Guitar Gear Review: Carvin DCM200L Power Amp

The Carvin DCM200L power amp is a super versatile power amp. I’m really liking it a lot. With the existing power amp being almost 30 years old and with the addition of the Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ and all the new cabs and speakers… it just seems like time for a new power amp.

Carvin is a brand that I do hear from artists and people in the guitar gear biz as having a solid line of products. I mean, Steve Vai has been using Carvin for decades, amirite? Being the lucky guy that I am, I’ve had the opportunity to be around a Carvin X100B head and some of the Carvin 4 x 12 closed back birch cabs. Great stuff and I hope to be able to add more to the Imperial Meditation Chamber.

The adaptability of the DCM200L is one of the biggest draws. When checking out new speakers, I do like to run things through a range of impedance and wattage settings. It might all even out in the wash, but there are nuances and I enjoy being thorough. The load selection options on the back of the unit opens up the range of what can be done. From 100W/100W stereo at both 4Ω and 8Ω, to 200W mono at both 8Ω and 16Ω, to all points in between.

Stereo is all sorts of rockin’ fun, but there’s a nifty parallel switch for when in mono operation. This allows the unused input to become an output and daisy chain to equipment. Oh, the fun ideas I’m having for that feature as I continue to revamp ye olde rig.

Speaking of buttons to push, the front panel rises to the occasion. The EQ Expand option drops a touch of the mids when activated. Cool possibilities include a quick change when double tracking or allowing for a simple resolution to a different cab.

The DCM200L is a real no-brainer to connect. I’m going 1/4″ right now, but there’s that geek factor or going XLR on the inputs. No real need. I just want to geek out. LOL! From there, finding workable levels are a snap. A bit of an aside, but I’m also digging the recessed knobs on the front and the wide range of markings along the span of the travel of each knob.

The quality of the signal is pretty much true to what I expect to hear out of my preamps. Pretty much? Well, it’s not like all brands and type of power amps are the exact same. What would be the point? When it comes to the DCM200L, I’m finding it to be a cleaner amp. In as much as it reveals that my old power amp was adding the every so slightest bit of a smidge of gain. Sure, that was part of my sound all that time and I just didn’t know any better. However, knowing there’s a higher fidelity with the DCM200L, there is the amenity of trusting what you’re hearing. Why drop a huge wad on a amp/processor if you can’t trust your power amp.

How about some specs:

– 8Ω: 60/60 Watts
– 4Ω: 100/100 Watts
Minimum 4 ohms per channel

– 8Ω: 100/100 Watts
– 4Ω: not used
Minimum 8 ohms per channel

Bridge Mono
– 8Ω: 200 Watts
– 16Ω: 120 Watts

– 16Ω: 200 Watts

Frequency Response ±0.5 dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Input Impedance > 20kΩ Balanced or Unbalanced
Damping Factor >400
Sensitivity (@ 4ohms) 1.0 Vrms
Output Noise -102 dBm
Power Requirement 90-240 VAC, 50-60Hz
Dimensions 1.75” H x 19” W x 9” D (44.5 x 482.6 x 229mm)
Weight (Net) 4lbs. (1.8 kg)

I’m digging that the DCM200L runs quietly and is only a single rack space. And at 200W, there’s plenty of power to hang in any gig that lacks sound support. It has plenty of features without being overly complicated, which is a pretty good things for those of us that play guitar. haha!

Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas, Twitter or his website is