Hello there, back again with another outstanding article for you! This time, we will be looking at an ENGL E570 Special Edition (SE) preamp! I have done a lot of research but actually can not find any intensive ENGL E570 review on the internet.
Just right after I bought it, it was discontinued. However, I still want to publish this article for guitar nerds! If you want to purchase one, you should be regularly checking Reverb.com. I suggest you sign up with Reverb for free and create an alert.
ENGL E570 is an all-tube, semi-MIDI programmable guitar preamp and actually is the preamp section of the ENGL Special Edition amp. As far as I know, it was one of the last examples of an all-tube preamp that had been actively manufactured until 2021.
As many of you already know, from the 80s to almost 2000s, all-tube, MIDI-controllable guitar preamps were on the rise and very popular among guitar players. However, with the introduction of guitar amp simulation software and processors, they lost a big share of the market and slowly disappeared.
I purchased mine from Thomann along with an ENGL Cabloader and have been enjoying it a lot! But you may ask “Hey, you have been promoting audio interfaces and playing with guitar amp VSTs and you get yourself an all-tube preamp?”
Check out my “The secret tip for getting the best guitar tone on your computer” article.
Exactly! That’s correct and I’m still promoting and loving guitar amp software, however, I wanted to build my setup around hardware and slowly improve it in time.
To be honest, I don’t regret this decision at all given the fact that it was discontinued and it is not available as brand new! I feel lucky and happy about it 🙂
ENGL E570 is one of the most advanced and versatile guitar preamps out there in the market. It is actually the result of a tremendous amount of time invested in making these by Horst Langer and a great company ENGL! This sophisticated guitar preamp gives you much-loved all-tube guitar sounds with excellent features and sound-shaping capabilities of microchip circuits.
ENGL E570 Features
ENGL E570 features 4 channels “Clean“, “Crunch“, “Lead I” and “Lead II” with separate gain, treble and volume controls.
You have also a preamp defeat function that bypasses the circuit and allows you to combine E570 with other preamps or multi-effect processors.
Global Modern/Classic switch determines the voicing of all four channels and provides you with a huge amount of variants of guitar tones.
For “Clean & Crunch” and “Lead I & Lead II“, you have 2 gain variants respectively “Gain Boost” and “Hi-Gain“.
On top of this, you have additional sound-shaping buttons called “Bright” and “Ultra Bright” for “Clean & Crunch“, “Countour” and “Mid Edge” for Lead I & Lead II channels.
Another cool feature of E570 is the programmable stereo effect loop that allows you to insert stereo effect processors into your signal chain.
E570 comes with a pair of balanced and a single stereo unbalanced frequency compensated outputs for DI recording and sending your signal to a mixer or a monitor (simulates a 4×12 cabinet).
As it’s a MIDI programmable preamp, it has 128 MIDI presets via 16 channels and also has MIDI IN and MIDI THRU ports for integration into other MIDI systems.
In terms of footswitches and controllers, E570 never ceases to amaze us with three different remote controller interface ports!
First, we have S.A.C. (Serial Amp Control Port) that accepts a custom footswitch such as ENGL Z-9. This option allows you to select channels and also use two sound-shaping functions.
You can also use MIDI IN for ENGL Z-9, Z-12 and Z-15 or 3rd party MIDI foot controllers. Lastly, it’s also possible to a simple footswitch with a stereo jack that only allows you to switch four channels.
Last but not least, it features a programmable noise gate for only Crunch, Lead I & Lead II.
As E570 is a very sophisticated yet easy-to-use all-tube preamp, it’s recommended to go through every feature to better understand its capabilities. There are fine details to know before one really understands it, so let’s get started with the front panel going from left to right 🙂
ENGL E570 Front Panel Features
The preamp defeat button allows you to bypass the preamp out of the signal chain when pressed. When active, the input signal is sent directly to the Send jack.
When to use the preamp defeat function?
You can use preamp defeat if you want to insert another preamp or an effect processor into a serial loop with ENGL E570. If connected devices allow, you can also bypass them and go back and forth with E570 and other preamp or effects units. So if you want to connect a second preamp, you should insert it into the stereo effects loop and activate preamp defeat and FX Loop to activate your second preamp.
Clean & Crunch Gain
“Clean Gain” controls the clean gain on the clean channel only and adjusts the preamp’s input sensitivity. The “Clean Gain” pot is very sensitive to the output of your guitar. I have tested it with several guitars with single coils, and passive and active humbuckers. Naturally, it can easily saturate with higher output pickups. Also, don’t be fooled by the name! It can be easily used as another crunch channel. When cranked up, it gives you a nice, smooth overdrive with all pickups!
