Clean and Overdrive channels, and it also packs a highly effective global Low Res control that you can deploy to increase the low-end mass on both channels. The AT-112’s 66-plus pounds makes it a pain to carry for any distance, and the included casters are a big help. This amp is also fan cooled, and is the only one in the bunch with this tube-life extending feature. Speaking of tubes, one major annoyance is the difficulty of accessing the power tubes, which are located behind the output transformer. Arrgh!

The AT-112 delivers fairly flat sounding clean tones—not bad, but not great—and without a Master volume for the Clean channel it’s not possible to get low-volume grind from this channel. In fact, the sounds remain quite clean until the Volume is cranked to the halfway mark (read loud), and going past this point to obtain a good crunch tone could be too blasting for many situations. The reverb is okay sounding, though its decay is more boingy than smooth. Also, at higher settings where the effect sounds best, I encountered occasional feedback—possibly caused by a microphonic tube.

Switching to the Overdrive channel makes clear the AT-112’s raison d’être, which is to rock. In this mode, the amp is in a class by itself, as it pours out wicked distortion. The AT-112 delivers very modern-sounding high-gain tones, which are easily summoned by turning down the Middle control, jacking up the Bass and Treble knobs, and then using the Contour control to dial in the lower mids for maximum thrust. The resulting tones are deep and growly with a massive saturation quotient and plenty of low-end chunk. You can ace a lot of cool metal tones from various eras by just messing with the Middle and Contour knobs, and the AT-112’s proprietary speaker dishes out the ballsy sounds at high volumes without losing tightness or focus. It holds together extremely well with drop tunings, and even at bedroom levels this amp’s girthiness is downright impressive. Not so long ago, you would have had to shell out way more money to get an amp with such superb overdrive characteristics. The AT-112 is best suited for rock and metal, and if that’s what you’re after, it certainly delivers a lot of bang for the buck.