This range of amplifiers certainly caused a stir at this year’s NAMM show, with everyone talking about it right from the release – and Marshall have been all over this. Not wanting to drag their heals in the wake of this buzz, stocks of the entire range have been shipping all over the world, including our little corner of it that so often gets left behind with new products. But what is on offer? Well, it all starts with the Code25, a small combo for practice purposes. Things get a little louder with the Code50, a larger combo that bridges the gap between some applications. Then, the Code100 is available in a 2×12” combo or as a head for those looking for a larger rig. Whilst the Code25 has a slightly cut down interface with fewer options on the control panel, the larger ones all have the same great array of controls and allow full editing of preset and features without the need to use a pedal or software platform.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT
What best describes how Marshall have gone about this venture into the amp modelling world is to say that they have gone and copied the amps that they most like, their own. And who better to release an amp with a preset model of a JTM45 than Marshall. After all, if anyone is going to know the Marshall sound and know how to recreate it, it surely has to be Marshall themselves. They have teamed up with Softube, the well-respected software manufacturer, to create a digital platform within these amplifiers that delivers an extremely realistic replica of all the Marshall tones from over the years. And best of all, they have not just limited it to complete amplifiers, but approached it in a preamp, power amp and speaker cabinet build, so you can mix and match from all your favourite Marshall models over the years and build a new rig in moments. On top of this, you also get a whole range of digital effects to compliment you amp sound, making this an all-in-one package.
As for the controls, you get the standard looking gold and brown Marshall knobs with the essential adjustments available all the time. Gain, bass, mid, treble, volume and master controls are present for quick and easy adjustment over each patch, without needing to dig around in menus to dial in a tone every time you change to a new patch. The intuitive design does make it pretty simple to get around the internal architecture when you do want to adjust effects, amp models or cabinets. This is where Marshall have again been clever, because although you are running somewhat of a supercomputer inside this amplifier, it still feels and behaves like a typical amp would, with you only needing to adjust a few things to dial in a tone.
ALL THE TRIMMINGS
Now, this isn’t going to tickle the fancy of all the valve purists out there, that much I can be certain of. But, I would hazard a guess that many are going to want to at least have a listen to these amps before turning their noses up at them, as they do have plenty to offer. Beyond the amp and cabinet modelling, there is a Bluetooth connection that allows you to stream music form an iOS device straight to your Code amp of choice. If you are like me and prefer to keep your music housed securely within cables, and not let it fly around in the air as it pleases, you can always run music in through the auxiliary audio input instead from any device and use that to jam along with. If you still want to plug in more devices to your amp, then a USB connection is going to get you interested as well. This allows you to treat the Code just like an audio interface to your computer and record directly through it using the amp modelling and effects on your guitar signal on the way in, making it an ideal home recording tool with all the Marshall sounds ready at your fingertips.
Having seen the Code25 and the Code100H so far, I can honestly say that Marshall have done the right thing in waiting so long to tackle the world of modelling amplifiers. If you are looking for a thousand presets with every amplifier known to man in it, this may not be the amp modeller for you. But, if you want to access what is essentially a library of Marshall amp sounds bundled into one box, then this is going to be the next amp for you. After all, who is more qualified to build modelling of Marshall amps than Marshall themselves? They have the access to all the original designs and know the sound better than anyone else does and it shows in the tone that these amps deliver. Every Marshall fan is going to find some joy in these amps and it may just turn a few too.
For more details on Marshall Amps, head to elfa.com.au.