By Jon Chappell
Three years after making its debut, the Peavey VYPYR line of modeling amplifiers continues to hold center stage in the simulation arena. Though wattage options range from a manageable 15 to a hefty 120 (the latter sporting real power-tube hybrid capability), perhaps the most versatile of the bunch is the VYPYR 100 with its rugged and exceptionally portable—only 47 pounds—2x12 cabinet sporting an impressive array of classic amp tones.
Armed with 32-bit floating-point SHARC processors as well as Peavey's renowned TransTube analog-based amplification circuit (originally designed for the Bandit series), the VYPYR 100 lets you choose from 24 different models—two versions of 12 popular amp types and sounds (clean and distorted channels, in most cases)—along with a menu of 11 fully adjustable preamp "stompbox" and 11 editable post-amp "rack" effects. That's just for starters; add a Peavey Sanpera II footcontroller, and the number of programmable in-amp presets suddenly jumps to 400, while offering looping capability as well. And with Peavey's USB 2.0 interface, you can easily link your VYPYR to a computer-based recording system, allowing you to get your sounds down without making a sound.
Though the bank of spinning, multicolored LEDs may look a bit like a NASA control board when first powering up, not to worry: getting to know the VYPYR is a fairly straightforward procedure. After setting the master to a comfortable output level, you're ready to start sifting through the plethora of amp tones and styles. Because the VYPYR's rotary selector knobs are located on the front faceplate, I tilted the amp slightly in order to see the full dashboard of possibilities. Using the Sanpera II footcontroller is another way to get the same effect (more on that later).
Three adjoining knobs located on the left side of the panel control the various stompbox and rack-effects settings (including analog phase and flange, fuzz, chorus, rotary speaker, and ring modulator), as well as clean and distorted amp types with models ranging from Peavey's own 6505, to appropriations of well-known classics including "Twn," "Plxi," and "Brit." A set of EQ controls as well as pre-gain and post-gain knobs comes next; by depressing the knobs in this section, you can regulate and edit level and parameter settings for the stompbox and rack-effects sections (see Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. The front panel shows the numerous and various modeling effects available. (Click to enlarge.)
Helping to give the VYPYR a touch of realism is Peavey's unique TransTube technology, which is based on the same preamp/gain-stage characteristics typically found in low-watt vintage tube amplifiers. The result is a suitably subtle-sounding distortion and power-tube like saturation that, like a real tube amplifier, is designed to respond to the performer's individual playing attack.
While the VYPYR's 100 watts of power and 2x12 cabinet (see Fig. 2) is certainly capable of moving a lot of air, for quieter environments (e.g., your basement or bedroom) you can rely on the amp's "Power Sponge" attenuator which, by regulating the amp's total output, allows you to incrementally reduce the decibels without sacrificing the tone. (For those who want actual tube drive to go with their virtual amp menu, consider the VYPYR Tube 60 combo, Tube 120 combo, or Tube 120 head, which include 12AX7/6L6GC tube circuitry.)
Fig. 2. The VYPYR 100 includes two 12" speakers for wide live-performance versatility.
Though you can pre-program and save any number of amp/effects combinations in advance right from the amp, attaching the Sanpera II MIDI footcontroller not only significantly expands the VYPYR's tonal palate, but also facilitates hands-free amp control (see Fig. 3). In addition to boosting the number of available in-amp programmable presets from 12 to 400, the Sanpera II comes with a dual set of expression pedals as well as momentary switches for dedicated tap tempo and looper control; using the footswitches to access the presets as well as stompbox/rack effects, you can lay down a basic rhythm-track loop, then go ahead and practice your leads or fills over the top. What's more, you can access up to five effects simultaneously! If you tend to stomp harder than most, no problem: the Sanpera's solid metal exterior is designed to withstand even the most punishing of pedal pounders.
Fig. 3. Adding the optional Sanpera II pedal greatly increases your performance options.
Combining versatility, portability, and affordability, the Peavey VYPYR 100 is a logical choice for those who require a wide range of tonal options without having to deal with messy pedal patching and the like. Though ideal for metal and hard rock outfits, the inclusion of "classic" amp models make the VYPYR well suited even for those with vintage sensibilities. Add to that the looping and menu-expansion capabilities provided by the optional Sanpera II pedal, and you have pretty much everything you'd ever want out of a modeling combo amp.