I use this amp for a practice amp at home. I wouldn't dare bring this to rehearsal or try to play live with it. I use an ADA 3TM (just awesome!) tube preamp with other neat stuff in a rack through Marshall 4x12 cabs at rehearsal and gigs. The total solid-state deal makes me keep the Crate at home. It does sound ok, not great, and since it's my practice amp I really can't gripe or expect too much. The Distortion channel has tons of distortion available, but if it's maxxed out then you get that "chainsaw-stuck-in-a-beehive" type of distortion, which still doesn't feel right to me. I found the best setting for me is to have the Gain knob about halfway up. The Shape knob is a cheap way out of having EQ for that channel. I sat and played for hours tweaking that (it's just one friggin knob, how hard could it be?) and still haven't found a setting there I can live with really. Maybe I might have to get some type of external EQ on this, I dunno. The Bright button makes the distortion channel ear-piercing. The Clean channel is ok, again all solid-state sounding, but that's ok by me for clean tones. There's a 3 band EQ on the Clean channel and I was able to get a clean sound I can live with. It will crunch up a bit when I play hard because I use EMG 81 pickups, but it's not a pleasing type crunch like you can get from a tube preamp section. I've cranked this amp up about halfway just to hear it that way, and it sounds the same as bedroom-level. That could be good or bad depending on your tastes. The Celestion G12M-70 speaker is again, just ok not great. I'd prefer a G12T-75 or a Vintage 30 in it, but I'd have to experiment with that as it might not be best for this amp either. It does have a surprising amount of bass considering this is an open-back design. You could experiment for hours with the placement of this amp; place it tight to a wall, in the middle of the room, have a pillow shoved into the back of it, or have the amp inside a closet and everything will sound different because of the certain advantages of an open-back design. Again, that could be good or bad depending on your tastes and willingness to experiment with stuff like that.
Well, the reverb shat out on me, and the amp sounds a little better with a bit of reverb. So now it's worse until I fix it. Other than that, it's been good so far. But like I said, I'm not taking this to rehearsal or a gig. The ADA gods would strike me down for sure if I did that! Not to mention the ass-whipping I would have to take from the other bandmates....
I've been playing long enough to know what belongs in the bedroom and what belongs onstage. This belongs in the bedroom. Granted, it's loud enough to fool someone into bringing it to a gig, but the tone would tell you otherwise. I'm not trying to bash this amp really just being straight up and honest about it. After all, I will keep it around for awhile and use it plenty even though I'll keep it at home. For the price of it on Ebay or wherever, it would make a pretty good "first amp" for those learning to play. Parents, do not, I repeat DO NOT let your kid talk you into buying them a Mesa Triple Rectifier or Marshall TSL half stack when they've only been playing for a year. Find something for them like this instead. This should be a decent bang-for-the-buck amp. Honestly, I really wish I had this amp as my "first amp" even with all stuff I don't like about this amp! My first was a Fender Sidekick.....(hangs head in shame and walks away)