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  • The Peavey Windsor Studio Review

    Okay, so I've finally spent a couple weeks with this amp, and have a little to say about it.

    First, the bad news:

    If you are a living room guitar warrior who is never going to play out... This is NOT the combo amp for you. The output from the (actually decent) Blue Marvel speaker sounds mediocre at best in any setting. Plugging in to an extension cab, even if you disconnect the built-in speaker does not solve this problem. Whatever the reason, the voicing on this amp's speaker output (ultra-agressive upper-mids with inadequate bass even with the low EQ cranked) makes it sound like somebody put a mic in front of a telephone receiver and cranked it up.

    At $400, you're far better off buying one of the many $250 5-watt options and (if you must) use a Weber attenuator.

    Now the good news:

    If you are going to record and/or play on a stage where you only want the audience to hear the balanced sound of the P.A. system, this amp is AMAZING. What makes it so fabulous is two big features: The "Power Sponge" attenuator, and the "Record Out" XLR output.

    For whatever reason, the "microphone simulation" output on this amp, both clean and dirty, sounds a billion times better than the speaker output. The crunch is the "brutal" sound that Peavey amps like the Classic & VK are famous for, and the clean sound, while not good enough to impress high-end Fender cork-sniffers, is round, full, and satisfying... IF you know how to dial it in properly.

    So, if you buy this amp and use it on stage, let the drummer use your trusty old SM-57 to close-mic another cymbal, and plug the amp directly to the main mixer with a good mic cable. Then use the Power Sponge to adjust the speaker output level so that it's just loud enough for you to use the speaker as a personal stage monitor. You'll deliver an awesome sound to the board without bleeding much of anything off the stage or on to the vocal mics.

    Now, as to getting good cleans. I find that the preamp tubes and the EQ provide a tasty crunch around 6-8, but when you turn it down to 3 and try to get a clean sound out of it, the result is badly colored by all that circuitry. Good cleans can come out of the amp, but you must bypass the preamp stage to get it, by plugging directly into the "return" jack on the effects loop.

    So if you're going to do both clean and distortion sounds, my recommendation is to do what I plan on doing: Y-Split the guitar into both the "High-gain" and the "Return" jacks, then use a standard Peavy foot-switch to select between them. $20 for the swtich, $5 for the jack, and suddenly you've transformed the amp into a versatile workhorse.

    The reverb is nothing special, but then again, it seems amp reverb tanks seldom are even worth discussing. My board can slap stereo reverb onto any signal it gets anyway.

    I'm going to use it for another month or so before deciding if it's good enough that I can sell off my Classic 50. I'm not a collector of gear, but a player with occasional GAS, and my goal was to get one relatively-portable amp which does everything I need while getting the kind of sound I want. So far, the Peavey Windsor Studio is the closest I've come across to answering that need without spending a couple grand to get there.

    Now if only Peavey would build a 1x12 version of the Classic with these features built in, my life would be so much simpler.
    This is my signature file. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

  • #2
    cool review, thanks.


    Shame 'bout the attenuator feature though, i thought the whole point was to get it sounding good at low volumes



    ah well.

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    • #3
      Very good review. Thanks for your time and thoughts.
      basement traders

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      • #4
        Shame 'bout the attenuator feature though, i thought the whole point was to get it sounding good at low volumes


        And it does exactly that. I've got a light-handed drummer and don't want a lot off guitar beef rolling all over the stage like I get with my 50W full stack. Earplug-less jamming behind the P.A. speakers, raw power in front of it. Win.

        I just wish I didn't have to monkey with such a MacGuyver-ish solution to be able to switch to good cleans.
        This is my signature file. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

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        • #5
          Update:

          Tried a tube replacement.

          Basically I pulled the two of the four cheap Chinese 12AX7A tubes out of my Classic 50 and dropped them in to replace the preamp tubes on the Windsor (which comes stocked with an Electro Harmonix and a JJ for the preamp stages.)

          Wow. Big difference. I like the sound A LOT more.

          So I'm going to roll with the cannibalized tubes from the Classic for now, and order some new, better 12AX7 tubes of some kind and swap 'em in.

          As for the EL34 power phase tube... I'm on the fence about what I want to do there. It sounds pretty good.
          This is my signature file. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

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          • #6
            Interesting that the tube change made a big difference. I wouldn't have guessed it.

