Price paid: $ 3200
Purchased from: 4Sound in Denmark
Features: The amp has 4 channels: Clean, Crunch, Lead 1, Lead 2, each one in modern or classic mode, featuring mega-low punch, noise gate, 3 FX loops (one serial, two parallel), tube driver circuit (extra channel plus EQ for direct switching to power amp), 5 x ECC 83 preamp tubes.
The master section has 100 watts (4 x EL 34 tubes), half-drive mode (50 watts), Master A/B switch, Presence A/B switch, Deep Boost, electronic tube protection circuit, Speaker A/B switch.
The outputs are: a balanced recording out, cable test/impedance check, Speaker A/B out (4, 8, 16 ohms), Z-9 footswitch port, MIDI In/THRU.
Basically, its a huge amp with tons of possibilities which are MIDI-programmable. Therefore you can save specific settings and access them through pressing on a MIDI-pedal (there are different models and brands that work). It has all the features I could ever wish for and is the most advanced tub amplifier I have ever played.
I do not know when the amp was made since I bought it second hand from a store in Denmark. I have been using the amp at home and in the rehearsal room. Since it is fairly new I have not had the opportunity to use it in the studio. But the power in this beast plenty. The amp has a high/low power button but I have not found any use for it since it, in my opinion, does not alter the sound in any way.
I would like to emphasize that this review will be over the functions that I use, not the entire amp because presently, I do not use feats like classic mode nor the crunch settings and therefore I don't have enough experience to give it a fair review. For a more detailed review + sound samples I recommend you visiting Tony Mckenzies home page for further information. // 9
Sound: I am currently been using 3 different guitars through this amp, a Les Paul with burstbucker pickups, a Clapton Strat with noiseless single coil pickups and a home made custom shop strat with bare knuckle nail bomb pickups. The styles of my current bands can be described as deathcore and thrash metal/crossover. I previously used a Mesa Boogie rectifier, but was not happy with how it worked for me and therefor this amp became one step closer my dream tone. I want a modern, high gain but still clean, warm and slightly crisp tone no matter what style of metal I play. Something as the likings of Jeff Loomis. The amp still sounds like a Engl. I find the distortion of Engl amps to have a very distinct sound which allows one to come close to the "special" sound with a Engl fireball, but not all the way.
I have not been playing a whole lot on the clean channel but it sure is great. There are a lot of sounds to get with the bright buttons and the reverb works rather nice (even during solos on the high gain channels). The clean does not distort at high volumes unless you crank up the clean channels gain or Switch from 100 to 50 watt.
This amp really delivers the sound I never could tweak the mesa to. The depth boost buttons together with the EQ allows you to shape your sound a lot. Whenever I play I might try to change the sound and my simply bringing up the mids from 9 o'clock to 9.30 its a entierly different sound. Something that also has a huge effect on sound is the relationship between the master and output. By either lowering the channels master and raising the output or increasing the master and lowering the output you have two different sounds with the same EQ. If you experience muddiness when playing distorted at high volumes, turn down the master and increase the output witch cleans the whole thing up.
I have not experimented entirely but I am pretty sure this is NOT a amp to get if you want the gothenburg death metal sound like at the gates, inflames. For that, buy a Boss metalzone. Since it has a built in noise gate, you can always turn down the noise if you experience any, but I find it rather quite at high volumes. // 9
Reliability & Durability: Has worked perfectly since I got it. Might have to change the tubes after a while but this thing is built to last. Not as sturdy and tank-like like the rectifiers (even though it almost weighs like one) but it looks and feels while turning the nods like good craftsmanship. The only thing I can remark is that the paint scratched of rather easy on the front witch is a shame. // 9
Overall Impression: For some years ago I did a review on a Mesa Boogie singel recitifier and thought it was the greatest thing. I wish I could go back and change it since I now would have graded it otherwise after played on the Special Edition.
This amp has all the feats I need and possibly ever will need. It will probably be overkill for anybody except Steve Vai or some other crazy dude. There are so many options and the midi storage function is very convenient. I am 20 years old, been playing for about 8 years at what I would call a semiprofessional level. I am dead serious when it comes to tone, which is probably one of the factors that separates me from the majority of players I hear. I am very happy with the amp and can not see myself, ever changing amp. If it was to be stolen or would suddenly evaporate, I would consider buying a Invader or Powerball with less feats.
I love how it sounds and looks bruuutal and kills all who are unworthy and love Kirk Hammet. I hate how it weighs sooo much. This is rather a pain for players like me with Paul Gilbert seized arms when transporting it. I compared it before purchasing with single/dual/triple rectifiers, a few marshalls (never liked) and other Engl models. I chose this one since it appeared to have no limits.
I wish it would shoot flames at the press of a button, but I can wait for the uppdate. It can't get 10s but since it is the best I've heard.
Just send me a mail if you have any questions or anything. Can imagine that I have not been all clear but here you have it. // 9