Surprisingly Versatile, yet simple Metal/Rock amplifier
Before I start with this review, you'll need to know the circumstances that I have when using this amp: 1) I've only been a bedroom player and have never gigged with this amp. 2) This is my first and only tube amp so far, previous amp was a Line 6 Spider IV 30, 3) I've been using this amp for 15 months with a PPC112 4) I've never used any pedals with this amp nor have any
When I bought this amp, I was skeptical about the lack of a 3 band EQ, but then realized how powerful and much more practical it is when using it. It's very easy to get a variety of tones, and I'm a guy who loves to tweak the amplifier constantly. The gain is also highly versatile, though past 2 o'clock may be too fizzy/saturated for some people, but it's nice to know that there's more gain in this amp than you'll probably ever need.
Cleans: I love the cleans on this amplifier. With the shape knob past 12 o'clock, the amp is very warm and deep with a bright top end. Even fully scooped mids on cleans sound very well. Before 12 o'clock is a great tone for clean rock sounds though I rarely use them. What sucks about cleans is that it's not very loud. I can maximize the volume and put the gain at 9 o'clock on the amp and, yes it's loud in a bedroom setting, but it's not so loud that you're neighbors will call the cops on you. Your neighbors will hear you, but it won't bother them too much (I think).
Crunch: This amp has a great variety of crunch sounds, from AC/DC to heavy rock crunch sounds. The crunch sounds from this amp sound very thick and beefy, so palm muting power chords sound and feel great. With the neck pick up, the tone becomes smoother which is great for blues soloing. I know the crunch on this channel is great for rock and blues, I can't say much for other styles as I haven't tried nor know much about them (like country).
High Gain: This is where this amp shines the most. The best part of this amp is that even with scooped mid range settings, the amp still retains enough mid range. Pinch harmonics feel great and the amp still remains dynamic in the high gain setting. The bass end can feel tight or loose, depending on how you play. If you palm mute hard and pick hard, it's tight, but if you palm mute softly it can sound very 'sludgy', very thick and heavy, especially with a scooped mid range setting. It's also great for soloing using either neck or bridge pick ups. Shredding with a high gain tone is very easy and it sounds very articulate. Using a mid range boost setting during the high gain is not so great though because it sounds very fizzy and garbled. You need to either use flat EQ or scooped mids if you want to use lots of gain. If you need a tighter bass response, I guess a clean boost will do but I've never tried it. For me, though, I never really felt like I needed it. I'd also recommend not putting too much gain because the saturation becomes so much that if you're playing 32nd notes while palm muting, you won't be able to hear each individual note. The notes will bleed into the next one and it just loses it's articulation. Another plus about the amp is that it doesn't hiss a lot.
Summary: A great, simple amplifier that can cover many styles. This amp is great for players at any skill level looking for a great rock/metal amplifier. This amp is definitely loud enough to gig with (can't speak much for cleans though) AND it still sounds wonderful with bedroom volumes. I mainly keep the volume less than 8 o'clock when practicing and it sounds great.
P.S. Make sure you buy an orange cab with this amp because orange cabs have these black bars under them that allows them to 'attach' itself to the floor, creating more low end. One time, I angled the cab upwards so that the cabinet was standing on one of it's edges and the tone became a lot more thin and sounded like a tin can full of wasps. I don't see other cabinets that have that black bar under them.