Yamaha THR10 Amplifier review

I’ll just cut straight to the point. The Yamaha THR10 is amazing. There, I said it. This is a truly outstanding, and dare I say essential, piece of kit for any musician.

I set out to write a brief 250 word review to give readers an idea of what to expect of it sonically. As it turns out, a review that short just wouldn’t do this unit justice, there are just so many good things to say about it that it really deserves a complete and thorough investigation.

I was previously asked to review the Orange Micro Crush mini amp and I had a lot of fun with it, it was small, battery powered, good looking and had a surprisingly well rounded sound for it’s size. The THR10 is also a small battery powered amp but that’s where the similarity ends. The Yamaha THR10 is in a different price bracket, and sonically, is in a totally different league. Apart from the immediately obvious difference in sound quality what does the Yamaha offer that the Orange Crush doesn’t?

Versatility. I’m also a bass player and was looking for a small, portable battery powered amp that could handle my bass for home practice without having to wheel in a 300 watt window shaking stack. The THR10 is as comfortable with a bass as it is with a six string and despite it’s tiny 3” speakers it produces a wonderfully deep and full sound.

Built on Yamaha’s VCM (Virtual Circuit Modelling) technology and using the same effects technology found in Yamaha’s high end mixing desks, the THR10 is a multi voiced tube amp emulator. It offers five different amp simulations based on some of the worlds best selling amps, in fact if you’ve heard the sound on record, you’ll find it here. Alongside bass, acoustic and flat inputs, you’ll find remarkably accurate representaions of amps from the likes of Fender, Marshall, Vox and Mesa Boogie.

Whatever you play and however you play it, there will almost certainly be a sound to suit your style. Playing clean with a touch of chorus and reverb gives the most rich jazz tones, reach for the crunch setting for searing blues solo’s and dial up the Modern setting for crisp, overdriven metal tones. I can’t think of a single style of music that can’t be faithfully replicated with one of the five main settings.

Yamaha have really have gone to town with the modelling on the THR, with the dials reacting differently from one amp model to the next just like they would on their real life counterpart. Cutting the tone back on one model may kill the sound completely yet be almost redundant on another. Likewise, a slight tweak of the gain on the Modern (Mesa style) setting results in huge overdrive, something you’ll not achieve on the clean models. It takes some time to get used to but if you’re familiar with how, say a Vox or Marshall, responds in real life, you’ll feel instantly at home.

The quality of the sounds really are second to none. I’m not a huge fan of amp simulations and have been disappointed in the past with products from the likes of Line 6 which while they offer huge variety and certainly have their place, they can have a slightly cold digital edge to them. The THR10 has changed my view, each model has a real tubelike warmth to it, always sounding lively and full. The effects are also in a different class, the reverb’s and delay’s create an incredible amount of space and the chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo are all superb replications, which when used in moderation, can make a dramatic difference to your tone. Delve deeper into the THR Editor software on a PC or Mac and you also gain access to a compressor and noise gate as well as significantly improved control of effects and a selection of different cabinet simulations. The software also gives you 50 presets created by Yamaha as well as the ability to save, and share, your own creations.

So, we’ve got a variety of amp models, some high end effects and a fistful of reverb’s and delays but it doesn’t end there. An aux input allows you to plug in your mp3 player and either play along or simply use it as a portable speaker system. The sound quality of mp3 playback is exemplary, never boxy, well defined with a remarkable wide sounding stereo effect. Bass is well handled without becoming woolly and the top end is sharp and defined without ever threatening to split. This really does provide hifi quality playback that beats a number of similar priced dedicated iPod docks.

