Price paid: $ 140
Purchased from: Friend
Features — 7
These amps have been out for a while but no one has done a review on them. I purchased this amp from a friend for what he paid for it which was $140. They typically sell for more than what I paid. When I first seen it I thought it was a space heater. The size is about the size of a lunch box with a grille that is diamond shape with a lunchbox style handle.
The amp itself is about as simple as it gets. It has 4 controls: Ambience, Tone, Volume and Gain. Ambience emulates the sound of a open back combo, and the others are typical controls. The tone control is very responsive and you can get a lot out of one knob. I typically play at the 12 o'clock setting.
Volume with minimum gain gives a great clean tone that is plenty loud for a small room. Adding gain past 12 starts to allow the amp to break up some, and full gain gives you a crunch sound if you have decent pickups in your guitar. On the back you get a speaker out, headphone jack with volume control, a speaker kill switch, and an aux input. The cord is removable.
The amp weighs about 10 lbs and the speaker is about 6.5 inches. It also built like a brick house. This is almost perfect for a small practice amp as it is easy to carry and has small footprint, however my only knock is that a digital reverb control would have made this this amp would have been a great addition without taking up too much space. Some people may pine for a effects loop but because this amp has an incredible amount of headroom so you can run effects straight in and get a great sound in a practice setting.
Sound — 8
I play mostly classic rock, blues, and '90s rock so in a practice setting I am pretty happy with the sound plugged straight in, however, as I stated digital reverb would have been nice. I can get an awesome clean sound and the amp is very responsive to pick dynamics and at volume I didn't have any feedback issues. The amp is very quiet, however I would turn the speaker off prior to turning it on as it does have a pretty loud pop.
This amp is advertised as a gigable amp in an incredibly small form factor. In fact there is a clip of the Red Hot Chilli's playing one in practice room. Here is the thing at that volume needed you have to crank the gain up and run the volume at least 3/4 full.
The catch is at that point you have a crunch sound. If you are happy with that then yes you could use it in band practice sessions. Clean sound at that level to me is not possible if you want to hear it above the other instruments and drums. This amp is very friendly to effects pedals, but delay and reverb effects would have benefited from an effects loop.
Plugged straight in without effects you can get early Led Zeppelin sounds (clean with slight breakup) to believable AC/DC like tones so unless you are looking for a metal sound you are pretty good for a large amount of rock tunes.
While this is a solid state amp it can pull "some" tones that sound like it could have came from a small tube amp. This amp is responsive to string dynamics in a way that sounds natural like an acoustic guitar. With the gain cranked up you can still hear the individual strings when strumming chord, thus it doesn't get muddy like some other solid state amps out there. Other reviewers and videos out there claim that you could run a 4x12 cab. While I didn't test that claim I don't doubt this is true.
Bottom line this is a great amp that fits nicely on a desk, easy to carry, and still sounds great.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This amp is built like a brick house. I am at least the third owner and this thing has held up very well. It looks practically brand new. The top knobs are recessed and there is a bar on the rear that will help prevent the controls on the back getting broken as well.
I wouldn't have a problem carrying this around for small gigs and rehearsals by itself. In fact that is what is so attractive about it. Its extremely loud light and bound to start numerous conversations.
Thus, I am highly confident that this amp will hold up for the traveling musician.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall I am impressed with this purchase. While I got this amp well under its retail value, I don't think I would have had a problem paying more for it. I have been playing for 35+ years and I have spent a lot of money over those years for products that were not even half the product that this amp is. I am not going to compare it to a boutique tube amp for its rating because that is not fair comparison, however for a practice/rehearsal/small gig amp this is top of the class for the money and you get the added value of not having to spend money on chiropractic visits due to lugging around heavy ass gear.