Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: Carvin
Features — 7
I custom ordered this amp after playing a similar one in the factory. The amp could be ordered in several different colors, ranging from the subtle to the vain. I chose a Vintage tweed fabric for the outside of the amp, and it looks gorgeous. Besides that it is a 100 watt full-stack amplifier. If you've had no experience with large amplifiers, this probably isn't the place you want to start, because this thing gets freakin' loud. You can blow the entire band into a new dimension if you aren't careful. It does have a switch in the back where you can set it to 50 or even 25 if you have particularly vociferous neighbors. The effects loop is completely transparent, with the option to turn it off on the footswitch, which I like. Setting tones on this thing, while seemingly simple at first, can feel like running a steam boiler. One of the most prevalent features of the amp is the EQ on the front. This EQ bugs me a little, because it cannot be applied to both channels. One or the other. That's all you get. The settings and voicing are deceivingly difficult at times, but If you know what you're doing, though, it shouldn't be a problem.
Sound — 9
One thing I must say before I get into the details. If anyone goes into the Carvin to look at X100Bs, don't use their demo amp. I swear. That thing gave me the wrong impression of the amp. It sounded dull, almost washed out, with farty distortion and scratchy pots. I was given the rare opportunity to try out a brand new one out of the back, and this is completely sold me. The sound requires some odd tweaking on the distortion side (I had the treble at a solid 10, mids at 3, and bass at 5 to get it to work.) The sound was unlike anything I have ever heard before. It had the distortion of a Boogie Rec while retaining the clarity of a Marshall. On top of that, there is a small amount of natural compression in the amp that makes soloing a breeze. If there was any kind of complaint I was to give it would probably be the odd voicing Carvin decided to use for the amp. With all knobs at 5 the amp still sounded a little farty.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I haven't owned the amp long enough to accurately judge this. The amp I had for the month I've owned it has done well. It's a little dustier from constant use, but sounds just as good as the day it left the factory. The one caveat I have towards this amp is the other X100B I've played. It may have needed new tubes, it may have needed something else, but it didn't sound good at all. It was farty, dark, and had some problems with overheating. I'll have to just wait and see if the amp I put so much money into can hold up in the long run.
Overall Impression — 8
As a guitar teacher, I need an amp that can do anything. As a person who recognizes that nothing is perfect, I absolutely love this amplifier. I completely understand why someone along the lines of Frank Zappa and Steve Vai use something like this. It has the infinite versatility of a Boogie Mark V, the dynamics of a Marshall, the opacity of a Vox, and the balls of a Bogner. All for a price a quarter of where you would get it anywhere else. If you haven't picked up this amp yet, you are doing yourself a disservice.