A rear facing USB port turns the Yamaha THR10 from a near perfect practice amp to the perfect recording tool and soundcard. Fire up your favourite DAW (or use the included version of Cubase) and you can record hiss free, digitally perfect guitar tracks. You can also record both wet and dry signals simultaneously so you can preserve the raw sound of your guitar as well as the effected, modelled amp sound. It’s totally fuss free, once the driver was installed, the amp was instantly recognised by my version of Logic and the recordings were some of the clearest and best results I’ve ever had. It can also be used as a foldback device, and if home recording isn’t your thing, it still makes a great laptop soundcard and is a world away from the tinny inbuilt speakers you’ve become used to.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the speakers are too small to make a serious sound. One look at the specs sheet is enough to ring alarm bells for most people. How can a guitar and bass amp produce any kind of usable tone from just 3 inch speakers? Well, Yamaha have designed this amp for a specific purpose, to sound good at low volumes. Most guitar amps can’t reach their best tone at low volume and Yamaha have approached this differently from any other lower wattage practice amp. What Yamaha set out to do was present you with a HIFi quality, stereo guitar tone representing the final master track from a recording. And it it works. Just plug in your guitar, choose your sound and you’re gifted that dream tone that studio engineers work tirelessly to achieve. It’s more than loud enough for the home but it’s also rich, deep and expansive.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, the Yamaha THR10 truly is a thing of beauty. It’s retro styling sits perfectly in the lounge or studio and will almost certainly meet with the approval of the non guitar players in your household.

In short, the Yamaha THR10 is a HiFi quality stereo speaker system for your mp3 player, laptop or PC. It’s also a pro quality audio interface, and a truly outstanding practice amp. I was intrigued by Yamaha’s promotional hype but I also expected to be disapointed. I wasn’t. The THR10 truly is the best home practice amp I’ve ever heard and it’s a product that continually excites me. It really does have to be experienced to be believed, it fulfills many roles and achieves them all flawlessly.

Yamaha THR5 vs THR10

Although I reviewed the THR10 model here, there is also the Yamaha THR5 to consider.  It has the same power output but with a slightly smaller footprint and a few crucial omissions.  The features you’ll miss if you opt for the cheaper THR5 are the 5 User Memory Presets found on the THR10 and it is also missing the Bass, Acoustic and Flat settings (the THR5 is strictly guitar only, bassists and vocalists will need the larger model).  They both have exactly the same speakers and wattage but I have seen it mentioned that the larger cabinet size of the THR10 helps create a slightly louder and larger sound than the smaller model.  You’ll also have just a single tone knob rather than the Bass, Middle and Treble controls found on the THR10 and there is also no option to adjust the mix between guitar and aux input.  Whether these things matter to you will be down to personal choice but being a bass player the larger model was the only choice for me. Having now used it extensively I’m not sure I could cope without the memory presets or the full tone control.  Certainly, to my mind at least, the THR10 is the model to buy if versatility and tone control are high on your list.

FOOTNOTE 

The Yamaha THR10 and it’s smaller sibling, the THR5, were both launched at the end of 2011 in a small initial run.  These early units were plagued with a widely reported issue that caused a loud audible hum on some of the higher gain settings, the hum being so loud on some units that is actually smothered the output.  Luckily Yamaha listened to customer feedback and it appears withdrew the unit from sale so the issue could be fixed.  New stock started to arrive in UK stores late in February 2012.  The issue was due to the power adapter and all units are now being shipped the with improved PSU which I’m happy to confirm has fixed the fault.  There is no hum, hiss or feedback to be heard.  If you’re one of the unlucky early adopters and have one with a faulty PSU please contact Yamaha, they are currently in the process of replacing all the affected faulty units with the new improved power supply.

See it in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWjUVQbHLnM

See how to record with the Yamaha THR10 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzKOzppQi6k

48 Comments

Filed under Music

48 responses to “Yamaha THR10 Amplifier review

  1. Namz

    Man…would really love to get my hands on one but unfortunately it’s not available in Malaysia yet.

    Someday soon. Godspeed :)

  2. Buddy N

    I have had the amp for about a month, I can tell you it is everything they say it is . Just an incredible amp. Great harmonic tones , you can get a Marshall cranked harmonic lead tone at whisper volumes if you wish. Simply amazing!!!. Highly recommended.

    • Say no more..say no more please! When is the damn thing going to be available in Asia. Can’t even seem to find it on Japanese online stores. But I’ll get one. One way or the other.

      Thanks for the heads up Buddy.

      • Frankie

        Great review, and totally agree, sold out in Australia in a week. Got the last one and its a killer, $319 in Australia ATM, given the quality and features its a bargain.

  3. Markus

    Well. I just bought a THR in Australia and seem to have the power supply problem. Serious buzzing. Not possible to use like this. Big disappointment. I hope yamaha sorts out this problem and sends me a new power supply. The amp sounds pretty good otherwise.

    • I’m surprised, you must have got an old stock model. If you contact Yamaha via their website they will send you the new power supply, it makes a huge difference. The faulty first batch of PSU’s were a big problem and effectively make the amp almost unusable but you should get a replacement without any problems.

