Price paid: € 600
Purchased from: ebay
Sound — 10
I play metal, mostly thrash, death and prog. My guitar is a cheap Jackson JS32T Kelly with the cheap stock pickups. But this amp compensates the cheap guitar without any problems! Lets start out clean: this amp has a very nice clean tone. It's more Fender than Marshall, very sparkly and smooth. You can get it from a slim, spanky funktone to a very warm, fat jazzsound by using the EQ's and the bright and contour buttons. With a setting like gain 4, bass 7, mid 4 and treble 6 I get an almost acoustic sound when using a splitted humbucker. When turning up the gain, it gets even more Fender. Not that typical Marshall crunch from a JTM45, it sounds way softer. Nice for bluesy stuff. Channel 2 changes the voicing a bit, with gain turned up you get a more concrete crunch than on channel one. More Marshally. Once again nice for blues or classic rock. I almost never use that channel. Channel 3 gives you a sound close to Van Halen's. The best classic hardrock tone on that amp, probably the one Ritchie Blackmore uses the most. Then there is channel 4... What a beast. This amp doesnt't have extremely much gain, so gain on 4= metal doesnt't work. But you can use all of the gain without it getting muddy or undefined. Gain on 10 is easily enough gain for cannibal corpse, and you can set gain to 10 on that amp without any loss of clarity or tone. I got lots of different tones out of this channel, like Dream Theater (imo what the amp is best at, I can quite exactly nail Petrucci's lead tone), Kreator, Necrophagist, Dissection or Wintersun. This amp is extremely tight, no matter how you set it, it will never get muddy! If you make a mistake, the amp slaps it right into your face, it doesn't hide anything. So if you're playing leads, you have to play em 100% clean and accurate, otherwise it will sound like shit. If you do play em 100% accurate, the amp gives you the best lead sound I ever played with. Straight 10 there! Btw, it's very quiet. No noisegate needed for me.
Overall Impression — 10
I will never buy another main amp again. It has all sounds I need, and these in excellent quality. It's simple, but it has all essential functions without any useless crap, it looks cool without looking like a silly toy and it was an excellent deal. I tried rectos, I tried Bogners, I tried Randalls, and I even tried the Engl invader and Victor Smolski, but none of em came close to this amp. My perfect match. I can't do anything else than give it a 10 one more time. But it is not for everyone, if you're looking for a scooped rectifier-like sound you're wrong here!
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's built like a tank, I wouldn't do a gig without any backup tough because that is plain stupid, no matter what amp I'm using. It actually broke down once, but that was just a tube (they are still stock, and 8 years old. Quite impressive lifetime for tubes). I give it another 10 because it's built absolutely solid and will probably last a lifetime.
Features — 7
This amp features: - 4 ecc 83 preamp tubes - 4 5881 poweramp tubes - 2 channels with a low/hi gain option (all footswitchable via Engl Z5) - 3 band eq for all channels - an independent presence knob fot the lead channel - independent gain controls for clean and lead channel - a brightswitch for the clean channel - a mid boost (footswitchable) - an FX loop that is adjustable from parallel to serial - a lead volume knob - 2 masters (footswitchable) This is a very straight-forward amp. It's layout is very basic, but I like that. You plug in and it sounds great, but the controls react so sensitive that you can still spend hours tweaking and the outcome is even greater. I don't really miss a separate eq for each channel, cause if you have a setting you like on the lead channel it's not going to sound horrible on the clean channel. For live use a separate eq is not needed on this amp. I use it for quite everything. I have it at home most of the time, but I rehearse with a band sometimes too. As far as power goes: this is a 100 watt tube amp! You can play at a stadium in front of 10'000 people without using the PA, and you probably wont even set the master to over halfway. But it sounds very good at low volumes too.