The Yamaha THR10 has been around for longer than most realize, having been released initially way back in 2013. Of course, there have been improvements over the years, with features like Bluetooth connectivity being added, but fundamentally, it’s the same great amp as it was back then.
So, why has it taken almost 10 years for this excellent little desktop amp to gain the cult following it now enjoys? More than likely it’s because amps like this one were often unfairly maligned as toys, or nice to haves, but not capable of serving a genuine function. As we’ve since learned, desktop amps are versatile pieces of equipment that you shouldn’t sleep on, but does the current generation THR10 make the grade? Read on as we find out.
Yamaha THR10: Who Is This For?
The Yamaha THR10 is a great desktop combo amp that really works for guitarists of any ability – of course, as you progress in your abilities, the specific applications of what you use it for might change, but it offers features to suit anybody. If you’re a beginner and this will be your only amp, it’s still a fantastic choice – it has ample volume, it has built in FX, and the sound quality is excellent. More advanced players will appreciate the amp modeling, and computer interface features.
Yamaha THR10: Appearance / Features / Controls
The THR10 shares a design with its baby brother, the THR5 (full THR5 review here), and as we pointed out in our recent review of that amp, we couldn’t love it more. It has an almost art-deco feel, so it looks more like a high end speaker than a traditional amplifier, which furthers the appeal. Again, like the smaller version, it also features an orange tube glow from behind the grille – of course, it doesn’t add anything to the sound, but it does add to the cool factor.
Being a modeling amp, there are a number of amp voices to choose from. What we did like was that the features are upgraded over the smaller version, rather than just using the same voicings as the THR5, the THR10 gets extra presets. The modeled voicings include a Modern setting, Brit, Lead, Crunch, Clean, Bass, Acoustic, and Flat.
There are two FX dials, one can be set to chorus, flanger, phaser, trem, or echo, while the other dial controls the delay and reverb settings, which includes delay, delay/reverb, spring reverb, and hall reverb. The presets can be edited in the companion app, which is a nice feature, but we would really have liked to have seen more in the way of built in FX given the price point of this amp.
It’s fitted with a pair of high quality 3” speakers, plus it offers USB interface functionality, and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to wirelessly stream backing tracks to play along with.
Yamaha THR10: Performance/Sound
The first thing we wanted to check with the THR10 was the overall quality of each voicing at multiple volumes. We started off with the clean setting to get an impression of the sound quality without digital intervention. We really liked this voice, it was crisp and bright, perfect for everything from practice to recording through a DAW.
The Brit setting was clearly a Marshall inspired voice. It gave some aggressive bark when pushed hard, but didn’t ever become muddy, even when played at low volume.
Crunch was another excellent voicing. We got some of the most authentic tube tones we’ve heard from any modeling amp, and because they’re digitally created, we were able to keep those tones across the entire volume range.
We actually found that the lead voicing is significantly better on the THR10 than it is on the THR5. This could be down to the increased power, or perhaps it’s even modeled slightly differently. Either way, we got the break up we were looking for, with just enough texture to keep tones interesting without killing the clarity that you want in a lead setting.
One of the coolest things about this amp is that it’s also appropriate for use as a bass amp. Bass players are often neglected when it comes to portable amps, but not any longer. While you won’t get the rumble that you might find in a 15” speaker, it’s perfectly usable, and great for practice, and of course as an interface for recording.
In acoustic mode, you get a setting that is perfect for plugging in an electric acoustic guitar. It’s not overly colored, and helps the authentic, woody acoustic tones shine through. The flat setting was an interesting concept, and the best way to think of it is like you’re turning your amp into a studio monitor. It kills the digital influence in the sound, giving you a pure pickup tone. This is great for recording, and it’s also an ideal setting if you’re looking to plug in an analog or digital pedal board.
The on board FX, while limited, were effective. They were definitely helped by the stereo capabilities of the speakers, which despite the small gap between them, still provided some real, noticeable movement. Our concerns about the lack of on board EQ on the smaller THR5 are not a factor with the THR10. There is a master volume knob, as well as gain, bass, middle, and treble controls.
If the built in settings aren’t enough for you, within the Yamaha THR Editor app, you can select from 15 amp models, 3 bass cabs, and 3 mics for the acoustic setting. If that’s still not enough, everything can be edited and modified, and new plugs can be downloaded for the growing community of THR users.
Other Amps to Consider
The Yamaha THR10 is definitely a great amplifier, but if there’s anything you don’t like, from the design, to the small speakers, take a look at these great alternatives:
Positive Grid Spark
If you’re not looking to play around with settings too much, but you’d prefer more models and more FX out of the box, then the Positive Grid Spark might be a good choice for you. It’s plenty loud with its 40 watt power amp, it looks great, and every aspect of it is really simple to use. It features a smart jam backing tracks function, and the app can listen to your favorite songs in Spotify and will literally teach you the chords in order to play along.
Boss Katana 50
The Boss Katana 50 is one of our favorite amps here at KGR (full review here). It’s portable, has some exceptional voicings and FX, and is super simple to use. Because it’s a more traditional amp, it does come with a full size speaker, which lends itself better to filling a room with sound. If you’re planning to practice, and play small gigs, and you’re looking for a single amp to do it all, the Katana 50 is tough to beat.
Final Thoughts on the Yamaha THR10
The Yamaha THR10 is a wonderful desktop amplifier with sound quality and functionality that belie its size and price tag. It’s a very premium feeling amp, with wonderful design and superb build quality. This isn’t entirely unexpected from Yamaha, but it’s nonetheless appreciated. If you’re looking for something that works as a bedroom volume practice amp, something a bit louder for impromptu jams with friends, or even something that can be used as a stereo speaker for music through a phone or MP3, this is a great choice.
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