MEET THE "SIMPLIFIER"
The Simplifier DLX built by DSM Electronics in Santiago, Chile, is a dual channel guitar amp with zero watts of output. The name says “Simplifier” but it might better be described as the “Complicator”. The number of knobs and switches combined with all the input and output options makes this one powerful guitar preamp.
WHAT IS IT?
The Simplifier DLX is a versatile 2-channel guitar amp minus the power amp section. In addition to the two completely separate preamps, there is an extensive effects section which plays nice with full stereo effects such as the Eventide H9 or Source Audio Collider.
|Two Channel preamp, A & B, realtime knobs, all analog|
The Simplifier DLX has two preamp channels which can be used in parallel or in a more traditional channel switching configuration where you can use either “channel A” or “channel B” with independently adjustable levels of distortion. In the Simplifier DLX, channel A is the one for cranking the gain and going for the crunch. Channel B is the one for big clean sounds.
Each preamp features a 3-position switch to contour the tone to be clean, crunch or lead. A second 3-position switch selects character which includes AC Brit, American or MS Brit. The AC Brit clearly leans toward the Vox tone while the American straddles the range between Fender and Boogie tonalities. The MS Brit is a distinctive salute to Marshall tonality. I could definitely play with the Simplifier DLX as my amp, provided I could hear myself well.
Each channel has a full set of input gain, 3-band EQ, Resonance and Presence knobs, reverb knob and master volume. It is incredible how the designer has included so many knob options. The knobs all feel very solid except for the EQ knobs which are a little bit wiggly but I think if you put it away in the box after a gig you will have no problems.
|SIMPLIFIER OUTPUT SECTION CONTROLS|
I was skeptical about the reverb until I heard it. I like giant reverb sounds and the Simplifier DLX does not disappoint. There are three different reverb alogithms to choose from and each does a great job of its name. In addition you get independent knobs for Channel A and Channel B so the reverb can mix nicely with your guitar tone regardless of which preamp section you’re using. Lead can be lower in reverb so it does not wash out while the rhythm can have its own distinct mix to highlight the guitar tone. Plate sounds very cool on funky 9-chords.
The “Etheral” reverb is my personal favorite. It yields a big reverb tone with a very nice long decay, this made me feel like you could choose the Simplifier DLX just for the dual preamps and the reverb features alone. Run your compressor or distortion monster pedals in front of the Simplifier DLX and you’ve got everything except amplification. These days there are plenty of options for making your sound loud so I applaud the designers decision to put in everything except the volume-making part.
KNOBS AND SWITCHES GALORE
The Simplifier DLX packs more knobs per square inch than any other stomp box we have in our studio (hundreds of boxes currently).
The Simplifier DLX includes a remote footswitch which allows for selection of channel A or B and whether the internal reverb is ON or OFF. There are LEDs for A and B as well as a separate light to indicate whether the internal reverb is on or off. The footswitch connects using a 1/8” TRS cable. The Simplifier DLX includes a cable that is approximatley six-feet long but you can buy replacements from Hosa or other providers.
HOW DOES IT SOUND?
If the only sound that works for you is a tube amp then you will probably not be happy with the Simplifier DLX. On the other hand, if you are one who embraces new technologies, then this box might be exactly what you’re looking for.
For tone comparison we have many amps here in the Proworkshop lab. Boogie, EVH, Fender and Marshall are all well represented. The Simplifier DLX has some stiff competion to contend with but when connected to a suitable power amplfier the DLX delivered world class tones like you’d expect from any of these players. Is it exactly the same as the namesakes? Nope but it’s in the ballpark and look at how many features you get in such a compact box.
The internal reverb in the Simplfier is really nice. Each of the two output channels has a reverb return knob so you have complete mix control. There are three different reverbs to choose from. I’m a reverb junky and very particular about my RT-60. I have to say the guys at DSM Humbolt totally nailed the reverb tones. Room is a nice short room sound, Ether is a delicious long verb for shoegaze and ambient styles and the Plate setting is a nice bright sound that does not wash away your tone. I’m happy with the reverbs and it’s great they are included, this really helps keep the footprint compact by not needing an external reverb.
Analog preamp signal paths = friendly tone. Each preamp is different and there are lots of adjustments. This pedal is a realtime 2-channel pedal with no programming and storing required. What you see on the knobs is what you get and there are complete knob sets for both of the two channels.
Everything is realtime, this is not a digitally controlled pedal. The preamps are all analog and they sound smooth and nice.
The distortion effects are very good, they clean up when you lower the guitar volume and you can get some serious crunch when you max out the channel A settings.
The remote pushbutton which controls channel A or B selection and Reverb On-Off is a nice addition. This lets you have the Simplifier on a table next to you for easy adjustments and the footswich can be on the floor where your foot selecting tool is.
Some features seem overly complex.
I don’t like using TRS jacks with partially inserted plugs to achieve correct connections. It’s part of optimizing stereo applications for the pedal but it just seems weird to me. It looks like a plug that was incorrectly not fully inserted.
EPILOGUE - SIMPLIFIER DLX ZERO WATT DUAL CHANNEL STEREO PREAMP
This is a fun box and offers a ton of options, almost too many but the creators have done an amazing job at packing so much power into such a tiny package. None of this would matter if the Simplifier DLX sounded bad but it does not. I’m an old tube amp guy and I love flexible recording options. The Simplifier delivers the complete package in one beautiful little aluminum box. For a musician who is looking to shrink their live rig to teeny but still sound huge, this box is a must see.
Thank you for reading High on Technology, Good Music to You!
This article is ©Sept 9, 2021 by Mark King. It's not ok to copy or quote without written permission.
Voltage requirement : 9 to 12 volts DC, center negative (same as Boss)
Current requirement: 200mA
Input Impedance: 1Meg Ohm
Output Impedance: Effect send, 1KOhm
Unbalanced Outputs: 4.7K Ohms
Balanced Outputs: 100 Ohms
Weight: 1 pound
Aux in for silent practice
High grade headphone output: 135mW, recommended impedance = 32 to 96 ohms.