Yamaha’s THR series of personal modeling amplifiers bridged the gap between feature laden processors and entry level digital combos when they were introduced a few years ago. Now, the popular line of amplifiers have been extended into heads and cabinets. For review, we took at the THR100HD, where the “D” stands for “Dual”. At first glance, it’s a two channel head. But look further into the amp and you’ll find it’s really two amps in one rather than simply a two channel head.
The THR100HD features two individual THR platforms: Five amp modes, three-band EQ, presence, reverb, and an onboard boost – more on that later. Each “amp” also features modeled power tube sections with the option of selecting a modeled Class A and A/B mode for either side. Basically, it is possible to model KT88s in Class A. There is also a three-way power scale to select between 25/50/100 watt power sections. Also, there are two XLR line outs and two speaker outs. These can both be set up to run two entirely individual amplifiers direct or to speakers.
Included is a five-button footswitch to select between – or stack – amps, and bring in or out the booster, reverb, and effects loop. Speaking of effects, for the head series, Yamaha ditched the onboard DSP effects as seen on the THR10. Personally I think an onboard delay would’ve been cool to see – especially if it were selectable on the footswitch. However, it’s a small concern if any.
Some things that surprised me the most: Although the THR100HD is a 100w platform, the amp has no transformer, so it doesn’t need to see speakers and can be run solely off the line out section. Also, it’s matched 2×12 THR cabinet features two Eminence speakers – the Legend 1218 and Tonker, as opposed to “special designed” or full range/flat frequency setups that many modeling setups are partnered with.
Plugged in, it sounds like an amplifier! No overly saturated channels named after adjectives here – this is a truly organic sounding and responding rig. At a gig, I used my full pedalboard with a light distortion into the clean channel on 6L6GC mode for my low-gain tones, and the “Modern” channel with the EL34 model section for high gain. Adjusting on the fly is easy because, well, it’s an amplifier before it’s a processor. No menu screens or touch screens to worry about. Want to turn the mids up? Grab the mid knob. No need to scroll through a menu to get to a section of the amp. This, I believe, is one of the most crucial aspects to using a non-conventional amplifier for live performance.
However, there are more tricks offered in the THR100HD – ones accessible with a USB cable and a computer. By downloading the THR100 app and drivers, you’ll be able to access cabinet impulses for running the XLR outs to a PA. Yamaha has their own, and they’ll work for any other aftermarket plug-in cab simulator. You can also set the effects loop to series or parallel mode (Mine was set to parallel 100% dry mix out of the box – take note if you plan to use the effects loop, especially on a gig.). Lastly, you are able to choose from four different reverb types per channel, and three different boost/overdrive modes per channel.
Once again, Yamaha shines again with a product that can be used basically anywhere there is an electric guitar player. Studio, stage, home, or practice, there is a way to bring the THR100HD into your rig, whether as a backup for your main amp, or at the forefront of your tone.