PRS Archon 50 Combo Amp Review
Our Verdict and Review Summary
Less aggressive than the Sonzera, but with a better base clean tone that handles distortion pedals really well, the Archon is at the top of the PRS amp food chain. It's just an all-around solid, high-value tube combo.
On the heals of my Sonzera review, I was expecting somewhat of a similar experience with the Archon 50. But the Archon struck me as a more balanced amplifier, with a really strong base clean tone to go along with the modern Mesa-esque gain. To my ear, the Sonzera was actually a bit heavier, but both have a very modern tone profile.
It pushed harder with Matt Heafy's Fishman Fluence pickups (on my PRS CE 24), which brought out that pristine clean tone really well too.
With passive humbuckers it's more backed off than I would like, but the only issues here are style preferences.
It's one of the better all-around combo amps I could recommend.
With vintage and modern appeal, it's very comfortable on both ends of that spectrum.
If you want the details, my full PRS Archon 50 review is below. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section if you have them.
You can compare the Archon 50 to other combo amps we've reviewed first-hand. The comparison page shows pricing and basic specs.
Line 6 Catalyst
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IDEAL FOR: Just about everything, but very strong with active pickups, clean tones and distortion pedals.
- Very strong clean tone
- Heavy onboard distortion and great at handling distortion pedals
- Price point makes it an incredibly high-value combo
- Celestion speakers
- Could handle most any style
- Three-band EQ for both channels
- Good fit for active pickups, especially a Fishman Fluence set
- I liked the Sonzera's gain a little better, but it'll depend on your ear and what you prefer.
- No reverb
PRS Archon 50 Price Guide
Prices updated Fri, December 08th, 2023.
Price History for PRS Archon 50 50-watt Tube Head
|Current Price||$999.00||December 6, 2023|
|Highest Price||$999.00||October 11, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$999.00||October 11, 2023|
Last price changes
|$999.00||October 11, 2023|
Tone and Style
I tried active pickups, passive pickups, distortion on the clean channel, and the gain channel by itself. Everything sounded great, but I think my favorite combination (as I've already alluded to) was the active pickups on my PRS CE 24 and the Archon's clean channel. It was clear, warm, and even put up some bell-like chime on the higher strings and frets.
The onboard distortion, with the gain level cranked, is heavy and aggressive, though I got a more percussive chunk with my Amptweaker TightMetal distortion pedal and the Archon's clean channel with the bass pushed higher.
This amp just struck me as really capable in a wide range of styles, which is a quality that has been true of PRS guitars for a long time. It's not surprise that their flagship combo amp is the same. The recommendations I make here apply to any style of music.
The PRS Demo by Tom Walls
Controls and features
The Archon checks off several boxes I like to see for amplifiers in terms of controls and features, primarily the following:
- At least two channels
- Three-band EQ for each channel
- High-gain distortion
A footswitch is included (a dang tiny one) and you have an effects loop, which I typically don't worry much about.
But otherwise, it's a straightforward amp that puts its money into parts, namely a Celestion speaker, 6L6 and JJ ECC83S tubes (power amp and preamp respectively). And I think that speaks to the PRS appeal when it comes to features.
They're putting money into the basics, which is almost always going to give you the best result.
It manages to be very versatile, even with a somewhat vanilla-looking spec sheet.
One thing I should note is that currently (at the time of publishing this review), the 50 watt version of the Archon was the only one available. It would be nice to have lower wattage versions in the series, since lower-wattage options save you a ton of money when buying a guitar amp.
The head version of the Archon is still 50 watts, which will save you a little money if you already have a compatible speaker cab. Both the head and combo version are included in the above price guide, so make sure to check it for updated numbers.
Price and Value
When I published this review, the head version of the Archon was $1k and the combo version (the one I tested) was $1.2k. Compared to amps like the Mesa Rectifier series, this is a fantastic price tag, which runs the rating up because it's a better value option.
That doesn't necessarily mean it's better than something like the Mesa Badlander, but the Mesa is just more expensive.
So here's how I measure this, in a nutshell:
- As price goes down, value goes up.
- As quality goes up, value goes up.
And vice versa.
So the best options are not just the nicest, but the ones that give you the highest possible quality for the lowest possible price. The Archon 50 strikes a great balance, in my opinion, hence the higher rating.
Questions or comments?
The Archon 50 isn't a good beginners amp because of the investment, but for most other skill levels and almost any genre of music, it'll be a great fit.
It's an easy one to recommend - definitely an editor's choice.
I'd like to see reverb and some other wattage variations in the series, but there's little else to complain about here.
If you have questions about my PRS Archon 50 review, hit me up in the comments section. I always try to focus on products that I've had my hands on, so I can hopefully be more helpful to those of you reading our content.
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