After reviewing Peavey’s Realver MK III software in the July issue, I have been salivating to get my hands on one of Peavey’s new Vypyr line of modeling amps. The day has finally arrived. Will it live up to the hype?
The new Vypyr line is offered in a variety of power and speaker configurations from 15 watts and an 8” speaker to the 120 watt hybrid (tube power amp) with two 12” speakers. This review focuses on 30 watt version with a single 12” Blue Marvel speaker.
Upon removing the amp from the packaging, the cost cutting measures are already apparent. Rather than using foam insets to float the amp inside the box or at least double boxing the amp to prevent shipping damage, there were four pieces of cardboard on the amp’s corners. Fortunately, the amp was delivered without any damage, however I expect quite a few to be returned due to shipping damage (perhaps offering the patient shopper mad deals on refurbished items). However, lifting the amp out of the box, I was very impressed with the super comfy amp handle. A minor detail for sure, but nice touch for those who transport their amp often. Overall the amp looks and feels fairly sturdy, but calling it solid would be a little bit of a stretch.
Peavey has done a nice job with the feature set of the new Vypyr line offering up a smorgasbord of amp, stompbox, and rack effects in a price point where competitor’s offerings are fairly slim. First off, each amp setting has 2 modeled channels. Typically a clean and high gain mode, however many of the higher gain amps offer a lead and crunch channel. Some unique inclusions to the Vypyr line are several Peavey amps which I don’t believe I’ve seen before in a modeling amp (XXX, JSX, and Classic 50). Additional features include a chromatic tuner, 1/8” MP3/CD/Aux input, and 1/8” headphone/direct recording output.
The amps control panel is fairly well thought out with several knobs serving triple purposes based on the editing mode you are in which is selected by toggling the stompbox or effects pots. While this provided the ultimate level of control with the fewest possible knobs, I would have preferred a few more dedicated knobs as it took a while to get used to toggling between modes when dialing in a tone. Each knob is actually a rotary encoder rather than a typical potentiometer and a ring of lights surrounding the knob indicates its value. Knob action is a little too light weight for my taste which made me handle them with care as I felt I could snap one off very easily.
The programming architecture allows users to select one stompbox, one amp model, one rack effect, reverb, and delay for each preset. However, some of the sompboxes are modulation effects allowing the user to stack a phaser from the stompbox section with a tremolo from the effects section. Pretty cool. Once you have a tone dialed in to your liking, you can store it to one of the amp’s four presets.
The tones vary, some are very good, some ok, but all usable to some degree. I must admit there is a subtle similarity in the way all the amp models break up, especially the top end. For example, the mids just didn’t have the grittiness of a cranked Deluxe. Similarly, the classic crang you get strumming an open G on a Marshal just wasn’t there. Definitely not as "real" as some of the offerings from Digitech and Line 6…and not even close to Peavey's own Revalver MK III.
That being said, the included model of the Peavey Classic is among the best in the amp. Using a Lace Huntington, I was able to easily dial in shimmery funk tones which accentuated the two and four position quack beautifully. Flipping to the high gain channel, you get great sustain with a smooth high end and a gritty midrange perfect for soloing using the Huntington’s neck pickup.
The high gain tones are nice as well, specifically the Peavey models which all provided a tight low end and enough high end slice to keep chords reasonably defined. However, I would have liked a touch more low end thump from the amp across the board and I had to lower the treble from the default settings as the amp gets a bit brittle with the treble cranked. The 6505+ model alone is worth the price of admission offering a truly brutal high gain channel and an equally impressive crunch channel with enough dynamic control via eq to handle pretty much any rock tone I threw at it.
One very nice feature is the controls do not reset when you change the dial to a new amp model. If you turn the dial to a new model then back, the amp remembers the control settings you previously entered. Unfortunately, the settings are reset when you power down the amp.
On the slightly annoying side, when you select one of the high gain amps the default gain setting is 100%. While I understand Peavey’s enthusiasm to show off the amount of gain the amp is capable of, I was treated to some uncomfortable bursts of feedback on several occasions when dialing through the different amp models auditioning the amp’s capabilities.
With a 30 watt rating I wasn’t expecting the amp to be loud, but I was very wrong. The amp could certainly hang for rehearsals with a live drummer in a small room, especially if set on a riser.
Peavey’s Vypyr line is certainly commendable and raises the bar by offering so many features at an ultra-affordable price point. While the amp can be a little brittle with the treble cranked and lack a little low end oomph, those seeking brutal amounts of gain at bedroom volumes should be fairly pleased.
Price: ~$200 USD
Pros: Good high gain tones, feature rich
Cons: Questionable long term durability