  4. I agree. I am loving this unit and have redesigned my system to accommodate it.

  5. Does it works with an extra pedal?

    • Yes, it works with any effects pedal. Just connect the ‘OUT’ of the pedal to the input of the amp as you usually would. I’m using mine with a Joyo Vintage Overdrive and it sounds great. I’ll be reviewing some budget pedals shortly so stay tuned….

  6. mirh

    For playing (only in home) blues (Hendrix, SRV, Duane Allman) and old rock (not going to play really heavy) what do you recommend: Yamha THR10 or Fender Mustang III ? Price of both are similar.

    • Personally I would choose the Yamaha as it sounds and reacts very much like a true tube amp. The mustang is a great amp though and is more versatile as it had more preset amp models than the Yamaha, ideally play both and choose what suits you best. I do believe though that the THR10 is the most accurate modelling amp to date.

    • Smokin Joe

      I have the Mustang mini as well as the THR10. THey are two very diferent things. One was 129.00 and the other was 300.00 and you can sure tell the difference. The yamaha blows the mustang out of the water. That being said the Mini is a ture blast and once you learn how to use it it’s just too cool, it’s a real blast. WAY WAY more presets and you can get some really lush great cleans out of it. Where the fender fails (at least the mini) is the crunch and dirt. The yamaha really shines there. I love the fender but at the end of the day it’s a toy, the yamaha is in a class all by itself. I have never heard any small battery operateable amp even come anywhere near to comparing. And I have or have tried most of them. VOX, Roland (mini and I swear that rectifier is a BLAST on that thing) but the yamaha is truly amazing. Take a little will to look at the manual and if you suck at presets you can downoad some killer patches for it. THe software is great at really dialing in the tones.

  7. Zatyricon

    Thanks for the best review so far on this amazing piece! I located a local one yesterday here in the SF Bay area (very hard to find so far and I’ve been watching for some time – outside of order on internet and wait for new stock). The THR10 is an unleashed little beast. What awesome tube tones – beats all the silly line 6 devices hands down – Now i can have awesome tone in my SF apartment without plugging in the Hot Rod Deville and pissing off my neighbors. Also it is a great MP3 speaker – I cant wait to do a play along with some stored songs. Thanks for helping me seal the deal!!

  8. Jorge Galeano

    I Agree with Zatyricon, thanks to your review!

  9. smokin Joe

    I read all the reviews and to be honest they all sound like they are faked. But I had to try it myself just to see. All I can say is quit wasting your time listening to youtube videos and reading reviews, run to the nearest store and grab one before they are all gone. This one is going to go down in history as one of the truly great amps. I have tried all the low watt amps and nothing compares to this amazing amp. it’s truly boggles the brain to see this little lunch box thing sitting on my coffee table and hearing the lush tuby sonic feast coming from it. It really truly is everything they say it is

  10. Sean

    Just bought this after playing it in Guitar Center. As soon as the salesman turned it on and I heard the lush Chorus clean I was floored. Then he switched to the modern high gain and I could not believe how this little thing sounded. It just feels right playing it. Very tube-like. They only had the demo unit in stock so I bought immediately! The perfect “bedroom amp.” Exactly what I was looking for. I agree Yamaha just produced a history-making amp.

  11. Hello guys and thank you for the great review. I am thinking of buying this great amp (THR 10) very soon this month. I have one quick question please. Can I output the sound from the THR 10 to my PC speakers? I got the Logitech 350Z 5.1 and would be great to hear the sound from the speakers? Is this possible?

    • I’m sure you’d be able to take a line out from the headphone socket of the THR into a line in on your speakers (assuming they have audio inputs). I’m not quite sure why you would want to though, I’m sure it would only degrade the sound as I imagine the PC speakers will be of a lower quality than the Yamaha’s original output.

      I’ve known of people running a line out of the headphones into a PA or mixing desk for a gig worthy volume boost so I’m sure it’s possible with your setup too.

    • Smokin Joe

      It has a headphone out and usb that can be used as input to just about PC based recording software. So short answer is yes. But why in the world would you want to? the amp sounds KILLER. plus the yamaha has an AUX in so you will most proably send the output of the PC to the yamaha and jam along with youtube or CD’s or whatever is playing on you PC. but you can go either way

  12. Thanks a lot guys yes that will work for sure but what I was thinking was if I can output the sound to my speakers through the USB or is it just for recording through Cubase?

