Are PRS amps any good?
Yes. PRS amps are well-made, versatile, and surprisingly affordable.
We've never known PRS to cut corners, and their amps are no exception. They have the feel and tone of Mesa Boogie with a wider range of price and a couple more affordable versions. The tube-driven Archon and HDRX lines, in particular, are great options.
We've known PRS for their guitars for a long time.
But seeing amplifiers with the PRS brand can be a little jolting. These days PRS has even gotten in to building pedals many of which are quite good.
Read the full review: PRS Wind Through the Trees Flanger
But are the PRS amps any good?
Read on and I'll provide a thorough argument for the value and quality of PRS amplifiers, both combo and head versions, though combos are pretty limited (more on that below). If you have questions, drop down to the comments section and I'll do my best to help out.
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Notable PRS Amp Features
Many of the PRS amplifiers use a similar set of features that we look for in high quality amps, including the following:
- Tubes in the preamp and power amp (12AX7 and 5881)
- Two channels
- Low power modes (some with switchable power)
- Warm, full clean tone
- Lead and clean mode on some amp models
These are all desirable features, regardless of brand. Even the cheaper versions have similar specs. I often mention that cab size and wattage impact price a lot, so pay attention to where you can save money by simply going for lower wattage or fewer speakers (smaller cab) if you buy a combo amp.
Clean and High Gain Tones
As a brand, PRS does clean tones really well, which is reflected in their amps, particularly the HDRX series. Midrange and treble controls can be fairly sensitive with smoother bass movement. It's most at home when you stay away from super bright settings in favor of a warmer EQ, perhaps with the pickup selector in a neutral position. Of course, this depends on the type of guitar you use.
I think these amps are much better suited for a guitar with a dual humbucker configuration.
Like the guitars, cleans in a PRS amp are percussive and chunky, even before you get into the higher gain levels and distorted sounds.
On the amps with lead channels (the Archon series for example) you'll be able to dial in a lot of gain. This creates a heavy distortion, especially if you max out the gain, though like most tube amps you'll get a little bit of noise and crackling.
PRS amps are most at home in their clean tones, but those with a lead/gain channel can definitely handle metal styles.
Can PRS amps be used for metal?
If you're after a metal tone, I'd probably recommend the Archon series or the Mark Tremonti signature model. But the answer is generally yes, PRS amps are a good fit for the metal and modern rock style.
Even if you get one like the HDRX, these amps are good pedal springboards and can push through an external distortion pedal really well.
Does PRS make any combo amps?
Most of the PRS amps are amp heads, requiring a speaker cab to be hooked up. The only two PRS amps we've been able to track down that come in a combo form are the following:
- PRS Sonzera
- PRS Archon
If you go with an amp head, PRS makes a lot of speaker cabs to go with them, though you might prefer to add your own cab from another brand which is also fine.
Are PRS amps better than Mesa Boogie?
While PRS amps are good, they're definitely not better than a brand like Mesa.
One reason is that, in the world of guitar amps, PRS is more of an imitator and not an originator. With guitars they were definitely an originator with their take on the electric guitar, particularly the tone and body style.
But with their amplifier line, being a great option is not enough to upstage brands like Mesa or Diezel.
Read more: Best Mesa Boogie Amps
PRS doesn't do anything cheap.
Even their economy lines - like the PRS SE series - manage to achieve a high standard of quality.
Read the full review: PRS SE Custom 24
So yes, PRS amps are great, especially if you're looking for a tube amp head to add to your own cabinet. If you have questions about PRS amps or something I mentioned in this post, feel free to drop them in the comments section below and we'll do our best to help out.
See you there.