The Palmer FAB5 amplifier – Test report by

So far, Palmer has really spoiled us by releasing models that are always extraordinary such as this new, compact Class A tube amp for the real “Audiophile”.
We have already tested other models of this brand such as the high-quality EINS and particularly the DREI. And now it’s the turn of the new FAB5, which among other features, is equipped with the 6V6 tube, already found in the Palmer DREI (a larger amp with three separate power amplifiers). It is almost as if you had installed the 6V6 tube of the DREI in the FAB5. But on top of this, there are other great extras such as its impressive performance in spite of it being only a 5 watt amplifier of compact size.
The German manufacturer reinforces its reputation as one of the most respected companies on the music scene. In addition to the pedals and guitar combos, they also have a wide selection of custom, load-your-own guitar speaker enclosures, as well as the familiar speaker simulators and numerous accessories that make work easier and more interesting for audio engineers. The range of products offered by Palmer comprises the following: Switchers, speaker simulators, specialized DI boxes, splitters and mergers, guitar amplifiers and cabinets, power supplies and guitar effects. From a Spanish point of view, the best part is that Palmer even have their own showroom in Barcelona, so that everyone can try out these products for themselves.
Design and performance features The FAB5 is a small Class A tube amplifier with a power of 5 watts, one input and one channel. It is equipped with a powerful Ragin Cajun speaker from Eminence (diameter: 10 inches). Composition: pure tube circuit, following a single-ended principle. The famous 12AX7 (ECC83) was selected as a preamp tube; the power amplifier is equipped with a 6V6 tube, with the EZ81 serving as the tube rectifier. These are truly classic tubes, so that the FAB 5 seems cut out for Blues and Rock-Sounds. The clearly laid out control panel features three knobs : volume, tone and boost can be individually adjusted. On the rear panel, there are two further connection possibilities: one for an optional foot switch to operate the boost function, the other for an additional speaker output. In addition, a three-step attenuator is available. It can be used to perfectly match the output to the particular playing environment: “Bedroom”, “Room” or “Full” – depending on whether you play at home, you are rehearsing or playing a small gig.

The overall design of the FAB5 leaves nothing to be desired in terms of looks, robustness or the manufacturing process. In this respect, the model sets the standard. The housing reflects elegance and is stylistically situated somewhere between a retro and contemporary look. -A further convincing detail: the very solid, carefully processed carrying handle. The FAB5 is compact, but brings a little more weight (10 kg) to the scales than one would assume at first sight.
Sound Among the things that really impressed us was without a doubt the sound performance of the FAB5, which is higher than what you would expect from such a model. Of course, the reason for this is the high-quality Eminence Ragin Cajun with a diameter of 10 inches that sounds punchier than other speaker of the same size. However, it should be remembered that the 5 watts (Class A) clearly deliver a better performance than other amplifiers with the same specs.

What impressed us most, without a doubt, was the sound performance of the FAB5, which is higher than what you would expect from such a model.

As already mentioned, it relies heavily on the 6V6 tube of the Palmer DREI for its sound quality – it seems as if this tube has just been “transplanted” into the FAB5. The combo provides a clear, dynamic tone, but sounds a little dirty when you ramp up of the volume. Because of its warm tone, it is top notch for the aforementioned sounds (blues and rock), but is also suitable for jazz or fusion. It particularly stands out for its simple, nuanced and clean sound – a real pleasure for the ear. I have to point out that the boost is always enabled (even though it is of course adjustable); however, there is also a facility on the rear panel for connecting yet another foot switch, so that this function can be controlled with the foot. This makes it sound as if you have two channels, one “basic channel” and an extra channel for passages in which the guitar part (e.g. for solos etc. ) is highlighted. However, the boost range is somewhat low, so that the boost remains discrete in the background.
Conclusion A compact combo which is very impressive. The best thing about the FAB5 is undoubtedly its high quality sound, that allows you to make recordings or simply practice or play small gigs (a highly commendable detail: the attenuator that is adjustable to three settings of playing environment). A pleasant novelty, which offers additional advantages due to its compact size and an equally solid and attractive design.

The final word:

What we like:
The sound, despite a performance of only 5 watts, as well as the tone and the overall dynamics of the FAB5
What we do not like:
The rather limited boost range
“Guitarrista’s” opinion:
A great combo with excellent value for money, very good in its design and construction and with a sound that really is Class A.

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Source:, Spain, October 2013

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