Price paid: $ 499
Sound — 10
I play PRS & a custom made mahogany strat with the DiMarzio Area series pickups on it (Area 61, 67, and 58). I frequently use the volume & tone knobs on my guitar and switch my pickups (not just a bridge pickup). I also have one of the first (US made Fender Prodigy with the Steve Lukather EMG pickups in it). The output of these active puppies, alters the sound of the AMP enormously. I have played everything from classical to metal (not so much anymore) and wouldn't recommend this amp to a shredder. And these days do everything from Jazz to Rock. This amp does it all. It responds beautifully and exemplifies the different guitars, woods, and pickups, as well as the changes in knobs and pickup settings. I mostly gig with an Line 6 M13 in split (effects loop) mode, sending stage 1 & 2 of the M13 through the pre-amp, then having stage 3 & 4 inserted in the Peavey effects loop. It is truly a dream! The versatility of sounds has no end, and for me the best part is the fact that there is virtually no noise. I know a lot of (beginning) guitarists swear by a 100W amp (I used to when I was young), because a 30W is just not loud enough. (To get twice as loud from a 30W you need a 300W AMP guys, so realize that this is PLENTY LOUD).
Overall Impression — 9
As I said, I play everything you can think of, and for me this is the ideal amp by far. I have played for over 40 years now, and tried them all. If it were stolen I would buy one again, immediately. It has everything I need and then some. Every day I am amazed at how easy it is to dial in TONE TONE and TONE. (Not always that easy with other amps), it delivers in spades every time. The only thing left to wish for is to own a true CLASS A amp for that absolute unbeatable sound with the harmonics that a Class A produces. Like the Kinsley D30 (See here) but that is $3,200 compared to this one at sub $700.
Reliability & Durability — 8
If you give it TLC and regularly maintain your tubes, this AMP is ultra reliable. It is solid and strong. It can really bang around without issues. The only weakness (as with any "tweed" amp) is the cloth in front of the speaker, so I won't count that against it. It is heavy and very well made. One drawback is the handle. The leather is so stiff that it is hard to manipulate; which in itself is an advantage as well, because once you pull it up to carry, it will stay that way. All in all, a very well made product that can withstand life on the road.
Features — 9
Everyone has different feature wants and needs, the most important for me were pristine cleans, EL84's for the beautiful breakup and versatility at different Drive levels (not gain levels), an effects loop, just because some effects don't sound right when put in front of the pre-amp. Foot switchable channels & reverb. I have played many amps in the 40+ years I have played guitar, EL34 amps, 6L6's, 12ax7 based voodoo valve, combo's and heads. This is the best amp for me AND at a price-point that can't be beat. Putting a Lonestar Special (Mesa) and the Peavey head to head, the Peavey came up as the winner for me. Why? The OD channel on the Peavey was so much more nuanced than the mesa. (That was my last evaluation). The only features this amp lacks: standby switch (version 2 seems to have one). Unused feature: Boost switch. Just don't like the sound.