  13. Matt

    Thanks for posting this review. I’ve been playing guitar and rotating through gear for 20+ years and can confirm what you and others are saying… this thing is the real deal! While I was trying it out at the local GC everybody kept coming by and shaking their heads in disbelief that the tone was coming out of that little box… but it is… and I love it! Go get your ears on one and hear it for yourself… you’ll be floored. Also, check out this video that got me out the door to go check it out…

  14. Pingback: Yamaha THR-10 | Namz Crypt

  15. chris211

    hello i am really interested in buying THR10.!i started home recording some days ago so THR10 must be so helpfull to me.! i also want it as a normal amplifier not through my pc but from reviews they said it has an amazing sound! so i have 2 questions,can i put a microphone through this amp and record via pc(use this amp for vocal recording)? and my biggest question! is there any pedal so i can switch from clean to distortion?or the only way is to plug my dist pedal?(cause i may prefer the dist from this amp)!

    • It’s the perfect amp for home recording, I’ve had excellent results with my MacBook, in fact I’ve had dedicated soundcards that cost more than this amp but didn’t sound as good.

      Yes, with the THR10 you can plug in a mic and record the results, the THR5 is guitar only but the THR10 will handle guitars, vocals and bass. It’ll pretty much take any thing you want to plug in.

      As far as I’m aware there’s no dedicated foot pedal to switch from one preset to another. It has great cleans and some fantastic crunch and distortion but if you want to change sounds on the fly you’d be better of with using standard effects pedals for distortion, overdrive etc… The amp can do it all individually but changing the presets while playing can be impractical.

  16. Jeroen

    Bought the amp today and its really, really good. Highly recommended!

  17. As a lover of tube amps I wanted to hate this. After spending a week with my new Yamaha THR10 I have to say this is a seriously crazy piece of technology. It fits into reality, and the reality is that a lot of people want the sound of an overdriven tube amp at a tabletop scale for Youtube and home recording and personal use and this little piece of equipment nails it.

    There is nothing wrong with the past, tried and true will always be strong but this feels like the future. This feels like a good future. It made my world a lot better.

  18. Tom zachart

    Does the thr10 save all Effect settingsinfo to a preset. IE, compressor, and noise gate? Specifically, if I create a patch using the editor, then save it to a preset, will it save all settings?

    • toby k

      Hey Tom, I had the same query but having bought one, I can say with confidence that it does save all those settings on to the amp preset. Basically, you tweak your patch on the THR editor (with the amp connected), and then hold down the preset button on the actual physical amp. This means you can get some tasty reverb / delay / compression settings that you would never be able to achieve with the amp alone. Be warned that the THR5 doesn’t have these preset buttons, though.

      The THR10 a beautiful amp – I use it mainly for recording – and makes my cheapo Pacifica sound 100 times better!

  19. Nick

    can the thr 10 be plugged into say a hotrod deluxe to increase volume to jam with a band?

  20. shoe

    Picked one up today. All I can say is WOW! Having some difficulties activating the Cube base license (cannot find license code). This thing is very cool,

  21. Kouros

    I keep reading that only THR-10 will record bass and vocals.. Why is that? If the input impedance on both models is the same, the results in recording will also be the same.. DI-tracks should be equal on THR 5 or 10, shouldnt they?

  22. John Theodorou

    Thanks for the fine review and intrigued by some of the comments. How does this compare to the Fender G-Dec, do you know? Also, could you plug in a second guitar, instead of a bass, into the other port if need be?

