Engl Invader II E642/2

Key Features
  • Tubes: Four EL34 power tubes, four 12AX7 preamp tubes.
  • Output: 100 watts at 4, 8 or 16 ohms.
  • Channels: Four completely independent channels for clean, crunch, rhythm, and lead.
  • Controls: Channel-specific 3-band EQ, gain and volume knobs, high/low gain switches with volume balancers and switchable, programmable alternate voicing modes, dual master volumes with presence and depth controls.
  • Additional Features: Adjustable noise gate, two series/parallel effects loops, tuner out jack, power tube monitoring and protection, MIDI programmable, jacks for both Engl and MIDI footswitches.

The jack-of-all-trades Invader II takes the discrete, 4-channel design of its predecessor and refines it. Four EL34 tubes generate 100 watts of power, while four 12AX7 tubes drive the preamp. Each of its four uniquely voiced channels—clean, crunch, rhythm, and lead—sport their own dedicated gain, volume, and EQ controls, switchable gain boosting, and a “Sound” switch for choosing alternate modes that can be reprogrammed with different voicings.

The modes can be programmed via the amp’s optional Sound Wizard module ($399) on the back panel. There are 12 mini DIP switches for each channel that can alter bass and midrange response, and manage volume attenuation. And if the thought of fiddling with 84 DIP switches seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth, the module can be switched off entirely.

There are also two separately adjustable master volumes, as well as global presence and depth controls, individual volume balancing controls for each channel’s high- and low-gain modes, two series/parallel effects loops with send level controls, a programmable noise gate, MIDI programmability, internal power tube monitoring and protection, jacks for Engl’s Z 4, Z 9, and MIDI footswitches, and speaker outputs for 4-, 8- and 16-ohm cabinets.

Ratings

Pros:
More versatility than most will need or ever ask for. Cleans are warm and balanced. Overdrive is smooth, thick and massive-sounding.

Cons:
The sheer number of knobs and switches can feel a little overwhelming. Expensive.

Tones:

Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$3,199

Engl Invader II E642/2
englamps.de

With a Les Paul Custom driving the input, the Invader II’s first channel delivers crisp, full-bodied clean tones with outstanding balance. Overall, the tones sound very even and pack quite a wallop. The stock mode’s smooth-as-silk voicing makes it hard to coax Fender Twin-like jangle, but that’s attainable if you press the Sound switch to access the second mode and use the channel’s Sound Wizard DIP switches to dial in the tones you’re after.

The second channel turns up the heat and dishes smooth-yet-greasy overdrive with a brawny British-style midrange. Even in its low-gain mode, there’s plenty of gain on tap for the needs of most rock and blues players. Forceful single-note picking squeezes out an authoritative Page-like quack in the highs, and lighter picking emphasizes mid-focused grind. Flipping to the high-gain mode unleashes thick, succulent overdrive that works for ’80s hair-metal riffing in the vein of Blizzard of Oz and Shout at the Devil.

Channel 3 picks up where the second leaves off gain-wise, but with a more modern and aggressive voicing. Boasting a throaty midrange and a thick, rock-solid bottom end, the amp’s intense and velvety overdrive is one of the finest sounds Engl has ever delivered. Using a Les Paul with the EQ slightly scooped and the gain at 1 o’clock, the note separation and low-end clarity are astoundingly good. In this channel’s high-gain mode, the Sound Wizard’s bright switch adds bite to the top end for aggressive metal rhythms, à la Slayer.

The amp’s fourth channel delivers torrents of liquid gain with a heavy emphasis on the upper midrange. The fluid sustain makes this channel a perfect match for lightning-fast legato leads and phrases. Channel 4 has an obscene amount of gain on tap—even in its low-gain mode—so it’s essential to be mindful of where the control is set to avoid congestion. The amp’s adjustable noise gate really comes in handy for cutting down the hiss from the channel’s high-gain mode, and its gating clamps down very naturally when the strings are muted.