It’s no secret that Marshall has a lot of great stuff to offer. Their line of tube-driven combo amps is still pretty impressive. The DSL40 amp is popular, but it had a few variants over the years. So we decided to compare the discontinued DSL40C version with the current DSL40CR.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR comparison:
- Controls and Features
- Build Quality
- Design and Ease of Use
- Price & Value For Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
Main Differences: Marshall DSL40C and Marshall DSL40CR
The main differences between Marshall DSL40C and Marshall DSL40CR are:
- Features and controls
- Build quality
So when it comes down to Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:
- Go for Marshall DSL40C if you’re up for buying a used amp. It’s also great if you like versatile stuff, but that’s still not that hard to use.
- Go for Marshall DSL40CR if you want the current up-to-date Marshall DSL40 variant. It’s a very versatile and gig-ready amp with some advanced and improved features.
1. Controls and Features: Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR
Controls and Features: Marshall DSL40C
Introduced back in 2012, the DSL40C is a tube-driven amp with two channels called “classic gain” and “ultra gain.” It comes with 40 watts of output power and it’s equipped with two EL34 power amp tubes and four ECC83 preamp tubes. This is accompanied by a single 12-inch Celestion Seventy 80 G12P-80 speaker.
The front panel comes with 11 knobs and 4 toggle switches. You can toggle between the two channels, and each channel comes with gain and volume controls. The “classic” one has a clean/crunch toggle, while the “ultra” lets you select between two different high-gain options.
Aside from a master 3-band EQ, DSL40C features presence and resonance controls, as well as the “tone shift” feature. This “tone shift” can help you further shape the mids. We also have the reverb effect and individual reverb intensity knobs for each channel.
Aside from an effects loop, the backside also features optional speaker outputs, footswitch input, and the power attenuation feature. You can use DSL40C as a 20-watt amp.
Controls and Features: Marshall DSL40CR
The DSL40CR is the continuation of the DSL40C model. As far as the front panel goes, we can find a total of 13 knobs and 5 switches.
We have exactly the same controls as with the DSL40C amp, along with a few additions. There’s the additional FX loop on and off switch, allowing you to bypass it completely.
There are two separate assignable volume knobs with an additional toggle switch. Essentially, you get the option to toggle between two different volume settings, whichever channel you’re using.
Other than that, the amp has almost the same features. 40 watts of power running through two EL34 and four ECC83 tubes, speaker outputs, FX loop, and the footswitch input.
However, there’s also an emulated speaker output audio input and even a MIDI input for advanced connectivity. The speaker was also changed on this model, the 12-inch Celestion V-Type.
Controls and Features: Bottom Line
The DSL40CR is a newer version, an improvement of the DSL40C. It’s only obvious that the CR version is more advanced when it comes to features and controls, which makes this an easy decision.
Especially useful are two separate volume knobs. But what’s also awesome about the newer variant is that you can use the advanced PEDL-91016 footswitch. Although bearing two channels, it can work as a 4-channel amp this way.
Controls and Features Winner: Marshall DSL40CR
2. Tone: Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR
Tone: Marshall DSL40C
The DSL40C was designed as a versatile amp that can cover anything from vintage bluesy stuff to modern metal. Being a traditionally “British” amp with EL34 tubes, it can really pronounce the mids.
But due to a single 12-inch speaker, you can also notice a boost to the bottom-ends as well. While the amp is versatile, you can always notice a slightly darker tone. In order to make it brighter, you’d need to push the presence control higher.
Tone: Marshall DSL40CR
The newer version of the DSL40 still relies on the same tonal characteristics but brings a bit of a different twist. In addition, it is also sonically more versatile, making this amp easily adaptable to many genres.
The mids are still there, but the amp sounds a bit more “open.” Additionally, you can notice the difference in reverb, with many Marshall users praising its improved quality.
Tone: Bottom Line
Both of these variants are essentially the same amp model. Both can deliver anything from clean to high-gain compressed metal tones. There’s also some headroom in the clean setting.
However, although minor, you can definitely notice the improvement with the newer version, the DSL40CR. Having that slight boost to brightness and more tone-shaping options puts it ahead of the older version.
Tone Winner: Marshall DSL40CR
3. Build Quality: Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR
Build Quality: Marshall DSL40C
Marshall amps are known for their reliability in all product categories and all price ranges. We can see that with their combo tube-driven amps, like the DSL40C.
There’s nothing too complicated about its design, which is a good thing. The whole amp and the cabinet are very sturdy. Additionally, you won’t notice any issues with the tubes as they’re holding tightly in their place.
Build Quality: Marshall DSL40CR
To be fair, we can say exactly the same things about the DSL40CR variant. Taking a closer look, the overall build quality looks exactly the same.
