The Marshall Code 25 is the smallest offering in the new modelling amp series. The Code line-up features fully-programmable digital amps. The series was launched in January and caused some big waves in the industry at the time. The Code 25 is a 25-watt 1×10 combo. There are four other models in the series: the Marshall Code 50 (50w, 1×12 combo), Code 100 (100w, 2×12 combo), Code 100H (100w head) and Code 412 (4×12 cabinet). All the amps are closed-back designs, providing a focused, modern sound. For half the wattage, you might want to check out the Laney LX12 review.
Marshall Code 25 feature set
The Code 25 has a smaller screen than the other models in the series. The control panel combines the Edit and Preset knobs, while the larger amps have dedicated knobs for each function. Apart from that, the models are really quite similar to one another. The main difference between each one is the power amp and speaker set-up. The 10-inch speaker on the Code 25 means it lacks some of the grunt of the 12-inch speakers in the larger amps. The amp weighs in at just 6.1k and measures 350mm x 340mm x 215mm (W x H x D). That makes the amp nice and portable, although it’s more in practice amp territory than anything more serious. The Code 50 and upwards could be used more effectively onstage.
Modelling amps don’t always have the finest reputation among guitarists. There’s certainly a fair share of rubbish digital amps on the market. However, it would be a mistake to lump the Code amps in with these digital pretenders. The new amps may be deceptively affordable, but Marshall have clearly put an enormous amount of expertise and fine-tuning into these amplifiers to make them very appealing prospect.
Code modelling amps developed with Softube
The Marshall Code power amp, preamp and speaker cabinet modelling sounds were developed in collaboration with Swedish company Softube. The modelling system is quite advanced and runs the gamut of classic and contemporary Marshall tones, as well as innovations made by other influential amp manufacturers. The modelling options include 24 effects, 14 preamps, 4 power amps and 8 speaker cabinets. The modelling options can be mixed together in any combination, enabling the creation of some unconventional and creative set-ups. All of the Marshall Code amps have the full complement of digital modelling effects and amps. Each amp has the ability to store 100 customisable presets.
24 effects on offer
The available effects include: Compression, auto wah, tremolo, chorus, flanger, phaser, pitch shifter, delays with tap tempo, reverbs and stompbox distortions. A maximum of five effects can be engaged at any one time. The included effects sound quite good. Naturally they can’t touch the quality of dedicated effects units, but as far as on-board digital amp effects go, they are pretty impressive. The modelling stompboxes work in a similar manner to an external stompbox, adding some extra thickness, sustain and presence to your playing. Adding an external boost/overdrive pedal to the amplifier is another possibility if you aren’t happy with the onboard options. It will react to the Code amp in a surprisingly convincing way, presenting similar results to what you get when you pair an overdrive pedal with a tube amp. Presumably to keep the cost down, Marshall didn’t include an effects loop for the Code amps, which will disappoint some players.
The amps have an understated, almost vintage look to them. It’s a bit of a mix of past and present Marshall designs. As mentioned guitarists can be suspicious of modelling amps or anything too newfangled so it was probably a smart move. The controls on each of the combo amps are located in a recessed area to the rear of the top panel. The controls on the Marshall Code 100H are recessed located on the front panel of the head. The amps don’t have hard protectors located on the corners or anything special in the construction department. However they are reasonably sturdy and the controls are out of harm’s way.
Optional footswitch for on-stage use
If you want to use the amp onstage, you may want to consider picking up the optional foot-controller, the PEDL-91009. It’ll set you back $69.99 though. The controller has four footswitches and an LED read-out to keep track of things. It’s fully-programmable and can be used to control 30 presets or control panel functions.
If you aren’t gigging the amp control panel or the Gateway app should fulfil all your needs. The app is quite powerful and is free to use. It communicates with the amp though Bluetooth. If your friend has a Code amp and you drop by, you’ll even be able to load up your app presets on their amp. All the amp functions can be controlled via the physical control panel, so you won’t be missing out if you’re not running the app. However, users of the Marshall Code 25 will benefit more from the app than those who pick up the larger amps. This is because of the smaller screen and less generous control scheme on the Code 25. Hence the Gateway app will help you navigate the modelling system a lot faster.
The app is very user-friendly. It’s laid-out in a logical and clear fashion that makes quick tweaks quite easy. The Bluetooth functionality also allows you to stream music from iOS or Android devices and play along to the tracks. There’s also a dedicated mini-jack socket to connect such a device. Unsurprisingly, the Code amps are tailored sonically as guitar amps, not as hi-fi speakers. However, it’s still a nice touch.
USB connectivity for use in the studio
In addition to Bluetooth, the Code amps have USB connectivity. You can use this to play music from your computer or use your Code amp as a DAW interface for recording. The latter function is a great inclusion. The modelling amps and effects are so in-depth that the Code amps would immediately lend themselves to use in the home studio. The USB connection can also send and receive MIDI data. There’s no dedicated line out but Marshall state the headphone jack can be used for that purpose.
The Marshall Code 25 is a great digital amp that is both affordable and portable. It’s not easy to get modelling amps right on a budget but Marshall have definitely done it with the Code series. The Code 25 does have a slightly limited control scheme compared to the bigger amps. However for the price, you get a huge amount of sonic options. The free Gateway app and USB connectivity for recording are excellent inclusions as well.