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Carvin MACH100 100W Stereo Pedal Amplifier review

Today in downsizing triumphs: a 100-watt stereo power amp in a small stompbox...

  • $179
(Image: © Carvin)

Our Verdict

The MACH100 has such an extraordinary amount of power and neutral tone that it makes absolute sense for the gigging musician to carry one, either as a backstop in case of amp failure or to use as part of a fully portable pedalboard rig.

Pros

  • It's loud.
  • Neutral tones.
  • Stereo functionality.
  • It couldn't be more portable.

Cons

  • The power supply is bigger than the pedal.

What is it?

The Carvin MACH100 is definitely one to file under "Is it just me or are guitar amplifiers getting smaller nowadays." Quite possibly, it's the smallest, most portable power amp we have seen, and yet it offers some very substantial features.

First off, it has 100-watts of clean power to amplify your signal, that's 50-watts going into each channel. The setup is simple. In an enclosure smaller than your average BOSS stompbox, and that's your power amp. Simply build your rig around it on the pedalboard. 

As Carvin demonstrates on their site, their all-tube X1 preamp pedal works nicely, simply run that – or a preamp pedal of your choosing – into the MACH100 and run the signal out of one of the two speaker outputs to your cabinet.

Run and outboard preamp into the MACH100, et voila! You have your rig. 

Run and outboard preamp into the MACH100, et voila! You have your rig.  (Image credit: Carvin)

There are two speaker outputs here. One can go to a cabinet, one could be used for monitoring, or you could set up a stereo rig. Indeed, the MACH100 is set up to drive drive two guitar speakers with 16, 8 or 4 ohm impedance.

There's a footswitch to mute the amplifier and a level control to control your output. The LED lights red when muted, green when operational. There's a headphones output for monitoring, and a line in for playing a backing track through the pedal/amp.

Performance and verdict

The MACH100 ticks all the boxes in terms of portability. It won't hog your pedalboard real estate, and we defy you to find a power amp that's smaller.

For gigging musicians, especially those whose rigs are centred on their pedalboard setup, the MACH100 is a sensible piece of kit to have around. It costs less than 200 dollars and could save your show if an amp goes down.

Also consider...

(Image credit: Victory)

Victory The Duchess V4
Ample headroom, clean tones sweetened by an incredible valve-driven preamp, reverb and tremolo for adding space and movement to your tone, the Duchess has it all in one little box.

Seymour Duncan PowerStage 170
This is clearly more aimed at gigging than studio use and it should be judged accordingly. For the guitarist looking to strip back their live rig to a board and a cab, this could be the silver bullet.

The tone coming out of the MACH100 is neutral and gin clear. Going through a regular guitar speaker cabinet, this brings out the midrange and low end, so an EQ somewhere down the line and a little tweaking might be in order to find the sweet spot.

The MACH100's power supply is a 24VDC brick that's bigger than the unit itself, so you'll have to find a way to place that where its connection is going to be safe and secure and out of the way.

But you won't lack for power. And you shouldn't lack for space. The MACH100 feels like the start of something, like it is the next step in the downsizing of our backline and its relocation to the floor.

MusicRadar verdict: The MACH100 has such an extraordinary amount of power and neutral tone that it makes absolute sense for the gigging musician to carry one, either as a backstop in case of amp failure or to use as part of a fully portable pedalboard rig.

The web says...

"I auditioned the MACH100 through several different cabs, and, as anticipated, the MACH100 is primarily a loud and clean pedal, which makes it ideal as a neutral tonal center for the many effects and drives on my pedalboard. The MACH100 is very loud and capable, and the stereo option alone makes it worth investigating."
Guitar World

Hands-on demos

Carvin

Specifications

  • PRICE: $179
  • TYPE: Stereo power amp pedal
  • OUTPUT: 100W (50W per channel)
  • DIMENSIONS: 44mm (H) x 73mm (W) x 125mm (L) 
  • WEIGHT: 11.8oz
  • CHANNELS: 2
  • CONTROLS: Level, Mute/Engage footswitch
  • ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Line in, headphones out
  • POWER: 24V DC supply (included)
  • CONTACT: Carvin