Peavey Invective MH Mini Tube Guitar Amp Head
By Chris Loeffler |
The Peavey Invective line was developed in collaboration with Misha Mansoor, guitarist for prog-metal Periphery and solo projects like Bulb, with a focus on providing players with a pedal-friendly clean channel and a high-gain channel voiced to nail modern heavy sounds. The original Invective release was in the form of a 120 watt, ear-crushing head powered by a quad of 6L6 power tubes and was met with wide praise, but the output volume and sheer weight of the iron made it a hard sell for small gigs and coy spinal cords. Peavey’s 2019 addition to that line comes in the form of a 20 watt amplifier head that is small in size but equally huge in features.
The Peavey Invective MH amp is a 2xEL84 powered tube amplifier (their marketing literature states “all tube”, but the rectifier is a modern solid-state) with Clean and Lead channels with independent EQ and host of features for gain structuring, audio output, and more. The Peavey Invective MH weighs just shy of 20lb and is about 12”x12”18” in dimension.
What You Need to Know
The Peavey Invective MH features three 12AX7 and two EL87 tubes to drive two channels, Clean and Lead, at 20 watts. The Clean channel features controls for Gain, Low, and High and the Lead Channel significantly ups the ante with Pre-Gain, Low, Mid, High, and Post Gain controls as well as switches for Gate, Tight, and Boost. Both channels share a Master section with Resonance and Presence controls and can be switched via the amp faceplate or the optional footswitch.
The Clean channel essentially only has a single gain control and stays relatively dirt free up through levels that could keep up with a drummer at long as it is operating at full power. The unmistakable bark of the power tubes starts to peak through about 2/3 of the way up with harmonically rich overtones that lean more towards “dirt and spank” than preamp distortion.
I would describe the clean channel as neutral sounding, without a noticeable hump in the EQ range it produces. The low end is thick enough, but maybe just a tad lighter in the area between “hearing” and “feeling” the lows, certainly a bit more bold than a vintage Marshall.
The Lead channel can be a monster, and a series of switches and controls are highly important to getting the “right” type of high-gain sound you are after. The Pre-Gain control really impacts the gain amount (and structure) of the preamp section, while the Post-Gain impacts the output volume of the amp at large. Cranking the Pre-Gain with low Post-Gain will create saturated (if sometimes grainy) preamp distortion that is relatively uncolored at bedroom levels, while running the Pre-Gain extremely low and cranking the Post-Gain will push the power section into a meatier distortion. As you might imagine, most of the best settings are finding the sweet spots in how the two interact.
In addition to the EQ controls for Low, Mid, and High (I wasn’t able to find in the document the frequency range each knob passively filtered around, but they all sounded “right” for modern voicing and balance), there are switches for Gate, Tight, and Boost.
Gate is a pre-set gating control that slightly clamps the attack and decay of heavy distortion to reduce idle noise and a add a slightly percussive distortion. The Tight switch appears to slightly revoice the preamp while dropping the gain for a more articulate, less compressed overdrive. The Boost switch kicks in a mid-range focused boost to slam the preamp in Lead mode. It’s a variation of the TS-style pedal into a high-gain setting that is a core part of the vernacular of heavy tones, and I felt they dialed in the EQ and gain boost to get the most out of the amp it is feeding.
The EQ controls on both channels are passive tone controls that adjust the balance of the preset frequency bands, and all appear to enter the circuit after the preamp. The global Resonance and Presence controls appear to work as post-power amp voicing, with the Resonance control impacting how the low end articulates in the speaker and cabinet you are running the amp into and the Presence control effecting the way the highs present themselves, from chimey and tight to looser and glassier.
A neat feature for players is the T.S.I. (Tube Status Indication) LEDs what provide visual feedback the power tubes are operating within the bounds of their expected current.
The back panel of the Invective MH is filled with additional features, as well as the typical voltage selector switch, AC power inlet, fuse, and speaker cabinet outputs. The amp has a built-in attenuator to change the wattage from 20 to 5 to 1 to pull more power amp distortion at lower volumes (extremely high attenuation does require tweaks to the Resonance and Presence controls to maintain the same speaker response) as well as a Speaker Defeat switch that takes the speaker entirely out of the equation by running to a dummy load.
Killing the speaker allows you to leverage either the Headphone output, the XLR direct output, or the ASD Audio direct out through the amp’s proprietary MSDI (Mic Simulated Direct Interface), which creates the impulse response of a 12” speaker in a cabinet with a classic 58-style microphone placed 3” from the speaker cone. The direct out via XLR is great for recording or stage-silent performances (if you trust your sound guy!), and the USB output is an interesting, driver-free approach to direct recording without introducing noise.
I put about fifteen minutes into the FX loop to see if I could freak it out or introduce noise and found it to be transparent and receptive to effects, both high and low impedance, in the loop. Things like dirty power and janky cables sorted out and it was smooth sailing.
The reduction in power leads to a reduction in headroom, so part of what makes the Invective so appealing as a clean/heavy platform gets taken away to scale it down. The cleans are still respectable, and the lows hang in there, but they aren’t just a “quieter” 120.
The Peavey Invective MH brings a myriad of tonal options to the table, doing pretty much anything I could throw at it except spongey vintage mid-gain. The cleans are crisp and modulation ready, you can lay some glass on the top when it’s cranked, and the high-gain channel screams. My initial thought, right or wrong, is that the Invective covers so much sonic ground and has so much flexibility that it might get overlooked by people who are used to amps that only work on variations of a theme, but they’d be missing out on a true, affordable swiss army knife of an amp.