When we listen to the performance of our favorite bands, we hardly ever start thinking about the blood, sweat and tears that were required to make it happen. We tend to ignore the time and effort spent on practicing each chord, note or riff. We sometimes forget how much dedication it takes to be good enough for stage. We see those guitar virtuosos, but we do not see the struggle, pain and exhausting rehearsals. But whether we think about this or not, every guitar player starts from the very beginning. They all pick up their electric guitars, connect them to a quality amplifier and start working tirelessly on the techniques that lack perfection. That is how legends are born. Even though it might not seem like it, practice amplifiers play an integral part in that process. Yeah, this sounds boring and not as exciting as 100 watt stage beast, but these small combos are the ones that contribute to your craftsmanship the most. Today we will be talking about Donner DEA-1, one of the best members of the practice amp family. If you want to get your hands on it but are not sure whether it is worth it or not, just stay with me and I will help you make the final decision.
Donner DEA-1 is one of those amplifiers, that get the job done perfectly, but if you happened to need some more, you would have to look elsewhere. Do not get me wrong, this is not bad by any means. It is always better to have a simple unit that actually works rather than have to fuss with extremely versatile unit that sucks at every single feature. Now that we have that out of the way, I want to mention the design of the amplifier. DEA-1 has a black chassis with silver front, Donner logo, sturdy corners for additional protection and rubber pads for eliminating slippage. This way you will not have to worry about your kids stumbling upon your handy amp and ruining it permanently. More importantly, it has 10 watts of power capacity that is paired with a single 6.5” Special Design speaker. DEA-1 has two channels, namely, Clean and Boost, which add certain diversity to your sonic possibilities. We do not have any on-board effects here, so you might want to grab a pedal or two if you need some reverb or delay. Everything is pretty simple in terms of jacks and sockets. DEA-1 has a single input for your instrument, an auxiliary input for MP3s, CDs and other audio sources (allowing you to jam along your beloved tracks) and a headphone output (providing you with the ability to practice in silence).
Since we do not have that many features, the control section is not replete with knobs either. It has all the essential encoders that offer accurate response and extreme precision. Without further ado, let’s discuss all the knobs that are mounted on the surface and learn some basic info.
The front panel starts with the Gain knob. This little fella amplifies the parameters of your signal to the point where it starts to get distorted. Then we have a channel selector, which shifts between Clean and Boost channels. Volume knob sets the level of the overall output, while Bass, Middle and Treble act as a three-band EQ. Bass is in charge of lower frequencies, while middle and treble take care of mid-range and high-end, respectively. And that’s it. Twisting these couple of knobs is all you will need to find the settings that work the best for you and suit your performance the most.
When certain brands create the cheaper models, they sometimes compromise the quality for the price. That is why it is always a bit nerve-wracking when you test the sound of an affordable amplifier for the first time. Those doubts were tormenting me when I got the DEA-1 and was about to start experimenting with its sound. But luckily, Donner manages to create inexpensive combos without sacrificing the tonal quality. This particular amplifier is quite loud compared to what its capacities force us to believe. With only 10 watts, it sounds bigger than one would expect from the first glance. This bad boy can create clean tones that are saturated with character, definition and brightness. As you switch to the boost channel, you will notice an audible jump in volume. This channel is way louder than the clean one and offers some decent overdriven sounds. Even though we do not have an effects loop here, DEA-1 works perfectly with effects pedals, allowing you to incorporate other audio effects in your performance. The equalizer is pretty responsive as well, making sure that you have the ability to tweak your tone to its very existence. Would I expect such spectacular sound from an affordable amplifier? Yeah, I would, since Donner convinced me that anything is possible.
I do not want to take up any more of your time, but I still want to summarize everything once more, so that you get the general idea of the benefits of this amplifier. DEA-1 is a great representation of the case when price does not mean quality, at all. Instead of a crappy unit that will break half-way, what we have here is a durable amplifier that will not leave your side for many years. It will nag you with its greatness and usefulness. It has all the essentials and just a tad more, leaving a concert-hall-sized room for creativity and exploration. If you are intrigued, try it out yourself. Good luck!