Price paid: $ 650
Purchased from: Carvin.com
Features — 10
Purchased in 2013. It is a compact 50W all tube head with 3 independent channels. It has excellent tone shaping controls and reverb. I also got the carrying case and 5 button foot switch for channel switching, volume boost, and reverb on/off. It has outputs for 4, 8, or 16 ohm cabinets. A switch on the back allows 7, 22, or 50W output, but I've never noticed any change between these settings. It has more than enough volume, comparable with any 50W tube amp. It has LED lights that can switch from off, red, or blue. When red is on, it looks like a toaster oven, and the unit gets hot enough that it could probably used as one.
Sound — 9
With all the different tone shaping controls and 3 channels, you should be able to dial in something to suit your needs for most any situation. I love having 3 independently controlled channels to switch from clean to rhythm to lead. Plus with the variable volume boost, this amp has all the flexibility I need. It has tons of gain if desired. Noise is acceptable and about what you would expect with a tube amp. Clean channel is very versatile. I play mostly rock, and it is perfect for going from clean, to crunchy rhythm, to soloing above the mix.
Reliability & Durability — 1
My amp has been a lemon. The volume cuts out intermittently making it unusable for live performance. It started happening soon after I got it. I sent it back for a warranty repair. It worked for a few months and started doing the same thing. I sent it back again. This time they kept it for 2 months! It might have been longer, but I started bugging them after about 5 weeks. When I got it back, the repair receipt said they found nothing wrong. I played it for about 10 minutes and it did the same thing. Apparently, someone turned it on, and when it initially worked fine, they did not investigate further, despite my describing in detail that the problem was intermittent. So, I made a video demonstrating exactly what the symptoms were and sent it back. This time they kept for 3 or 4 weeks and sent it back with a new power amp, but now the reverb no longer worked, though it was fine before I sent it in. I was so disgusted, I decided to just live with it. A few months later, the original problem returned.
Overall Impression — 3
If this amp worked right, it would be an outstanding value. Besides getting a lemon, I'm appalled at the poor service. You would think a company that depends on mail order for business would give prompt and competent repair service. I have used Carvin for other products but will likely not use them again.
I have had a Carvin amp in the past, and currently have 2 Carvin guitars which I was and am quite happy with. Sounds like most people have had no issue with their V3 products, so perhaps my experience is an exception.
I sent this review to Carvin prior to submitting it here to give them a fair chance to respond. I did not hear from them after a week.