Fender Super Champ X2: Affordable Hybrid Tube Tone
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15 watts of hybrid-tube power is at your disposal with the Fender Super Champ X2. You'll find the volume manageable, but it can still scream if you need it to. It's perfect for bedroom practice, jamming with the band, or small gigs. 16 different amp voicings allow you to channel tones from famous Fender amps that helped define the sound of every generation and genre of music from jazz to rock to metal. Add in 15 onboard effects to play around with and you have an amp that can do just about everything. The two-channel Fender Super Champ X2 is meant to be cranked up to 11!
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For the novice bedroom shredder or the intermediate guitarist who plays the occasional gig at the local club or bar, the Super Champ X2 is perfect. 15 watts of power is manageable at home, but can still scream on-stage if you need it to. If you enjoy playing multiple genres, you're in luck. Rock and metal players have multiple great-sounding voices to choose from. If you're a jazz player, you'll love the Jazzmaster voicing on the Super Champ, which gives you solid-state style cleans even with the volume cranked up. Keep in mind that the Super Champ X2 doesn't have a headphone jack, so you won't have the option of practicing silently with this amp (unless you have a computer with you). If you like the features of the X2 but need an amp with a headphone jack, then check out the Fender Champion 20.
The Fender Super Champ X2's iconic styling is based on the legendary 60s-era Fender Blackface amplifiers. Black Tolex surrounds the cabinet, providing ruggedness and durability. Silver-threaded grille cloth, lampshade knobs, and white lettering complete the vintage look. A grooved black plastic carrying handle with metal trim lets you take this amp anywhere you want to go! Sadly, there are no corner protectors, which mean the amp won't handle being pushed and shoved well, so take extra care of it. It's better to be safe than sorry. Remember that tubes are fragile and prone to breaking if subjected to a lot of force, so be careful!
The Super Champ X2 is a bit of an oddball and there's a lot of confusion on the internet about what kind of amp it actually is. Contrary to what the spec sheet may lead you to believe, it's not really a full tube-based amp. It's actually a hybrid amp. Fender has added a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) to the preamp of the X2, while the power amp is indeed all tube. Though the X2 does have a tube in the preamp, its purpose isn't to amplify the sound. With that in mind, it's not really fair to call the Super Champ X2 a 'tube amp'. The preamp amplification is all done by the Digital Signal Processor.
In summary, the DSP in the preamp is responsible for all the tone shaping, while the tube-based power amp is what gives the Super Champ the organic distortion sought after by tone enthusiasts of all genres. Though this isn't a traditional tube setup, the Super Champ X2 still sounds amazing. It has a great sense of tube dynamics and distortion thanks to tube-based power amp section.
You get a choice of 16 iconic voices inspired by amps from Fender and other manufacturers like Mesa/Boogie. From the beloved '65 Twin to modern metal voicings, you can find a tone that suits any style of music.
To get the most out of the amp, connect it to your Mac or PC using the built-in USB jack. Using the Fender FUSE application, you can modify the amp's models, effects, and presets to your heart's desire. Blend two voicings, rearrange them, or even select from multiple cabinet emulation settings for recording. You can get so much mileage out of the X2 and the Fuse software if you spend some time and experiment.
Using the X2's dedicated effects knob, you can select from 15 onboard effects. A second 'FX Level' knob allows you to change the level of the chosen effect. You'll also find a Tap Tempo button that lets you rhythmically tap an interval to adjust the delay and modulation rates for certain effects. A few settings are actually a combination of multiple effects, like Reverb + Delay or Chorus + Reverb.
Unfortunately, the amp knobs only allow you to select one effects setting at a time. However, if you connect the amp to the Fender FUSE application on your computer, you can have up to 7 effects running simultaneously. Using a virtual pedalboard interface, you can customize effects parameters like decay, tone, and more! You can even change the order of the effects from before the preamp to after the preamp - like a virtual effects loop. This adds even more versatility to your sound and is an excellent addition by Fender for allowing for an insane amount of experimentation.
If you prefer to use your own effects pedals, you'll be happy to know that the Super Champ takes pedals really well. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an effects loop, so you'll have to get creative with your pedal placement.
