Price paid: C$ 600
Sound — 8
The Peavey 5150 is an amp that does not need much introduction. Designed for Eddie Van Halen in the early 90s, it instantly became a mainstay not just for rock guitarists, but also for heavy and extreme metal players thanks to its characteristic high-gain tone. The 5150 was followed by the 5150 II, a slightly revised version of the amp. After EVH left Peavey, the 5150 and 5150 II were renamed the 6505 and 6505+. The 6505+ 112 is an attempt to put the crushing power of the 6505+ head into a smaller form factor, and for the most part, it is a success. First of all, do not let the 1x12 form factor fool you, or the 60W rating. This amp is amazingly loud and huge sounding, and is actually able to achieve higher volumes and better tones at lower settings than the 120W head, as it has less headroom and the tubes are pushed harder earlier. It is more than capable of any live situation without micing the amp - obviously if you play studios, you're going to be micing it anyway, so losing a few dB is a non-issue. The 6505+'s tone is a bit hard to describe, but is instantly recognizable once you are familiar with it, just like other well-known amps. Unlike a lot of common metal amps, the 6505+ has an extremely powerful midrange growl, as well as massive low-end rumble and high-end that can adequately be described as a "can of bees." Though it lacks the same sort of smooth, musical distortion of some amps, this also gives it an extremely crushing, cutting rhythm tone that will stand out amazingly well in any band or mix. Strictly speaking, the 112 version is very slightly brighter and growlier than the head, however in a band or mix, nobody will be able to tell the difference one way or another, and this quality arguably lets it cut through even more than its bigger brother. The rhythm, or green channel, is the lower-gain of the two, although not by as much as you'd think. With the crunch switch left off, the 6505+ 112 delivers some very Marshall-like cleans - a little bit boxy, thin and sterile. However, just like Marshall cleans, they also really warm up with a bit of reverb or delay. However, the clean channel also breaks up very quickly, even at relatively low gain and volume settings, reducing its usefulness in live settings. The cleans are totally serviceable, even pleasant with some tweaking, however, you will not get a trademark Fender chime out of this amp. Switching on crunch really makes this amp come alive. Although when set to clean it will break up in a pleasing way, once you enter into full-blown rock or dirty blues territory, the 6505+ shows its muscle with very raw, warm and full overdrive and distortion. The rhythm channel's crunch setting is capable of the vast majority of rock tones out there, and is slightly vintage-voiced compared to some more modern amps (i.e. ENGL, Blackstar). When the rhythm channel is cranked to the maximum and paired with a boost like a Tube Screamer, it is capable of full-on distorted metal, still retaining the rhythm channel's warm, full and chunky tone. The lead, or red channel, is what the 6505+ is most well known for, and for good reason - it's monstrous, angry and powerful, possibly more so than any other amp. The midrange character of the 6505+ is voiced in a slightly more modern fashion on the lead channel, with a less chunky, tighter low end and more open, less boxy sound that brings in significantly more high-end sizzle. When used for lead playing, gain can be cranked well beyond necessary levels, but in the context of metal rhythm playing, the lead channel also achieves classic death, black and thrash tones with ease. The lack of a great clean channel is the biggest downside with the 6505+ 112, but even then it's decent for certain uses if you spend a bit of time with it and use your guitar's volume and tone knobs accordingly. It's also highly recommended to use a Tube Screamer or other overdrive pedal as a boost to get the most out of this amp, as it really livens the sound up, complementing the midrange character of the amp and tightening the low-end, so it's a bit of a "hidden cost". And, while the 6505+ isn't a one-trick pony as some claim, it definitely has a very specific character - it is by no means the most versatile amp out there, so if you expect to play it and have it sound like anything but a 6505+, well, it won't, at least without a good EQ pedal. It's an excellent sound, it just might not be what you are looking for. The stock Sheffield speaker is not bad, however, it is a bit thin, metallic and harsh for my tastes, especially in the high-end. You may want to replace the speaker if you find the combo lacking, as chances are it's the speaker and not the amp itself. I switched mine out for an Eminence Swamp Thang on a recommendation, and could not be more pleased. Despite being a 1x12, the amp has an amazingly full, powerful low-end and rich, smooth mids and highs that could easily be mistaken for a 2x12 or even 4x12, and certainly when miced up - this just wasn't the case with the stock speaker. Last, and this may be a deal-breaker for some: the effects loop sucks. Period. The design of the circuit on the 1x12 combo has been modified from the head version, and the end result is that the effects loop is not transparent. Instead, it adds an ugly, solid state-like fizz to the amp that significantly cuts into the warm, growly midrange the 6505+ is known for. I do not know why this decision was made, but it is the single biggest misstep with this combo amp and I desperately hope it is revised in a future version (and that Peavey offers free replacements, har har). I don't extensively use the effects loop, however, if you need to use a reverb, delay, etc. In that position, I would highly advise staying away from the 6505+ 112 Combo and just get the head.
