Price paid: $ 595
Purchased from: Used (barely)
Sound — 9
With all the features on this amp, its easy to dial in the tone you need. I play a Les Paul Standard with Seymour Duncan SH-1 and Custom-5s. The guitar is fairly dark by itself so I make good use of the bright switches and EQ. This amp is very versatile. One person who plays rockabilly, surf, or country could be using the same amp that someone who plays alternative, classic rock, grunge, or some metal does. The clean channel is very articulate and warm. With the crunch option it allows the user to either change the amount of breakup they want, or how close they want their channels to be as far as volume and voicing goes. The gain channel is a little more compressed. It can go from mild mannered to fairly pissed pretty quick. Not soul crushing gain, by any means, but nothing less than most players would need. The variable wattage also allows for more tweaking of tone. No notable volume difference, obviously, but you can find some different tones in the 20 watt mode. Granted, the labor was outsourced here, but quite frankly, who cares. If it weren't for that I never could have afforded this amp. Its not a custom shop Bogner, but its still a Bogner. It doesn't always hold true, but I believe in a trickle down of quality from trustworthy companies, be it amps or anything. This amp is definitely loud enough for a small to medium sized gig, by the way.
Overall Impression — 10
I play a lot of different things because I like a lot of different genres. This amp lets me keep my options open. Some people can buy every other amp under the sun for different tones, but for those of us who have to pick one or the other, its nice to have an option that doesn't compromise. I like to play heavy, aggressive rhythms at times, but I also like to blues it up once in a while, too. A lot of the criticisms I've heard over this amp come from the guys that already own a fleet of amps, so I don't feel like their opinion counts as much with an amp that was obviously made to be more accessible to a larger group. I'm in college. That pretty much rules out most nice amps out there. For the same price range, you really can't get a more well made, thought through, swiss army knife of an amplifier. I did a lot of comparisons on this amp to others of similar price range at the time. I could of gotten an amp that either had a really great clean tone, dirty channel, or lots of modes and effects. Instead of choosing one or the other, this amp lets you get all of the above. If it were stolen, I would replace it hands down.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This amp is solid, and is built well. Chassis seems to be built like the rock of gibraltar. I haven't had any problems with it (as I jinx myself) thus far, but don't anticipate many anytime soon. I did buy this amp used, but the guy from whom I bought it had played it for under an hour. His wife got him an Alchemist, he got himself a Fender at the exact same time, so obviously he preferred the second. Pretty much a brand new amp.
Features — 10
This the newest latest that Bogner has created to date. Its no boutique custom shop job, but it is a great sounding and versatile amp that doesn't break the bank. This is because Bogner decided to outsource the work to Line 6 in China. This has created some considerable debate, but this amp was all designed by Bogner, which I think should be worth something to anybody. On the outside this amp is very sexy, with a considerate and thoughtful design. It is housed in an open-backed cabinet loaded with a Celestion Vintage 30 speaker. It is driven by an A/B power section and housing two 6L6 power tubes and five 12AX7s in the preamp. All the Alchemist amplifiers, including this model, are variable 40 watt amps with a variable 20 watt mode. For those of you who don't know: half the watts does not equal half the volume. The main difference in the different modes is that I would describe the 40 watt mode to be more modern, and tighter, whereas the 20 watt mode is a little looser and little spongier - especially in the bottom end. This amp also includes a non bypass-able buffered parallel effects loop. I don't play with a lot of effects and the ones I do I prefer in front of the amp, but to each his own. As with any tube amp, this piece of ART isn't light (65 lbs.) but lighter than its bigger siblings which could require a dolly if taken very far. This is a two channel amp with a clean (Gold) and a gain (Mercury) channel. Each channel includes its own bass, mid, and treble knobs, as well as gain and volume for each. There is also a boost feature which gives just a little extra umf to either channel. There is also on-board digital reverb and delay. The reverb has three modes: plate, hall, and spring, and the delay also has three modes: ducking, analog, and tape. Without getting into the details of what reverb and delay is, I'll simply say that each is different and useful in its own right. There is also a tap feature to control the tempo of delay as well as a knob for number of repeats. These effects are Line 6, I believe, and aren't really incredible by any means, but useful nonetheless (not too mention more than I would want to pay for if they were really over the top excellent). This holds especially true since both can be toggled on/off via the included footswitch. The footswitch can't change the mode of either the reverb or delay, but toggle them on or off. The footswitch also includes a Switch for toggling the boost feature on/off as well as a Switch for channel selection. The Gold Channel has switches for either clean or crunch, a bright switch, and a deep Switch for the bass. The clean or crunch allows the user to really choose how clean they want their amp to be. The crunch can take you from slightly breaking up to kind of a british rock sort of a feel. The bright switch, a common feature on a lot of amps, is a simple but effective feature that does as the name implies - it brightens up the tone. This can be especially useful if your guitar is naturally dark sounding. The deep feature really expands the bass quite a bit. Again fairly self-explanatory. Kind of like a bass boost on a stereo. The Mercury channel, along with the aforementioned features, also includes a punch switch, bright switch, and mid-shift. The punch can be really useful for agressive rhythm patterns or other intense styles. The bright Switch here is the same as the one on the gold channel. The mid-shift is fairly interesting. Its really good for that metal-ish tone. Notice the -ish. As this combo is open-backed, I would hardly put this amp in the metal category, but it can be done with a little encouragement in the right direction. Features are what really set this amp apart. Is is remarkably versatile for such an inexpensive package.