Ratings

Pros:
Impressive feel and volume for 20 watts. Dead simple to use.

Cons:
Expensive.

Street:
$1,199

ValveTrain PowerTrain Studio 20
valvetrainamps.com



Tones:


Ease of Use:


Build/Design:


Value:
 

With all the advances in guitar technology over the last few years, deciding between analog and digital isn’t an either/or choice. You can have both. ValveTrain’s PowerTrain Studio 20 is an impressively powered cab aimed at adding real tubes to your digital signal chain. Inside the Studio 20 sits a 12AX7 preamp tube and a pair of 6V6 power tubes, which is wrapped in a handwired Class AB setup. Around the front sits a single volume knob that just makes things loud. Real loud.

I used a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx III and a Headrush Pedalboard to give the Studio 20 a workout. Set up couldn’t be any simpler: Just plug in and crank it up. The clarity of the Eminence Copperhead speaker was inspiring and punchy. I dialed up a Vox-style AC30 patch and the high-end breakup and chime came through amazingly well. In most cases, I would turn off the cab sim in the modeler. However, there were a few settings where I preferred “doubling” up on the cabs to create a different EQ curve.

Obviously, the quality of your tones will depend on how dialed in your modeler is. However, even with less-than-perfect presets, the PowerTrain Studio 20 brought out all the harmonic richness and warmth that I look for in any tube amp. Also, don’t be fooled by the 20 watts under the hood. (ValveTrain also makes a 50-watt model.) This cab is loud. I can’t imagine having the volume much past noon even when you’re playing larger clubs. Having some glowing glass right before the sound hits the speaker is a great idea, and if you’re the kind of player who lives in the digital world, the PowerTrain Studio 20 could fool your ears and hands.

Test gear: Schroeder Chopper TL, Fractal Audio Axe-Fx III, Headrush Pedalboard