Review: Yamaha THR10X High-Gain Modeling Amp

ONE OF THREE NEW ADDITIONS TO THR series of amplifiers, the THR10X was designed to provide “extreme high gain” tones in addition to less stack-like sonorities.
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ONE OF THREE NEW ADDITIONS TO THR series of amplifiers, the THR10X was designed to provide “extreme high gain” tones in addition to less stack-like sonorities. Smaller than a breadbox, with a modest 10-watt output (5 watts per side stereo), this amp is nonetheless a robust little beastie with a surprisingly big sound. The THR10X employs Yamaha’s proprietary Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) to emulate five channels from three amps, reverb, delay, and modulation effects. The amp is powered via an included AC adapter or eight AA batteries, and you’ll know when it is on thanks to the Virtual Tube Illumination emanating from behind its metal grill.

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The excellent amplifier models include Power I and II, Brown I and II, and Southern Hi— along with a Fender-like Clean setting, a Bass amp model, and Flat response (ideal for playing audio from a device connected to the 1/8" Aux input). The Effects control lets you select varying amounts of Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, or Tremolo, and the Delay/Reverb control does likewise with Delay, Delay/Reverb, Spring, and Hall. Although all of the effects sound great, Hall is possibly the best-sounding onboard digital reverb program I’ve heard. Additionally, there are wide-ranging Bass, Middle, and Treble controls, Gain and Master volume controls, and an Output mixer for balancing the Guitar and Aux/ USB levels, which are routed to either the power amplifier or the 1/4" Headphone output. A Time/ Tuner button is used to tap in the delay time, call up the onboard chromatic tuner, or engage the Extended Stereo function.

 The THR Editor’s user interface.

Just in case that doesn’t sound like enough features and tonal flexibility to pack into an amp measuring 14" x 5" x 5", you can connect the THR10X to your computer with a USB cable and use the free THR Editor software to access a full range of parameters for each effect. It also gives you an additional type of reverb (Plate), and both a flexible Compressor (Pedal and Rack versions) and a Noise Gate. The THR Editor mirrors the amp in real time, so you can immediately audition any changes made, and storing your edited presets to either the software library or directly into one of the amp’s five onboard User Memory slots requires only a single button push. Finally, the THR10X transmits and receives audio via USB, allowing it to interface with audio software such as DAWs (including the free version of Steinberg Cubase AI 6 provided with the amp).

I was a little skeptical when I first fired up this diminutive amp—but the Clean setting sounded remarkably good, and twiddling the Bass, Middle, and Treble knobs resulted in a surprising variety of tone colors. It was when I engaged the Reverb, however, that I was immersed in a wondrous wash of stereo ambience, with sounds seemingly emanating from several feet on either side of the enclosure. The five high-gain models were even more impressive, and combined with the super-flexible tone controls allowed me to dial in a huge range of overdriven and distorted tones ranging from classic rock to face-melting metal. Hell, even the tuner worked well.

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Put succinctly, I was totally blown away by this amp—and that’s why it receives an Editors’ Pick Award.


Price $460 retail/$299 street


CONTROLS Amp, Gain, Master, Bass, Middle, Treble, Effect, Delay/Reverb, Guitar, USB/Aux, five User Memory buttons, Time/Tuner button.
POWER 10 watts stereo
SPEAKERS Two 3.15"
WEIGHT 6.4 lbs
EXTRAS Digital effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Delay, Delay/ Reverb, Spring, Hall, (Compressor, Noise Gate). USB port. 1/8" Aux input
KUDOS Excellent sound. Feature packed.
CONCERNS None (though a direct output would be nice).