Electro-Harmonix 22 Caliber Power Amp
Originally published in Guitar World, June 2010
The only thing more impressive than its microscopic size is its larger-than-life tone.
We've seen a boatload of low-watt mini amps lately, like the Vox Night Train and the Orange Tiny Terror, but the new Electro-Harmonix 22 Caliber Power Amp introduces an entirely new class—the micro amp. While we’ve also seen tiny pedal-sized amps before like the half-watt Z.Vex Nano head, the 22 Caliber stands out by providing an impressive 22 watts of output and volume levels that are more than loud enough to gig with (and louder than many full-size amps with similar output). The 22 Caliber is housed in small die-cast Bud box that’s the same size as an E-H Nano Series pedal, which makes it an ideal “backup” amp that fits in a pocket in your guitar case or gig bag, but it sounds so good that you might scrap your big heavy amp and use the 22 Caliber as your main amp instead.
With only 1/4-inch mono input and output jacks, a volume control and a bright/normal switch, the 22 Caliber isn’t exactly feature-laden, but it still means serious business. It’s powered by an 18-volt DC power supply (included), and although it looks like a stomp box, it doesn’t run on batteries and should only be powered up with a speaker cabinet connected to the amp’s output jack. The pedal supports speaker impedances between eight and 16 ohms, with eight ohms the ideal load. Use of a speaker cable between the output jack and cabinet is recommended, although using a standard guitar cable won’t do any harm.
Plugging your guitar into the 22 Caliber produces big, clean tones, like plugging directly into a power amp (which is what the 22 Caliber actually is). This amp is surprisingly loud, and plugged into a 4x12 it can easily handle club gigs. The 22 Caliber provides exceptional clean headroom, producing just a hint of overdrive and crunch at the highest volume settings, between 3 and 5 o’clock. The bright/normal switch offers a decent amount of tonal variety, but if you need to tweak a wider range of EQ and prefer more distortion, consider using a preamp pedal or distortion stomp box up front (which works quite nicely, I should add).
THE BOTTOM LINE
The 22 Caliber is an honest-to-god amp head that fits in your pocket. The only thing more impressive than its microscopic size is its larger-than-life tone.
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