OK, here's the deal - before buying this I had read reviews and they are very confusing because you have people giving it a raving 10 and others giving it a shitty 5. I saw one on Ebay locally and thought I'd try it out - after all this was the device that the band Filter had said 'this is where our sound starts'. Supposedly Smashing Pumpkins had used these preamps to good effect.
Also, I had owned a Valvestate 100 amp and liked the clean the channel, but couldn't stand the distortion channels (way to fizzy and lacking sustain). So I bought it, hoping to get both a good clean and distortion channel. Heres the REAL info you need:
Clean channel 1 is almost identical to the Valvestate 100 clean channel - I could not tell the difference, except that it was now in stereo. It works well with humbuckers and a good compressor/reverb combination. The bass shift button was a nice feature in clean channel. I still use the preamp for this channel - it meshes nicely with the rest of my setup.
Clean channel 2 - a more glass like clean channel - not bad but I don't find myself using it very often.
Distortion Channel 1 - sounds like a $30 stomp box
Distortion Channel 2 - sounds like a $2 stomp box
The distortions are terrible. Frizzy, lacking sustain, life, or any semblence of that original Marshall sound. - just brutal. I was even skeptical and thought maybe it was just my guitar or compressor etc, but no, after trying many guitars and several good compressors, the thing stills sounds like a solid state piece of garbage in distortion channels. What a ripoff. Yes, its slightly better than the Valvestate, but I will never buy a new piece of Marshall equipment again. Did they really think that they could get away with this and charge through the nose for it?
And yet I'm still confused - its obviously won some hearts out there -even in the professional world - is there something I'm missing? Or are people just overcome by the 'Marshall' name?
Do yourself a favour and buy the new Mesa-Boogie V-Twin preamp. It may not be stereo, but the clean channel is great and the distortion channels are awesome.
Pretty good - solid construction - mine still has the original Marshall tubes, which makes me think that the tubes are just 'warming up' the tone and not 'working' like an amplifier circuit.
LED numbers sometimes blank out on their own.
I still use it for the one clean channel and stereo effects loop capability (nice for effect units with stereo out), but the other channels are almost never used.
The final word - I recently tried a JCM800 all tube amp - an it is astonishingly different - saturated tube sustain, REAL marshall sound - is it really so hard to put this in a preamp Mr. Marshall?!