Decisions, decisions: Genz Benz Black Pearl or Vox Night Train?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by jbp, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. jbp

    jbp Supporting Member

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    I need a grab and go EL-84 amp and I've narrowed it down to these two. The main tone I'm going for is mid gain EL-84 jangly, swirly, chimey, chewy loveliness. More tones than that is fine, but my biggest concern is covering the Vox/Matchless ground. And I don't necessarily need super clean or tons of gain.

    So....I know these are different amps and I'm VERY familiar with each, so we need not debate the different feature sets, wattage difference, price, etc.

    As much as we can compare apples to apples here, I'd love to hear your take on these amps from a purely tonal perspective. Assume both are being played with 1-12".

    What think ye, Night Train devotees and Black Pearl Posse members?
     
  2. John Thigpen

    John Thigpen Member

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    I own a Black Pearl 3x10, and played a Night Train in a store once. I liked the Night Train and have considered getting one for a smaller, more portable amp. I felt like the Night Train had much more distortion on tap, especially in thick mode. However, I wouldn't expect much clean headroom out of it. The Black Pearl is a great sounding amp. I think the cleans are wonderful, and I can dial in verge of breakup tones at a variety of sound levels. It's dirty tones are also good, but I think somewhat less gainy than the Night Train. I usually use a Timmy and a Jetdrive for lead tones. I think the Black Pearl may be capable of dialing in a wider variety of tones than the Night Train, but my time with the Night Train is pretty minimal.

    Portability is a huge difference. Admittedly, the 3x10 is an 80 lb beast, but I had a 1x12 also, and it was fairly bulky and heavy for a 1x12. The Night Train is surprisingly heavy for it's size, but it really is tiny. A 1x12 with an alnico blue (or Red Fang, like the Black Pearl) speaker would be a pretty compact rig.

    John

    PS...I just noticed you have one of Chuck's Fusion guitars. I have a Classic.
     
  3. tennisplayer

    tennisplayer Senior Member

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    Owned a Black Pearl for over a year. Played my friends NT. To me, it's no comparison. The BP has so many tonal variations and so much more power. The NT is like a toy compared to it. The NT was really designed to compete with the Tiny Terror.
     
  4. tele_jas

    tele_jas Member

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    Never owned a Vox Night train, but I tried one...... I owned a Black Pearl for about a year and actually kept it over a couple Dr. Z amps. It's a very underrated amplifier. It can chime, and crunch and has a many features found on more expensive amps (boost, Fx Loop, alnico speakers). I've got several clips of mine at: http://guitartest.moonfruit.com/#/genz-benz-black-pearl/4518222878 Some wankage and a couple of real songs.

    I no longer have it, but if I needed a good, cheaper, GREAT sounding amp there is no doubt that I'd get another BP.


    Oh yeah, they're built like a tank!!
     
  5. jbp

    jbp Supporting Member

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    I'd be so curious how a modded Night Train compares to the Black Pearl. I've heard wonderful things about Jule Amps and Fargen Hot Mods. I don't suppose anyone can speak to this?
     
  6. mbratch

    mbratch Member

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    Why did you get rid of the amp? What dethroned it? :)

    Great sounding demo clips, btw. :)
     
  7. Axe-Man

    Axe-Man Member

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    NT is a great, low cost, low power amp.

    IMO it has good headroom with a single coil guitar and a speaker with decent wattage for less breakup.

    Nice bright cleans which warm up with volume...triode/pentode, bright/thick modes for a swag of different sounds.

    Really like mine with a British voiced speaker.
     
  8. ajchance

    ajchance Member

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    I just received a NT and I've had a BP30 on and off again for a few years. My take is that the NT is a great amp that'll give you a solid Vox tone. The BP30 essentially takes that base tone (NT clean channel) and builds upon that with reverb, the voicing switch, boost, etc. Genzler also got it right in building this amp to withstand the old Samsonite gorilla test and coupled the amp with a perfect speaker choice. Grab and go is relative - the NT is like grabbing a pedal board in a bag. The Benz is a heavy 1X12!

    The only knock on the Benz is that it is single channel. I run it just on the verge of breakup - I like the responsiveness I get when I dig in a little. Pedals take care of the overdrive need. I like the dirty channel on the NT, but it's not a switchable channel in a performance situation, so the NT is essentially one channel as well.

