THR10C < Katana Air < Laney L5 Studio


First, a preamble: I've got a THD Univalve which I've owned for something like 12 years. I originally got it for it's relatively low wattage, built-in THD Hotplate (which was once a thing), and simplicity. Plus I played a friend's, and loved it, I've always wished it had an effects loop.

Fast forward a decade and I'm not at music college anymore, and I'm married - meaning I don't have unlimited access to practice rooms, and don't have unlimited ability to make lots of noise in the house. The Univalve has gathered dust whilst I've piddled around with an old Spider (apologies if that causes offence)and sought a small enough amp for practicing, but I've never found anything that's been inspiring.

I just bought a THR10C. I understand why people like it, and I've got some decent tones from it, but it still feels to me like a rebranded Spider especially as it seems from the Yamaha website that Line6 is now one of their brands (which may not be news to anyone here other than me). So I figured ok, the THR10 is a few years old, maybe there's something better... and so I began to drool over the Katana Air. Why not? Partly, the price.

Here's my conundrum: For the price of the Katana Air, wouldn't I be better off buying a Laney L5-Studio, which has a similar footprint to one of these "lounge" amps, and make use of the Laney's built-in wizardry? I'd then have one amp (the Laney), which would be headphoneable and give me all the same silent practice abilities as a "lounge" amp *AND* it would easily replace my THD Univalve, plus give me the long desired effects loop?! BTW, I really don't care about the THR10 or Katana's built in effects. I'd rather use my own. Also, I have a massive bias towards real(ish) valve over emulated valve. In my head I can't believe the THR10's sound, because I know it's emulated.

Here's my real question: Does anyone else follow the logic that an L5-Studio could do the same job as a Katana Air... and a bit more besides?

For the sake of continuity, I'll answer the questions.
1) Where are you located? England
2) What is your budget? Under £500
3)What guitars do you play, and what pickups are in them? Les Paul Classic, various Strats & Franken-Strats, Patrick Eggle Berlin Pro. Mixture of humbuckers & single coils.
4) What effects do you use? Various in the stable. Crowther Hotcake & an old analogue T-Rex delay are among the faves.
5) Does it have to be a combo? No. In fact, I don't want a combo. I want the small footprint of a head.
6) Does it have to be new? Not necessarily.
7) What are your size and weight limitations? I want something that can sit on a shelf in the lounge and not necessarily need a big speaker cab (though I've got a 2x12 that I love.
8) Do you need to be especially quiet at home? Yes. Well, no. Not especially quite - just socially considerate.
9) Do you need to be especially loud at gigs? No. I don't gig at all at the moment, though that's not to say I won't. Either way, I'm not at all interested in 100 watts of screaming valve sound.
10) What is your taste for low end, mids, et cetera? I like balance & tweakability.
11)What do you want to sound like (YouTube and/or Soundcloud links are most welcome)? Not one particular tone; bluesy, responsive clean to moderate chop, but not normally anything that would melt anyone's face.

Thanks, friends.


Well-Known Member
Well, that list of questions was created by someone that would have snapped you up this point but doesn't come by anymore. I'm not really positioned to advise you as my own experiences differ from yours but I can't help but wonder if you're ignoring the obvious. You've had something that doesn't quite fit the bill, read some marketing and bought something that doesn't get you any closer to what you want and you now gazing into the lovely abyss of gear, fantasizing about finding Mr Right. I strongly urge you to choose a day where you're free, take annual leave if you have to and travel to a top draw guitar shop. Use a train if it's too far, treat it like a day out and save yourself the waste money of yet another date off Tinder that used a 15yr old profile picture.....


Still haven't got the hang of Thursdays
I own both a Katana 50 and a Laney Ironheart Studio. I use the Katana almost all the time. It's more user friendly and I think it sounds better.


Well-Known Member
I can symphatize with the need to play quieter. Let's see what I can say about this that'll help you.
I tried a vox adio and that sounded really boxy to me. Won't work with fx well and all that. After that experience I never tried the THR.

I tried the L5 combo in the store and it's ok. I didn't really fall in love with it. But that's taste and not your question. If you'll only play with headphones I think it's a good option. If you want to connect it to a cab at home there are a lot of other options you could look into. (I liked the koch jupiter for instance, nicer cleans and easier to manage the volume)

The katana on the other hand.. I got the head because it has a 5" speaker build in, has an option to connect to a cab and is a one stop solution for everything. I've said it before but I'm blown away by how good that thing is. While connected to the cab i'd say it gets 80-90% there of my tube amps. I'm a gear head so I love those amps but in all honesty if money, or space comes up short I'd have a seriously hard time not to keep that katana. While it's not best ay anything it is the most allround.
The build in effects are great. It is important to check how it works with your drive effects. I tried a heavier drive pedal with it and that took quite a bit of tinkering to get it to work the way I liked. For me personally it's a practice / backup amp so I made a point setting up my presets just with the build in effects and I got great results with it.
I think it's the better solution then the air because it does have an fx loop, more presets, can be used with a cab and the 5"speaker does a great job. Size does help. It can be put at a very low tv level and I don't like playing with headphones.

In the end you'll have to try both to see which you like. I think the katana is a great amp, but it clicks for some and doesn't for some others. There are a lot amps in that space these days. Blackstar, H&K, koch all have nice amps with emulated outs if you want tubes. (I'm probably missing a lot there)

Some thoughts:
A REALLY outside the box option would be the waza tube expander. With that thing you can use any amp regardless of power on any volume or with headphones etc. It does cost an arm and leg though.

Another options would be something like the helix stomp. I love my hx effects and you might be really happy with how emulation works these days. Again it's something to try and you might like it or not.

If you decide to go true tube I think there are other options beside the laney worth checking out.


Nerd on the Prairie
Now on topic... I had a THR10X. It was great and sounded pretty good. It will never get real loud and I didn’t like how it took pedals. But that is me.

I have read good things about the Katana Air, but no experience with one.

Laney? no clue.

I will say a friend just got a Marshall Class 5 and says it’s the perfect practice amp. He got it home, Dimed everything, and plugged in. I know Phillip McKnight had one and loved it.

A katana 100 head has a built in speaker for low volumes, also has switchable power. We actually set one on the lowest power setting through a Marshall 1960A and it kept up with the band at practice, until the lead guitar started turning knobs in his gear and volumes started to climb. Lol.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Last edited: