Price paid: $ 250
Purchased from: GuitarCenter Online
Sound — 8
Through this, I'm using a Schecter Black Hawk guitar, tuned to either D standard or drop-C. I'm playing either metal, death metal or a pseudo-industrial metal. This map shines through perfectly. I have little experience with the clean channel. To be honest I mainly use it as a kill Switch for dead stops. But that's only because I haven't spent much time EQ-ing for a clean sound I like. So far the amp has always been used in a carpeted room, with me roughly 6' to 10' away, in this setting the most feed back I get is during dead-stops and at about 80% gain feedback is more of a glowing hum. In my (concrete floor) garage, I stand about 2' away and notice little undesirable feedback (that's important... as I find some to be intentional and creative). A friend of mine has used this amp on the Hot channel to pull off more classic-rock type sounds he likes. But I find the distortion goes from blues to the most br00talz death metal you can imagine, and just about everywhere in between.
Overall Impression — 9
The amount of gain this head is equipped with will satisfy any metal-head's taste for the grind. I have been playing guitar for a few years, and try to keep my setup as simple as I can. For the price I feel like this head was a steal (since the cabinet I received was actually free... ) so if you're a budget-pulled musician with a free cabinet lying around this head will do what you need and then some. I compared this to many an amp... and for my budget there just wasn't any amp good for the type of metal I play worth buying in my budget. I do not regret this purchase one bit!
Reliability & Durability — 7
I will admit I've only had this amp for about 2 months. But so far it's running as good as day 1. I'm not sure if I'd ever need a backup to be honest (guys Who hate solid-state contend otherwise) but I feel like one should have a backup for everything if gigging. The amp has a 5 year warranty. That's right. Get it registered the day after you buy it and you're set for a whole year if it fails. The foot Switch, despite coming with a warranty card, has no serial number so I wasn't able to figure out how to get a warranty on it...
Features — 8
The Tone Blaster Xtreme head has 2 solid-state channels switchable by hand or with the (separate, $50) 4 button foot Switch. It is 150w @ 4ohm, or 100w @ 8ohm and it regulates impedance all by itself (no switching necessary). The FX loop is front mounted, which may be an issue for some but I don't see it really mattering to me, and there is no headphone jack (Who expects one on a 150w head? ) The two channels are clean with switchable overdrive for a bit more dirt on the signal. The clean has the same EQ settings as the "Hot" channel: Gain, bass, mids (non-parametric), treble and reverb. The reverb is independent for each channel and foot switchable off/on. But NOT by hand. There is also an independent channel volume. The "Hot" channel comes loaded with gobs of gain. As above the Hot channel comes loaded with: Gain, bass, parametric-mids (so you can sweep what mid range you actually want), treble, reverb and, an independent channel volume. In lieu of overdrive, the Hot channel has an X-Mode feature that is hand/foot switchable. It increases treble and scoops the mids a bit. However I find this feature to be unappealing. It makes palm mutes have this vocal sound to them that isn't what I am looking for. For a solo, however, the X-mode really gets the extra treble from the amp. I personally pump this head @ 8ohms into an old Crate 4x12 cabinet. It has amazing low end, and if you remember that mid scooping is bad... then the sound is very thick and heavy.