WEM Dominator 50 Combo Amp
Over the years, Watkins Electronic Music have established a reputation for making functional equipment which, though never very exotic, could justly be claimed a worthy foundation for any band's equipment. The Dominator Fifty continues this tradition.
The Dominator is a combination amplifier of conventional layout built into a strongly constructed wooden case which is covered in hard vinyl. In the top part of the case is a 50 watt all valve amplifier with a clearly marked front panel. The lower part of the case is an open backed speaker enclosure housing two 12 inch Goodman loudspeakers. These are rated at 60 watts each.
Two deeply inset carrying handles are fitted oh the sides so that the case can be carried by one person or two. A thick waterproof cover is provided to keep out the weather (or beer).
The amplifier has two input channels. One is a bright channel which has treble boost built in and a "bright" switch which adds further treble boost. This channel also has volume, treble, middle and bass controls. The normal channel has volume, bass and treble control only.
The main case is built in ½ inch plywood and finished to a good standard. There are no mouldings to protect the corners but if a user had strong feelings about this, he could easily add them. The case is nicely proportioned and little finishing "things" like moulded plastic air vents all add to the attractive appearance.
The electronics are built on a very large four sided steel chassis which is mounted "up side down". This carries the transformers, electrolytics and output valves on its 'top' (bottom) surface and a glass fibre printed circuit board inside. The printed circuit board carries the remaining three valves and all the small components. The front edge of the chassis is also the control panel.
Once the chassis is removed, access to every component is very easy indeed. However, removing the chassis was more difficult than it should have been because the carrying handles, which project inside the case, partly obstructed screwdriver access to the chassis fixing screws. Apart from this minor point the construction is well thought out and very neat. Components are all of good quality and well mounted. A special plastic chip had been used to mount one large electrolytic. Soldered joints are well made and the overall standard of workmanship is worthy of credit.
There is a danger that the air vents on the case top may be blocked if one is in the habit of putting music or other equipment on top of the amplifier. The consequences of blocking these could be serious so some self discipline over where one puts piles of music is essential for Dominator owners.
|Power Output||72.6W||at 10% total harmonic distortion||Better than 50W.|
|66.2W||at onset of dipping||spec.|
|Distortion (Total harmonic)||4.9%||at 50W 1 KHz. into||Mainly cross-over|
|0.34%||at 5W 'normal' channel||distortion|
|Sensitivity||28.3 mV.||normal chan for 50 watts output with|
|43 mV.||bright chan tone controls set for best flat response|
|Tone Control Range||Normal ch.||Bright ch.|
|23.4dB.||37dB. Bass @ 50 Hz.||The middle control|
|—||5.6dB. Middle @ 450 Hz.||gives 21dB, range|
|15.3dB||34dB. Treble @ 10 KHz.||at 6 KHz.|
|Noise referred to I.p.||—92dBm.||bright ch.||Good|
|Signal to Noise ratio||66.8dB.||bright ch. only||Good|
|80dB.||normal ch. only|
|Capacitive load test||Good|
This amplifier is a very practical piece of equipment which will satisfy a large number of users in both professional and semi-pro fields. The speaker handling capacity of 120 watts on an amplifier rated at only 50 watts gives a lot in hand and makes the unit suitable for bass guitar or organ as well as ordinary guitars.
The design is not of the type known to electronics engineers as having "negative feed back" and as a result, the sensitivity is very dependant on the condition of the valves. As the valves age the sensitivity will drop until there is insufficient gain. New valves will then have to be fitted.
There is a noticeable lack of 'extras' such as high and low sensitivity input sockets, slave output sockets etc. The absence of any 'effects' is probably an advantage because 'effects' bought separately are usually far better than those thrown in as 'extras' on an amplifier.
There is a mains voltage selector which cannot be seen without removing the back panel of the case. It would be a good idea to make this visible. Certainly, being able to select 110 volts for overseas gigs is a worthwhile asset.
The resulting sound combination of Dominator and guitar was good, and my overall impression is of a simple but workman-like piece of equipment which works very well.
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Review by Bruce Gibbs
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