Peavey 6534+ Head and 430 4x12 Cab
Peavey Electronics LTD, peavey.com
6534+ head, $1,399.99; Peavey 430 cabinet, $999.99
Originally published in Guitar World, August 2010
The 6534+’S EL34 power section takes this amp design to a stimulating new level of usability, while the Stephens Tru-Sonic-loaded 430 cabs are retro-modern companions for any amp that needs a cabinet capable of a broader tonal range.
Peavey's 6505 series amps’ famous tone provides the molten fuel for countless ass-kicking metal bands, including Chimaira, Bullet for My Valentine, Sworn Enemy, In Flames and P.O.D. At the heart of this gain machine is a hot-rodded, British-inspired circuit, but its 120-watt 6L6 power section trumps genuine British-type tones with scooped mids, floor-shaking lows and glass-shattering highs.
The new Peavey 6534+ replaces those 6L6s with EL34 power tubes, unleashing more of the circuit’s midrange bark and bulldog bite. But Peavey didn’t stop there. Modifications to the Rhythm channel vastly improve the clean headroom, and the footswitch now lets you activate that channel’s Crunch mode. Peavey mates this amp with its new 430 4x12 cab, which is loaded with Stephens Tru-Sonic 30-watt speakers and designed to provide a broader, more open tone, with classic midrange accents.
With its black Tolex covering, honeycomb grille and brushed-silver faceplate, the 6534+ looks like other 6505 Series amps. The real magic happens in the newly designed power section, where four EL34s turn out 120 watts of authentic British-style snarl and snap. The 6534+ taps into power amp distortion faster than the 6L6-based 6505 amps, creating a tighter overall response and focusing the projection so that it will cut through saturated mixes even better than its 6L6-driven predecessors. As with the other 6505s, six 12AX7 preamp tubes imbue the preamp with loads of gain.
Both the Rhythm and Lead channels have their own controls for pre gain, post gain, low, mid, high, presence and resonance. The Rhythm channel also has a bright switch and a switch to engage the gain-accelerating Crunch mode. On the back end, you’ll find a preamp output, effect loop, bias test points and two speaker outputs with four-, eight- and 16-ohm options.
The saturated gain levels of Peavey’s 6505 Series and original 5150 amplifiers sound inspiringly rich when played alone but tend to lose some of their luster in a metal band’s thick mix. This new amp’s redesigned power section and EL34 tubes cut right through sizzling cymbals, hi-hats and snare frequencies, so that all of the exciting tones reach out beyond the stage. This also makes it possible to turn the resonance control higher, thereby increasing rib-crushing bass and low-mid wallop without washing out the bottom end. Similarly, the presence knob boosts the amp’s focus across the upper-mid frequencies rather than the piercing high-frequency spectrum. All of this results in even more useable sustain and greater note clarity.
The Rhythm channel also seems to draw more gain from the power section and remains cleaner at higher volume levels than the standard 6505 or 6505+ amps. Players who like to control their gain levels with the guitar’s volume knob will enjoy how well the 6534+ cleans up even at higher gain settings in the Crunch mode. Of the amp’s three modes, this one best illuminates the EL34’s upper-midrange presence, blooming harmonics and tight string control. It was here that I conjured up the most authentic Van Halen, AC/DC and Leslie West tones that I’ve heard from a 6505 Series amp. With the amp cranked or turned down to bedroom volume, I could feel the EL34 power section pushing the speakers when I dug into the notes, and there was ample control over volume and saturation through pick-attack variation and my guitar’s volume knob.
Even though I tested the 6534+ through several cabinets, it really sounded best with Peavey’s new 430 4x12 cab. The Stephens Tru-Sonic speakers’ midrange performance falls somewhere between a classic Vintage 30 and a Greenback, with a tauter feel, greater speed and increased frequency extension on both ends of the spectrum.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The 6534+’S EL34 power section takes this amp design to a stimulating new level of usability, with British-flavored midrange punch, aggressive note separation and a Rhythm channel that stays clean and controllable at extreme stage volumes. Additionally, Peavey’s Stephens Tru-Sonic-loaded 430 cabs are retro-modern companions for the 6534+ or any amp that needs a cabinet capable of a broader tonal range.
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