byJon Chappell08-29-201308:36 AM - edited 08-29-201308:36 AM
Peavey Vypyr VIP 2
Can you really get a kickass amp and innovative effects for under $200? Yes!
by Jon Chappell
You’ve no doubt seen those public services ads on late-night television warning against fraud, and advising you that “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” The VIP series of guitar amps provides functionality that makes the low price seem like a misprint, as they also build in a comprehensive enough set of effects you likely won’t need a pedalboard (although for live use you’ll almost certainly want the Sanpera II foot controller to control them, which costs $30 more than the amp). But playing is believing.
The main difference between the VIP amps is power (VIP 1 20W, VIP 2 40W, VIP 3 100W, all ratings RMS). Although the higher models have a few extra functions (for example the number of effects, number of storable presets, and the 1 has an 8" speaker compared to the 12" in the other two), they have more similarities than differences. This review covers the VIP 2, which streets for under $200. For more information, download the user manual from the link given in the Resources section.
What You Need to Know
VIP stands for Variable Instrument Performance Amplifier; the VIP 2 models 8 guitar amps, 2 bass amps, and 2 acoustic amp models but each has three channels, so there are 36 models total. The amp models are convincing and while solid-state, Peavey’s modeling technology gives a warm, satisfying sound.
Despite the many possibilities, the interface is simple. There are no menus; everything is accessed by switches and knobs (including push switches on some knobs), with 78 LEDs guiding you through navigation. Read the manual once, and you’ll be fine. You’ll also discover hidden features, for example, some instrument models are limited to specific amps, like bass with bass amps. But, you can defeat this on power-up and go crazy with alternate sounds.
You’ll find 10 different instrument models (baritone guitar, sitar, 12-string, etc.) as well as 12 pre-amplifier “stompbox” effects. There are also 11 post-amp “rack” effects categories as well as global delay and reverb. Tap tempo is available for time-based effects. The effects are a huge plus for the VIP 2, and will be all the effects most players need.
A USB interface appears as an input device in DAWs without needing drivers (and includes cabinet modeling), but the main use is for MIDI-over-USB and updating. Using this mutes the speaker out but lets you use the headphones for monitoring.
A looper becomes particularly relevant with a modeling amp because you can lay down entirely different sounds on each pass.
The included documentation CD-ROM also has installers for ReValver HPse and Reaper (both for Mac or Windows).
You can’t access the looper functions, or control the full complement of five simultaneous effects, without the Sanpera II controller (street price about $230).
As a bass amp, the Vypyr can’t push as much air as you might want for loud onstage applications.
The synth and special effects aren’t always convincing (e.g., the 12-string raises all strings up an octave, not just the lower four). However, these sounds are very useful in their own right. For example, the “violin” sound doesn’t really sound like a violin, but it’s a wonderful lead sound.
Some of the really complex effects have a little bit of latency.
As of this writing, editing software is not yet available but is slated for release soon..
The USB driver works with Core Audio on the Mac, but is MME-only on Windows. Consider using ASIO4ALL for lower latency.
For stage use, the VIP 2 is neither particularly light nor heavy, so it qualifies as both convenient and portable. The VIP 2 can definitely put out, while the VIP 3’s 100W is a good choice for those who want to move more air. But don’t overlook the VIP 2’s usefulness in the studio. The wealth of effects and warm tones you can get with miking the cabinet make it a one-stop modeling shop that can provide amp sim-type sounds without the drawbacks.
Perhaps most importantly, there’s one feature that doesn’t show up on a spec sheet: fun. This is an amp that’s eager to please, and you’ll find it almost impossible not to smile when you dial up some of the effects. Despite the low cost, this is a deep amp if you want to experiment, but you can always just dial up presets.
I didn’t know what to expect for under $200, as many stompboxes reach that price range all by themselves. The bottom line is the Vypyr VIP 2 not only exceeds expectations, it would exceed expectations at twice the price. Peavey often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves as a technology company, but you needn’t look any further than the Vypyr series for proof.
Jon Chappell is a guitarist and Associate Editor at Harmony Central. He has contributed numerous musical pieces to film and TV, including Northern Exposure, Walker, Texas Ranger, All My Children, and the feature film Bleeding Hearts, directed by actor-dancer Gregory Hines. He is the author of The Recording Guitarist: A Guide for Home and Studio (Hal Leonard), Essential Scales & Modes (Backbeat Books), and Build Your Own PC Recording Studio (McGraw-Hill), and has written six books in the popular For Dummies series (Wiley Publishing).