PRS HDRX 20 Review (short take)
Verdict and Review Summary
It's not aggressive at all, more like a Fender tube amp than a Marshall or Mesa. I know that's a bit odd, given that it's modeled after Jimi Hendrix's tone and Hendrix used...Marshalls. But the HDRX's strengths are cleans and blues. It's soulful, endearing, and surprisingly tame. No complaints unless you just don't like that style.
I've always thought of PRS guitars as modern and wanting to punch with lower frequencies.
But their amps seem to go in a somewhat different direction, more in line with the Silver Sky. The PRS HDRX 20 is a low-wattage amp head modeled after Jimi Hendrix's tone, yet it strikes me as a lot more tame. It's very clean and soulful, and almost seems like it's trying not to scare you away.
You can get heavy, as you can with most amps, but I wouldn't say that's its wheelhouse. A unique feature worth mentioning is dual gain controls - one treble and one bass.
It's very British, with some modern tweaks.
As of this review, Ola Englund has not done a "Will it chug?" episode on this yet. I'd be curious to see/hear that.
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Compare to similar amps
This comparison table puts the HDRX together with a few other similar amps. You can use it to compare pricing and basic specs. Check the blue button below the table if you want to search for more amps to compare.
PRS HDRX 20
PRS MT15 (Tremonti)
Fender Bassbreaker 15
Blackstar HT Stage
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PRS HDRX 20 Price Guide
This section lays out prices for the HDRX from multiple retailers. It's updated live but, as always, pricing is subject to change depending on when and where you're looking.
Pricing updated Fri, September 29th, 2023.
Pricing from Major Retailers
Price Alert Tool (lowest price among listed retailers)
Price History (lowest price among listed retailers)
Price History for PRS HDRX 20 - 20-watt Tube Head
|Current Price||$799.00||September 22, 2023|
|Highest Price||$799.00||March 10, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$799.00||March 10, 2023|
Last price changes
|$799.00||March 10, 2023|
IDEAL FOR: Cleans, blues, soft tones, BYO distortion pedal, Stratocasters
Overall sound and tone quality
The sound is pristine, especially on the clean and low-gain side. It's just not totally what I expected. To be fair, today's "heavy" isn't what it was in Hendrix's day, when Hendrix was considered someone who used a ton of distortion. It's closely aligned with the Fender tube combos, like the Blues Junior or Blues Deluxe. With a Stratocaster you'll get some really soft and soulful tones, particularly with middle and/or neck pickup selections.
Control, use case, and flexibility
The control scheme is a bit confusing, because gain is controlled in two parts:
- Treble volume
- Bass volume
You then have Master volume, which also seems to have some impact on gain. I honestly don't completely understand it. Enlighten me in the comments section.
This lets you sort of EQ your gain, along with a high-mid-gain and bright switch. I didn't find the high gain settings particularly compelling at least not without putting a distortion pedal in front of the signal. At that point, the ball is in the pedal's court and not the HDRX.
But you have a four-band EQ, including the presence control, so there's a lot of flexibility here.
Yes. PRS amplifiers are made in Maryland.
The PRS HDRX 20 uses 12AX7 tubes in the preamp, and 5881 in the power amp.
With the right distortion pedal you could get some heavy tones out of it, but on its own, metal is not the HDRX's wheelhouse at all.
A Stratocaster or Telecaster would both be good fits for this amp. Others would include a Les Paul, and certainly most of the PRS lineup.
PRS HDRX 20 Review Conclusion
I like the PRS HDRX 20 for cleans but not for distortion, so it all depends on what you're looking for and what style of music you want to play. Personally, I'll continue to lean towards PRS guitars instead of amps, but that's my preference and doesn't mean that the amp lineup is bad at all.
They've done a good job with the HDRX, giving you a vintage sounding amp with some unique and modern features.
If you have questions about the PRS HDRX 20, or some experience with it, hit us up in the comments section below and we'll chat.
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