Price paid: £ 239
Purchased from: eBay
Features — 8
The Code50 is a 50 Watt Modelling Amplifier from Marshall. It has power to spare when jamming with a drummer and yet can be used quietly at home too. Compared to previous generations of amplifiers its very light for its volume/power. One of its key selling points is its "App control." There is an Apple or Android App that allows it to be controlled via bluetooth. This requires a relatively recent device as the bluetooth profile it uses is not implemented in older iPads (e.g. iPad 2). The App isn't required as the same parameters can be managed via the panel but it makes it easier. The amount of effects this has and the way they are controlled makes it much more natural to use than many modelling amps.
The optional extra footswitch is a four button footswitch and is really needed to use this thing live. After consulting youtube for instructions and using it several times I am fairly okay now and can switch patches or switch effects in a patch off/on relatively straightforwardly.
Sound — 7
I use this amp in a Jam situation with a loud drummer. We play a variety of music where I have a variety of presets from acoustic simulators to overdrive (Nothing incredibly driven and scooped - the heaviest is classic heavy rock). I set up my patches with similar volume levels (Its easy to change the relative levels from the panel but is something you need to do at home. I then change the master volume to fit in with the others and have a couple of solo patches which are a bit louder). I have settled for now on variations of acoustic simulator with chorus, a Fender sparkly clean with chorus/reverb/delay, a darker Marshall clean, a crunchier Marshall and a overdriven Marshall. I can switch between them and switch on/off individual effects using the footswitch. I'm pleased with the sounds. They are distinctive and its relatively easy to use.
The principal difference I have heard between this and a Valve Amp (I had a Blackstar HT40 and have a baby HT1R) is that its not transparent. There isn't a really clear difference between pickups etc. Where as the valve amps shout/sing the differences.
Reliability & Durability — 6
This amp is built well enough. Its cheaply made and cheaply finished - it has no corner protectors for example and its back is chipboard but it doesn't effect the sound. The pedal feels nicely made but I suspect that if someone dropped a valve amp on it it would break. The pedal doesn't store the settings of the patches just references the patch by number so if you use two units you will have to synchronise the presets... The controls feel much better quality than the cabinet itself and it is not too bad to use. When I first bough the amp I had early firmware on it and the bluetooth app didn't pair the second time unless I killed the app and restarted it but with the updated firmware bluetooth pairing occurs much more reliably.
Overall Impression — 9
This is probably the best solution for what I need at the moment - I wanted a fairly flexible foot switchable lightweight amp and effects combination that I could take to a jam easily and be heard. It's certainly loud enough - most of the time my master volume is between a half and a third. I wanted effects such as a chorus, reverb, delay and must be able to change the relative levels of the patches. The Code50 allows all this and I can also stream music to it from my phone when we are setting up and taking down.
I have tried a number of amps to do a similar role and this is probably the best so far. It is much lighter and simpler to setup than my Blackstar HT40. My Blackstar HT5 didn't have the clean volume, my Tubemeister 18 Combo was okay but a bit bland (and expensive). There are a number of other modelling amps out there (for example the Blackstar ID Core 100/150) which would be similar. I thought the Blackstar looked harder to use and more limited in effects although the super wide stereo effect is wonderful. The Boss Katana looks tempting as well but seems more basic.