Price paid: $ 200
Purchased from: GC
Features — 9
Check previous reviews for more details on features. Basically it's a solid state, three channel amp each with 3 different voicing options per channel, with independent volume controls and reverb. Each voicing options shifts the eq a bit and can shift the amount of gain available. I just typically find one sound on each channel that I like and leave it that. The only feature I wish it had would be possibly a resonance or presence option that some of Peavey's amps have. The ability to select between 4, 8, or 16 ohm speaker options should be on every amp so that is always a bonus.
Sound — 10
I play mostly classic rock or '80s metal type of music. I play through it with either a Gibson Les Paul or a Peavey HP USA signature. I have read reviews that said this amp isn't very loud, but theirs must be defective because on the 25 watt mode it can get blistering loud and the 50 or 100 watt will only add to that.
Distortion is very usable and very tight. I even like the stock Blue Marvels with it. I love that you can just plug into it and have a great sound instantly. I have played through many tube amps that need constant tweaking to get a great sound. Some of the tube amps I have owned are the Peavey 5150, every version on the XXX to include combos, Peavey Windsor, Crate Blue Voodoo, Crate Stealth, Crate Vintage Club, Randall RD 20, Marshall DSL 40 (original). So no high end Marshalls or Mesas...
I keep coming back to this over all the others. In fact I have sold almost every one of those and keep playing this one. The distortion can be brutal, although that isn't how I use it. Even with heavy distortion this amp sounds clear and not muddy. Sounds good at low volumes and great when playing loud.
It isn't quite as warm as tube amps, but just barely. And it sits very well in the mix. The XXX's and the 5150 I always had a difficult time hearing in the mix unless it was so loud others would complain. Mine isn't noisy either. Love the foot switchable three channels and effects loop.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Solid state and a Peavey so I can count on it. I would still always bring a backup to a gig. Nice to not have to worry about $100 tube changes every other year. With the 212 setup, it is easily loud enough to be heard in a band without much trouble. Metal footswitch is a bonus. Haven't had any issues with it, but you never know. It's a lot lighter than any other 212 tube amp I have ever owned, but still has enough heft to it to seem durable. This amp has to be 10-15 years old and still looks and sounds great and made in the USA.
Overall Impression — 10
I became a tube snob for years, and not to take anything away from tube amps, I still own a few, but love playing the XXL. Love being able to turn on and play instantly or turn off and leave. Is this going to sound as good as a $1500 amp. No, but I am not going to buy one of those anyways. I will say I personally liked the sound and versatility of the XXL to the 5150 and the XXX (it could be that I never had those tube amps running wide open). No tube changes is a big plus. I have no problem playing this thing out live. PA systems always color your sound anyways ( in the crappy bars we play in anyways).