“Crunch Gain” controls the crunch gain on the crunch channel only, adjusts the preamp’s input sensitivity and adds desired preamp distortion. It definitely produces a nice, usable crunch and even more distorted guitar tones without an issue.
As the name suggests, the “Gain Boost” button boosts the input sensitivity of “Clean & Crunch” channels and extends their gain range. As you can imagine, with two gain controls and a gain boost feature, you have already a set of tones that you can program and use when needed.
Bass – Middle – Treble Clean – Treble Crunch
These passive controls allow you to adjust low, mid-range and high frequencies. E570 also features an additional treble control for each channel. Having read the manual thoroughly, I have understood that this feature is to independently adjust high frequencies because when higher gain settings are used, higher frequencies tend to be pronounced more intensely. As you will find out soon, the “Clean & Crunch” channel also features a “Normal Bright” and an “Ultra Bright” switch to boost high frequencies. This means you are already able to boost them and program these settings to a MIDI controller. So it is recommended to keep the treble pot down a bit for better versatility.
The “Normal Bright” button helps you boost high frequencies for “Clean & Crunch” channels. Unlike “Ultra Bright“, its effectiveness will decrease with the increasing amount of gain. This boost is suggested to have a crispier and glassy tone. It actually works really well with humbucker pickups and cleans up the mud pretty well. Also, note that “Normal Bright” affects a higher frequency range than “Ultra Bright” does. Naming may confuse you, but it is actually how it has been designed in the first place. 🙂
The “Ultra Bright” button also helps you boost some of the high frequencies but aims for a lower range of high frequencies than “Normal Bright” does. As mentioned, this button will not lose its intensity with the increasing amount of gain.
The “Ultra Bright” is designed to add that “twang factor” when needed. Horst Langer personally recommends playing with all settings but also recommends we use these bright switches while backing the trebles as in the modern setting, the tone can easily become too harsh and raw. With the classic setting, it is tamer and will contribute to already dampened high frequencies.
Lead I & Lead II Gain
“Lead I Gain” and “Lead II Gain” allow you to adjust gain levels separately for these higher gain channels. These two channels are actually pretty similar to each other.
The “Lead I” channel can generate a bit less gain and bottom end than the “Lead II” channel but offers a faster response that would be a better fit for fast, dynamic riffage and guitar solos.
The “Lead II” channel can generate a bit more gain and bottom end which makes it a great choice for fat-sounding, melting solos and chugging rhythm sections. However, it is slower in response than the “Lead I” channel.
The “Hi-Gain” button increases the input sensitivity for both “Lead I” and “Lead II” channels. It is described as switching from soft lead to high lead territory. I think this is where this preamp goes to 11! 🙂
I used to always activate hi-gain in modern settings and was wondering how much gain this preamp could possibly generate. Even around gain around 12 o’clock produces a huge amount of distortion. I really like it with my Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid PT-7 which features EMG 57-7H & 66-7H active pickups. But recently I have also started using this channel without activating hi-gain and I’m amazed by the amount of gain while it retains all the clarity.
Bass – Middle – Treble Lead I – Treble Lead II
These passive controls also allow you to adjust low, mid-range and high frequencies. E570 also features an additional treble control for each lead channel just like for the main channel 1. Again, the reason they have implemented independent treble pots is to be able to control high frequencies separately. Because once you start to play with settings, you will notice that your base guitar tone is already shared with bass and mid pots but then you can actually really alter them with these treble pots.
It is also recommended to back off treble pots in case your power amp doesn’t come with a presence pot. Even though these are passive controls, they are specifically designed to give you the most versatile options. I’m sure you will also be amazed at how much variation it can generate for you.
The “Contour” button boosts low mid-range frequencies from 300 to 600Hz as well as 1500Hz and it interacts with the range of the mid pot. As with all buttons and special functions on ENGL E570, this can be also programmed via MIDI or can be used with a custom footswitch Z-9.
The “Mid Edge” button also is another sound-shaping function and it slightly lowers the mid pot’s frequency spectrum. Technically, it is designed to re-voice mid-pot. Activating this will smooth out some of the rough edges. Basically, you have four variations already just by using “Mid Edge” and “Contour” on each lead channel not to mention you can use “Hi-Gain“, “Modern” and “Classic” in combination with these and you will be already confused with so many excellent variations you can choose from :).
Independent Channel & Master Volumes & Channel Selectors
On the right-hand side of the front panel, you have 4 different volume pots and the 5th volume pot for master volume as well as separate switches to select channels.
