Price paid: € 485
Purchased from: Audio Pro, Croatia
Sound — 9
I love the 400+ presets (250 artist created (Ben Moody, Slipknot, Muse, Maroon 5, etc; 150 based on some most famous songs ranging from 50's Johhny B Goode over Vai's For The Love Of God to Are You Gonna Be My Girl; and 36 programmable presets, where you can put built-in sound or create your own and save it there). There are some wild sounds in there. It has seven effects (not counting overdrive/distortion) in three knobs; one for Reverb, other for Echo (three types of it) and Chorus/Flanger/Tremolo (3 types). Every effect you want can also change the tempo (with the "tap" button). Built-in noise gate is great (I have a Squier Strat and it really helps to kill the hiss), distortion boost is nice, but not necessary addition. The best thing about this amp is the variety of sounds it can produce. If you think of a sound you want, this amp can do it. It isn't the original (nothing sounds like real Marshall tube amp), but it's pretty close. In this price range, Spider III is probably the best buy (although some people would disagree). Suits my style (or any style for that matter) perfectly, insane distortion is really insane, clean tone is bright as day itself. With the gain knob you can adjust distortion in any setting. One thing I'd like to point out is in the green metal channel, where by turning the mid-tone knob you can get three different and great sounds. Also I have to pin out pinch harmonics, which sound great even on my lousy single-coil pickups. Bad thing is that some of pre-programmed presets based on songs aren't really that accurate (for instance, Purple's Smoke gets accurate only with distortion boost turned on), although the problem might be with my guitar.
Overall Impression — 9
Excused the beginning problems, it has served me well. I use Squier Strat and Platinum Drive TD-2 and I can get exactly what I need. For hard rock, metal and blues it is great thing. It was hard not to fall under UG impression "digital amps suck" but I managed to get past it and I'm very happy I did, I love this thing. It's mine for month or so now, and yet no problems; the thing I got before was probably just faulty product. If it were stolen, I'd probably buy a new one, or invest the money into new guitar. I hate the "plastic" feel you get from the front panel, but otherwise it's a sturdy, good product. I only wish it came with the pedal to make channel switching easier.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Oh here comes the bad part. I had bought this amp first in Prague (actually my dad got it) and after playing on it for half-an hour, it started making some weird noises. So dad went back and returned it and bought a new one here in Croatia, and I managed to chip out the little plastic (!) nut holding the jack the same day and it fell inside. Had to call repairman and he replaced it with metal one, so now it should be OK. About gigging without a backup, yes, I'd do it. I trust my baby now.
Features — 10
I think it was made in 2007 or 2008, it's fairly new. It's a solid state modeling amp, with 12 channels (Clean, Twang, Blues, Crunch, Metal and Insane, every one on green or red mode - 12 different channels), easy to Switch. Also features built-in tuner (not too accurate, but you can work out the fine details by ear), noise gate (kills the hiss from single-coils; at least most of it) and distortion boost (great for Smoke On Water preset). Two Celestion 10'' speakers pull out 120 watts; finally I have to tune down while playing (I had a little Marshall MG15DFX, 15W). I wish it had came with the pedal for it (that thing is almost as expensive as the amp) - supposedly it makes changing effects and channels easier, has wah-wah in it, etc etc etc. It's not necessary though. It has CD/MP3 plug-in, and headphone jack (for the left headphone). The front panel gives a "plastic" feel to it, it looks really bad. But that's about only bad thing on looks, and pretty unimportant.