[review] Hotone Audio British Invasion - Nano Amplifier Head (by rlm)

rlm is a Supersonic tone addict and plays in a melodic death metal band.

Hotone Audio

Hotone is a fairly new company in the FX and amplification world. The company is based in Hong Kong and started developing guitar effects in 1996. Their current product lineup can be divided into two production series. On one hand there is the Skyline series, on the other hand the Nano Legacy series.

The Skyline series consists out of 14 small stompboxes covering the most important aspects the modern guitarist needs on a pedalboard from a tuner to overdrive/distortion to modulation, synths and delay.

Hotone Nano Legacy Amps

The Nano Legacy series is a line of small solidstate amplifier heads for guitar and bass and one cabinet. The heads are based on legendary amps like the Vox AC30, Marshall Plexi Super Lead, Mesa Boogie Rectifier and the Ampeg SVT.

Hotone Audio British InvasionHotone Audio British Invasion

I've got my hands on the Nano Legacy British Invasion. The British Invasion is a one channel 5W AB transistor guitar amplifier head which sound is inspired by the Vox AC30. The first thing that caught my eye is the size of the amp. It is ridiculously small (hence “nano”). It's as big, or as small as you want, as a regular boss stompbox. It's size and weight make it easy to transport. Mind you, you still need a cabinet, so the ease of transport also depends on the size of your cabinet...

The amplifier has a 3 band equalizer, bass, volume and treble, a gain and a volume knob to shape your tone. It also has some nice extra features like an effects loop, auxiliary input and a line output. The speaker out can automatically fit different cabinets of different impedance from 4 – 16 Ohms.

The Headphone/line output jack is a handy feature for practicing without disturbing anyone around you or for recording. The auxiliary input is used to plug in an external music player so you can play along with your favorite songs.

5w makes this British Inviasion a perfect practice amp. 5w may not sound much, but it's loud enough to cloud the relationship with your neighbours... Luckily, for late night practice sessions you can use the line out to plug in your headphones.

As mentioned above, the British Invasion is inspired by the VOX AC30. Is it a one on one clone? No, specially fully cranked, it lacks a bit of the organic touch you get from a tube amplifier, but it gets close, very close. The EQ reacts quickly which gives you quite a few possibilities to get the tone you're looking for. It goes from a sparkly clean, to a lovely biting crunch to a thick overdrive. The thick overdrive is perfect for some bluesy or classic rock leads and solos. I was positively surprised by the effects loop. It's a feature you don't easily find on small amplifiers. This takes pedals very well. I use a lot of chorus and delay in my playing and I must say, it really livens up this amp. The thick overdrive I mentioned above in combination with the right amount of delay really let's your guitar sing.

There's only one channel on this amp, but due to the quick response of the eq, the gradually increasing gain and volume level, you can get all the tones you need from this amp if you are into Blues(rock), classic and hard rock and pop. Add some extra useful features like a useable FX loop and you get a decent practice or recording amplifier for a reasonable amount of money.

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