Able to swamp output valves and with a built-in power soak, the Windsor Studio is one of the hottest affordable home/recording/small gig amps out there.
Peavey introduced the Windsor range in 2006 with a name, as well as a look to the cabinet design, that suggested a British amplifier influence – a trend that has recently been reflected by many other US amp makers. The Windsor Studio also addresses a new market area for Peavey, where sound quality and recording-friendly power arrangements dominate and high volume ability is a minor consideration.
The quality of sound and the volume at which it can be reached is embodied in two important features. The first is a cathode-biased single-ended power stage, while the second is a passive speaker attenuator comprising a big wire-wound pot, capable of handling the amp’s entire output if necessary, slung underneath the chassis. This permits the speaker to be fed any desired proportion of the output, down to and including zero. Valves being what they are, the unwanted power has to be dispersed somewhere, and the pot certainly looks and feels chunky enough to cope with that.
Another useful capability is that the amp can be fitted with, and will adjust itself to, any of the wide choice of output valves that have octal pin-outs, notably 6L6GC, KT66, and EL34. The sonic signature in overdrive will reflect the character of whatever is chosen and thus widen the Windsor’s tonal range. Normally this is a once-only choice, most players finding a preference and sticking with it, but it’s useful for exploration too, and a single-ended design reveals more of the valves’ individual sonic signature than the usual push-pull two-valve type.
These are the most prominent features of the Windsor, but other aspects aren’t negligible. The Volume/Master setup, Boost selector (approximately a tone-stack defeat), and transformer-coupled recording outlet provide yet more choice of tone colour and recording method. The onboard reverb is useful for making early decisions in any reverb-or-no-reverb discussion – even if, in the event, some other method is used.
The build has a hybrid feel, with a solidly-made cabinet of 18mm MDF enclosing a relatively delicate steel chassis. The finish and trim are done to a good standard, the speaker cloth in particular belying its fine appearance with a firm resistance to the finger-poke test, and the cute matt gold control panel and knobs are recessed enough for good protection. The chassis itself has no big weights to support so with its multi-point fixings it’s entirely up to its job – after all, this isn’t a first-call backline touring amp. Internally, everything’s on one big board, with key components a little tougher-looking than the average at this price level; some of the resistors and coupling caps would be at home in a high-end handbuilt, although the price limits are clearer from the pots and jacks. The jewel pilot isn’t an expensive filament bulb but, cleverly, a board-mounted red LED.
Description: 20W 1×12" all-valve combo with reverb
Specs: 12" Blue Marvel speaker, 10" spring reverb
Front panel: High gain/Low gain jacks; Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble controls; Boost selector; Send/Return jacks (series-wired line level); Reverb control; Master volume control; Jewel pilot; Standby; Power.
Rear panel: IEC mains socket; paired speaker jacks; 4/8/16 Ohm impedance selector; balanced recording output (Cannon) jack with ground lift; remote switch jack for 2-function (Effects Loop, Boost) footswitch. Power Sponge speaker attenuator under chassis
Others in range: Windsor 120 head and 4×12" cabinet
Dimensions: 54cm wide, 47cm high, 26cm deep
Accessories: Footswitch (optional), slipcover (optional)
Contact: Peavey UK
The sound of the Windsor is addictive. We put this down to the single-ended design, richer in those ear-catching second harmonics that seem to give any guitar another lease of life (out of curiosity and beyond our brief, we measured them no less than 10 per cent within the amps clean limit, at least double that of any push-pull). Added to a refusal to be pushed into class AB (push-pull class As tend to go that way if driven hard), this all results in a great low-level playing experience, which is what a good recording amp has to be able to offer. The fact that its less than three hundred quid is a pretty good reason to be cheerful.