Marshall stack at bedroom levels
This amp delivers as advertised. At one watt, you can crank this amp up and get beautiful tube saturation at decent volume level that won't piss of the neighbors. On five watts it is actually pretty loud and might hang with a moderate drummer in a small trio or quartet. Don't get me wrong -- this will never push the air a 40 watt Marshall combo will let alone and actual Marshall head. But that is not what it is for.
If you love playing with gain and the seek the touch dynamics only tubes can provide -- but are constrained by volume -- then this amp is for you. And that is why I bought it. I can't always crank up my tube amps at home and usually resort to using overdrive pedals at lower volumes. No need to use overdrive pedals for home practicing -- the amp handles all the gain I need and does so in a much more harmonically rich fashion. The SL5 really is like having a little Marshall stack for your bedroom.
As to the features:
The clean is as expected -- shimmery Marshall clean. And it takes pedals well. I tried a TS9 and OCD pedal through it and they sounded good. As do my wah, delay, phaser, chorus, etc.
The gain channel is of course the money channel. It is perfect Marshall gain. Enough said. Put the gain on 75-100% and you are in the 80's JCM territory - it is thick and heavy with great note separation. Put the gain from 25% to 75% and you can get more late 60's/70's plexi sound to get the Led out. This really is a versatile little amp with a lot of tone in it. And this also channel takes pedals well
Reverb -- sounds great. It may not be the rack quality reverb the OCD audiophile is looking for. But for an at home practice amp it delivers just fine.
Lack of an effects loop...who cares? Seriously. Who the hell is going to use an amp like this an put a ton of effects through the loop? Just push them through the front like people have done with Marshall stacks for years. Studio dudes...get over it. Record with this amp clean and add your delays at the board.
The SL5 is a home run for Marshall. If you're looking for the killer Marshall sound in a small box, this is it. I could not be happier with my purchase or Sweetwater's customer service.