Yamaha’s popular series of THR practice amps has recently got three new members:
The brass-metallic coloured THR5A is a 5 Watts combo aimed specifically at electroacoustic guitars, and features digital microphone modelling, amongst other things.
The regular Yamaha THR10 has now gotten two sister models. The black THR10C concentrates on ”classic” and ”boutique” tones to satisfy the friends of classic Sixties and Seventies Rock and Blues. The army-green THR10X is aimed squarely at the connoisseurs of all things hard and heavy, concentrating on Hard Rock-, Metal- and Thrash-tones.
The main design concept is uniform across the THR-range:
All combos have a sturdy metal chassis with plastic sides. The overall design clearly takes a lot of cues from today’s high-end tube Hi-Fi gear.
All THRs come equipped with a digital tuner.
All of the small amps feature a built-in USB-soundcard, which can be utilised for recording purposes (Steinberg’s Cubase AI comes with each amp), as well as for using the amp as your personal stereo system.
With the help of Yamaha’s THR Editor software you can also programme your own amp settings via the USB-port. As an added bonus, the THR Editor gives you access to some hidden functions (like the noise gate, or in the THR5A’s case also additional effects) that cannot be accessed from the front panel.
The Yamahas can be run on AA-batteries, if necessary. The THR5A’s battery compartment has been placed on the combo’s back…
…while on all THR10-models it has been sunk into the amp’s base plate.
Naturally, a quality, laptop-type PSU is supplied with all models.
Regardless of the fact that the Yamaha THR5A (current price in Finland: 199,99 €) is one of the world’s smallest acoustic amps, it is still packed chock-full with tasty features.
The THR5A offers you four different virtual microphones to turn your piezo’s tone into the sound of a mic’ed up acoustic. Three settings are meant for steel-string acoustics, with the fourth being reserved for nylon-string electroacoustic guitars.
The last Mic Type selection reads ”EG Clean”, being a clean electric guitar amp model for your occasional Jazz Box meanderings.
The Blend-control lets you change the balance between the dry piezo signal and the modelled virtual mic.
Offering only a single master tone the THR5A’s EQ-section is rather spartan, but the effect section is far better endowed: The Effect knob gives you compression, chorus or a combination of both. Delay/Reverb delivers delay, reverb and a combination effect.
You can adjust delay times using the Tap Tempo button on the far left.
The vintage-inclined Yamaha THR10C (current price in Finland: 299,99 €) is larger than the THR5A, and it also offers more features.
The THR10C comes loaded with five guitar amp models, whose names already give you a very good idea of their soundscape:.
In addition, there’s one bass amp model, as well as a setting for acoustic guitar. The neutral sounding Flat-selection is a good choice if you want to amplify a synth or digital piano.
The THR10C’s EQ-section is a three-band affair, while the effect department offers eight different effects. Turning the Effect-knob gives you access to a chorus, a flanger, a phaser and a tremolo effect. Delay/Reverb offers you tape echo, spring reverb, hall reverb, as well as a echo/reverb-combination setting.
All THR10-models sport five memory slots to store your favourite amp settings.
The Output-section offers you two volume controls, with one being the guitar section’s master volume and the other dealing with the signal coming in via USB (or the auxiliary input).
It may be small, but it still is fierce – the Yamaha THR10X (current price in Finland: 299,99 €) is tailoured to all Rock and Metal.
The THR10X’s Amp-department holds in store five high gain amp models, each with its own tonal footprint, with differences in areas such as bass punch and overall compression.
A Clean model is also supplied for the occasional ballad or two, along with a Bass amp and the Flat setting.
The THR10X features the same type of three-band EQ as it’s sister model.
The effect department is also nearly identical, save for the THR10X’s brighter Delay-effect.
I think it’s great that Yamaha have designed their entire THR-range as stereophonic combos, because this way the amps also have a clear appeal as ”lifestyle accessories”. As pure guitar amps, stereo brings out the depth in some effects, especially reverbs, but when used as a personal micro-Hi-Fi stereo is the only way to go.
Yamaha’s decades-long experience in the Hi-Fi-field really shows in the sound of these small combos. The sound is full, clear, punchy and dynamic. The tiny THR5A already sounds better than most built-in computer sound systems, even if the breadth of the stereo picture isn’t as wide, and the bass response as deep as in the larger combos. The THR10s really hit the sonic jackpot, and will blow many micro-Hi-Fis off the table, hands down. For a guitarist the THR-series is a stylish way to combine an mp3-boombox with a practice amp.
I must admit that the THR5A’s raison d’être is not quite clear to me. At home you normally wouldn’t need to use and amp with an acoustic guitar, but on the other hand this tiny combo really doesn’t cut it at, say, a pub gig. Maybe the THR5A is meant mainly for busking.
On the other hand I can’t deny that this dwarf’s virtual microphones sound surprisingly realistic, so maybe this combo’s main function is to serve as a specialised soundcard in your home or project studio. The amp’s cool mic modelling really manages to turn those dry and upfront piezo tones into something organic and beautiful.
The effects also sound very good.
I have recorded these examples with a Zoom H1 recorder. I played a Taylor 110CE:
Yamaha THR5A – Condenser + Compressor + Hall
Yamaha THR5A – Dynamic + Compressor + Hall
Yamaha THR5A – Tube + Compressor + Hall
Ooh, man, I really dig this combo! I wouldn’t change a single amp model on the Yamaha THR10C – each sounds great and has plenty of depth and character.
The effects also sound great, with the spring reverb coming over especially realistically.
These three examples have been recorded using a Les Paul -style guitar:
Yamaha THR10C – British Blues + Hall
Yamaha THR10C – Class A + Chorus + Tape Echo
Yamaha THR10C – Deluxe + Tremolo + Spring Reverb
Some jokers occasionally quip that all Heavy and Metal guitar tones sound alike.
The truth is nevertheless that there are all sorts of different types of overdriven and distorted guitar tones to be found in Hard Rock, Metal and Thrash. The most distinct differences are usually found in the mid-range character and the bass response of saturated distortion tones.
To my knowledge, Yamaha’s THR10X is the world’s first and only practice amp devoted specifically to full-on Hard Rock and Metal. And what a great job it does!
These three examples have been recorded using a Les Paul -style guitar:
Yamaha THR10X – Brown II + Hall
Yamaha THR10X – Power II + Flanger + Delay
Yamaha THR10X – Southern Hi + Phaser + Delay
In my opinion these new THR-models are a great move by Yamaha. These specialised combos will satisfy those guitarists who have wished for more of their own genre in the same combo, while leaving the successful basic models – the THR5 and THR10 – untouched, and the overall concept of the THR-series intact.
Three new Yamaha THR -models
• THR5A – 199,99 €
• THR10C and THR10X – 299,99 €
Finnish distributor: F-Musiikki
Pros (all models):
+ sturdy chassis
+ quality of amp/mic models
+ quality of effects
+ great sound as micro-Hi-Fis