Purchased from: Thomann
Sound — 9
I use this preamp in conjuction with a VHT 2/90/2 power amp and a Framus 2x12 cab loaded with V30's. The main guitar I use with this is a Schecter C-7 Blackjack fitted with Seymour Duncan JB/59 humbuckers. This preamp has superb distortion and will handle a lot of your modern rock needs. I found that with a 6 string guitar in standard tuning the preamp could do modern metal extremely well and also had a very nice Dream Theater (Images & Words) sound, but when playing a 7 string there wasn't enough gain for the low B. To overcome this problem I used my Maxon OD-9 overdrive pedal on top of the preamp distortion and now it sounds unbelievable. This preamp is quite noisy on high gain settings but it's nothing a noise gate can't sort out. The contour Switch on this amp is something I never use as I feel it gives a too nasally sound, for me that function is pretty pointless. I wasn't really a fan of the clean channel to begin with (probably due to me poorly EQing it)but after several days of fiddling with the EQ it has a really nice glassy quality to it than suits itself well to crisp arpeggiated chords when the bright button is pressed and nice smooth jazzy chords when not pressed.
Overall Impression — 9
For the price this is a very good piece of gear and as an introduction into the world of rack and tube amplification I highly recommend this preamp. It is very simple to use and is very much a plug in and play amp. I had to put this preamp in my solid state Laney's FX loop when I first bought it as I had no power amp it but it still excelled. I do wish this unit had MIDI capabilites though as it would be really nice to be able to Switch channels via MIDI, to decrease having to 'Tap dance' over various pedals for different sounds.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have owned this preamp for about 6 months now and it has not even hinted at being unreliable. I am yet to gig it but I am sure that it will survive and there won't be any need for a backup. The knobs on the front panel are also really sturdy and look as though they could take a beating.
Features — 9
This is just a straight up rock and metal 1U tube preamp (it utilises 2 tubes). On the front panel there is an instrument input, all your clean channel EQ (Bass, Mid and Treble)and the clean volume and gain. There is also a little swich called bright, which when depressed boosts the mid and treble frequencies slightly. The dirty channel also has volume, gain and EQ, but there is also an extra frequency band. It still has bass and treble but the mid's are split into low mids and high mids for larger tonal control. This channel also has a button that when depressed boosts the mids and highs but is called contour. There are 3 extra push buttons on the front which control channel switching, gain hi/low for each channel(when used on the clean channel switching the gain to high gives a nice mildly overdriven blues sound)and a pre-amp defeat Switch, this feature just routes the guitars signal directly to the output. There is also a stereo headphones output with a built in 1.5 solid state power amp. On the back panel there is an auxiliary instrument input, an instrument output which doubles as an fx send, 2 fx returns, 2 line outs, 2 frequency compensated line outs and 2 inputs for footswitching. One input controls the pre-amp defeat function and the contour Switch, whilst the other controls channel switching and gain hi/low.