Channel switching can be programmed via MIDI or a custom footswitch Z-9 by ENGL.
This single switch enables you to switch between “Modern” or “Classic” voicings. This is a global switch and will affect all four channels. As it’s stated in the manual, “Modern” is a better suit for heavier styles of music. However, I have been trying many variations and as mentioned I’m very confused about what to love! 🙂 There are so many usable and excellent sounding settings just by using “Modern” but not “Hi-Gain” activated, also “Classic” has an excellent overdrive and distortion. Even gain boosted, it’s very clear and dynamic.
M.L.P. (Mega Lo Punch)
The M.L.P. button simply boosts low-end frequencies on all four channels. Its effect will be different and more pronounced on lead channels, with modern voicing activated. When “Modern” is active, its effect will be more audible. But when “Classic” is active, its effect depends on how much gain you are using. It’s suggested to deactivate it in “Classic” mode while using a lot of gains.
FX Loop Active
The “FX Loop Active” button is simply an on/off switch for the FX Loop. You can basically hook up an effect processor in the stereo FX Loop and activate/deactivate it with this button. As with every function button on E570, this is also programmable via MIDI or custom footswitch Z-9.
The “Noise Gate” button activates the built-in noise gate. This function has two parameters “Threshold” and “Mute Depth” and can be adjusted from the back panel.
This button helps you send desired button configurations to a MIDI controller. Also, with the “Copy” function, you can actually select a new preset on your MIDI controller then copy the same settings and further modify it easily.
Whenever you alter a button, it will start blinking and is ready for writing. If you don’t dump this setting to a preset and press it again, it goes into “Copy” mode.
In order to write and dump the settings to a preset, you need to press and hold the “Write/Copy” button for about a second, and the LED will blink three times indicating writing is successful.
ENGL E570 Rear Panel Features
Ground Lift Switch
Next to the standard power cord connector and main fuse box, you have also a “Ground Lift Switch“. This feature is suggested to be used when the E570 is connected to a power amp or an effect unit and eliminates the annoying hum. Most of the time, it should be in the “Ground” position unless you want to hook up your preamp with other devices.
The “Mute Depth” determines how much level drop should be applied to the noise when the “Noise Gate” is active.
The “Threshold Level” determines at which level the noise gate should take effect.
Frequency Compensated Line Outputs
You have a pair of balanced (XLR) outputs, as well as single stereo (1/4″) frequency-compensated outputs. These actually allow you to directly record your guitars into an audio interface, or computer or send them to a mixing desk. According to the manual, it simulates a 4×12 speaker cabinet.
However, don’t expect excellent results with these. As you may already know, ENGL E570 has been available since the early 2000s. So in that era, there was not much of a concept of impulse response-based speaker cabinets, power amps and microphone responses in the guitar world.
So ENGL provided these to enable people to record at home without having to own a speaker cabinet or an amp.
For these outputs, you also have a level knob and a ground lift switch as well.
Update: In order to show you what I meant by the statement above, I just recorded a video for you! In this comparison, I used the ENGL’s emulated outputs, standard outputs with STL Tones NadIR (with Mesa IRs), TPA-1 power amp (6L6) simulation and ENGL Cabloader (with ENGL IRs, 6L6).
ENGL E570 Compensated Output Comparison with IRs
I think this video proves that analogue cabinet speakers will disappear from the scene! 🙂 Back in 2009, when I first tried my Koch Pedaltone tube preamp with some IRs on a Core2Duo computer that suffered every millisecond, I just felt that we need IR pedals!!! I believe the future is hybrid, tube preamps with IRs!
You also have a stereo output with a level button (-20dB/0dB). These are actually designed for connecting this to a power amp. But in my case, I use one of them to connect to the ENGL Cabloader, and then send this signal to the RME Babyface PRO audio interface.
Under the “FX Loop” section, you have a stereo return and a mono send input. These are your standard FX send and return that is usually used for connecting external effect units.
As an extra feature, you also have another input on the back! This is designed to connect E570 to another preamp. Note that, front panel input has priority so you can not actually have two jacks connected to the input and benefit from this. In this case, only the front panel input will be active.
MIDI IN and MIDI THRU
You have your standard MIDI IN and MIDI THRU on the back. With this 5-pin DIN port, you can patch incoming MIDI data from the MIDI IN to any other MIDI device.
Check out my ENGL Z-12 review here
The cool thing about ENGL E570, when used with compatible ENGL MIDI footswitches, you don’t need to power your controllers with an external power supply. This MIDI IN port will power up your footswitch.
