Hands-On Review:Peavey VYPYR Digital Modeling Amplifiers
High-powered processing mixed with proven analog circuitry
By Jim Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Peavey has always been known for designing stellar guitar amps. With continual evolution since 1965 under the direction of founder and innovator Hartley Peavey—and such popular tube models as the rocker-standard 6505, Satriani collaboration JSX, Classic Series, Valve Kings, Triple XXX, Delta Blues, Windsor, and others—Peavey’s place in guitar history has long been assured. On the other side of the amp world, the company’s storied lineup of solid state amps with their patented TransTube technology are not only hard to distinguish from actual all-tube amps, they also set the standard for reliable performance and affordable price. Now the new VYPYR Series amps have put Peavey out in front of the pack in the modeling category too.
A nest of VYPYRS
The series consists of six combos, including 15-, 30-, 75-, and 100-watt models that use a digital and TransTube front end paired with a TransTube solid state power section, plus 60- and 120-watt models with the digital front end paired with tube power sections. All of them draw on Peavey’s many years of amp-building expertise by combining the most advanced processing of any digital amp to date with real analog distortion from Peavey’s TransTube circuitry, the only solid state amplifier design that re-creates all eight of the events that produce distortion in a tube amplifier. The result is incredible tone and response from both the solid state and tube versions of the VYPYR. Because the distortion is analog, it sounds very organic while freeing processing power to be used on the effects, which in turn makes them sound richly detailed and lively.
But processing power is really what separates the VYPYR amps from all other modelers. Every VYPYR comes loaded with a 266MHz Dual Core SHARC processor that gives them—even the little VYPYR 15—more processing power than any other modeling amp available. To the player, this means more realistic sound with greater complexity, the ability to handle more effects (up to five simultaneously), more models to choose from, and greater parameter control.
The VYPYR arsenal
The VYPYR starts with 24 amp models consisting of clean and distortion channels for each of 12 classic amps. These include models of the classic British and American amps, as well as models of Peavey’s most popular tube amplifiers. One interesting wrinkle is that some of the amp models don’t have a distortion or a clean channel in real life, so the VYPYR creates one for them for the first time—or, on a few models, a “boost” channel for blasting your leads into overdrive.
There are 11 rack effects and 11 stompbox effects (except in the VYPYR 15 which foregoes the stompbox section), all of which are editable and storable as presets. 12 editable and storable factory presets are available on the VYPYR in three banks of four each. With the optional Sanpera II footswitch, that number goes way up to 400 storable presets (except the VYPYR 15). The footswitch also lets you use up to five effects simultaneously and access a looper function, so it’s a piece of equipment you’ll need to make the most of your VYPYR. It also makes the amp more stage-friendly.
Hearing is believing
I was given a VYPYR 30 for test-drive purposes, and though it was next to the smallest VYPYR, I found it had plenty of bite—easily enough to handle most gigs and music with edge. When you turn it on, the control panel illuminates like a Christmas tree with a dazzling show of blinking lights. Once you plug in your guitar, however, the LEDs switch to “operation” mode and you quickly realize that the amp is quite easy to use. The knobs or “encoders” are multifunction, but those various functions are labeled, so it’s fairly easy to get started without referring to the manual. The lights let you know at a glance which amps, effects, and stompboxes are activated, and on the amp models, a green light indicates a clean channel, red indicates a distortion channel. This is easy to remember: green equals clean; red equals shred.
The main thing that impressed me was the realism of the sound and feel of the VYPYR 30. This results, of course, from the models and their algorithms, but it also has to do with TransTube technology. On the front end it gives you real analog distortion which you can dial up the way you want with the pre- and post-gain encoders (they function just the way the old-fashioned knobs do). If you want massive distortion at bedroom-volume levels, the 75 and 100 VYPYRs have the Peavey Power Sponge attenuator built-in so you can limit the overall output of the amp. Judging from the VYPYR 30’s power, you’ll need it.
On the power end, TransTube nicely captures the sag effect of a tube power section as it responds to your picking attack. But if you are a tube purist who craves absolute authenticity, the VYPYR Tube 60 and VYPYR Tube 120 are your answers. These two models use a real 6L6 tube power section.
Dazzle in the details
There are lots of little features that add up to a big difference: a studio-quality USB interface for direct-to-computer recording on all but the 15 and 30 models, MIDI in/out, onboard chromatic tuner, MP3/CD/Aux input, studio-quality headphone output, tap tempo button for setting delay effects timing, and a master knob that goes, not just to 11, but all the way up to 13! This level has never been attempted before. Caution is advised.
The VYPYR Series combos are the killer amps you’d expect from Peavey. They combine Peavey’s traditional strengths with high-powered processing and a well-thought-out interface design. Peavey has a winning series in its new VYPYRS.
Features & Specs
- User-friendly interface
- 32-bit, floating-point SHARC processor
- 11 editable stompbox effects
- 24 amplifier models
- 11 rack effects
- 12 editable factory presets (sets of 4 in 3 banks)
- 400 preset storage locations with optional Sanpera II footswitch
- 5 simultaneous effects and looper with optional Sanpera II footswitch (except on the VYPYR 15)
- Studio-quality USB computer interface (except on the VYPYR 15 and VYPYR 30)
- MIDI In/Out
- Tap tempo button
- Studio-quality headphone output
- MP3/CD/Aux input
- TransTube preamp circuitry
- Chromatic tuner
- Power sponge on VYPYR 75 and VYPYR 100
- Tube power (6L6s) section on VYPYR Tube 60 and VYPYR Tube 120
- Single 12" speaker (in 30W, 60W Tube, and 75W models; 8" in 15W model)
- Dual 12" speakers (in 100W and 120WTube models)