The Koch Studiotone

No-Sweat Double-Duty
The Koch Studiotone
The Koch StudiotonePrice: $1,595 (head)
Contact: Koch Guitar Electronics, Neonweg 27, 3812 RG Amersfoort, The Netherlands; phone: +31 174 515015;

Koch Amplifier’s 20-watt Studiotone uses an all-tube circuit powered by a matched pair of Ruby EL84 tubes producing 20 watts and three 12AX7A preamp tubes.

The Studiotone’s lightweight, compact (19 pounds/18″ x 9″ x 9″) cabinet is made of 11-ply birch plywood covered in black tolex with chrome hardware. It may be small, but it’s loaded with features, including three footswitchable channels (Clean, Overdrive 1 and Overdrive +), spring reverb, a recording output with a speaker dummy load, cabinet emulation, effects loop, and high-quality components. The control layout includes a three-way toggle for switching between channels labeled Clean, OD, and OD+, a three-way Gain toggle for the OD+ channel, clean Volume for the Clean channel, Gain and Volume for the OD channel, active Treble, Mid, and Bass tone controls, a Mid Shift mini-toggle, three-way Bright switch, Reverb knob, and switches for Standby and Power.

The rear panel houses three 1/4″ speaker-output jacks (4-, 8-, and 16-ohm), a speaker on/off switch that switches to a dummy load and the recording output section, a headphone jack, two 1/4″ Line Output jacks (filtered and unfiltered), a 1/4″ recording output jack, a two-position cabinet emulation switch (single 12″ or 4×12″), a two-position microphone angle switch (on-axis and off-axis), a pair of effects loop in/out jacks, a footswitch jack, and detachable power cable inlet.

We listened to the Studiotone by plugging in a Fender Custom Shop Custom Classic Stratocaster, a Paul Reed Smith McCarty Soapbar, and a Hamer Studio with Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbuckers. We plugged into the matching Koch 2×12″ closed-back cab with Koch ceramic-magnet speakers, and an open back 2×12″ with Tone Tubby speakers.

With the Strat and the PRS, the amp’s clean tones were round and Fender-like. The active tone controls, Bright switch, and two-position Mid Shift proved very well-voiced and made compensating between the Strat and the PRS single-coils a breeze. The Bright switch works great with the Strat’s extra-hot bridge pickup, and allowed us to nicely soften highs.

Switching the amp to OD proffered an excellent, slightly aggressive blues-overdrive tone with fair amount of sustain and nice, dirty overtones. For the most part, we kept the tone controls between the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions. With the amp’s Volume controls turned all the way up and the Hamer plugged into OD+, we used the Midrange control to scoop the mids for a modern overdrive/distortion sound. This setting also let us truly utilize the Mid Shift switch to get two distinct sounds, changing the frequency of the midrange control from a higher, more cutting sound to a lower, deeper sound.

Though the Twintone produces only 20 watts output, it is undoubtedly loud enough for most small-to-medium-sized-club gigs, unless you need a pristine clean tone at high volumes, as even the clean channel broke up a little when the EL84 power tubes are pushed to higher volumes.

As with both of our previous tests involving Koch amps, the reverb circuit in the Twintone is outstanding – lush, with a crisp, clean tone and a deep dwell.

We tested the Studiotone’s recording output by connecting it to a small console and a pair of JBL reference monitors. Through the recording rig, it gave a very accurate representation of how it sounds through the two speaker cabinets. The cabinet emulation switch offers two subtle tone options – a tighter, thicker sound with enhanced low-end response in the 4×12″ position, and a more open/even combo-amp tone in the 1×12″ position. The microphone position switch also gave very usable options; the direct/on-axis position offered a brighter, more articulate sound than the off-axis position, which gave a dark, more midrange-oriented tone more suitable for heavy overdrive.

With its recording output section and compact design, the Koch Studiotone is a very giggable amp that could run a favorite cabinet at the gig, then the head could be easily hauled home or to the studio to record direct while still delivering “live” gigging tone. – Phil Feser

This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2007 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

No posts to display