NAMM 2018: Marshall DSL

Published on 25 January 2018

Legendary British amplifier institution Marshall have brought forth not one but two new ranges of valve amps this year, unveiled at Winter NAMM 2018 in Anaheim, California. This most iconic of amp brands have been on more stages and studios than perhaps any other amp manufacturer in history and from what we’ve heard and seen, these new lines are definitely worth getting excited about! One of the two ranges is an update of the famous DSL series and the other is an entirely new range, the Origin Series.

Marshall’s DSL range is perhaps the one most modern day guitarists will be familiar with. Used as reliable backline in venues and rehearsal rooms throughout the country, this classic sounding valve-powered range is most players’ first taste of true, full volume Marshall roar.

This new range comprises a collection of amps that go from a 1w head to a fire-breathing 100w monster, catching points in between with 20 and 40w combos and heads.

Never ones to rest on their laurels, Marshall have looked at this range and addressed the areas they felt could be done even better than before. The most immediately obvious area of improvement is in the clean channel: what was once satisfactory but perhaps considered second fiddle to the drive channels now is an excellently expressive and three dimensional clean sound with a lovely mix of body and twang. This immediately makes the DSL range a more potent proposition! There’s a digital reverb on tap to sweeten proceedings too.

This is great news but what about the dirt? As on the previous DSL models, the clean and gain channels share an EQ so setting your mids at eleven o'clock and the treble & bass at about one is a good place to begin for every sound. The gain channel has two modes: classic gain and ultra gain, each with a control knob for gain and volume. Classic Gain gets you a rich, stomping crunch with that satisfying Marshall breakup and slight mid dip. Untold numbers of rock hits have used this very sound as their staple of riff-based rock action and it sounds as superb and raw as ever!

The Ultra Gain channel thickens things up and adds a degree of saturation for a sound that to us sits somewhere between a JCM900 and that fabled Brown Sound! There is plenty of overdrive here: from classic rock to modern contemporary styles including metal, this has enough firepower to ensure your sonic assault is a triumphant one. Your guitar sustains for days, too! That signature Marshall bark remains, with more chunk and filth than the Classic Gain channel. 

Two master volumes allow you to have a solo boost without needing to buy a separate boost pedal: a great touch. Also, the amp’s front panel has controls for Presence and Resonance. These are best used in relation to whichever room you’re in to ‘tune' the amp’s response to your surroundings. 

The 40w combo, perhaps the most popular in the previous range, sounds fantastic and has a 12” Celestion V-type speaker. There is also a cool ‘emulated’ DI output for silent recording and sending a line to the mixing desk at gigs. This simulates not only the amp but the speaker too for a full and unmistakably Marshall tone at any (and no!) volume. 

Marshall have really swung hard with the rebooted DSL range and they look set to knock their competitors out of the park. These amps will be released soon: sign up for our email newsletter (at the foot of our website’s front page) to get up to the minute details!

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