Price paid: A$ 900
Purchased from: Second hand
Ease of Use — 10
Super easy to use, the compressor is super cool too. Great little addition to the amp. Probably not a good substitute for MXR Comp or Cali76 but it's great if you want to dial in some "squeeze." The only way you could possibly get a bad sound of this thing is if you were playing a junk fender or something :D. Jokes aside. It would be really hard to fail to set up this amp correctly.
Overall, a killer amp, but it loses points for the open grill, the fear of getting water in it bugs me every time someone is near it with a drink. But it does look damn cool when the tubes light up and you can see all the circuitry.
Sound — 8
The TTE 500 is a very basic amp, super easy to use and sounds fantastic with everything right up the middle (less the gain and volume, duh). What I a have found with the amp so far that is that it doesn't colour the bass tone too much. For example, I set everything to noon on the eq and played my Warwick Thumb Bolt On, my Warwick Infinity NT then my Warwick Corvette STD bubinga and they all sounded massively different. I tried the same exercise with my old Ampeg SVT3 Pro and they all sounded basically the same, a great sound, but coloured to the Ampeg tone. Considering that all the basses are very different it should come as no surprise that each will sound unique but I found a lot of amps don't allow for a lot of headroom or for the bass to provide the tone. Basically, it lets the bass do the talking, but you touch it up with the ep as needed.
That being said, for a real chunky, grindy, growly as all hell tone I recommend the following. Gain at 10 o'clock, compression on 3 o'clock, small boost on the bass, mids dropped to 6, highs dropped to about 7 o'clock, colour to 2 o'clock and boom. I compare this sound half way between the Mudvayne "LD50" sound and the Cryptopsy album "Unspoken King." I use Warwick basses so what you end up getting may be a little different. Also a Sansamp Driver works really well with this amp, gives it a real nice boost.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I have used it many times both live and in jam sessions and I never have had any issues with it. All modern technology is built really well and I can't see it ever crapping out on me, and if it did, it would be the tubes, but they're known to blow on occasion and that's not the fault of the amp. The metal mesh seems like its strong but I would never rest anything on it. Being open mesh it could be damaged by small objects/water getting into it. It's wrapped in leather and the handle is made of leather too. Looks really nice.
Overall Impression — 7
Personally for metal this is a great amp, but probably not the obvious choice. An Ampeg SVT or Mesa would probably be better but I find they don't really have any "other" sounds. The TTE 500 really sounds great in the way that it allows the bass to provide most of the tone and then it just helps it along gently. I got bored of my SVT amp a while ago but I felt like this was a good choice moving over to camp Markbass because I can always use a Sanamps, Darkglass, big muff or something if I want extra grit.
When I'm not playing my death metal band I often jam things like Incubus, Bruno Mars, Tower of Power, Commodores etc and I can get a great smooth sounds, right to bubbly slap/funk sound. Sounds great with muted strings and played thumb style (imitating an upright). If my bass rig was stolen or damaged I would definitely look into getting another Markbass amp. I have owned and used a Markbass LM 250 head and one thing I noticed was even the "lower" watt models are freaking loud! And with 500 watts the TTE500 is a beast. They drive the cabs so hard and push so much air from the cones, it's awesome.