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I've owned this amp for over 2 years and not once has it let me down. I own the 6 knob version of this head and it sounds beautiful. The 6 knob "lower gain" version that I have is a single channel amp with a low and a high sensitivity input. There are push-pull bass, middle and treble knobs that give you a boost in volume for that selected range. They also seem to change the frequency of the channel being boosted, similar to what you can find on Laney's Ironheart line The master volume and preamp volume (basically the gain) give you lots of flexibility from clean to crunch. With an attenuator, you can crank up both to max and have a beautiful crunch at "Bedroom" levels. It is very comparable to a Marshall JCM 800 with regards to the tones that can be achieved on it's own. If you like using pedals though, this amp is for you. Never have I used an amp that sounds so good with overdrive / distortion pedals. For example, using the MXR ZW-44 in the effects loop really gives a powerful kick that sends the tone into that loud mid-range zone and, yes, it sounds very much like Zakk Wylde's tone (depending on the guitar and cab you use of course). For blues, it can hold it's own without any help. On the down side, this amp is not great for clarity. I find it to be naturally loose, which is fine, but it can get quite muddy without assistance in the studio. I use this when I want to do something "Low gain" and bluesy or if I want a crunch tone for rock. If you want to find one of these to buy, your best bet is to go online to eBay, Amazon or any local online classified sites because they are getting harder and harder to find. This head is very hard to beat if you want a JCM 800 style sound without breaking the bank. If you love pedals and the British sound, you'll love this head. Here is a link to a sound trial that I had made when I first got it. https://youtu.be/DgnRX1wr3FY
This is a '87 single channel amp with a switchable gain boost (AOR)
x4 12AX7s x4 EL34's
It's a British design and it's basically a super modded plexi in the same theme as JCM800s. Many confuse it as being a JCM800 clone... It isn't. Both came out around the same time and were the product of development towards hotter amps. The difference is Laney went the next mile, added an additional preamp valve and achieved in their production model what alot of people had to get the JCM800s modded to do. And JCM800s still aren't as flexible tonally. There's been some discussion that the AORs were an adaptation of a Lee Jackson design but there's no specific proof. There isn't any getting around the fact it's a similar amp to a JCM800, but then the Laney Supergroup and Klipp amps, the predecessors of the AOR, are very similar to early Marshalls... Which in turn were modded clones of early Fender Bassman circuits. Enough about that. The AOR amps have 2 specific features that set them aside, and arguably ahead, of most other high gain amps from the 80s. Firstly, they have 4 stages of gain... Plug into the High Input and you have 3 stages immediately with a 4th switched in with the AOR boost. If you plug into the Low Input it cuts out an entire valve and drops it to 2 stages of gain. It also disables the High Input completely. So either you get the high gain options of the High Input or you get the cleaner sounds of the Low Input. The other specific features are the EQ boosts. The AOR amps have a pull boost on the Treble, Middle and Bass. They're not like bright controls. They actually have a dB boost in each EQ range and the effect of these boosts is very dynamic, especially the bass. The preamp controls are confusing at first. Preamp 1 Volume controls the gain... But so does Preamp 2 Volume. If you plug into the low input Preamp 1 Volume is disabled entirely since the 2 stages of gain are cut out. Generally Preamp 1 Volume has a more trebly and harsh gain and Preamp 2 Volume has a darker, low mid gain. You mix them together for a desired result. Preamp 1 Level only works when the AOR boost is engaged. It works as a second Master. With lower gain setting it helps to balance out the non-AOR and AOR levels. With the gain close to flat out it the non-AOR sound is as loud as the AOR boost so it's not much of a help. Paradoxically, it still works when plugged into the Low Input... Even though the Preamp 1 Volume doesn't... Weird, right? In this situation you can switch the AOR in with it set as rhythm volume and then switch it off for solos or sections where you need to be heard. On the back panel is a socket for a AOR boost single footswitch, a +8dBv Line Out/Line In (presumably for slaving amps together), 2 speaker outs with a rotary impedance switch that has 4?, 8? and 16? settings, and an international voltage selector rotary switch with everything from 110v to 240v, very handy for people who would drag their amps to tour overseas. So there are stacks of features. The downsides... Firstly, the fact you can't A/B between High and Low inputs means it's hard to get definable clean & dirty switching. There are ways using different pedals and your guitar volume, but it's a pity Laney didn't find a way to make this possible. Secondly, and most frustratingly, the +8dBv Line Out/Line In is so close but so far away from being a proper FX loop. NO effects enjoy the super HOT signal it punches out although some analog pedals will cope with it. Digital fx however just have their input stage overdriven and most pedals attentuate the signal in some way because they are being overpowered. During the same period Laney was producing their AOR30 combo with a -6dB buffered FX loop and a -12db DI out. Why didn't Laney put the same thing in the 50w and 100w heads and combos? In reality, while you can turn the volume right down in your bedroom this isn't a happy camper. It sounds best pushing a quad box with the Master above 4 and you won't make many friends doing that in your bedroom. There are really only a couple of things it won't do. Primarily it won't do scooped modern metal. Those seeking Meshuggah and black metal buzz saw sounds need not apply. Go to the modern valve or solid state section of the store. The other is super loud cleans. It has nice clean sounds and the 100w model is probably better but headroom is limited. I would've given this a 10 but the +8dbv thing is beyond silly. Laney deserves a smacked bottom for getting it right on the 30w and not making the effort with the higher wattage models.