Re: It's like i've never heard what good tone is..
This thing is insane.
4 voicings across 2 channels, with two selectable wattages. (5w and 50w, hence the name) I haven't even gotten it out of the 5w mode yet, as it was pretty late when I got back from Atlanta where I bought it yesterday.
The channels are split, channel one is clean/crunch, and channel 2 is blues/burn. The clean channel is unquestionably (to my ears) the best I've ever heard. It truly expresses the character of your guitar. Notes are thick and full and seperated. EQ'd properly the clarity is amazing. Chords just sound "sweet". I don't know how to elaborate on "tonal sweetness" but I was strumming chords and grinning like an absolute moron last night. My wife was making fun of me lol. I guess sort of similar to a vox AC15, but I actually like it better.
The crunch voicing on channel 1 is like a thicker, driven clean. It sounded very "marshally" to my ears, but it still had that same sweetness I've never heard before. The thing that struck me was the dramatic difference my different guitars made through this channel. My texas special equipped telecaster had completely different sound than my fred or evolution equipped ibanez guitars, and with no change whatsoever to the EQ they both sounded completely awesome. The gain and treble controls were super responsive, and completely changed the character of this voicing at different settings. It goes from a slightly breaking up clean to a really crunchy chunk.
The second channel is voiced blues/burn. The blues voicing is another driven clean channel. It's very traditional sounding and articulate. Notes are thickened and chords have added fatness and warmth to them, but without the fuzzy top end I would generally associate with this kind of voicing. It's an absolutely beautiful sound.
Burn... wow. This is what an overdriven lead channel should sound like. Notes are absolutely huge and round. No amount of gain made this channel sound bad, the more gain I gave it the smoother the sound got. Single notes were exceptionally well defined, and even and round all over the neck. I never knew my guitars could sound this good. This channel seemed to have a very Santana circa supernatural vibe to it. Cranking the midrange all the way was the only way I could make it sound muddy, and even then it had this delightful sound I can only describe as a "wall of nasty".
This amp includes an independant contour control for both channels. I only messed with it a little bit, but it seemed to affect the sweep of the midrange. I think once I get a little experience with it I'll be able to get some significant tonal variation out of the amp with it, and its footswitchable.
All of this came out of the 5 watt class A mode, at a reasonable volume. I wouldn't call it 2am in an apartment volume, but I didn't manage to piss my wife off or rattle my windows once. I didn't push the master volume past 12:00.
The footswitch allows switching between the two channels, reverb, and the contour control. The reverb and contour controls are independent for each channel. The reverb is tube reverb, and actually sounded really good. Even at max level, it never got tinny or unpleasant.
A few niggling issues with it. I had a strange volume drop out of it 3 times, but I think my input cable wasn't seated correctly. I removed the cable (a monster rock guitar cable) from the guitar and amp and reseated it and the problem didn't present itself again.
The footswitch cable is hardwired into the back of the amp, but not hardwired to the footswitch. The cable connects to the side of the footswitch which doesn't make any sense to me. I bumped the end of the cable where it connects to the switch with my foot a few times and it momentarily disconnected the footswitch. Highly annoying, but over all a small gripe. I don't understand the logic in this particular design. There are inputs on the back of the amp for each of the footswitchable controls, and the manual said something about being able to use a midi switch for them. Truthfully, I don't understand what that means, but its good that there's another option. The footswitch falls short, and so far is the amps only failing.
Even the included instruction manual is fantastic. It was very well written, with an explanation of each channel and sample settings. It explained some of the more technical aspects of the amplifiers design which I'm not really knowledgeable enough to relay, but I found it very impressive that they went to such lengths for the manual. There was also a section on troubleshooting problems with it, and the maintenance requirements. Apparently the amp never needs to be rebiased, which seems like a huge advantage to me. New tubes are a straight replacement.
So far, I couldn't possibly be happier with the sound of this amp. It was truly inspiring, I feel like everything I played last night sounded great. I am sitting here wishing my wife would wake up so I could be playing now, but she's on vacation this week so I won't begrudge her sleeping in.
I haven't run any pedals into it yet, but I did finally pick up an SKB pedalboard yesterday. Soon I'll be messing with that and I'll add my thoughts on it after. Some of the reviews I read before I bought this amp said that this amp absolutely loves stompboxes, so I can't wait.
For sale: Peavey XXX 2x12 120w. Cheap! lol.