My first real amp was a 2 x 12" Peavey Classic -- the old-school late-'70s original with the aluminum side panels on the grille. Ah, the good old days! I played that amp for years, followed by several other Peaveys, and they never let me down. But time marches on, and Peavey has kept up with the times with a steady stream of really cool amplifiers (including a new line of tweed-covered Classic amps launched in the early '90s). The latest from Peavey is the ValveKing II, a feature-laden amp that's perfect for stage or studio.
The ValveKing II combo that I checked out uses three 12AX7 preamp tubes and two EL84 power tubes to deliver 20 watts, switchable down to 5 watts or even 1 watt for home use. (There also is a head version of this amp, a 50-/12-/2-watt combo, and a 100-/25-/5-watt head.) It has clean (with bright switch) and dirty (with switchable boost and high gain) channels, each with 3-band EQ, and a master reverb. A master Damping control blends presence and resonance shaping under one knob, while the Vari-Class control can continuously shift the power tubes from Class A operation to Class AB. That's a ton of tone-shaping control and a lot of versatility, from chiming British clean to rich American clean, crunchy UK chunk to singing U.S. sustain. The front panel also features tube monitoring LEDs, which keep you apprised as to the health of your EL84s.
Around back, you've got a footswitchable effects loop and an MSDI (Mic Simulated Direct Interface) XLR jack for feeding the amp's output -- with mic and speaker emulation -- to a live sound console or a recorder. There's an accompanying switch for turning off the speaker for silent recording. There's also a USB output that can likewise deliver a mic-/speaker-emulated signal straight into your computer DAW.
This really is one amp that can do it all for you, from clean to high gain, at bedroom volume or stage volume -- and who needs to mess with microphones? Recording and live sound are super easy with this amp.
Check any of the ValveKing II amps out. They all deliver killer tube tones and more versatility and practical usefulness than just about any other amp on the market.