The partnership between Line 6 and boutique amp maker Reinhold Bogner has resulted in some interesting hybrid amps that marry digital modeling technology with pure tube power sections. Initially released as the Spider Valve series, the Bogner/Line 6 team quickly followed with the 40-watt Alchemist, Spider Valve MkII, and then the DT50, which offered greatly expanded capabilities thanks to the exclusive L6 LINK interface for use with POD HD processors. In this unique system, a single XLR cable connection allows the amp and POD unit to communicate with each other, making it possible to configure amp sounds and effects in ways that go far beyond what is possible with a standard amp/effects rig. (For a detailed recap, see our review of the Line 6 DT50 and POD HD500 in the May 2011 issue.)
The latest addition to the DT line is the two-channel DT25, which develops 25 watts from a pair of EL84s. The boutique-styled amp features neatly applied covering with gold pinstripe accents, and a black plexi top panel with lighted control labels that face the right way when you’re standing in front of the amp.
As with other DT models, the only hint of digital goods under the hood is a Voicing switch that selects between four different amplifier models: American Clean, British Crunch, Class A Chime, and Modern High Gain. There are also independent gain, tone, reverb, and volume controls for each channel, and switches for triode/pentode and class A/class AB. A switch on the back panel engages a Low Volume mode on the Master Volume (more on this later), and other features include XLR jacks for the L6 LINK connections, MIDI In and Out jacks, a series effects loop, a 1/4" line out with cabinet emulation and a ground-lift switch, and five speaker jacks to accommodate extension cabinets of various impedances.
The DT25 has no onboard effects other than a good-sounding spring reverb model, but its chameleon-like ability to replicate different amps gives it a lot of flexibility. Tech-wise, the DT-25 uses HD modeling to generate amp sounds in the preamp section, and analog circuitry (including a 12AX7) to configure everything related to the tubes. In other words, when you select between class A/class AB or triode/pentode operation, you are switching the wiring in the output tube circuit, not activating models of these functions.
The sounds available in the Voicing selections score well for sonic and dynamic realism. American Clean (read blackface Fender) gives a good sense of what a Deluxe Reverb feels like, and sounds warm and crisp with buoyant mids and nice breakup characteristics. The British Crunch setting has a Marshall JCM800 flavor, and delivers a burly bite that punches through well and doesn’t succumb to fizziness when you crank up the gain. Class A Chime is a Vox-flavored setting that offers a good representation of the grinding shimmer of an overdriven AC30, and Modern High Gain brings on tight sounding overdrive tones with gobs of sustain and good responsiveness to your guitar volume and picking.
All of these sounds can be modified on the fly via the gain and EQ controls, and the class A/AB and pentode/triode switches, which can alter the response considerably by turning say, American Clean— which has lots of negative feedback—into a jangly class A amp with no feedback and a looser dynamic feel. Switching to class A also reduces the power to 10 watts, which is useful for situations that call for less volume, or for nudging any of the amp models in a “small amp” direction when paired with triode operation.
Naturally, the DT25 sounds best when turned up enough to appreciate what the tubes are contributing, while in stark contrast, the Low Volume mode cuts the tubes out and uses HD modeling completely for the preamp and power stage. The idea of this function is to provide authentic tube vibe at very low volume, but it thinned out the sound and changed the feel too much for my tastes.
One of the best aspects of the DT25 is that you can set the channels to switch between two amp models, or between two different gain and EQ configurations for the same model. This, along with reverb on/off, can be done with an optional 2-button footswitch, or by MIDI, which also switches between pentode/triode, class A/AB, and the Voicing presets. Of course, the aforementioned L6 LINK can expand things to the point at which you might find your complete sound in POD HD (which has over 20 amp models) and simply use the DT25 for power.
Calling the DT25 a “smart amp” might be a stretch, but it certainly offers a high level of integration within Line 6’s product line. And the fact that it does so while remaining an easy-to-use two-channel combo makes it a serious choice, whether you’re someone who needs to create lots of sounds, or you just want happening clean and distorted tones for your gig.
CONTACT Line 6, (818) 575-3669; line6.com
PRICE $999 street; DT25 head $899 street
CONTROLS Both channels: Drive, Bass, Mid, Treble, Presence, Reverb, Volume. 4-position Voicing switch (American Clean, British Crunch, Class A Chime, Modern High Gain)
POWER 25 watts/10 watts
TUBES One 12AX7 preamp tube, two EL84 power tubes
EXTRAS Class A/AB switch. Pentode/Triode switch. Low Volume mode. L6 Link jacks for connecting to POD HD devices. XLR DI out w/cabinet simulation. Effects loop. 1/4" footswitch jack for channel select and reverb on/off (footswitch not included). MIDI jacks. 2x4Ω, 2x8Ω, and 1x16Ω speaker jacks.
SPEAKERS One 12" Celestion G12H-90
WEIGHT 48 lbs
KUDOS Digital flexibility meets tube warmth and dynamic feel. Great look.
CONCERNS Footswitch not included.