  23. Jon_B

    I got a THR 10 as a practice amp for guitar, and I support all of the positive stuff people say about this product. It’s so easy to get a great sound, that this is often the first, and last, thing I plug my guitar into. If I find a sound I like, I could try to recreate it with another amp and pedals, but 99% of the time it just isn’t worth the effort. Much better just to do a direct recording through USB onto my mac. I’ve recorded a few things this way, keeping the unprocessed signal just in case I want to process it within Logic…but I’ve never bothered. The sound from the THR sits so nicely in a mix that there is no point. I’ve had the THR for about 6 months, but until this morning I had not plugged a bass into it. My bass amp is buried under junk in my office so I thought I’d try the THR. With a 4 string bass the sound was, once again, staggering. However, it couldn’t handle the low B on my 5 string Status, so I turned down the bass frequencies on the guitar. To compensate, i tried with the bass turned up on the THR, and got pretty decent low B without the distortion. So, it seems like it can’t handle strong low frequency inputs, but the modelling can make up for this to recreate a good bass sound. If you were playing a standard 4-string none of this would be an issue. The Status has a very “hifi” sound that contains a lot of high harmonics. This was flattered by the sound of the THR, where other combos with bigger speakers would miss out. The effects, particularly the flanger and reverb, produce a funky bass sound that had me grinning from ear to ear. The THR 10 is now my favourite practice amp for bass as well as guitar!

  24. Ton

    Thanks for the reviews on THR10, I just bought it and have some questions that you may able to help. Because I have a big wonders on when I select Clean/Crunch/Lead channel in my unit, I do need to dial the Guitar input/ Master & Gain beyond 12o’clock to be able to have the sounds out of it, I wonder if this is normal or the unit failure, I would like to know from all of you who have this unit and play it happily…I hope to join the group of happy customer too. Thank you in advance!

    • Joe

      I have had mine for a year,and that is not my experience. Mine even on the crunch and lead goes down to a barely audible sound.

    • That’s not my experience, each amp model has its own dynamics so the volume will vary quite widely from one amp to the next but if I’m quietly strumming I don’t often exceed 9 or 10 o clock on the dials. The beauty of the amp is it still sounds great at whisper quiet levels.

      Check you have the pickup volume on your guitar set correctly, if your pickup volume is set low you would have to drive the amount harder. If your guitar is set to max and you still need to dial the master/gain to 12 to get a sound I would guess the amp has an issue.

  25. Trevor

    Does any one use the THR 10 as a pre amp to go into a PA or bigger amp.
    From the headphone socket etc??

    • Joe

      I go thru an atomic cab 18 watts with spectacular results. you definately want so kind of front of house type speaker for best results. The Atomic Reactor cab are specifically designed for modelers suck as line 6 pods. I also run thru a behringer fx3000 P.A/ Keyboard amp but have to tweak the EQ more often. Keyboard Amps are great for modelers. I also ran it thru the Effects return of my laney lt5 and while I can get it to sound good it really colors the original sound of the preset. I really like the Atomic cabs I have a 50 watt and really want another so i can run it in stereo. Here’s a link to the cabs. http://www.atomicamps.com/products.htm

  26. MikeY

    Great review, I purchased a THR10 last week and it is totally awesome. No more struggling to find a good low volume tube like clean tone.

  27. Tim

    Hey there, Loving my thr10, but I cannot seem to record with it in any daw, the input level is so low (talking about the wet signal) no matter what I do. Am I missing a magic suck switch? Drivers are installed ok it seems and the editor hooks up ok, just virtually no recorded output – even of I set both gain an master to max. All other tracks sound fine monitored out to the THR. Help, ideas appreciated !

    M.

    • It may sound simple, but have you checked your guitar volume? I get a high input on my laptop so I’m sure you shouldn’t be having this issue. Perhaps other owners can chime in?

  28. Darryl

    Thanks for the excellent review!
    I just bought one and got it yesterday.
    Within 5 minutes of plugging in, a few tweaks with the clean patch and I was completely BLOWN away!
    This is just an amazing piece of engineering.
    The sonic quality and ambiance is astounding and the controls are so responsive.
    Just like a tube amp!
    I’m so inspired!
    Even turning it down way low at night, it never loosing its charm
    I absolutely love this practice amp.
    I have been using a Line6 PODXT for years and I thought it was a decent modeler until i heard this thing.
    Now I will use the Line6 for band practice…one less piece of gear to load.

    I have barley scratched the surface with the THR using one amp and what’s available on the front. Going to dive in to the other amps and try the software editor.
    Like a kid in a candy store
    D

    • I’m glad you like it! I wrote this some time ago and it’s still getting thousands of hits. I have I can be very fickle when it comes to gadgets and equipment but I still love this every bit as much as the day I first turned it on..

  29. Gary Rathbun

    Smokin Joe said about the Mustang that “you can get some really lush great cleans out of it”. I’m only interested in the clean sounds, so how would you compare the THR’s clean sounds to the Mustang 1 or Mustang Mini?

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