Price paid: € 359
Purchased from: Rock Palace (the Hague)
Ease of Use — 9
It's very easy to roll in a bass sound to your liking. The tone controls (Bass: +14/–12 dB @ 40 Hz / Midrange: +5/–13 dB @ 500 Hz / Treble: +19/–25 dB @ 8 kHz) cover a wide range and the Gain (max. 62 dB, with tone controls centered) delivers a great sounding edge to your tone. But too much gain fucks up your sound, IMO anyway. It's not a tube amp and solid state gain never sounds as warm as a good tube! For that you'll need a nice hybrid or all tube amp. There was a good owner's manual in the box it came in but i never looked at it until i wrote this review.. :-)
Sound — 9
I was looking for a good Ampeg combo for bass practice at home and with enough balls to rock in a small band rehearsal situation. In the end i was drawn to this Micro-VR head with the SVT 210AV cabinet instead. The above price is only the head, the 210AV cab cost me an additional 309 euro. It came with no extra's except for a power cable and a jack/jack speaker cable of 1 mtr. I play some Pop but mostly older rock stuff and all kinds of blues and reggae so the Ampeg SVT sound in combination with a good Jazz Bass fits me like a glove. This combination sounds incredibly good and really comes close to the real tube head and SVT 810 cab. Shure it doesn't move as much air and it lacks a bit of the tube warmth but the sound comes close.
Micro-VR (bass) head Specs (copied from the owner's manual):
• Detailed 1970s-era SVT appearance
• Designed as a (mini) stack with the SVT 210AV cabinet
• Single channel, entirely solid-state design
• Selectable -15 dB input pad
• Gain control
• Bass, Mid, and Treble controls
• Volume control
• Selectable Limiter and LED
• Peak LED
• Auxiliary input
• Headphone output
• Illuminated power switch
• Effects loop with separate send and return jacks
• Balanced XLR line output
• Lightweight switching power supply
• Voltage selector switch ( 115 or 230 volt )
• MOS-FET power amplifier rated at 200 watts rms into 4 ohms (150 watts into 8 ohms) with a 4 ohm minimum
• Fan cooled
• Much smaller than Stonehenge
Size: (H x W x D) 7.5 in/190 mm (with feet) x 12 in/305 mm x 10 in/254 mm // Weight: 9.9 lb/4.5 kg
All you need and more. Vintage looks and modern power. The -15dB pad on the left side of the front panel is useful for active basses with high output so you can avoid overloading the input channel. The limiter on the right side of the front panel works fine when you want to drive this thing to the limit, but in the end it flattens your sound. I've played this head in a café setting once (small/medium saloon :) with two SVT-210AV cabs connected and it was old Tupolev airplane loud.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have this Mircro-VR head and cab for four years now and it never lets me down. All pots are working noise free and still feel solid enough. No problem gigging with this amp without backup. Although it's designed by Loud Technologies in the states it's manufactured in China... but they did a good job in the east :) The tolex finish is properly done and all hardware fits just the way it should. It will withstand some abuse but once the tolex is damaged it can go quick. The main PCB inside looks a bit messy but it's sturdy, no loose contacts so far. The brushed aluminum front and back plates could use a better finish but hey... this is not their top model.
Overall Impression — 8
Sound wise this amp is killer! This solid state amp does what Ampeg says it will do, nice round bass sounds with the signature SVT grind at pretty high volume if you want. I'm sure it will take pedals well but I can't vouch for that because I don't use any. If you're gonna travel with this baby make sure you get a good case for it, the control knobs sticking out a bit so it's very easy to knock one of during transport. I think that's a bit of a disign flaw but maybe the designers didn't expect the owners to move this amp around a lot. There's a XLR balanced line out available for recording or DI to the FOH PA, that's a good thing. For practice purposes there are audio in and headphones out mini jack connections conveniently placed at the front controlplate of the amp.
The only real issue with this amp is it's annoying cooling fan sound. At high volume it's no problem but with home allowable volume in the practice corner (or studio) at home the fan, which is always active, makes too much noise for comfort. But that's the one and ONLY reason why I don't use it at home anymore. Sound wise this amp is killer! Did I say that already?