There are plenty of desktop amps available these days. In this Yamaha THR10II review we’re going to see how the 10 watt desktop amp offering from Yamaha measures up. We’ll take a look at it’s features, tones and compare it to other desktop amps. Let’s get strated.
Overview of Yamaha THR10II
There are two versions of the THR10II. One allows for “wireless” operation via a plugin dongle. That’s quite a lot more expensive than the standard “non-wireless” version, well over $450 by the time you buy the additional wireless dongle. For that reason we’re going to focus on the “non-wireless” version of the THR10II.
The THR10II delivers 10 watts of power, as you’d probably guessed from it’s name. It outputs the sound in stereo, which Yamaha calls extended stereo. That’s a bonus on most desktop practice amps, especially when it comes to playback via the amp.
The amp is, as you’d expect, compact. Small enough to fit on a small side table and even on a reasonable side bedside table. It weighs just 6lbs (3kg).
The THR10II follows the lead of other THR amps with it’s vintage radio design. There’s still the power lamp behind the grill indicating when the amp is turned on. The power switch has changed slightly, now a button rather than a retro styled switch.
As with the other models the THR10II is a modelling amp, featuring 8 amp styles. There’s also a 3 band EQ, meaning there’s a lot of room to shape the amp styles.
With everything in the 3 band EQ set at 12 o’clock here’s what you can expect from each of the amp styles:
The clean channel does what it says, but there’s more presence of middle and bass without needing to alter the EQ. In combination with the gain, volume and your pickup selection you can craft a number of tones. From subtle to thick and breaking up at higher gain levels.
At default settings this type provides a classic rock crunch, for a more vintage tone. With the gain set low it sound remarkably like basic overdrive. Use in conjunction with the neck pickup for bluesy styles. A good amp style if you want a bit of grit but also want to be able to distinguish individually picked notes.
This naturally provides an 80’s type hard rock / metal tone. You can get a more modern tone by cranking the gain up a little more. Can be quite subtle with the gain dialed back a bit.
Definitely more scream about this style. You’ll need to adjust the volume a little when using this and your instinct will also be to play with the EQ. Off the bat this is a treble heavy high gain tone associated with more modern high gain styles.
I think you could skip Hi Gain and go right to Special. This is the best voice for higher gain styles in my opinion. There’s a little more punch to it. You can also dial it back a little to make it work with more classic styles that require a bit more punch for the lead parts.
Bass, Acoustic & Flat
The Bass style produces a tone that breaks up, sounding quite fuzzy when some overdrive is introduced. This will work with guitar or base. The Acoustic style is for an electric-acoustic guitar with the modelling reminiscent of boutique microphones. The Flat style has no amp or speaker modelling, so it’s a natural tone. It’s suited for connecting other instruments, such as keyboards to the THR.
A quick glance at the right hand side of the top panel gives you an insight into how the on-board effects work on the THR10II. It’s basically the same as the other THR models, but for the uninitiated I’ll run through it.
The “Effect” control knob turns fully from left to right, passing through “zones” as you turn. The best way to think of this knob is that it’s split into quarters. Each quarter contains a single effect. The further clock-wise you turn the effect knob in each quarter, the more intense the effect.
The four effects assigned to the control knob are Chorus, Flanger Phaser and Tremolo. The first three are of good quality and you can find various tones. However I really don’t like the Tremolo effect. It’s far to harsh. It seems to be very difficult to find a mellow Tremolo effect on this amp. Perhaps it’s just me?!
Moving on there’s a single control knob that defines the amount of Echo / Reverb in use. Again this control knob is split into quarters. The first quarter is Echo on it’s own. The further clock-wise you turn the control knob in this zone, the more Echo is produced. The second zone is Echo and Reverb together.
Continue to turn the knob clock-wise and you’ll find fist Spring reverb and then the more obviously audible Hall reverb. I don’t have a problem with the Echo / Reverb effects. You can combine them with the amp styles to create some really nice tones.
You can use the tap button with Echo / Reverb effects to define the intervals between repeats. To do so tap the “Tap Time” button more than once to set the tempo.
We’ve briefly mentioned the 3 band EQ, but it merits highlighting further. Many amps forgo the middle control, which frankly infuriates me. The guitar sits at the middle range of the band, so why can’t we control the middle of our tone on even some high end amps? So I’m pleased to see that we have a 3 band EQ on the THR10II.
To the right of the effects controls are a couple of output volume control knobs. As well as the guitar output volume control there’s also an Audio volume output control. Yamaha may have included this because the THR10II is an excellent speaker, in part because of the stereo output. But if you’re using the THR10II to output music to play over, this is a really useful feature.
