Review: Bugera TriRec Infinium Guitar Amplifier
Bugera was the first and may still be the only budget-minded manufacturer whose all-tube, hand-built amplifiers successfully challenge and sometimes eclipse the performance of today’s elite super amps.
Hearing and feeling these amps for the first time is enlightening, especially for guitarists like myself, who have—unnecessarily, it now seems—spent thousands of dollars in our search for a tube-driven amp that provides a simple but deep control set.
Bugera’s latest creation and flagship is the indomitable TriRec Infinium, an uncomplicated, all-tube, 100-watt boutique monster that delivers everything from warm cleans and vintage crunch to ultra-modern, skull-crushing gain, all at a street price under $1,000.
Two years and more than $2 million were devoted to developing the TriRec’s short and pure signal paths and the Infinium technology, which monitors tube performance, vastly increases tube life and allows players to use any combination of power tubes to achieve their personal tonal nirvana.
Bugera’s Infinium circuitry is what helps the TriRec extract every ounce of sound from its tubes. This high-tech approach automatically senses and adjusts each valve’s voltage/biasing, constantly balances the quartet of power tubes for optimum tone and ensures that each tube lasts up to 20 times longer than it would in a traditional, fixed-bias arrangement. If a tube fails, the amp will indicate the problem while continuing to pump out tone as if nothing were wrong.
Players can also mix and match any permutation of power tubes at any time—the TriRec adjusts automatically, so there’s nothing else required from the user. This makes it possible for players to create and discover unique sounds, responses and tonal textures without hassle or concern over amp failure. Achieving “pushed” amp tones doesn’t require ear-shattering levels either, thanks to the front panel’s Varipower knob, which infinitely sets the amp’s output between one and 100 watts.
True to its namesake, the TriRec offers three switchable rectifier options: diodes, tubes, or diodes and tubes. Each of the three channels features an identical set of treble, mid, bass, presence, volume and gain knobs. The higher-gain second and third channels have a three-way selector for classic, vintage or modern gain structures, while the cleaner first channel has a dual-mode switch for clean and drive settings. Global controls include master volume, boost, reverb and Varipower.
Back-panel appointments include dual speaker jacks with an impedance selector, tube-failure indicator LEDs and a channel-assignable effect loop with send and return level controls. Additionally, there’s a line-level output jack and level knob, the three-position rectifier switch, and individual external switching jacks for each channel, reverb, boost and the effect loop. The included Bugera footswitch also connects here via a five-pin jack and offers on/off switching for each channel, the boost feature, reverb and the effect loop.
Most of the online users who are proudly demoing their TriRecs like to show off its colossal gain and ability to dominate in the hardcore metal arena. But this amp is no one-trick pony. Its clean tones are clear, round and transparent enough to illuminate the guitar’s elusive acoustic qualities. The tight, responsive and perfectly balanced crunch tones are some of the best that I’ve heard from any amp. They range from a dark and somewhat scooped American style to sharp and blooming British types, and they extend all the way into a “José-modified” territory that nails nearly everything from Van Halen’s touch-sensitive “brown” sound to the warm complexities of Jerry Cantrell’s tone.
Once you select the silicon diodes and modern gain, the TriRec becomes a gain-belching beast. Copious waves of sadistic distortion can project from the TriRec, yet they remain defined and free of the sizzle or nuisance harmonics that plague some of the amp’s famous but much thinner-sounding competitors.
List Price $1,499.99
Manufacturer Music Group IP Ltd., bugera-amps.com
Infinium technology allows the TriRec to accept any combination of power tubes, while it constantly monitors and adjusts their performance for up to 20 times more tube life and optimized tonal output.
Bugera’s Varipower circuit gives players the ability to set the TriRec’s output anywhere from one to 100 watts, without affecting tonal integrity or drive levels.
The Bottom Line
Bugera’s affordable, hand-built Trirec Infinium is a super amp in the truest sense, accepting and constantly optimizing any type or combination of power tubes, offering a complete range of gain levels and delivering pure, top-shelf tube tones.