Dennis Marshall Acoustic Preamp review

A valve-driven acoustic preamp

  • £298
The ECC83 valve imparts a moody red glow through a mesh-protected outlet hole in the top

MusicRadar Verdict

For the gigging electro-acoustic musician this mini preamp could well become indispensable. Not cheap, but then neither is the sound it produces.


  • +

    Thorough and thoughtful specification. Variable warmth.


  • -

    Usability - hard to adjust as a floor unit.

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In the pursuit of amplified acoustic tones, there are plenty of ways to be relieved of your hard-earned cash. This compact valve preamp, however, could be the only thing you need - especially if you go direct into a PA.

The ECC83 valve imparts a moody red glow through a mesh-protected outlet hole in the top on the large DI-sized matt black unit, though the matching red legends aren't the easiest to see in dim venue lighting.

"This is an extremely good-sounding preamp with sensible EQ centres"

The two sides house the controls. On the input side we have fixed bass and treble and variable parametric midrange with frequency and level controls. The 'heat' rotary controls how much of the signal passes through that valve. Then we have 16 digital effects, with control over one parameter per effect along with wet/dry effects level.

On the output side there's an unbalanced jack monitor output with level, a balanced XLR DI output, again with level control, plus ground lift switch and input for the supplied 12V AC adaptor.


This is an extremely good-sounding preamp with sensible EQ centres - the bass handles the deep low end, the treble enhances or attenuates the sparkle, while the broad midrange control dials in on those often unnatural mids.

But it's the heat control that progressively adds warmth and definition and really makes a difference. The analogue-filtered digital effects are very good, too, and stylistically broad.

If you can find somewhere to put it (the manufacturer suggests an iPad stand attached to your mic stand), you may find it very hard to part with this preamp.

Dave Burrluck

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.