Price paid: C$ 200
Purchased from: Long & McQuade Waterloo ON
Features: The Traynor TVM10 is a 10 Watt (or 15 watt, depending on which source you consult), battery-powered portable amplifier for outdoor Jam sessions and anywhere else there isn't easy access to the mains. It has two input jacks, each with their own volume control: a combined 1/4" and XLR jack for a microphone and a 1/4" jack for an instrument such as a guitar or keyboard. It also has two auxiliary input jacks but there is no master volume, so whatever you plug in there better have it's own volume control. There are also no effects settings, just a four-band equalizer. It has a ported, closed-back cabinet design with a 6 inch woofer plus a tweeter. It also has a headphone jack for private practice.
The thing is by no means light, but on the other hand I had no trouble carrying it on the bus to the park, along with an electric guitar, a microphone stand and an effects pedal. One thing that's lacking are output jacks - it might be nice to record a Jam session or concert without having to carry an extra microphone. // 7
Sound: Despite having only ten (fifteen?) Watts on tap, the thing is LOUD. In a small to medium-sized room, it will blow the roof off at maximum volume. Even in an outdoor setting, it had plenty of punch without maxing out the volume. I like the fact that it has only clean settings - and that's the sound you'll get out of it, at least up to medium volume. Clean, faithful amplification of the input signal. If you want any extra distortion, colouring or effects, you'll have to add those yourself. On the other hand, at high volumes, you'll get a little bit of break-up, just as if you had added a distortion pedal.
I have one issue, and that is that there tends to be a lot of RF interference and other noise (e.g. from the mains) coming through. In particular, when it's plugged in and charging, the transformer interferes with it - so do transformers for external effects pedals. Adding an effects pedal also tends to increase interference. Throw in a guitar with single-coil pick-ups (like my Telecaster) and there may be a LOT of noise coming through. Grounding the unit helps somewhat. // 7
Reliability & Durability: The amp is very solidly made and very well protected with a plastic casing and rubber bumbers on the corners. It should hold up well. On the other hand, I'm usually pretty easy on my equipment so I'm probably not the guy to ask. I haven't had any problems with it so far, except a couple of times when I plugged in my guitar and all that came out was noise, but that was a problem with the guitar, not the amp.
A major issue may well be with the battery. Since the only connection to the mains is to charge the battery, if you are using the amp, you are cycling the battery. How many charges can you get? I haven't used it long enough to know (no problems so far) but there are ostensibly no "user-serviceable parts" so changing it once it dies may be an issue. Can you get replacement parts or jury-rig something reasonable? // 8
Overall Impression: The thing serves my needs. It's not ideal as a practice amp, which is my main use for it, since it can't be connected directly to the mains (plugging it in just charges the battery). On the other hand, I bought it with the intention of doing some busking and outdoor concerts. Summer's coming, so I really should haul my a-s. My main issue with this thing is the lack of output jacks. I'd like to be able to record any gigs or jams I do with it without having to sticking a mic right up to it, which I think is stupid anyway.
I like the fact that it has only clean settings. Therefore, it does only one thing - faithfully amplify the input signal. Any distortion or other effects you have to add externally which, in the end, provides tremendous versatility. At the moment, I'm experimenting with a booster pedal plus a tube distortion pedal (a Behringer "Vintage Tube Monster" which I will review shortly) giving me three instant settings: clean, low distortion and high distortion. This gives me a tube sound, but without the expense or weight. In a well-designed amplifier, the only measurable difference between tubes and transistors is when they go non-linear. Thus it makes sense to have a tube only to add the distortion, whereas in the rest of the chain it makes little difference. // 7