Price paid: A$ 769
Purchased from: Manny's
Sound — 10
I have so far used it with a Schecter Synyster Gates Custom and a Fender Strat. I love playing rock of all types and am trying to get into neoclassical. The clean tones are really nice without being glassy. In isolation they are really really nice but obviously not Fender like but more a clean warm tone well suited to arpeggios or rhythm guitar. The crunch and gain channels are really awesome and span a very broad spectrum of tones. I have not explored everything on it but its so easy to dial in a great tone that one is tempted not to spend that much time tweaking it. I have on occasion gotten quite carried away with this amp and lost track of time. Certainly the hallmark of a great sounding amp. As far as the other questions, it is not noisy at all. The clean channel has a huge amount of headroom. You could not get it to distort with a Strat. On the other end of the scale the distortion is truly brutal. You do not really need any distortion or overdrive pedals with this amp.
Overall Impression — 10
I have played for over three years now and still consider myself a beginner. Not a beginner beginner but still very much in the learning stage. I am at least now somewhat comfortable auditioning gear in a guitar store. This was something I was unable to do before. I love Ritchie Blackmore, Malmsteen, Satriani, Slash and Synyster Gates as well as Mark Knopfler, Gilmour and Santana. I am comfortable that this amp will do all these tones and more. So this is the first amp I have bought that I tried out before buying. Out of interest the other amp I tried was the Blackstar HT-40. I did not get the Blackstar in the end because it was a bit more complex to use and is a bit darker with a more sterile sound. I could easily find Marshall and other sounds like a Peavey 6505 using some of the controls on that amp but I am really only interested in the Marshall side so it did not make sense for me to not get a Marshall. This amp replaces a Jet City 2112RC, a lovely amp but does not have an FX loop and an Ibanez Tubescreamer amp that has an FX loop but needs a pedal to get the best Out of it. The Jet City sounds are a subset of these Marshall tones. The Marshall is far broader. Truth be told I would have kept the Jet City if it had an FX loop and would never have gotten another amp because the sounds contained within it and the Marshall are my sounds. The only thing missing is an emulated out but Marshall does not do emulated outs very well. For that I'll probably get a Blackstar HT-1R. Talk about a foot in each camp :)
Reliability & Durability — 10
I used it mainly for playing at home. So it has not been subjected to a durability test. Having said that I expect it to work very well. I would certainly take it to a gig without backup. Everything about the amp is extremely solid and well built. The knobs feel like they can last forever. Anyway I am going to rate it based on the features that Marshall built into it. The material is MDF, a strong enough substance. The greatest thing that will contribute to its long life is that the fact that the power tubes are not mounted to the PCB but rather mounted to the chassis with hand wiring.
Features — 10
This tube amp was released in October 2012 and my amp was built in 2013. To people familiar with Marshall amps it has a straightforward layout with two channels, classic gain and ultra gain with two voicings per channel. The classic gain channel has clean and crunch and the ultra gain channel has lead 1 and lead 2. Each of the four voices across the two channels makes up the gain spectrum from sparkling clean to massive modern metal gain. The overall EQ section has the standard Treble, Mid and Bass, Tone Shift, Presence and Resonance. Tone shift scoops the mid. Presence pushes the higher frequencies higher, Resonance works the same on the low notes and seems to add more low frequency gain. Two reverbs, one for each channel completes the front panel. On the rear there is a switch to cut the power by half by moving from Pentode to Triode mode. Then there is a footswitch out and a send and return for the series loop accompanied by a switch to turn this on or off. There are also three speaker outs. The only feature I wish it had was an emulated out but that was not a deal breaker for me. For the price this amp has got all the features I need hence the full marks.