Close to perfection
By: Andrés Velázquez
What is your opinion of this product?
I have had mine for 3 1/2 years now, and its use has evolved along with my rig. From pushing the Vintage clean with an SD-1, to cranking the Warm voicing -which has the BEST breakup tones I've heard from any amp- to settling for the Classic clean with an EHX Hot Wax for gain duties, I have used pretty much any setting and can only say Wow, Peavey, Wow.
This amp can take pedals as well as any tube amp. It is not quite as "squishy" in the attack as some tube amps, but not nearly as stiff as other SS amps; it lives somewhere in the middle, which gives the pedals enough touch sensitivity and headroom to impart their tone without compromise. The lead channel is the secret weapon, as it allows you to recall two completely different sounds (clean + pedals / lead) instantly. The Classic lead is instant Marshall, with great dynamics and cleanup capabilities, while the High Gain mode (6505) unleashes the full potential of Transtube tech. This channel benefits from an external closed back cab, as it improves the low end response. Connecting to one also increases the amp's power to 100 Watts RMS, so keep your distance or wear some good earplugs before hitting the first power chord!
For reference, I've never had to set the power output higher than 25% and it will reach gig-levels without being annoying for the rest of the band or FOH. The amp opens up beautifully with the volume knob past "3" - on either channel- as the preamp starts compressing a little and cabinet resonance is introduced, adding a great midrange growl and removing any fizz from either the lead channel or drive pedals which comes at lower levels. Be sure to try both inputs, as hotter pickups will saturate the clean channel easily and won't let drive pedals do their job properly.
While this amp is incredibly versatile and reliable -it's built like a tank!- there are some details that keep it from being perfect. To me, it is very bright, which some people may like, but at higher volumes it gets harder to tame the top end. The Eminence Texas Heat seems to be a popular upgrade to get rid of this "issue".
At first, I wasn't crazy about the Speaker Simulated Direct Out, as it requires some judicious EQing (specially with the brighter voicings), but after several gigs and recordings I've come to appreciate its functionality. If you prefer to run the FX send to your computer, though, be aware that both the reverb and boost come before it.
Lastly, I would have liked the power amp out to have a jack. Being hardwired to the speaker, I cannot feed the full power of the amp to a DI/loadbox for live or home use, but I guess it was not designed for that, and it is a relatively cheap mod, so no big deal.
All in all, this amp is fantastic! It will do everything you want and more, and it is nearly indestructible!