Marshall Haze 15 Guitar Amplifier
MHZ15 head, $840.00; MHZ112, $350.00
Originally published in Guitar World, January 2010
For less than a grand on the street, the Haze 15 head with two matching MHZ112 cabinets offers big Marshall tones in a mini stack that you can haul around in a Smart car.
Most guitarists associate the name Marshall with 100- or 50-watt tube amplifier stacks, but the company has also produced some impressive low-watt heads and combos over the years that provide killer Marshall tone at lower volumes. Marshall currently offers faithful reproductions of two of its classic 18- and 20-watt beasts, but these amps are outrageously expensive and not entirely suited to the needs of players who want a versatile low-watt amp to gig with.
Marshall’s new Haze Series amps are the latest addition to the company’s low-watt legacy, but unlike Marshall’s recent retro reissues, these products are new designs that follow the growing trend of affordable mini tube amps that provide outstanding tones and flexible features. The Haze Series consists of the 15-watt MHZ15 Haze 15 head with matching MHZ112 1x12 angled and straight cabinets and the 40-watt MHZ40C 1x12 combo. Both models feature channel switching and built-in digital effects, and they’re loud enough to gig with, yet quiet enough for the studio or late night jamming. The Haze 15 with one or two MHZ112 cabinets is perfect for guitarists who love Marshall stack styling but don’t want the cops to show up when they just can’t resist the urge to turn it up to 11.
While the Haze 15 head’s power rating, weight and low price are comparable to other mini tube heads on the market, the amp’s chassis and matching 1x12 speaker cabinet are larger than most of competing products. As a result, guitarists shouldn’t suffer any size anxiety like they would by using other undersized rigs onstage. The Haze 15’s power section features a pair of 6V6 tubes that provide 15 watts of output, and three ECC83 (12AX7) tubes deliver more than ample gain. A Normal channel with a single volume control handles clean and overdrive tones, while an Overdrive channel with gain and volume controls lets you dial in varying levels of distortion and crunch. Both channels share a bright switch and a single set of traditional Marshall bass, middle and treble controls.
The Haze 15 distinguishes itself from most of its competitors by offering built-in digital effects. Two effects are available at once—reverb and echo/vibe/chorus. The reverb effect has a level control that clicks off at zero, which lets you completely bypass the effect if desired. The echo/ vibe/chorus effect has a push switch for selecting the desired effect, an Adjust control for dialing in delay time or vibe/chorus speed, and a depth control for tweaking vibe/chorus depth or delay level. The depth control also clicks off at zero to bypass the echo/vibe/chorus effect.
In addition, the Haze 15 ships with a footswitch controller that lets you switch channels and bypass or engage the effect section.
If you've had your eye on a mini tube amp but want authentic Marshall tone and styling, your wait is over. The Haze 15 delivers true Marshall tone, with that distinctive midrange bark and snarl, crushed safety-glass harmonic sparkle and low-end woof that have made the company’s amps essential rock hardware. The Overdrive channel gets down and dirty in a hurry, and with the gain cranked all the way up the amp sounds mean and meaty, like a JCM800. The amp sounds a little dark and muddy at low-volume/ high-gain settings, but the tone becomes considerably more lively, clear and bright when the volume level is turned up and the 6V6 tubes push the power amp section into overdrive.
The Haze’s Normal channel provides outstanding clean headroom, producing clear, bell-like tones that fall between those of a Fender Deluxe Reverb and Marshall’s own underrated clean personality. Cranked up with the volume control set between three to five o’clock, gritty, “Plexi”-style overdrive emerges. The Normal channel pumps out an impressive amount of punchy, gut-thumping bass, aided by the closed-back MHZ112 cabinets’ additional “breathing room.”
The built-in effects add professional, studio-quality polish to the animalistic tendencies of the Haze’s natural tube tones. The echo effect produces up to one second of delay, but the depth control stops just short of unity, so you can’t quite generate syncopated Edge-style dotted eighthnotes effects. The vibe and chorus effects both sound nice and thick, perfect for playing Robin Trower or Police covers, while the reverb effect accurately emulates the sound of spring reverb, but it never gets washed out, overly boingy or drippy, like some spring reverb units can.
One useful feature of the effect section is that each channel automatically stores the last effect setting you dialed in, so you can switch from a lush clean tone with reverb and chorus to distortion with a tight slap-back echo and no reverb just by changing channels. If you prefer that classic bone-dry Marshall tone, it’s better to turn both effects off than to bypass them, as the amp sounds a little louder, punchier and more gnarly with the effects entirely off.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For less than a grand on the street, the Haze 15 head with two matching MHZ112 cabinets offers big Marshall tones in a mini stack that you can haul around in a Smart car. If you’ve waited to take advantage of the miniamp trend but wanted true Marshall tone, the Haze is the clear winner.
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