Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
This is one of the few amps I've played that I've been scared to put the dial past halfway up. This thing can rock, and packs a strong punch that makes books and pictures fall off of the shelves in my house. I play with an Epi Les Paul Classic with stock pick-ups and through some Monster Cables, and I've been able to achieve a crazy amount of different sounds. The clean channel stays clean, even on higher volumes, and the distortion this thing can pump out reminiscent of something you'd hear on "Metalocolypse". What really has impressed me, however, were the sounds that I've been able to get inbetween those two extremes. The blues channel has a very B.B. King-esque feel to it, and the Metal channel, suprisingly enough, can give you that rock sound from the 70's that bands like Blue Oyster Cult, Led Zeppelin, and Rush are famous for. You can even get a Thin Lizzy/The Who kind of early rock sound from the "crunch" channel. Of course, this is after some tinkering with the tone knobs on the amp and your guitar, but the possibility is always there. And now for the negatives; yes, it's a modeling amp. The purists of the guitar world and elitist snobs may all collectively turn up there noses at Line 6, and there is some merit to some of their arguments. The Spider III doesn't sound as good as a $2000 Marshall Stack, and tube amps may get that sound that packs that certain "I don't know what" that most amp modelers fail to capture. The important question is what you, the reader, think. I personally think the Spider III can stand equal with any tube amp of it's size, and the flexibility of the sound more than makes up for any percieved loss of tone.
Overall Impression — 8
Musically, I play anything that I can think of, and this amp has handled every genre of music I've thrown at it beautifully. It's loud enough for small gigs, affordable, and can fit comfortably in almost any doorm room (and function as another shelf). It is an amp modeler, and how happy you will be with this amp is dependent on a large part to how you like the sound. So this is a definite "hit or miss" amp. If you do like the sound, the amp practically begs for experimentation, and there are all kinds of cool sounds just waiting to be unlocked.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Very dependable. I've bumped it countless times, dropped it, knocked it over, and even spilled milk all over it. Works like a dream still, though nothing I've done to it has been too extreme. And there are no tubes to have to replace, which is a nice change. All in all, the thing is a tank, so durability isn't really an issue.
Features — 9
All in all, it's pretty feature heavy for the price. The manual doesn't really explain anything in a helpful manner, but some tinkering around should be about all you need to get past the learning curve. The built-in tuner is extremely handy, and for the most part the knobs and selectors are pretty intuitive. The "game pad" style selector used to search through the presets is pretty finicky, but it's not a serious problem. The presets themselves are extremely varied, and sorted by either the Decade the song came out, the artist Who created the song, or the type of sound it is. In general, the presets sound more or less accurate, but there are a few real head scratchers in there. The songs covered include "Don't Fear the Reaper", "Enter Sandman", "Master of Puppets", "Back in Black", "Boys are Back in Town", "Cherub Rock", and many more songs spanning as far back as the 1950's. The presets also include sounds similiar to those used by famous guitar players. For instance, there is a Steve Vai setting, a David Gilmour setting, and so on.