Sound — 8
I've been playing on this amp for 2 years, most of that using a PRS SE Custom and I adore it... granted that I play a whole lot of metal. Largely I attribute the tone to my guitar, which has a consistently rich tone no matter what I play, but the amp definitely has the brutal distortion for The Music I play. From the rich, muddy, Opeth-style metal setting all the way up to Mushuggah and Slipknot, this amp consistently delivers a powerful metal sound that sounds very much like the band being emulated. The problem come in the clean settings. The Clean, Blues, Twang and Crunch settings are all markedly lacking in tone and sustain, and everything, while nice, ultimately sounds a bit twangy. As far as the amp itself goes, the noise gate is brilliant: there is little to no fuzz and the feedback is easily controlled. However, the "hi-tech" nature of the amp makes it sound very digitized and processed. It's definitely hard to get a raw, Vintage sound out of the Spider.
Overall Impression — 8
I play a whole lot of heavy and speed metal. I've been at it for about four years, so the only thing I can compare this thing to is a 15W Fender starter amp. HOWEVER, having also played my guitar through a Marshall (a 120 I believe), I do bemoan the way that the Spider over-processes the sound and really cuts down the actual sound of my guitar, which is beautiful. My PRS definitely plays better but, through this amp, it doesn't sound a whole lot different from my old Squier. I also make significant use of an E-Bow. Over the Marshall, the thing played beautifully, was well-sustained and created a gorgeous Celtic tone through my guitar. That sound has been EXTREMELY hard to recapture on the Spider, as the distortion is so brutal that it makes delicate work like that near impossible. As a metal amp, though, this thing is wonderful (though I shudder with consternation whenever I need to play cleaner stuff through it) and if it ever got stolen, I would want to go out and buy a BIGGER one. It's the perfect amp for people Who want to sound like the bands they love, get "just the right tone" easily, and don't have the money to spend on a massive switchboard. For a package deal like this, compatible with other Line 6 switches and equipment, the over-processed sound shouldn't be that much of a turn-off.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I slipped and dropped this thing end-over-end down a flight of stairs. It still works beautifully. If that that doesn't say enough about the durability of this amp, or if you want something more, talk to Odin or someone and see if they can summon one made of adamantium or something. This side of reality, you're hard-pressed to find something better.
Features — 8
If you ever wanted an amp that had nearly all your effects already built in, this is the one. Compared to the last gen Spider II model, the Insane setting is MUCH muchmuchmuchmuchmuchmuch better, and the hundreds of presets that come with this amp make it very interesting and versatile. It's definitely fun to say "Hmm, I feel like Meshuggah today... *click click click* Perfect!". The ability to bank settings is also very handy. However, it gives you the option of "easily" browsing through only 32 of the 300+ presets on the amp, and with so many settings already programmed in, there's not a whole lot of incentive to explore with your own settings. In fact, it's pretty discouraging, considering that as soon as you hit a button, all of that resets irregardless of what your dials are set to, making custom settings quite difficult to play with. Also, the built-in tuner can be a bit unreliable. Check it to your ear before actually playing. To end on a final plus, however, the amp's compatibility with other Line 6 foot switches and boards expands it's versatility exponentially. Plug in a POD to this baby, and you have your whole Live show with about 3 pieces of equipment.