Overall Impression — 9
For metal players, the 6505+ 112 is hands-down one of the best, if not the best combo amps available in its price range. Though there are a few smaller tube amps out there, many of them simply do not have the raw power and grunt of the 6505+, or may not perfectly emulate the tones of their larger, more expensive cousins. The 6505+ 112 isn't really a "bedroom amp" or even an inferior version of the real thing - what it does make is an amazing high-gain amp for jamming, gigging, and recording, without the added bulk of a separate cabinet. Even if you don't play metal, the 6505+ 112 is definitely capable of more classic overdrive tones that cover a fairly wide variety of styles, from Vintage bluesy leads, to warm clean break-up, to tight and precise rhythm playing. The cleans are usable, but there really is no reason to buy this amp for its clean channel when a Vox AC30, Fender SuperSonic, etc. Will do far better in that respect. I've been playing guitar for 10 years and the 6505+ feels like the tone I've waited forever to obtain - and every time I feel I'm satisfied with it, I'll tweak it a bit more, crank it a bit higher, and find something new to like. As I am not a gigging musician, but rather one who jams with friends and records, the 112 combo is totally suitable for me, and I would recommend it to professionals who simply don't need 120W of power, and/or who can deal with the effects loop and speaker being non-ideal. A 1x12 combo really has no right sounding as mean as this thing does.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Despite being built in China, the 6505+ 112 is extremely solidly built. While there may have been some bad early batches (apparently, the front LED dying is a common problem), and the stock speaker is not great, I have not had any bad experiences with the amp since purchasing it close to a year ago. The stock Ruby tubes have held up well over time, as well, which surprised me considering it'd been sitting in a store for a while. While I can't say if it will still hold up after 5 years, so far, so good. Though some people have made a big deal about it being Chinese-made, it could easily be mistaken for an American-made Peavey - the styling, fit and finish are all pretty much identical to a 6505+ Head.
Features — 8
The Peavey 6505+ 112 is a 1x12 combo version of the now-classic Peavey 5150 II/6505+ tube amp. At 60W, half of the head's 120W, it doesn't have quite the same headroom or sheer volume, however, for a head that is easily able to reach 120+ dB, that is hardly a concern. Features include: - Made in China, around 2011 - 2 channels, rhythm and lead, plus "crunch" switch for the rhythm channel - 5 12AX7 preamp tubes, 2 6L6 power tubes - Buffered effects loop & spring reverb - Selectable 4, 8 and 16 ohm output - 12-inch Sheffield speaker, closed back cabinet - Solid tolex-lined construction, metal cage protecting internal components The only real blemishes of this amp feature-wise are in size and weight, and lack of certain features. It is almost as big as the 5150 2x12 combo, and weighs around 80 lbs. Although it may be marketed as portable, truth be told you will have a hard time taking it anywhere without a car to load it into. However, it's still easier than dragging a cabinet around. It also lacks a footswitch for channel selection and reverb, which is a minor annoyance.