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Review: Hotone Eagle’s Heart Nano Legacy Series Amp Head

Hotone’s new Eagle’s Heart amp head is one of their newest additions to their Nano Legacy Series Amplifier line of uber mini solid state amps. Each amp in the Nano Legacy collection is based on a classic amp head, the Eagle’s Heart being their clone of the legendary, and currently out of production ENGL Savage 120 amp head. Given the monumental status of the Savage, as well as the extreme novelty of the Hotone’s size, we jumped at the opportunity to take the Eagle’s Heart for a spin. Surprisingly enough, this little amp head sounds pretty good for something that costs less than most pedals. Also among Hotone’s new collection, featured at this year’s winter NAMM show, are mini replicas of the old Peavey 5150, the Soldano SLO 100, and the classic Bogner Shiva.

Features

All of the Hotone Nano Legacy Series amps feature tough, metal housings, complete with roll bars to protect from accidental crashes. Three band EQ (Bass, Middle, Treble), as well as separate Gain and Volume knobs make the Eagle’s Heart an extremely versatile piece of equipment. Having a master volume control in such a small amp is a feat in and of itself, and we found that it allows the amp to clean up in a very functional way. We ran the Eagle’s Heart through a Marshall 1960A cabinet, loaded with Celestion G12 speakers, and I have to say, the amp sounded pretty juicy. I was expecting fizzle and hiss, but what I got was a variety of perfectly usable tones.

With the gain knob rolled down, and the EQ set to taste, this amp generated sparkly clean tones that would be well suited for anything from surf rock, to R&B, to even Jazz. Of course, the clean sound is not exactly what an ENGL Savage clone is designed for, but we think its nice that the folks at Hotone went through the effort of making this little beast more than a one trick pony.

Turn the gain knob up and this gremlin really begins to shine. The saturation is thick, and the level of distortion can take you anywhere from early Deep Purple territory, right up to present day drop tuned metal. Mind you, the Eagle’s Heart is not as responsive as an actual Savage, but as far as 5 watt amp offerings go, this one is pretty nice.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Eagle’s Heart is what is on the back end of the unit. Hotone has included standard, practice amp favorites Line Output (headphone jack) and Aux In (for your jam tracks), but also included is an FX Loop! That’s right…an FX Loop! Clearly Hotone is playing for keeps here, as the inclusion of an FX loop elevates this amp from the level of a novelty gift item to that of a functional and giggable piece of gear. If it seems like I am making too big a deal out of the FX loop, let me assure you that I am not. With a small amp like this, it can be difficult to run your usual pedals into the unit without quickly encountering some serious sound issues. With the FX loop however, you do not need to worry about hitting the front of the amp with anything at all (especially considering that the amount of gain that this amp has on tap means that you probably do not need to use any distortion pedals), and instead you can run your modulation effects cleanly through the FX loop. We tried running some delay (Boss DD-20), and reverb (Hall of Fame) through the loop, and it significantly opened up the sound of the amp. Any of that typical micro amp fizz that may still be present is easily smoothed out with a little bit of delay and reverb. Again, note that the Eagle’s Heart does not come close to the ENGL Savage in terms of sheer wattage and sound quality, but it is still a perfectly functional and responsive piece of gear for less demanding situations.

One speaker output is included with the Eagle’s Heart, but it works for any cabinet that falls into the 4-16 ohm range (meaning basically any mainstream cabinet). Apparently the amp is able to detect the ohmage of your cabinet and adjust accordingly. This is a nice perk, and certainly makes things easier.

Conclusion

Solid construction, a broad range of tones, and a very thoughtful design all make the Hotone Eagle’s Heart a fun and convenient piece of gear. As far as 5 watt amps go, this happens to be one of the most usable ones that we have encountered, and at a price point that falls well below what many pedals go for, there is not much to lose with this one. Although Hotone’s Nano Legacy series amps originally seemed like more of a gimmick, it is clear that they are pushing the limits of solid state and modeling technology to bring us options that are both extremely portable and highly functional. If you are looking for a low watt amp to supplement your existing rig, or you are just starting out and are not ready to pull the trigger on something more expensive, give the Hotone a try. We’re pretty sure you’ll have more fun than you think.


Specs

Sound inspired by famous ENGL Savage 120
Extremely compact configuration for portability
High quality tone with Volume and Gain controls
3 Band EQ controls for shaping your tone
Compatible with cabinets of different impedances ranging from 4-16Ω
FX LOOP for using external effects
Headphone output jack is very convenient for practicing and recording
Aux In jack can let you play with an external music player
18V DC power supply (Adapter included)
Power Output: 5 Watts
Dimensions: 128mm (W) x 75mm (D) x 59.5mm (H)
Weight: 440 g


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