    You didn't mention the application for the amp. I think you'll be happier with the Benz for performance situations. I use mine at church and, after many amp trials this is finally the answer for me. It cuts through the mix perfectly and has a fantastic tone - even at the low volume we're forced to adhere to. Definitely fits your requirement of "chimey, swirly, jangly, chewy, etc." If your looking for a home or studio application, I think the NT would be just fine - that's where I use mine.

    Two great amps - can't go wrong with either, fortunately!

    My .02
     
  9. tele_jas

    tele_jas Member

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    I was wanting more of the traditional Vox AC30 tone and ended up getting a Hayseed 30... Which pretty much became my #1 instantly. The GB ended up sitting in my closet for a few months before I traded it off. I never did find another amp to replace it with that was as good sounding and versitile, so I went a totally different direction than the Vox tone and got a Mesa Boogie. So not I have my essential Vox tone in the Hayseed and something totally different in the Boogie.

    Personally, if I had to rank my favorite amps (and I've had over 60), the Black Pearl would be a top 5 amp.... and that's putting it in there with, and above some, Dr. Z, Black Cat, Top Hat, Valvetech, ect...!
     
  10. jbp

    jbp Supporting Member

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    Love the clips...man, are those helpful.

    It sounds like the Dr. Z StangRay and RX are both chimier/crisper than the Black Pearl. More hi-fi sounding based off the clips. True?

    Also, can the BP do any of the thicker sounding EF-86 tones?
     
  11. jbp

    jbp Supporting Member

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    More opinions?
     
  12. furry

    furry Senior Member

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    I have owned both the 1x12 and head + 2x12 versions of the BP30. They were nice amps, but I sold them both for the same reason, which is that there was something lacking to my ears. I thought they did a few things relatively well, but nothing spectacularly well. And the reverb is very average. There also seemed to be a lower mid thing going on, particularly with single coils, that I could never dial out.

    In any case, I've only tried the Night Train in music stores, but I have to say, it had me at hello. It obviously doesn't have the versatility and clean headroom of the BP30, but it's WAY more portable, has a lot more gain available, and most importantly, it just SOUNDS better.

    The other thing is, you could run two Night Trains in stereo for the price of one BP30, and you'd have an automatic backup if one crapped out.
     
  13. tele_jas

    tele_jas Member

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    Yes, both those Dr. Z's are brighter than the Black Pearl... The odd thing, the BP can be bright but it is more of a brittle tone instead of just bright. Guess that's why the Dr (Z) makes such nice amps, that "botique" part about them really helps!


    The BP, while no Dr Z, is no slacker...... And as for the thicker, EF86 tones...... The BP can get thick and nasty, but doesn't have the clarity that the EF86 tube offers. Is it that noticable when you really listen to it in a mix of other instruments, no....... Is it worth the extra $700? I can't answer that. But I think the BP would really meet your needs.

    As for the "low mid" thing going on in the previous post...... IMO, that's the Red Fang speaker. When I had a Weber Alnico Blue in mine, it sounde so "Vox-like" it was scarey! The speaker really made a difference, but for what it's worth, I liked the Red Fang in there... That added "low-mid" gave a nice fullness to my OD pedals, and really thickened up my clean leads.
     
  14. Hangfire

    Hangfire Member

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    Well said, but after listening to all of your clips I'd have to say the BP clips were my favorite!
     
  15. s360guitarist

    s360guitarist Silver Supporting Member

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    Never hurts to ask around here really...

    I had a Jule Amps modded Night Train, and have owned a stock NT as well. Hard to say really if the Jule mod really does what it is said to do, (Check his website for that.) I really dug the Jule modded NT and had it for quite some time before moving it for more of an American voiced amp. I teamed it up with a Weber ceramic Blue in a 1x12 cab. I ran it at home and at church clean with a little grit and let pedals do the rest. (It takes pedals fine w/o a loop - no worries.) I used it as a clean platform with the master up and then raise the gain to suit the volume I needed.

    Lately, I have been on a Vox kick again and so I picked up another NT. It's a great amp, but I sold it within days as I just don't think it had, well, mojo like the other one. (Can't explain that one, sorry.)
     

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