Price paid: £ 169
Purchased from: Gear4Music.com
Features — 9
The Code is the brand new series of amp modellers, featuring 14 pre amps from the Plexi to the JVM and a whole lot more, 4 power sections, 8 cabs ranging from 1x12 to 4x12, 24 effects including overdrive, delay, chorus etc and the ability to store 100 presets and control it via the Gateway App which is available on both Android and iOS and you can record directly into your DAW via USB. So yeah, packed full of features and it's all housed in the classic black box with the Marshall logo on the speaker. I have the 25 watt version but there is also a 50 & 100 watt combo and a 100 watt head and 4x12. There is also a footswitch which is sold separately. If you are a Marshall guy then this could be the sort of thing that you've been waiting for, I know I have.
Sound — 10
Overall I think it sounds great. I've always found that in most amp modellers, the Marshall models are usually the weakest of the lot but if anyone is going to be model their own tones right, it's Marshall. And I feel they've done that. Each amp model sounds distinctively different and do sound a lot like the amps they are modelling. Maybe not 100% but if they sounded 100% accurate then they'd be giving away 10s of thousands of £ or $ of amp tones in a £169 amp. But for what it is I was pleasantly surprised. I play a lot of pop punk, punk, rock and a tad of metal and this amp has something to suit everyone.
The Plexi, Bluesbreaker, JCM 800 are perfect for the blues, classic rock and hard rock styles and the DSL, JVM, Jubilee etc perfect for the higher gain styles. Although put a distortion in front of the Plexi and that model comes alive. There's also clean options for various amps such as the DSL, JVM etc. and even American Clean and Overdrive models which are based off Fender and Mesa Boogie I believe.
The customisation level is similar to the likes of software modellers such as AmpliTube or Bias FX where you can really get into the nitty gritty and change the tubes, cabs etc, one thing most amp modellers don't do, most you select your amp, set your EQ and away you go. The Marshall Code really lets you customise the tone to suit you.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Being a Marshall amp, this thing is solid. The things I could see going on it are the Bluetooth features and perhaps the USB port after a lot of use but who knows, only time will tell. Thankfully the app isn't essential and you can always mic up if you want to record. One thing I always worry about technology based products that rely on apps etc is that, once this technology isn't used anymore... then what? If the amp relied on the app then once iOS or Android are no more (it will happen one day) then the amp would be useless. Thankfully it can be used the old fashioned way so all is well.
In terms of live use, amp modellers generally have a hard time cutting through a band I've found. I once cranked a 75 watt Spider to the max and it couldn't cut through a drummer and bassist. But, despite being amp modelling, I think this will be ok, I think Marshall have really tried to emulate how the actual amps work with the power sections etc, the amp does even clean up or break up depending on how hard you pick, whether you roll the volume off etc. Some amp modellers when you roll the volume off you just get the same tone but quieter. This does react like a tube amp as much as it can without being one. So I think that either the 25 mic'd up or either of the bigger models will work well in a live setting. Perfect for perhaps cover bands who want to try emulate the tone of each song rather than just using 1 tone throughout. Although, with the ability to store 100 presets and use a footswitch any band could easily have a whole setlist of tones ready to go in this amp.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall I love this amp, it's packed full of features, there's something in it for everyone, whether you play blues, rock, metal, pop, there is a tone for you in here. I've had this amp just over a week and I still haven't begun to unlock the true potential of this amp. One thing I'm going to quickly throw out there is that, when using the USB to record I've noticed my tracks get riddled with frequency interference and it seems to happen in random intervals. I don't know if I've perhaps set something wrong in my DAW or whether it's a known issue but if you've had the same issue but fixed it, please let me know.
The only thing I would have added to the amp is a tone share feature, like the Amplifi from Line 6, the ID from Blackstar, Mustang from Fender etc. This would have allowed users to upload their tones and share them with the world. I am surprised it wasn't done but who knows, Marshall might add it if the demand is there. If it was stolen I'd buy another one. I own multiple modellers from the Mustang, Vypyr etc. and in my opinion, this beats them all. The only true competition in terms of modelling amps of the same price point is the Blackstar ID but that emulates tubes rather than specific models. I also did a review of it which you can check out if you want here: