In this age of super futuristic digital guitar amp and effects modeling technology and the ability to get fantastic guitar tones at silent volume levels, a primal analog need still exists – volume.
You’ve got your AxeFx/Kemper/Mooer/Atomic/Line 6 modeler, you’ve got a guitar speaker cab – now you need something to make it louder. Enter the Seymour Duncan Powerstage power amps.
They come in 3 different varieties – the 170, the 200, and the 700. They’re designed to take whatever type of processor/preamp you’re feeding them and amplify it through your cab – exactly as it sounds going in. They’re clean, and flat, and powerful, and have a ton of headroom so you’re not getting a clipped or distorted version of your tone at the volume you want.
But what’s the difference between them? Which one should you get for your rig? Let’s compare.
- 170 Watts Mono
- Volume/Bass/Mid/Treble dials
- Smallest of the 3, easily fits on most pedalboards
- Least powerful, but still incredibly loud
- No balanced XLR out or headphone out
- $399 street
- 200 Watts Mono
- Most features of the 3
- Volume/Bass/Mid/Treble controls like the 170, but adds Presence and Headphone Volume knobs
- Slightly larger than the 170, still pedalboard friendly
- Balanced XLR out and headphone out with switchable Cab Sim
- Aux in jack
- Switch to turn EQ on or off for the XLR and headphone outs
- $499 street
- 700 watts per side dual mono power
- Same features as 170 except for dual inputs, dual combo Speakon/1/4″ outputs, and dual balanced XLR outs with switchable Cab Sim option per side
- Rack-mountable, slightly larger than 2U
- Largest of the 3 by a lot, but more than 3x the power of either per side
- Good for rack systems, can be power for 2 guitar players or a stereo rig
- $699 street
Having tested each of these, I can tell you straight up that any of these is loud enough to compete with your drummer, for sure. If that is your worry, then worry not – plug into your cab and plug in your earplugs. If it’s flexibility and features you’re after, the 200 is gonna be your best bet, and for only $100 more than the 170, in my book it’s the best buy.
If you’re a touring professional with a rack rig playing various different kinds of venues and a variety of volume level needs, the 700 will be your go-to for never having to wonder if you’ll have enough volume and headroom on any size stage. It’ll be absolute overkill for the average bedroom guitarist or weekend warrior playing small venues – for those kinds of guitarists, either of the smaller ones will be more than enough.
Really, any of the Seymour Duncan Powerstage series power amps will get the job done for the majority of any guitarist’s needs, but hopefully this guide will help you to decide which of the three fits your needs and budget the best so you can get your tones to the masses.