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Marshall DRP1

Direct Recording Guitar Preamp By Paul White
Published December 1994

Axe heroes wanting that classic Marshall stack sound without the bulk should check out this floor‑mounting DI unit. Paul White puts his foot down.

Marshall are probably the most famous amplifier manufacturer in the world, and their continuing success is no doubt due to the fact that they continue to build traditional valve amplifiers that deliver the character of overdrive demanded by rock guitar players. Miking a Marshall stack in the studio, however, isn't easy, unless you're lucky enough to have a very large room and excellent soundproofing. Recognising that guitarists want to record their own music at home without sacrificing their guitar sound, Marshall have come up with a low cost, non‑programmable, non‑valve alternative to their popular JMP1 tube preamp, which nevertheless claims to deliver an accurate emulation of the classic Marshall sound when DI'd.

It's The Fuzz!

The DRP1 looks rather like a stylised fuzz box, though there's no footswitch; its power may either come from a 9V battery or from a suitable mains adaptor. Solid state circuitry is used to recreate the Marshall sound, aided by Bass, Middle and Treble controls which, like those in Marshall amps, are passive. All three controls tend to interact, and they have a wider range than on the amps, which makes the unit more tonally flexible than it might at first appear. The brief manual claims that the Bass control is designed to emulate the cabinet thump of a real 4x12 cab.

As soon as a guitar lead is plugged in, the DRP1 powers itself up, and a three‑way toggle switch on the front panel switches between Normal and Boost overdrive settings, also acting as a battery test when pushed to the far right position. In battery test mode, a red LED comes on if the battery is OK — and a nice refinement is that the battery test position on the switch is sprung so that you can't accidentally leave it in that mode. In time‑honoured fashion, the Preamp Volume control sets the amount of overdrive, while Master Volume does exactly as it suggests. A further Line Level control is fitted which affects only the DI output; the Pre‑amp out bypasses the speaker simulator circuitry for use with a guitar amp. For private practice, a headphone jack is thoughtfully provided so that you can loosen your own fillings without annoying anyone else.

The concept is straightforward — you select either Normal overdrive or Boost, use the Preamp Volume to set the amount of overdrive needed, and then use the three tone controls to modify the sound. As there are no internal effects, some external reverb should be considered the minimum treatment required to make the sound come alive.

Perhaps surprisingly, the DRP1 comes very close to achieving the sound of a miked‑up Marshall stack, especially on the higher overdrive settings, where you can get the fully‑saturated shred sound that normally requires additional pedals to achieve. At the other end of the scale, you can get some pretty convincing blues sounds and classic rock/raunch tones. The speaker emulator keeps the dreaded fizz at bay unless you insist on using all the available treble, and the only slightly annoying artifact when using my PRS guitar is that the notes tend to die away a touch grittily right at the end. This isn't unusual, though, and you don't notice it unless you really listen for it.


What I particularly like about this unit is that no matter how much overdrive you pile on, the underlying character of the guitar still manages to get through. Perhaps the DRP1 is less versatile than some of the pre‑amps I've tried, in that it always sounds like a Marshall — but that's exactly what it's designed to do, after all

If you're a fan of the Marshall sound, I think you'll really enjoy playing through this box, even though purists will always argue that it's not quite the same as the real thing. For home recording, it is capable of excellent results and compares favourably with the Sessionmaster and Sansamp G2 units, though I don't think it sounds quite so classy as the Boogie V2 (which to be fair costs twice as much and uses valves). All the above‑mentioned products have their own tonal character so there's no way of saying which is better — they're just different, and the ultimate choice is subjective. The DRP1 is quiet enough for serious recording, it has more available overdrive than any such unit I've tried before and the recorded result sounds close enough to a real Marshall amp to satisfy most players. If that's what you're after, the DRP1 must be considered a success.


  • Easy to use.
  • Wide range of Marshall‑style tones.
  • Loads of available overdrive.
  • One of the most cost‑effective guitar DI units on the market.


  • Slightly 'gritty' note decay.


A cost‑effective unit that will appeal to those Marshall fans who want to get an authentic stack sound on tape without having to mic up the real thing.