Yes, it might look like a radio but I assure you that the Yamaha THR5 is actually an amp. In this Yamaha THR5 review we’ll take a look at this versatile practice amp considering it’s features, the pros and the cons. Finally we’ll talk about whether or not it’s worth the price tag. Ready? Let’s get started.
Overview of THR5
The Yamaha THR5 is a different prospect from most practice amps. Yamaha has disposed of the traditional style cabinet in favor of a metal case housing two smaller speakers. Right off the bat the Yamaha benefits from stereo output thanks to it’s two 3.1 inch speakers, each churning out 5 watts of power.
The amp is compact and light even for a practice amp at only 2kg. The THR5 is perfect as a desktop amp for those who are short on space.
The THR5 is a modelling amp, which means it uses digital circuitry to model a variety of tones. The THR5 models 5 different amp types:
- Clean – Great for jazz, blues and country
- Crunch – Vintage style
- Lead – Controllable distortion
- Brit Hi – Clearer at lower gain, but high gain enables serious distortion
- Modern – High gain for metal
Yamaha claims that, despite the digital circuitry, they can produce tones similar to a tube amp. The amp styles are good and you can create a variety of tones manipulating the control knobs. Speaking of control knobs there are a few more than you’d expect on a practice amp.
The THR5 is powered by a tactile vintage style switch. The amp style can be selected by the Amp knob. The selected amp style is indicated by LEDs, which sit next to each amp style label. Next there’s a gain control knob to help you to craft different tones within each amp style.
The master knob controls the volume of the selected amp, increasing the power to the channel and allowing for further tone sculpting. You can control how clean or dark the tone using the tone control knob. Twist clockwise for a brighter tone or counter-clockwise for something darker.
Next we have an effects control knob. The THR5 comes with 4 in-built effects:
- Chorus – Adds depth to the tone
- Flanger – Swirling effect
- Phaser – Sweeping effect
- Tremelo – Bends the pitch to create a wobble like tone
The effects are pretty good, at least for beginners. The THR5 will allow you to connect your pedal board if you have one, but for a practice amp the on-board effects aren’t bad at all. The effects knob is labelled to indicate the position of each effect. Within each position the further clockwise you twist the knob the higher the level of effect.
The THR5 also comes with 4 delay / reverb modes:
- Delay – Classic echo effect
- Delay/Reverb – Echo with more body
- Spring Reverb – Bright reverb
- Hall Reverb – Simulates reverb in a larger room
You can set a tempo for the delay /reverb effects by pressing the “Tap” button in time with the rhythm you want to set. That’s a feature usually seen on higher end amps, so nice that it’s accessible to beginners. The tap button also allows you to access the in-built chromatic tuner. Hold the tap button for a second to access the tuner.
The speaker will be muted when you’re in tuning mode. The tuner is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a nice feature, but most people have clip-on tuners, so I’m not sure how handy it’ll be. Perhaps good if you’ve misplaced your clip-on tuner.
Another feature of the tap button allows you to extend the range of stereo output. Hold the tap button for more than 3 seconds to toggle on / off. Perhaps good if you’re using the amp for playback. Speaking of playback the THR5 comes with a 3.5mm stereo cable, which will connect via the AUX in port to an external player. That’ll allow you to play along to your favorite tracks.
There’s also a 1/4 inch phones input, which will allow you to connect to headphones or a recording device. The speaker is automatically muted when you’re connected to the phones jack, allowing for silent practice. Yamaha also includes a USB cable to enable you to connect to a computer.
That’ll enable you to access the THR editor software to edit your amps settings. You’ll also be able to work with Cubase AI, which is included with the THR5. Unbelievably recording software is included! That’s pretty unheard of!
The THR5 will run off 8xAA batteries, or a power adapter. The power adapter is included with the amp. Usually you have to buy the adapter separately. That’s a small thing, but it’s very nice!
Something else that’s unique to the THR5 is the lighting. You can control the lighting via the THR Editor software to toggle on / off. It’s another small thing, but I think it looks particularly good!
The THR comes complete. You don’t need to buy anything else like a power adapter, or a USB cable. It’s all included. Although it’s only producing 10 watts of power, it’s plenty loud enough for home practice. It won’t cope with playing live, but it doesn’t claim to.
It’s built sturdily and the styling oozes retro. The lighting is a nice touch, a nod to the old tube amps. The circuitry is good quality, faithfully reproducing good quality tones even at low volumes. The USB connection is good too, with virtually no latency when recording. Yamaha has certainly crammed a ton of features into a very compact amp.
If you’re powering the amp with batteries, you may encounter a known issue. Sometimes the sound cuts out when pushing the volume above half way. It’s only an issue if you’re powering by battery and certainly won’t affect all units. The power adapter is included, so unless you don’t have access to a socket you’ll probably be powering it using the adapter in any case.
One of the disappointing things is the lack of EQ. Usually I get a bit upset when there isn’t a mid control, but the THR5 doesn’t have bass or treble control either! To a certain degree the amp styles make up for this, but it’s still nice to be able to use EQ to further sculpt your tone.
Here’s a short video showing what the THR is capable of:
It’s pretty easy to spot the pros when it comes to the THR5. It’s actually difficult to pick the top pros. Things like the power adapter and all the cables included are always a plus, but when you have recording software thrown in too? Incredible! Here are the best bits:
- Absolutely packed with features
- Stylish and well built
- Cubase AI included for free
The THR5 definitely makes a good case for itself. The fact that I was struggling to pick the top three pros speaks volumes. However there are still a few things that hold the THR5 back.
- Known issue when battery powered
- More expensive than other 10 watt amps
- No EQ control
The THR5 is a stylish, compact and feature laden practice amp. The amount in-built effects and amp styles is impressive, as is the fact that a power adapter is included. However the inclusion of the stereo cable, the USB connector and recording software marks this amp out as exceptional.
It’s more expensive than a lot of amps in this power range, but as we’ve seen it’s got a lot going for it. If you’re looking for a practice amp that’ll allow you to experiment with different effects and tones whilst also allowing you to record for one price then the THR5 is worth serious consideration.
If you’re looking for more power then you might want to consider something like the Fender Champion 40, which is a similar price to the THR5 but will give you 40 watts of power. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.
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