Serial Amp Control port
As a unique feature, ENGL E570 also comes with a serial amp control port (S.A.C.). You can actually use that custom ENGL Z-9 footswitch with a standard stereo instrument jack switch channels, plus control two preamp functions such as Modern/Classic or Hi Gain…etc
CH 1/CH 2/SUB I II
Last but not least, you have your traditional footswitch inputs for ENGL Z-4 type of footswitches. With this option, you can only control and switch main channels and one sub-channel.
ENGL E570 Special Edition Preamp Review
As I mentioned in the beginning, I was looking for some real tube preamps and aiming to base my setup around it. ENGL E570 wasn’t even on my wish list but I occasionally checked it online. Due to being a pretty old unit, there was not much information on the internet. I even considered getting a used Mesa Boogie Triaxis, Marshall JMP1 or Fryette Valvulator GP/DI, but after having read a lot of forum threads, I went for the E570.
I was already aware of how long ago E570 was first released and already ordered an ENGL Cabloader to use it with direct recording. My initial goal was to build a rack mount setup with tube power amps and cool cabinets. But I convinced myself not to do it as I would never be able to go loud in my small apartment.
From the moment I played through this preamp, I was blown away and never regretted buying it. My initial approach was to have a simple setup without the need for presets, patches…etc, however, I must confess that E570 generates so many options (when coupled with a nice IR loader such as ENGL Cabloader) that I have been always paralyzed what tone option I should be playing.
For this reason, I have made an hour-long video for you using my Fender American Standard Stratocaster, Epiphone SG Custom and Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid PT-7. You will notice even on the clean channel you can get a huge amount of gain that would be sufficient for most blues/rock players.
Just imagine how many possibilities you can have with all these gain settings, EQ and preamp functions combined!
ENGL E570 can deliver anything from funky to fat, pushed cleans, and excellent crunchy sounds, to extreme amounts of gain levels without an issue!
It’s extremely versatile and touch-responsive! Even when you crank the gain pots up, you can barely touch the strings and have very clear sounds. When you dig the strings, it will scream and shine! If I really wanted to, I could write pages about the versatility of E570 and attempt to define those sounds, however, I find this unnecessary. So I will leave you with my hour-long, no-talking ENGL E570 review video!
Signal chain: Strat/SG/Hellraiser > Cordial CSI 6 PP Silent 6m > ENGL E570 > EBS PG-58 Flat Patch Cable Gold > ENGL Cabloader > Cordial CSM 2,5 FM GOLD 250 > RME Babyface PRO > Reaper > Valhalla Vintage Reverb
ENGL E570 Review & Sound Demo (no talking)
I was a bit hesitant to buy this after having read some comments from extreme metal musicians! I just want you to know that whoever says ENGL E570 is for extreme metal genres doesn’t know what they are talking about!
I would agree that the video I have prepared is pretty boring for most people. But I believe you can get a lot of information by watching it. As you can hear, ENGL E570‘s 4 channels are pretty much cascading into each other. I tend to hear very similar sonic qualities in every channel but with slight voicing differences.
In combination with different settings you can apply these sounds with sound shaping buttons + your IR settings, and you can achieve hundreds of different sounds that would fit in any recording scenario.
Another thing I would like to mention is the unique ENGL sound. According to many user reviews, people love it or hate it. As most of us are already used to having as many amp sounds as possible as a result of using guitar amp software and processors, we also tend to have the same variations on an amp or on a tube preamp. You should not really expect the E570 preamp to sound like a hot-rodded Marshall because simply it’s not a Marshall circuit. However, you can easily have similar sounds just simply playing tone-shaping buttons. So don’t expect E570 to sound like your favourite 5 amp model as its main function is to shape your guitar sound with ENGL spirit!
Where to buy ENGL E570?
As I mentioned in the beginning, I was lucky enough to pick one up brand new just before ENGL discontinued E570 preamps. Unfortunately, you will not be able to find the E570 brand new anymore. It was around for over 15 years, however, as you see the trend that guitar amp manufacturers and software companies follow, it is not about having separate preamps, and effect units but rather having small portable amps with IR capabilities or having full blast guitar amp software.
I still believe there’s a gap in the market! I think guitar amp manufacturers should create their legendary preamps into rack format units with IR loading. There’s definitely a pair of eras in guitar gear history that should be connected! This will change the focus on the guitar amp market and I believe people will prefer these DI solutions.
Your best bet is to sign up with Reverb.com and set up a notification alert with the ENGL E570 search query. This way, you can get notified of ENGL E570 once they are listed by some sellers on the internet globally.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and liked the video! Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!