333 Infinium review by Bugera

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  • Features: 10
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9 (2 votes)
Bugera: 333 Infinium
1

Price paid: A$ 570

Purchased from: eBay

Features — 10
This is a three channel 120 watt all-valve head manufactured in 2010 by Behringer in China. This 333 Infinium has 6L6 tubes instead of the EL34 as with the 333XL Infinium. The amp has three foot-switchable channels (clean, crunch, distortion) and a digital reverb. A master volume control allows you to crank up the drive section without blowing your ears. It's got two speaker outs with switchable impedance (4, 8, 16 Ohms) as well as a DI out and effects loop switchable via the foot switch. Feature-wise, this amp has technically everything you'd need. I play through a Behringer Vintage Bugera quad box.

I play an Ibanez JEM, a modified Fender Strat and a custom Richards guitar. I use a Behringer V-tone GDI21 for overdrive and a Zoom MS-50G for effects. I have a Korg AX1500G as a backup.

Sound — 10
This is the difficult part: I wanted the 333XL with EL34s as I generally prefer that sound over 6L6s which tend to be a bit harsh sounding. When I first got the amp, I was disappointed as the sound was indeed harsh and bright. The crunch sound was alright but the overdrive channel was too death-metal, fuzz-box, grungy sounding. I don't like it. I like a guitar tone that cuts through, whether I play jazz tones or Steve Vai chops. I have therefore ordered a set of EL34s. The wonderful thing about this amp is that you can switch and mix the tubes, without expensive biasing, through the Infinium circuit which also extends the life of the valves, so they claim.

But let's get back to the sound: at first I was disappointed. But when I cranked it up a little, and that's when the sweet tone emerged. The amp is incredibly tight. The sound is even, has lots of sustain and warmth. Astonishingly, this all-valve head does not hiss like a waterfall as my Marshall's and Laney's used to. Absolute quiet! I am impressed. Once I get the EL34s, I'll make up my mind which set I prefer. But as it stands, I can live with 6L6s.

Since I use a Behringer GDI-21 for overdrive and distortion, I don't really need the other two channels. Having said that, when turning down the crunch level all the way, I get a very creamy, bluesy, compressed sound. Fiddle with the volume control on the guitar a little and the crunch channel has amazing character. Very nasally, jazzy like. All up, I already prefer the 333s sound over any Marshall combination I have had. I really dig it. Therefore, I gave it a 10.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I can't rate this as I've only had the amp for a few weeks. Yes, I have heard horror stories about Bugera amps going up in flames... BUT... I also know that this was limited to particular models in the early years, certainly not the Infiniums. Having said that, how many Marshall's have blown up, I ask? Many! Just ask people like Joe Satriani or Mr. Blackmore. In fact, Vox amps also had a habit of catching fire on stage. Just ask Brian May who customises (transformers) them to avoid blowing up.

The amps look sturdy and a couple of YouTube videos have revealed the interior and metal housing, which appears to be top notch.

Overall Impression — 10
I play a mix of pop-rock with acid jazz thrown in. I like bright, punchy tones (similar to SRV) but with a little more distortion, depending on the song. I also love clean, esoteric sounds. Because of my versatile playing, I need a versatile amp. So far, the 333 gives me what I want. If it doesn't blow up, and I don't believe it will, then I'll stick with it for a while. The reason I got rid of my valve amps years ago was because of the weight and I hated the hissing noises. But I missed the warmth, compression and rawness. I like this sound and I like the fact that you can do anything with it.

One minor criticism is that the DI out even at full volume barely drives my DAW's D/A converter. But I can live with that.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ZigM
    I installed 4 EL34 tubes. The amp sounds completely different but for the better. Had I known this, I would have hung out for the 333XL which comes pre-loaded with EL34s. The 6L6s are fine but they don't have that "sizzling" overtone. My amp now sounds like a Marshall head on steroids but better. While I didn't like the lead distortion channel with the 6L6s, it now sound awesome. But I will continue to use a distortion pedal as it creates less of a fuzz sound. I might try a combination of 2 x EL34 and 2 x 6L6 and see where that leads me. Bottom line is, this amp sounds great.
    ZigM
    I have now mixed 2 x EL34 and 2 x 6L6 tubes in the one amp. It works fine and the sound is, as expected, a Marshall on steroids but a little less "fuzzy" overtones and growl as the EL34s tend to bring along. The damping switch also brings a few more shaping options.