            Overall, it's too bad Peavey couldn't make this amp work better. It's a damn great idea ON PAPER.
            basement traders

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            • #7
              Overall, it's too bad Peavey couldn't make this amp work better. It's a damn great idea ON PAPER.


              It's a damn great amp in reality too... for what it's for.

              Need to record tracks, and want a "British" sound without rattling the walls? This is your amp.

              Want to play on stage and get that great sound without making the sound tech hate you? This is your amp.

              For both reasons, that's why it will remain MY amp, too.

              Want to rock out by yourself at home without disturbing roommates or family members? Wait for the Blackheart Ant... or put an attenuator between your Valve Jr. and the speaker... or just get a Pod and some headphones. This is not your amp.
              This is my signature file. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

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              • #8
                Oh, sorry for the double-post, but there's one more thing I should mention.

                This amp allows tube-changes without re-bias hassles, by design.

                Changing the power tube requires taking the attenuator off, but you can put any of a dozen different tube choices in there (getting various wattage output depending on your choice.) Stock is an EL34 that makes it a 15W amp, but you can get it up to 20 with some tubes, or down to 10 with others.

                The preamp tubes are pretty easy to get at without pulling the attenuator... if your arms are thin enough, though I'm pretty sure they have to be some flavor of 12AX7 or ECC83.

                Stock, it uses one JJ ECC83 and one Electro-Harmonix 12AX7EH.

                It might just be all in my head, but I like the sound better with the two 12AX7As I replaced them with. Maybe it's because they are older tubes and have "broken in" a bit or something. I don't know. Tube technology seems a bit like voodoo to me sometimes.
                This is my signature file. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

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                • #9
                  More dough, but my main small venue amp for a year.(got one of the firsts) No problems, but I do not use the attenuator. I like cleans, and it muddies the tone too much for me.

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                  • #10
                    Nice review thanks

                    I was looking at this amp as well since it sounded interesting. But I am strictly a bedroom player and it sounds like it might not be such a great idea afterall.

                    Guess I'll stick with my AD30 or continue to eye that Super Champ
                    Originally Posted by Frets99
                    I held one note through the whole thing and grimaced like I was being taken from behind by a camel.....



                    Member MAZI BEE KICK ASS MILITIA
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                    • #11
                      I did a review for FrugalGuitarist on this amp and noted the tube change I attempted.

                      Hopefully it'll be in the June edition...and to let a secret out...I returned the amp on Monday.
                      Transaction History

                      For Sale
                      US Peavey Tracer in Metallic Pink $225 + shipping







                      Originally Posted by derivicus


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                      • #12
                        Yes, it will be in the June issue...
                        Will Chen Trio | FrugalGuitarist.com | FG on Facebook | Forum

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                        • #13
                          More dough, but my main small venue amp for a year.(got one of the firsts) No problems, but I do not use the attenuator. I like cleans, and it muddies the tone too much for me.


                          "More dough" is certainly right. As in "double the price and then some."

                          Your comment makes me wonder if I would get even better cleans by pulling the Power Sponge on my Windsor, but it's so incredibly useful that I think I'll keep it there.

                          On the other hand, it's never likely to sound like Fender cleans without making some huge warranty-violating tweaks... and frankly I've always found the "sparkly" Fender tone to be a little too bright for my taste anyway. I'm just shooting for cleans that sound like the relatively transparent tone my full stack has spoiled me for. With the pre-amp tube swap or by bypassing the pre-amp entirely, I can just about get it. Not quite, but not bad for a $400 (retail) combo.
                          This is my signature file. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the review Golias.
                            ♪ Cats 'n' Strats, 'cause that's how I roll

                            I Surf therefore I am.
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                            Originally Posted by Mike Eldred, Fender Custom Shop


                            The discussion about nitro (and many things on forums like these) is largely based on folklore, innuendo, and assumption that it "sounds better". Poppycock.

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                            • #15
                              I have the Windsor head and use it in our practice space. It's very finicky with guitars, but it seems to sound fairly good with the ceramic pickups on my explorer. I found that using the boost all the time was making me happiest. Gave it more mid thud. Overall it can sound very good, but I needed a lot of time to get it to sound right. I just saw a new Windsor head at Guitar Center Sherman Oaks for $299. That's a crazy price for a nice tube head.
                              Too little time to play lately.

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