Ohm Solo SC60 combo
60 whats? Asks reviewer
It was rather a surprise to us when we received delivery of an Ohm SC60 combo to realise that, despite our having been around for a full year now, we'd never previously reviewed one of this British manufacturer's products. In retrospect, it's hard to see why this should have been. One can always say that there is simply so much gear on the market these days that it will take us a while to get round to everyone, but why Ohm should have been left so long is a puzzle. In fact we've had quite a bit of previous personal experience of their gear and have been consistently impressed by it. High time we shared that with you, our readers, so the arrival of this new guitar combo is more than timely.
For a 60 watt combo the SC60 doesn't make too much melodrama about itself. It's a small unit, quite a bit smaller than many 50/60 watt combos currently on the market, entirely made in Ohm's new Cheshire plant where they go as far as to make their own cabinets, covers, fittings, accessories and suchlike, as well as the amplifier stages themselves. In fact this amp even has an Ohm-made loudspeaker, one of their new Nemesis range, which look to be very nice units indeed.
Like all Ohm products, the SC60 is clad in a rather tasteful grey vinyl and is substantially built, featuring those nice rib-end cab mountings which afford very good protection from life's bumps and scrapes. The restrained look to this combo is even carried out as far as the panel graphics, the amp offering just a single input (at -40dB) marked in white against a two-tone grey metal panel. This looks pretty pleasant but may cause a slight problem in reading-off your settings when on a dimly lit stage. This is only a minor point but it could cause a slight nuisance in actual use.
Following the input and then a single volume volume, comes a lighter grey panel which is afforded two pots. These two channels are each indicated by neons, red for channel one (the clean channel) and green for channel two. Basically all you do is set-up your sounds for each channel (call them 'rhythm' and 'solo' if you like) and then use the foot-switch which comes with the unit to switch between them on stage.
Ohm have always struck us as being particularly good on their Eq stages, and they certainly don't do anything to harm that reputation (far from it, in fact) on this combo. Eq is provided by three pots, each active and each offering a 'flat at 12 o'clock' system, whereby you can either cut (turn to the left) or boost (turn clockwise) the tone across three bands, marked as bass, middle and treble. A reverb system is provided (a spring type) and this has its own variable control. There is a front panel mounted jack socket for the remote channel switching footswitch which also handles reverb in/out circuit. This latter also has its own red LED on the front panel to show whether it is switched in or out.
A final touch is the provision of a pre-amp output jack socket so that the amp can be connected to a mixer or a recorder. As the distortion sound the amp uses comes in largely at the front end this is very sensible. Overall construction standards of the Ohm seem to be very good judging by our sample. It's a very modern amp — easy to move around, well fitted with controls and effects, just about par for the course for a modern guitar player's combo and offering its features at a reasonable price level.
From a sound angle, the Ohm is particularly impressive. We sampled it using the usual cross-section of instruments that all Music U.K.'s review amps are tried with (a range which stretches from Gibsons to Fenders via several Japanese guitars) and found that its performance level didn't seem to bias it in favour of any one brand or type over another — a good point if potential customers own two or three guitars which they wish to use with it.
The active tone system worked very well, enabling us to add bass to single coil Fenders without losing that essential brand F' sound, and thin-down a Gibson without it resulting in a weedy transistorised special effect. In fact this is a very good tone control section, however you look at and sample it.
For a clean rhythm sound, the diminutive Ohm's first channel is very good. With a warm Gibson run through it, the tone is everything that a traditional Gibson-Jazz player could hope for, and with a Strat set in either the bridge pick-up only (or the 'in between' setting) it delivers a truly piercing Country sound which can be put to very good use.
On the Solo channel, the Ohm is also very good. The second channel offers a twin gain set-up (with the first gain called 'drive') and this can enable one to add the required amount of distortion into the basic sound you've set to give a really ballsy lead sound. In use, this 'drive' pot needs some careful setting as there is a tendancy for it to be a bit transistory if it's over-tweaked. When that happens the distortion rasps just a little too much and there is a shade of that after note 'fart' which tends to characterise transistor distortion effects when compared with the 'real thing' from a cooking valve amp.
But this 'drive' is something you fairly soon learn to handle, handle with a gentleness which means that it can add a pleasant rasp to chords or a full, sustained solo sound for powerful lead effects. It works, we feel, especially well with Fenders, not that it's bad with twin coil guitars, just that it enables a Strat set fairly thin to give a really quite impressive solo sound. Part of that may be due to the impression (very strong in some of our reviewers' opinions) that the 'drive' pre-gain pot added a fair amount of bass into the sound, indicating that it may be more than just a volume pot, that it could in fact be adding a bit of harmonic enrichment too.
Of course, being a twin channel amp, the Ohm SC60 will enable you to set a clean sound on channel one and a good (very good) solo sound on channel two. Regrettably, however, you can't set a distorted chord sound on channel one (there's no pre/post gain on that channel) unless you naturally overdrive the Ohm by using it up around full volume, and then switch to an even more distorted sound for solos. What you have here, in fact, is that fairly classical set-up where you have clean first channel for rhythm and a distorted sound for channel two. This will satisfy the majority of players, but it would have been good if a modicum of dirt could have been induced for chords on the normal channel. Mind you, it would always be possible to use channel two alone; set your guitar's volume pot down for chords and riffs and push it up a shade for solo sounds.
Overall the Ohm SC60 is a very usable combo indeed and we feel that any reader could find the sort of sound that he wanted from it, unless he was truly dedicated to the pure valve sound — in which case he'll have to reconcile himself to the extra expense which a 'bottle' amp necessarily entails.
For a really useful 60 watt combo, easy to transport around, based on transistorised technology, packed with tonal options and being especially well made, it's very hard to fault this latest Ohm amp. Consistently throughout our tests it performed well and would represent a very good buy for any of our readers who needed a good amp in this sort of price/power range.
RRP £231 inc. VAT
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