Peavey 6505 Piranha Micro Head
By Phil O'Keefe |
Peavey 6505 Piranha Micro Head
A tiny head with a tiny price
by Phil O'Keefe
Mini amplifier heads have been all the rage, and they're available from a variety of companies. Many users find their small size and lighter weight great for portability, and the amount of power (typically 5W to 20W) from these mini-heads is ideal for home practice, band rehearsals, smaller gig venues, and recording. Peavey has been part of this downsizing trend; they've offered a mini-head version of their popular Classic series amps and even a mini version of their popular 6505 head, but today we'll look at a brand new micro amp head designed for those who like to rock hard, but want to travel as light as possible - the Peavey 6505 Piranha.
- The Peavey 6505 Piranha is remarkably small for a 20W head. Its rugged metal chassis measures a mere 7" W x 5.2" D x 3.2" H, and weighs in at a featherweight 2.5 pounds. The head is vented on the front and rear, and the tube inside is illuminated with red/orange LEDs so the glow is visible through the vents.
- The Piranha injects the character of the Crunch and Lead modes of Peavey's larger all-tube 6505 amplifiers into a small hybrid amplifier head.
- The Piranha's preamp uses JFET and tube gain stages, with a single 12AX7 being the only tube. The power amp section is entirely solid state. Five screws hold the top plate in place, and provide for relatively easy tube access. Peavey recommends and encourages experimenting with different 12AX7s. A stylized Piranha graphic is textured onto the top plate.
- The controls on the Piranha are nearly as simple as you can get, with a single Gain knob setting the input level and amount of gain/distortion, and a master Volume control adjusting the overall output level to the power amp.
- The Crunch / Lead pushbutton switch further adjusts the amount of gain.
- The EQ is a bit different than what you might expect. Even though it sports a single EQ control, it allows you to call up many popular 6505 EQ settings. With the knob fully counterclockwise, it provides a "notched" EQ setting similar to a 10-0-7 setting on a traditional three-knob Low / Mid / High EQ. Turn the EQ knob to the noon position and you get a 7-7-7 setting, and a 10-10-10 setting when the EQ knob is dimed. It's far more effective and versatile than most single knob "tone" circuits.
- Front-panel jacks (1/8" stereo aux input and 1/4" stereo headphones) make the 6505 Piranha well-equipped for silent practice, even if you want to play along with your portable music playback device. Inserting headphones disables the main speaker output.
- The rear-panel speaker output jack provides enough power to drive a 4x12 cabinet, or any other cabinet (as long as it's 4 ohms minimum) that can handle 20 watts.
- The output power level (and overall volume) will depend on what speaker cabinet you're using and its efficiency. The Piranha can handle 4, 8 and 16 ohm speaker loads, and will deliver 20W RMS with a 4 ohm load, 15W RMS at 8 ohms, and 10W RMS at 16 ohms.
- I didn't have the opportunity to try the optional 6505 Piranha 1x8 cabinet as part of this review, but again, this head will work just fine with many other speaker cabinets.
- A buffered effects loop includes rear-panel 1/4"send and return jacks. The effects loop's send jack also makes it easy to use the Piranha as a preamp in front of a larger amp.
- Rounding out the rear panel are a pushbutton power button and the jack for the provided 30VDC 1.0A power supply. The power supply itself is a "line lump"-type adapter.
- A CD-ROM disk includes the manaul, a demo copy of Cockos Reaper recording software, and a demo of Peavey's ReValver amp modeling software.
- You also get a nice padded vinyl carrying bag and Peavey sticker.
- Unfortunately there's no way to switch remotely between the Crunch and Lead gain switch settings using a footswitch.
- This isn't the amp for you if you're seeking loads of clean headroom. It can generate clean tones by setting the Gain knob lower and the Volume higher and using the Crunch switch setting instead of the Lead position, but the volume level isn't going to be nearly as high as it can go when you're running the Piranha dirty.
- The single EQ control is more flexible than you'd expect from most single knob tone stacks, but still isn't quite as versatile as a multi-knob EQ section. However, I must emphasize again that this is an extremely small head. There simply isn't the room on the front panel for a three-band EQ.
Like its namesake fish, the 6505 Piranha is small, but it has an aggressive nature and big bite that belies its physically diminutive stature. The EQ is surprisingly effective for a single knob circuit and goes way beyond what you'd expect. You can always augment it with an EQ pedal if you need more options. While it may be expecting too much from a micro head with a similarly tiny price tag, my biggest disappointment was that you can't switch between Crunch and Lead except with the front panel switch - a supplemental footswitch jack to select them would be a terrific addition. Of course, if you really need features like a three-band EQ, more clean headroom and gain footswitching, you can always consider Peavey's 6505 MH head instead.
There isn't much in the way of clean headroom, although it can certainly work for tracking clean tones in the studio, but that's kind of missing the point; this amp is all about crunch and lead tones. While it can't match the full fury of the larger 6505 all-tube models, the drive is bold and aggressive, and rockers will find plenty to like in this little beast's crunchy attitude. Fans of heavier metal styles may wish for just a bit more grindage, but you can always supplement the amp's significant distortion capabilities with a boost, overdrive, or distortion pedal.
For a head that's priced lower than many pedals, the Piranha sounds surprisingly cool. I can see rockers getting one to use as a backup amp, for backstage warmup, to use on a tour bus, and of course, for home practice. It's also a good choice for recording. Regardless of which of these applications is most important to you, the Peavey 6505 Piranha will serve you well, take up a minimum amount of space, and leave you with plenty of cash left over for other gear.
Peavey 6505 Piranha micro head ($199.99 MSRP, $179.99 "street")
Peavey 6505 Piranha micro head product web page
Peavey 6505 Piranha micro head manual (PDF file)
You can purchase the Peavey 6505 Piranha micro head from:
Power Amplifier Section:
- Rated Power & Load: 20W(rms) into 4 Ohms; 15W(rms) into 8 Ohms; 10W(rms) into 16 Ohms
- DC Supply (included): +30VDC @ 1ADC (positive tip); Peavey part #30908151
Preamp Section (specs are measured @ 1kHz with all controls set halfway, on the CRUNCH setting)
- Input impedance: 1M Ohms
- Nominal Input Level: -20dBV, 100mV (rms)
Effects Loop Send:
- Load Impedance: 10k Ohms or greater; Nominal Output Level: 0dBV, 1.0V (rms)
Effects Loop Return:
- Impedance: 1M Ohms
- Designed Input Level: 0dBV, 1.0V (rms)
- Switching jack provides preamp output to power amp input connection when not used
- Nominal Input Level: 0dBV, 1.0V (rms)
Dimensions & Weight:
- 5.2” (132mm) L x 7.0” (178mm) W x 3.2” (82mm) H; 2.5 lbs (1.13 kg)
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.