Price paid: $ 200
Purchased from: on line dealer
Sound — 10
I play classic rock. I use Gibsons mostly and medium output pickups. This amp is extremely versatile and it matches what I want to do perfectly. You have to spend a little time to get the hang of the controls and effects, but once you "learn" this amp, you can really get it to sing. To my ear the amp models are very accurate. This amp may not be the best choice for the death metal players, but I really don't know since that's not my thing. I say that because the distortion doesn't seem to be harsh or metallic at all. But again, you should read a review from that type of player if that's what you're interested in. I generally like the sound of the higher gain tube amps like the Mesa, but with the amp gain turned down to 3-5. This gives a nice, bluesy distorion... not harsh or muddy. For $200. Quite a deal in my book. I use a bit of delay, and sometimes an external compressor with the delay. A word on tube v. solid state distortion: I very much dislike the distortion from most solid state amps. The sound of a transistor clipping is just painful. However, this is a solid state amp and it's smooth as butter, not ugly at all. The reason is that this amplifier develops it's distortion by digitally modeling the sound produced by tube amps. In other words, you're not hearing the transistors clipping - in this amp the transistors are run clean (which is the thing transistors are very, very good at), amplifying a spectrum produced by a digital signal processor. The DSP has no problem replicating the mix of harmonics produced by a vacuum tube. I also have two 6L6 and one EL34 tube amps, and to me the distortion from this sounds very, very tube-like. Not perfect, the EL34 amp in particular has this HUGE sound. But this head is very very good, and you don't have to run at floor-shaking volume to get good sound. Everyone has an opinion, but some will write off anything that is solid state without realizing that there's a difference between a solid state distortion and digitally modeled distortion.
Overall Impression — 10
I have five amps (four plus this one). Three of the other four are name-brand tube amps. The last one is a little solid state toy that is very portable (but sounds bad, even though it's also a big name brand). Overall, this is my favorite amp. It's absolutely the best for experimenting and finding the best tone for a particular piece. It's the most fun. It sounds good played either loud or quiet - again, since it's a digital modeler you don't have to be at huge volumes to get decent tone. A set of wireless headphones lets me practice through a "Marshall Plexi" at 2:00 am without waking the neighbors. All for cheap-cheap-cheap. When playing it through a speaker (as opposed to direct into a mixer or console) this amp is not loud if you are running a very wet signal - but this isn't really a problem since a very wet signal isn't too useful for Live playing, anyway. The manufacturer recommends the L2 mode with cabinet simulation turned off, and I agree - this is the best for Live sound. Depends on your style of course, but for me I prefer a mostly dry signal, with very moderate little reverb and mild effects tossed in. Used like that, this has plenty of volume. I would definitely buy this again, it's my favorite amp.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I would always have a backup with any amp. Even tubes fail at the wrong moment or get broken when moving an amp around. I guess if you bang something into a knob it might break, a Marshall might be more rugged but I don't think realistically that any amp will survive serious physical abuse. I'm reasonably careful with all my gear, so I might not be the best to comment on how it holds up to abuse. Behringer often gets trashed because it's manufactured in China. But most electronics these days are manufactured in China, including (probably) the computer you're looking at right now. My experience has been that Behringer stuff is pretty good. I have a few of their pedals too and they work well and have been durable. More money doesn't necessarily mean higher quality. I've had this guitar amp since June of 2005 and have had zero problems of any kind.
Features — 10
I got this head in June of 2005. It's a one channel digital modeling amp. There are 32 amp simulations (Mesa rectifier, Marshall Plexi, Vox AC30, Fender Bassman, Roland JC120, etc)as well as cabinet simulations (4x12, 4x10, 2x12, etc). You can mix and match any amp with any cabinet simulation. Any combination of amp settings can be store in a preset, which is selectable through the control panel or via the included footswitch. There's a MIDI controller available that is supposed to be a step up from the footswitch but I don't have it, the footswitch seems to be fine for me. Presets are arranged in 25 banks, each having 5 (A-E) presets per bank. There is a delay when you Switch presets from one bank to the next, but not so much when you switch among one of the 5 within a bank. So, it's best to set up your presets so that you can stay in a bank during a song (remember, you have 25 banks available, plenty enough). The amp has several built in effects:delay, echo, flanger, phase shifter, compressor, chorus, auto-wah, and tremolo. There's also two effects that are for stereo, and work well if you have two cabinets set apart on the stage: ping-pong, rotary (like a Leslie speaker). There's combined effects, such as "chorus + delay" but you don't get to choose the combination, they are preset: phaser+delay; flanger+delay1 and flanger+delay 2, chorus+delay1 and chorus+delay 2, chorus + compressor. Most effects have two controllable parameters. You can control the modulation effects (e.g., tremolo or flanger) a "tap" buttton that lets you tap the tempo and the effect timing will line up. This is very cool. There's an effects loop for your own pedals. There's also several user-selectable reverb styles. You can use reverb on top of any of the other effects options. The amp has MIDI capability, user-adjustable input gain (useful for adjusting for different pickups or active pickups), a Drive function (gives a substantial gain boost), noise gate (great for reducing hum with single coil guitars) and a built-in tuner. Output is stereo (use a stereo cabinet or two mono cabinets) or mono. There's 3 "studio" modes which are aimed at recording -that is, going right into the console - and two "live" modes. There's also a headphones jack that turns off the speaker cabinet. This is huge feature if you need to practice without disturbing others, as you get the full sound through the headphones including all the amp and cabinet simulations and effects. This amp is extremely versatile but all the options means that you do have to spend some time figuring out how to use the functions to get your sound out of it. However, it's time well spent.