Usually output volume is controlled by the device playing the music. That doesn’t always give you the fine control you need. Often a notch up on the volume of the playing device is too loud yet a notch down is too quiet. Having control of the output on the amp itself is a really handy feature.
Whilst we’re on the subject of playing music via the amp, you have two methods of connecting to the THR10II. This first is via the AUX In 3.5mm jack. Alternatively you can connect via Bluetooth. Connecting via Bluetooth also enables you to use the THR Remote App, which allows for finer adjustments to your tone as well as controlling the play back of music.
The THR10II comes with 5 memory banks, that enables you to store all EQ, volume, gain and effects levels. It won’t allow you to store the amp type in use, so you’ll still need to select the appropriate amp style. However it’s still a nice feature that allows you to select the core of your tone quickly.
I mentioned earlier that switching between cleaner and higher gain amp styles requires some manipulation of settings. The memory banks allow you to store the required settings, so that you can quickly select the accompanying amp settings.
The THR10II doesn’t support a footswitch, however you can change styles via the app. The lack of support for a footswitch means that you’ll need to stop playing to switch styles.
The “Tap Time” switch doubles to access the on-board chromatic tuner. Hold the tap time button for two seconds to access the tuner. The tuner is set to 440mhz as standard and you can’t alter it. It works in exactly the same way as most other tuners, so it won’t take much getting used to.
If you need to practice “silently” you can output the amp via a set of headphones. There’s a 3.5mm jack to allow you to connect a set of headphones. All pretty standard functionality and I’d be questioning the design if a headphones jack was missing!
Modelling amps increasingly allow you to connect to a computer to use some sort of external features. The THR10II has a USB port to allow you to do just that. By connecting to a computer you can utilize the bundled software, Cubase AI. This will allow you to record to the computer and playback via the THR10II.
Another positive is that a power adapter is included. All too often you have to buy the power supply separately, which is really annoying. So it’s good to see that Yamaha includes it with the amp.
Thoughts On It’s Competition
The THR10II is $100 more expensive than it’s little brother the THR5. However you get better control over the EQ, memory banks and of course 5 more watts of output. In terms of it’s competitors we’re looking at the VOX Adio Air GT and the Boss Katana Air.
The Adio Air GT is the same price as the THR10II however it outputs 50 watts of power. You need to be a little careful with the output though because it’s not the same as an amp outputting via a 12″ speaker, which the Adio Air GT doesn’t.
The Adio Air models up to 26 amp styles as well as having a flat channel. There are a greater range of effects available with the accompanying software too. There’s a compelling argument to choose the Adio Air GT over the THR10II, however I wouldn’t do so for the power output alone.
The Boss Katana Air can output 30 watts of power maximum, so it has a little more going for it in that department. It’s a little smaller than the THR10II and slightly lighter. You can use the Katana Air wirelessly too thanks to the wireless dongle that comes with the amp. Whilst there is a wireless version of the THR10II available, you have to buy the wireless dongle separately, which really adds to the cost.
The Katana series benefits from software that allows you to download professional patches and send them directly to the amp. The Katana Air would be the stand out candidate if it wasn’t $100 more expensive that the THR10II and the Adio Air GT.
For a compact practice amp, the THR10II has a lot of features. I really like that it has a 3 band EQ too, despite needing to be efficient with their use of space on the top panel. Overall the THR10II provides powerful, dynamic tones far and above it’s size. Here are the best bits:
- Portable Yet Powerful
- Bluetooth Connectivity
- Includes Cubase AI
Small modelling amps are generally expensive when we compare them to basic practice amps. They do come with a lot of features that many guitarists find very useful but there are some inherent problems. Here are some of the worst offenders:
- No Footswitch Support
- Tremolo Effect Too Harsh
- Quite Expensive
The THR10II isn’t a cheap practice amp. But it does come loaded with a lot of features and really does belie it’s size as a compact amp. With 8 amp styles available that can be shaped by a 3 band EQ and augmented with on-baord effects, there’s plenty of room for experimentation.
The 5 memory banks make switching between preferred settings very easy and the Bluetooth connection enables fine tuning via the accompanying App. The bundled Cubase AI software allows people to begin exploring recording via a USB connection to a computer.
There isn’t any support for a footswitch, which is quite common with compact amps yet still a little frustrating. It’s not the most powerful amp in terms of output, especially when compared to some of it’s rivals, however the stereo output is more than enough for most practice spaces.
Whilst it’s an impressive practice amp, the VOX Adio Air GT may offer more for your money with better supporting features and a wider array of amp styles. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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