With the introduction of the Marshall JCM2000 range of DSL50 and 100 heads, the TSL100 head and the TSL122 combo, the quintessential definition of ultimate tone and usable features has been rewritten. This quartet of great amps has now spawned a new generation of compact, lower power combo amps, the DSL201 and DSL401, destined to be classics for both studio and session/club gigs. As the names imply these amps are 20 Watts and 40 Watts respectively, but as these are true valve amps, built to exacting standards, do not let the lower power ratings lull you into thinking that they are mere practice amps, as nothing could be further from the truth! The benefits of using a lower powered amp are many fold, not least that of being able to push the output valves harder for extra warmth at manageable volume levels. Just remember how many famous artists have used smaller amps to record those classic tracks and how many use lower powered amps on stage, to help balance the sound. Worried that your amp is great for the studio and small club, but not for bigger gigs? Well don’t, there are ways of making them sound much bigger than they really are. Just adding a Marshall 1960 4×12” is going to increase the spread and SPL of your sound, by simple physics. If not mic or D.I. through the PA. The onboard D.I. output of your DSL201 or 401 contains Marshalls acclaimed speaker emulation circuit, making accurate sounding D.I.ing as simple as plugging in a cable! Silent recording in your project studio? Again, use the speaker emulated D.I. output, only this time turn down the ‘output master’ volume control (which by the way, controls the apparent output power) to zero and still capture the full valve tone of your amp on tape (or disc!)
Continuing with the features of your amp, both the DSL201 and 401 have two totally independent, footswitchable channels, notably ‘Clean’ and ‘Overdrive’ which cover the whole range of tones from sparkly clean, through classic and modern ‘Crunch’, through to super-saturated Lead Overdrive. On top of this, the DSL401 offers a three channel option by having the ability to (foot)switch between OD1 and OD2 – OD2 having even more gain than OD1 – in fact a staggering 20dB more! Thus giving the ability to switch from great clean to crunch and then to lead. Remember, the Clean channel not only does clean, it crunches up in a great traditional way too, just turn it up and drop the apparent output power (output master) down to a socially acceptable level. Rounding out the features, your DSL201 or 401 also has a parallel FX loop with a mix control and large spring ‘Sound Enhancements’ reverb, with footswitch facility (DSL401 only). It is important to mention here that your DSL201 or DSL401 use EL84 output valves, as opposed to either the 5881/6L6 or EL34 valves used in bigger Marshall amps. The EL84 is the classic output valve for smaller British style amps (and some U.S. ones too) and is a great valve to achieve superb tone at lower power levels. Normally they are used in a very simple circuit that features no negative feedback and are run in the cathode biased mode which gets close to them being run in class A, which makes for a very squashy compressed tone, as typified in the VOX AC30 for instance. Whilst this mode is great for these classic amps, we felt that this simple operating mode limited the amount of versatility required from an amp as diverse as the DSL201 & 401, in this modern age. Therefore, after careful study of how these classic amps worked and how the bigger Marshall’s worked, a fresh design that covers a broader spectrum of tones has been incorporated into the DSL201 and 401. We feel that it does it with great style.