We’re not certain whether Marshall did some structural reinforcements. But even if they haven’t, this is still a pretty great and reliable amp, just like its predecessor.
Build Quality: Bottom Line
If there’s one thing that we’re certain of, it’s Marshall’s dedication to making well-built amps. The DSL40 model, in all of its variants, is something that you can trust.
We’d be pretty confident with taking either of these two amps on the road. Sure, they’re tube amps, so caution is advised when handling these. But they’re certainly above average when it comes to the build quality.
Build Quality Winner: Tie
4. Design and Ease of Use: Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR
Design and Ease of Use: Marshall DSL40C
When you just glance at the DSL40C, you’ll know that it’s Marshall. Even the control itself gives it out. If you care about the looks, you won’t go wrong with the universally awesome combo design of this amp.
With that said, the amp is fairly easy to use and can even come in handy for some advanced features. For instance, stuff like external speakers.
Although it looks like it has many knobs and switches on it, the interface is pretty clear. Everyone except for absolute beginners won’t have any issues with it.
Design and Ease of Use: Marshall DSL40CR
To be fair, the DSL40CR might be just a bit more confusing to some users. This doesn’t make it a bad amp, but it’s something that we should consider as well. Although having the double master volume feature and a few other options is awesome, it can take time to get used to.
As far as the design goes, these two amps are not much different at all. Just the classic Marshall stuff.
Design and Ease of Use: Bottom Line
There aren’t many surprises with Marshall amp designs. And that’s what everyone likes about them. They’re a great combination of aesthetic and functional qualities.
But with that said, we can’t help but notice that the previous version, the DSL40C, was a bit easier to use.
Design and Ease of Use Winner: Marshall DSL40C
5. Price & Value For Money: Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR
Price & Value For Money: Marshall DSL40C
There’s one downside to the DSL40C model. No, it’s not about its features. It’s the fact that this is a discontinued variant and it may not always be easy to find.
On the other hand, it’s not like it’s some prestigious model, but rather one of the classic DSL40 variants. You can find these used amps at a reasonable price. They’re okay, just be careful when buying used stuff.
Price & Value For Money: Marshall DSL40CR
The DSL40CR is the current variant. This is the amp that’s available with every major retailer. And, the best thing about it is that it’s not expensive for a tube amp.
Honestly, you rarely find a 40-watt tube-driven combo amp below the $1000 mark. And we’re not sure why this amp is within this price category, especially considering its versatility and overall features and qualities. But we won’t complain.
Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line
Honestly, we’d rather go with the DSL40CR variant. This is the current “standard” for Marshall tube combo amps and it’s worth every penny. In fact, it’s pretty much a steal at this price.
Sure, the previous version, the DSL40C, isn’t bad at all. But even if you find a good deal, you know that buying used stuff comes with its own downsides, even some risks. So the CR version wins this category.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Marshall DSL40CR
6. Pros & Cons: Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR
Marshall DSL40C Pros & Cons
- Sonically versatile
- Quality tone
- Great build quality
- Fairly easy to use
- It’s discontinued so it may be a hassle to find a good one
Marshall DSL40CR Pros & Cons
- Great deal for the price
- Amazing versatility and functionality
- Improved tone
- Well-built and reliable
- It may be too complicated for some players
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Marshall DSL40C vs Marshall DSL40CR comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Controls and Features – Marshall DSL40CR
- Tone – Marshall DSL40CR
- Build Quality – Tie
- Design and Ease of Use – Marshall DSL40C
- Price & Value For Money – Marshall DSL40CR
Overall: Marshall DSL40CR
To be honest, you can never go wrong with a Marshall amp. Whether it’s the vintage stuff, the current tube-driven models, or even budget-friendly solid-state stuff, it’s all worth it.
The same rule applies to the DSL40 combo amp, no matter the variant. However, we can notice that there are some differences between the C and the CR amp. Well, not exactly differences, but improvements on the DSL40CR variant.
We’d always prefer a new tube amp over a used one, unless it’s something specific, like the old vintage stuff. The DSL40C is an awesome amp, but going with the DSL40CR is a better option in our opinion.
[discontinued, only occasionally available on Reverb.com] https://reverb.com/p/marshall-dsl40c
Products Comparison Table:
Spec / Feature
4 x ECC83
4 x ECC83
Power amp tubes
2 x EL34
2 x EL34
12-inch Celestion Seventy 80 G12P-80
12-inch Celestion V-Type
1 x 16 ohm, 2 x 8 ohm
Speaker emulated output, 2 x 4 ohm, 2 x 8 ohm, 1 x 16 ohm (for internal or external speaker)
50.4 lbs (22.86 kg)
52.2 lbs (23.86 kg)