SE Amps - Impressions?

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by strat63, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. strat63

    strat63 The Torture Never Stops

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    I frequent a number of forums and I rarely hear about the SE line of amps. Has anyone played one of these?
     
  2. Shawn@PRS

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    I'll chime in here (my first post hooray!)

    I took a 30 watt combo home last night for a test drive and I'm extremely happy with what I heard. The two channels offer a lot of versatility. The clean channel offers enough crunch to get some really warm “Vintage” tones, while the lead channel offers plenty of gain for more “modern” tones. Overall it’s a gig-worthy amp and a tremendous bang for the buck.
     
  3. strat63

    strat63 The Torture Never Stops

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    The few demos I've heard sounded really nice clean. With gain they were a bit fizzy but that's over computer speakers. It's hard to get a good feel for the real sound. Thanks for the opinion.
     
  4. themike

    themike New Member

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    I've played one at Rudy's in NYC and dug it, and also heard a few played in my presence and they are great! I mean Emil used one during Experience and with your eyes closed, you'd never know it wasn't handwired by Doug himself.

    [youtube:2d32jzwb]wYNuiVR2zHQ[/youtube:2d32jzwb]
     
  5. ReigningGlory

    ReigningGlory New Member

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    I've only heard online video clips, but the Guitar World video seemed to demonstrate some very pristine cleans and aggressive overdrives. I would not mind owning one!
     
  6. MichaelSaulnier

    MichaelSaulnier New Member

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    I have an SE 20 Combo amp.

    It's taken a little time for me to find the tones that I like... but I'm growing to like it more and more.

    It was a little harsh and buzzy straight out of the box. I tightened up the screws holding the speaker in place, and that helped a bit... it also took a bit of playing time to start to "break-in" the speaker. But after about 20 hours of playing time so far... it's sounding smoother and less buzzy by far.

    I've also played with a 2x12 Carvin extension cab, and that worked well.

    The amp's a little big and heavy for a 1x12... but not so much that I need help moving it around.

    I really like the clean channel tones a lot... and the reverb is nice. I can use that channel and my pedal board all night if I want or have to. I often use the od channel with the drive set very low... so it's basically more of a boosted first channel... this works nicely for blues or classic rock tones, especially with my drive pedals in front of it.

    M
     
  7. gearhead

    gearhead New Member

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    I've played the SE30 a couple of times and really liked it. The clean channel is really nice and the gain channel will get some pretty heavy tones. The gain channel did have a little fizziness to it, but I think that breaking the speaker in would take care of that. If I were amp shopping, it would be near the top of the list.
     
  8. mgman

    mgman New Member

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    They were announced 6 months ago, I have been looking for one to try out but there aren't any in my area yet (Buffalo NY.)
     
  9. gag halfrunt

    gag halfrunt Big Bad Bill

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    I just wish they weren't made in China.

    The SE guitars from South Korea are such a fine product. I was really hoping the SE amps could be made there.
     
  10. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    The fizziness that you hear is from the preamp, not the speaker. The contract manufacturing engineers who took Doug's 2-Channel prototype and prepared it for mass manufacturing lost a lot of the magic of that design in the translation. I do not know if the SE circuit has been revised, but they were trying to push too much bass through the preamp on the gain channel on the early SE amps.

    With the above said, if one is willing to spring for an SE, one should reach a little and purchase a 2-Channel "H." An SE 50 sells for around $1150.00 retail. A 2-Channel "H" retails for around $1500.00. A 2-Channel "H" is hand-wired by a dedicated team of "tonesmiths" in Maryland, not built in an automated factory in China. The same high level of attention to detail that goes into every Made in Maryland PRS guitar goes into each 2-Channel. The difference in build quality between the 2-Channel and the SE is like the difference between night and day.

    Here's a gut shot of the 2-Channel.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. ArtG

    ArtG New Member

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    I just don't wanna start talking 'bout availability... :cry:
     
  12. gag halfrunt

    gag halfrunt Big Bad Bill

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    This is some of the best amp advice I've read in a long time. If you are going to buy a PRS amp, do THIS.

    IMHO, of course.
     
  13. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    Here's another "gut shot" of the 2-channel:

    [​IMG]


    All of the pots, jacks, switches, and tube sockets are chassis mounted with flying leads to the boards. The 2-Channel requires quite a bit of attention to detail to build correctly. How the wires are laid out in a hand-wired amp is critical to the achieving stable, low-noise operation (wire layout is known as "lead dress"). One poorly routed wire can result in an amp self-oscillating.
     
  14. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    Hey guys. I have the SE 30 head, and I dig it quite a bit. It was good right out of the box, probably helped that I was using a speaker that was broken in already. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the USA 2 channel... it's a nice thought, but at $900 vs $1500, that's a pretty big price jump for some of us :( Definitely a good point if you can spare the extra cash though. Anyways, it's a good piece of gear to have. The gain channel doesn't sound fizzy to me, I can roll off treble and not lose the breakup and sustain, which tends to be an issue with other amps I've owned. That effect of the gain penetrating into the lower registers might be what some people area hearing and disliking, it's all a preference thing I guess. Clean channel is impeccable unless you really push it, then it gets kinda grainy. Anyways, any sound from sparkly clean to classic rock to ripping distortion is easy to get.

    Does anyone know the deal with the speaker in the SE combo? Is it designed to sound like a V30 to mimic the USA 2 channel?
     
  15. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    The difference in price is small considering the huge difference in build quality. An SE is not a made in China replica of a 2-Channel. It is a designed to be built to a price point imitation of a 2-Channel. A 2-Channel is professional-grade piece of gear. It is built like amps used to be built back when Americans cared about quality. The 2-Channel is a boutique amp at a production amp price point. In my humble opinion, choosing an SE over a 2-Channel is penny wise and pound foolish, especially when lightly used 2-Channels can be purchased for $1K.
     
  16. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    Gosh, I'm swooning over your 2 Channel. Tell me more. :roll:

    Do you actually have anything to say about these amps that doesn't have to do with your USA 2 channel? All you've done so far is throw around terms like "hand wired by tonesmiths" "professional grade" and "built like back when Americans cared about quality." That's all hype man, come on! I agree that the USA amps are surely better, but it's not like there's a lack of fairy dust in the SE's that automatically makes them bad. If you have an opinion of them as far as tone, operation, or something having to do with a time that you actually plugged a guitar into one, I wouldn't mind hearing it. Even if it's negative I can at least respect it as an honest evaluation of the amp, not some prefabricated perception of it. But don't say everyone should just cough up the cash for the USA amp, especially if you have nothing to say about the SE amps themselves. I had to sell some gear and get my SE 30 on sale for $780 to afford it, and even that was reallllly pushing my budget. Grad school, fixed income, it's reality for a lot of players. And $1K for a used H? That's a low ball price on a used amp with no warranty, not exactly the safest buy.
     
  17. gag halfrunt

    gag halfrunt Big Bad Bill

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    Ooooh, that's a thing of beauty there. Very smart, clean layout.
     
  18. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    I do not recall seeing your user name on BaM, so I will assume that you are new. The first batch of 2-Channel amps were originally built as proof of concept amps. They were prototypes for an amp that would be produced offshore. The 2-Channel prototypes sold like hotcakes at Experience 2010, so Doug and his team continued to build 2-Channels while working with the contract engineering team that was preparing the amp for mass manufacture. Doug came up with a different configuration of the 2-Channel topology that he dubbed the 2-Channel "H." The major differences between the 2-Channel "C" and the 2-Channel "H" are the output tubes and the output transformer. There are minor circuitry tweaks as well.

    The engineering firm that PRS hired to prepare the 2-Channel design for mass manufacturing produced an amp that is sterile on the clean channel and buzzy sounding on the lead channel. One can dime the gain control on the lead channel of a 2-Channel and still hear the notes in a chord. Diming the gain control on the lead channel of an SE results in mush.

    Let's look at construction. Build quality determines the reliability, serviceability, and the longevity of an amp; therefore, it is not hype (i.e., companies that manufacture well-built amps can offer generous warranty periods because their warranties are rarely exercised). Having worked on my fair share of amps, one of the attributes that I look for in an amp are chassis mounted tube sockets. There are several reasons for this bias. First, it is much easier to replace a chassis-mounted tube socket than it is to replace a PCB-mounted tube socket, which translates to lower repair costs. A major problem with PCB-mounted tube sockets is arcing. It is not uncommon for a tube to "arc-over" and carbonize its tube socket. If the socket is attached to a PCB, tube arc-over can burn through the board, rendering the amp non-repairable without a spare board.

    Finally, I want to address your comment about 2-Channel "H" amps not being available for $1K on the used market. While the 2-Channel "C" goes for more than $1K used, lightly used 2-Channel "H" amps routinely went for around $1K on BaM. Many of us only paid $1.3K for our 2-Channel “H” amps when they were new. One could be assured that most of the stuff that one purchased on BaM was in proper working order.
     
  19. Shawn@PRS

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    PRS tries to offer quality amps at many price points. Not everyone has the money (or wants to spend it) on a 2 channel head, so we came out with the SE amps. Personally, I feel the same way about the SE amps as I do about the SE guitars, they are a quality product at an affordable price. I own several SE guitars (I own US made PRS as well) and I will soon own an SE amp. Let’s contrast PRS products to Mercedes Benz. Just because the S class is a $100,000 and the C class is only 40k doesn't mean the C class is junk, it's hitting a different price point for a different consumer.

    I'm glad you like the quality and craftsmanship that goes into the 2 Channel, we're quite proud of it as well. However, we are also very proud of our SE line of amps and hope the amp buying public will share our enthusiasm.
     
  20. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    I applaud the effort that went into the SE line. I think that the project was a good idea. The SE amp line has the potential to provide the same level of value as the SE guitars with a few tonal, build, and price point tweaks.
     

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