On the front of the Fender Super Champ, you'll find the standard 1/4" guitar input. Notice there are two volume knobs - one for each channel of the amplifier. A channel selector lets you choose between a low gain channel (perfect for those iconic Fender clean tones) and a higher-gain channel (for crunchy blues licks and heavy palm-muted riffs). Note that there is only one Gain knob on the amp. The Gain knob is used only on the second channel. Channel 1 is voiced strictly for cleans. It is unaffected by the Voice and Gain knobs.
When you're using channel 2, the Voice knob lets you choose from 16 different amplifier voicings - customizable with the Fender FUSE app. There's also a two-band EQ for more tone control over your Treble and Bass frequencies. A missing 'Mids' knob reminds us that this is still a budget beginner amplifier. However, you can still adjust the mids in the Fender FUSE app, but we would have preferred to have all the tone controls on the amp itself. Not a dealbreaker; more of an inconvenience if anything.
Finally, regardless of the channel you have selected, there's an FX Adjust and FX Select button that lets you pick from 15 effects settings. Combine this with the Tap Tempo button and you'll be able to dial in the effects to your liking. You can go even further with effects parameters in the FUSE app.
On the back of the amp is the power input and switch, as well as the speaker output (which can connect to either the internal speaker or an external speaker cabinet). As a reminder: never run your amp without a speaker connected! You'll also find a Line Out jack for recording or live performances, a USB jack for connecting to your computer, and a Footswitch input for remotely switching the channels on the amp.
15 watts of power means you can get loud enough for playing small gigs with a band without needing an external sound system. Unfortunately, there isn't a built-in attenuator, but the amp volume is still manageable at bedroom levels. The Fender Special Design 10" speaker won't melt any faces, but it gets the job done. We wish it were a 12" speaker, but 10" is a good compromise for a lower-wattage amp such as this. You can even plug in your favorite speaker cabinet if you want for even more versatility, but be sure it has the right wattage and ohm ratings. The X2's own speaker cabinet is open and fills the room with ambiance, so it sounds even more powerful than it really is.
You have a couple of options when recording with the Fender Super Champ X2. The real bread and butter of the X2 is the USB jack that allows for pristine, high-quality professional recording. By connecting to the FUSE app on your Windows or Mac computer, you can select from 12 cabinet emulation settings that can make you sound like you're recording through a 1x12 cabinet or a massive 4x12 cabinet. You can even turn off the cabinet emulation and use your own impulse responses for ultimate control over your tone. You can also record silently. Simply turn down the volume knobs of the amp to zero. The USB signal is sent independently, so it's not affected by the control knobs. To adjust the volume reaching your computer, just use the controls in the Fuse app! You can even use this feature as a substitute for a headphone jack. Connect your amp to a computer and then plug in your headphones! You'll need to do this any time you want to practice silently. It's up to you to decide if that's something you can live with. Note that you may experience some latency if your computer is slow.
An old-school line out can be plugged into a recording console or audio interface. You can even use the line-out to connect to a PA system for a volume boost at your local venues. You also always have the tried-and-true option of recording with a microphone.
At 24 pounds, the Super Champ is deceptively heavy for its smaller-wattage. However, it's completely manageable and easy to take anywhere thanks to the carrying handle. The handle even is grooved for extra grip - great attention to detail by Fender.
The Super Champ X2 sounds like a dream. The voicings are very versatile and really let you play just about anything. Check out this popular YouTube review from InTheBlues for some sound samples of the X2. While it's not the most impressive modeling we've ever heard, it definitely punches above its weight considering the amp's price point.
Reviews on Amazon praise the Super Champ X2 for being solidly built and having many usable voicings. Some reviews complained about a 'fizzle' sound and broken knobs, but these are definitely issues that warrant an exchange. Though it's rated at 'just' 15 watts, some reviewers were happy that it could perform well at gigs and small venues. However, keep in mind that if you're in a band with a heavy-handed drummer, you might need some more power. Reviewers on Guitar Center had similar praises to sing about the versatility and warm sound of the power amp tubes, but still dinged the amp for not having a Mids knob - an unfortunate oversight on Fender's part. Reddit users have similar remarks about the amp as well.
While it's a bit of an oddball, the Super Champ X2 is a great amplifier for the beginner and intermediate guitarist. Though it has some quirks, we think the beautiful cleans more than make up for the lack of Gain control on channel 1 and a missing mids knob. With so much customizability in the Fender Fuse app, it's a fantastic amp if your first and foremost goal is great sound quality.