Sound — 9
The versatility of this amp is quite impressive. The Clean and Lead channels can be set in low or high gain mode as follows: Clean - This tone is achieved by using the Clean channel set at low gain. This mode is crystal clean and full. With the use of a compressor and delay you can achieve a near perfect Another Brick in the Wall sound. To hear an audio example of this check out my TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay review at: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/guitar_effects/tc_electronics/nd-1__nova_delay/index.html. With headroom for days this channel handles any pedal you throw at it with ease. The Bright Switch is great for reggae skanking or rockabilly. Like most 6L6 powered amps. The clean tone tends to be very uncompressed which can sometimes make it hard to cut through a mix. A nice stompbox compressor fixes this common problem. Crunch - The crunch channel is achieved by using the clean channel with the high gain Switch engaged. This is the least useful of the channels, but can definitely render some cool Beatles or Tom Petty tones. It can on the thin side though. Soft Lead - This channel is where it's at. Switch over to the Lead channel in low gain mode. The tone of this channel alone is worth buying the amp for. Running through a 4x12 cabinet this channel can get an Angus Young-esque tone almost spot on. Turn the gain down to 10 o'clock and hit your guitar really hard and you will have balls out low gain classic rock crunch with full dynamics and transparency. I use a Keeley Katana boost in front of this channel for some extra push and it works beautifully. It really does have a Vintage hotrod Marshall tone characteristic. It also cuts through a mix like a knife. You'll never get lost in a mix with this monster. Heavy Lead - Go to the lead channel and hit the high gain button and you've just transported yourself into high gain metal heaven. Think John Sykes or Zack Wylde full gain. There is a slight mid scoop and/or compression that occurs when going from Soft to Heavy Lead. Unfortunately this causes the high gain mode to have a very slight volume drop.
Overall Impression — 9
Having used this amp for over 150 performances with a wide variety of bands and venue sizes ranging in capacity of 50 to 5, 000, I can confidently say this is one of the best amps on the market... especially in it's price range ($1399 street price). The tone can tend to be a little too bright at times, but rolling the Treble and Lead Presence back a bit takes care of that. If you're looking for a versatile ballsy British sound you should definitely check this thing out. The combo sounds great by itself, but adding a 2x12 or 4x12 cabinet really brings this amp to life. This amp loves pedals, handles abuse, and handles almost any genre of music you can throw it's way.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The Engl Screamer 50 is built like a Sherman Tank. This is common for German engineering, and this amp is by no means and exception. After a long gig I was carrying this amp over my shoulder out of a club and dropped it onto a concrete sidewalk and Busted up the casing a bit... bummer! However, all of the amp's components worked flawlessly after this catastrophe, and I was able to patch up the housing just fine. This thing is truly a workhorse capable of taking massive amounts of abuse.
Features — 9
The preamp of the Screamer 50 is a 4 channel, 3 band EQ (with added Lead Presence for Lead channel), Accutronics spring reverb, Bright switch, 3x ECC83 (12ax7) preamp tubes. The power section has a neat V.L.S. (Variable Level Switch) which is a built in solo boost controlled by a small knob on the back. The boost can be activated by a single basic footswitch. The amp is powered by two 5881 (basically the same as a 6L6) power amp tubes. The output section of the amp consists of a balanced XLR line out, adjustable FX loop, 2 x 8 ohm and 2 x 16 ohm speaker outputs, 2 dual footswitch jacks, and a jack for the special Engl footswitch (Z-3/Z-4). The Screamer 50 combo comes equipped with a 1x12 Celestion Vintage 30 speaker. It also sports a wicked woven metal grille for maximum speaker protection.