Price paid: $ 500
Sound — 8
I play a Greg Bennett AV3 with humbuckers and an MiM Strat with single coils through the amp. It definitely handles my above listed styles with those two guitars very well. The cleans are warm and round with humbuckers and can also be made to sound quite crisp and brilliant. The single coils obviously handle that edge of the spectrum better though. Overdrive runs the gamut from slightly dirty cleans to blues to classic rock bite. Switching between my two guitars it always gives me the sound I want. With the louder humbuckers the distorted tones really take off and can go from chunky 80s grind to searing modern high gain. I mostly play more ambient styles mixed with alt/rock in my band and the tape echo mixed with reverb definitely gives me that impressive body to all my cleans and distorted tones. I like the improvements on the clean and high gain tones. You can control the gain on clean sounds better than the last models and it' easy to get a very clean tone at high volumes. The high gain tones are noticeably tighter than before and the overdrives have a less digital sounding breakup. I was impressed that although this is a modeling amp, it managed to stay reasonably far away from the digital bite that most modeling amps have. If I found any strange artifacts while playing, they weren't noticeable in the context of a Live performance. Again, to be fair, nothing is perfect. The tones are less impressive if you crank the amp too high. However, I find I don't need to crank the amp so high anyway because of mics and PA systems.
Overall Impression — 10
My styles are very diverse and they are listed above. I would say this amp is a very good match for me. I've been playing for 4 years and I own the older AD series of valvetronix, two electric guitars, and an Acoustic guitar. I knew everything about his amp before I bought it so there are no regrets. I would definitely replace it if anything happened to it, as it's all I can afford. I pretty much use all the features and can't find anything to hate except that it's not a real tube amp. If I had the money for a tube amp complete with all the delay and overdrive pedals I would surely need, I would surely get them. I would say this is the best alternative though. I don't wish it had anything and I think it smokes other modeling amps except in metal tones... But it comes mighty close to the better metal amp models and beats the crap out of a Spider metal tone.
Reliability & Durability — 8
No complaints, but valvetronix amps never have been amps to break down on me. The only problems I encountered with valvetronix amps were do to the tube needing to be changed or the amp needing a master reset. However, I do believe in a backup no matter how tough the amp is. Even if this amp were ten times more resilient than it is now, I would still have a backup handy for practical purposes.
Features — 9
I know this amp is no older than a 2008 model, because these are the newest line of tube/solidstate valvetronix models. Vox certainly threw in everything but the kitchen sink on this new design. It boast 22 amp models and I find about 8 out of 10 models highly usable. Not bad considering how many there to choose from. I play many styles including rock, classic rock, hair metal, blues, punk/pop, alternative, Indie, grunge, jazz, swing, funk, metal/core, modern worship, CCM, and singer/songwriter. With the exception of the more Acoustic driven singer/songwriter stuff (the instrument covering that is obvious), there is an amp model to satiate my desire to play any of those styles. It also boasts 12 highly usable effects that are mightily convenient, for they sound close enough to a quality pedal that they would definitely work in lieu of one. Another nice thing is that reverb is it's own separate effect from the rest so you don't have to sacrifice it to use another effect. Other cool features include a headphone jack, external speaker out, the usual Vox power level knob, and eight (count em') slots to save your tones onto. And because it's packing 50 watts, it definitely can handle the average gig. I use it regularly and it fits well within the mix. It's definitely a loaded piece of kit. To be fair I found some of the modulation to be a bit cheesy (minus chorus). I also wish that the power level lowered the cranked master volume sound a bit lower. These are probably just minor quibbles, but it comes to show that nothing is perfect. These are fairly solid features for an amp in this range.