In the not too distant past, there was a rather significant rift between big and small guitar amps.
Big amps had the advantage of being really loud and versatile with the disadvantage of being very expensive, while small amps offered players great tone for affordable prices but a rather limited set of tone controls and features.
In recent years, mini amp heads have packed an increasing amount of features into their diminutive frames, and many deliver tones that compete with full-size amp heads, but the cost has also increased rather significantly at the same time.
With their new 6505 MH amp (with MH meaning “mini head”), Peavey has reversed the trend of ever-increasing mini amp prices by offering a truly affordable, versatile amp packed with numerous useful features rivaling those of full-sized amps.
Based on the best-selling 6505 amp head, the 6505 MH offers the same gain structure and voicing and similar features (as well as a few new, exclusive features) in a significantly smaller package. The 6505 has a two-channel design and is driven by a pair of EL84 power tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes, providing 20 watts of output. The Rhythm and Lead channels are individually voiced to provide ample clean headroom and high-gain distortion respectively. The Rhythm channel also includes its own pre-gain and post-gain controls, bright switch, and crunch switch (which can be engaged via a footswitch), while the Lead channel also features a separate set of pre- and post-gain controls. Both channels share the low, mid, and high EQ control section, and the master/power amp section features reverb, resonance, and presence controls.
The features on the 6505 MH’s rear panel rival those of many full-sized flagship model amps. The Mic Simulated Direct Interface (MSDI) includes an XLR output jack, ground lift switch, headphone jack, and a speaker enable/defeat switch that engages a load circuit so you can use the amp without speakers without damaging the transformers and circuitry. There’s also a mic simulated USB audio jack for connecting the 6505 MH directly to a computer. Other features include a mono effect loop, 1/4-inch speaker output with 8-/16-ohm switch, and a slider for 1-, 5-, or 20-watts of output. An included dual-footswitch controller can operate either Channel/Boost or Reverb/Loop functions, or both if an additional footswitch controller is purchased.
The Peavey 6505 MH may be rather small when it comes to dimensions and weight, but its sound is absolutely massive. The rhythm channel produces very impressive clean headroom as well as aggressive, ballsy crunch tones with plenty of chunk and chime. The lead channel takes over a little beyond where the rhythm channel’s most rowdy setting leave off, providing delicious high-gain distortion with impressive low-end thump. Whereas many small amp heads can sound fizzy, buzzy, and compressed with the preamp gain maxed out, the 6505 MH delivers dynamic punch and gutsy attack just like its big brother.
The amp’s controls are very versatile but also interactive, so dialing in desired tones can require bit of tweaking trial and error, particularly at the 1-watt setting where the resonance and presence controls can really make a big difference. While some may view the shared EQ section as a limitation, the rhythm and lead channels are voiced similarly enough that it’s easy to dial in EQ settings that sound great on both channels. The built-in digital reverb is a welcome addition, but because it’s more of a plate-style reverb than room or spring, I found that a little went a long way and it was best to keep the reverb control no higher than 10 o’clock.
LIST PRICE $599.99
MANUFACTURER Peavey Electronics, peavey.com
• The rhythm channel provides impressive clean headroom while the lead channel delivers the famous high-gain distortion that made the original 6505 a legend.
• The MSDI section allows users to connect the amp directly to a mixing console without a speaker cabinet for recording or live performance applications.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Priced less than many mini heads with less output power, features, and versatility, the Peavey 6505 MH is an absolute steal that delivers gig-worthy volume output and a multitude of world class tones ideal for the biggest stages and studios.