Tested by Darrin Fox
Since 1989, Germany’s Behringer has been one of the leaders in delivering low-cost, feature-laden amplifiers to the marketplace.
Their most recent tone machine, the 100-watt stereo V-Tone GMX212 ($369 retail/$279 street), is a dual channel, 2x12 modeling combo that offers onboard 24-bit effects for a price that is pretty darn jaw-dropping.
Construction & Controls
The V-Tone’s particle-board cabinet is super-clean with nary a sign of slop. Ditto for the cab’s black covering that looks like a cross between classic Tolex and crocodile skin. These are first-rate appointments for an amplifier of this price. The amp’s front-panel layout consists of two channels that sport exactly the same controls. First, you select one of three basic amp types: Tweed, British, or California. Then you move to the Mode switch, which allows you to choose a gain structure (Clean, Hi Gain, or Hot) for your chosen amp model.
Now you can select a speaker cabinet from three options: U.S. (2x12), U.K. (4x12), and Flat (no speaker modeling). After you’ve settled on your basic tone, you can fine-tune the sound with the EQ section (Treble, Mids, Bass) and a master Presence control. Finally, each channel offers dedicated Drive and Level controls.
Armed with my Gibson SG, I was able to dial up clean tones that radiated a finely detailed top-end snap, as well as a coherent, focused low end. The EQ offers enough power to tailor the V-Tone for different guitars, and a few quick adjustments calmed down my spiky Tele just fine. My favorite clean tones started with the Tweed/Clean modes. You can garner some alt-rock-style clean tones with the British and California settings, but you need to turn the Drive control way down to prevent harsh overtones when you really hit the guitar hard.
If it’s fire-breathing distortion you crave, the Behringer is ready to deliver. Whether I used the Tele or the SG, I could easily craft singing, sustain-for-days lead tones that were not only throaty and dynamically sensitive, but loud. This amp definitely sports enough cajones to hang with a raucous band. In addition, the V-Tone’s EQ has the muscle to deliver exaggerated, midrange honks (akin to notching a wah), as well as punishing, scooped-mid/rotund low-end tones that would make Dimebag proud. Trying to get natural crunch tones proved to be disappointing, however. After much knob twiddling, I was eventually able to conjure some decent low-key raunch, but harsh distortion artifacts were tough to shake—especially under aggressive strumming.
The V-Tone’s effects section offers a healthy array of easy-to-edit selections. To access the effects, you simply turn the Preset control to one of the amp’s 99 effects banks. The FX knob is your one-stop-shopping source for editing, and it basically acts as a mix control. To save a preset, simply hold down the FX In/Out button for two seconds, and you’re done. However, there is no indicator (a blinking LED, for example) to tell you the effect has actually been saved. The amp’s FX Tracking feature makes routing an effects patch to either channel butt simple—you just dial in your patch on the channel you want it on, and save it. Easy.
Sonically speaking, the V-Tone effects are a tale of two cities. The Spring Reverb simulations are clean and expansive, yet subtle enough not to be too overbearing when you really slather it on. The Delay presets deliver everything from nuanced thickening—thanks to a hearty slapback preset—to Edge-style stereo ping-pongs, ` la “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Travel to the Modulation presets, however, and the processing tends to wash out as the wet mix is increased. In fact, some presets—particularly the phasing and chorus patches—yielded no effect at all when the FX knob was cranked to its maximum setting. Strange.
A combo that can pull triple duty as a stage amp, practice amp (with inputs that make it easy to play along with a CD or drum machine), and direct-to-recorder studio amp is a very sweet deal—especially when it takes less than three bills to bring the sucker home. You may wish to employ some stompboxes if you’re picky about classic-rock sounds and modulation effects, as the V-Tone’s signal processing and crunch tones can be less than ideal. But you’ll certainly have a few bucks available for extra toys if you dig the overall vibe of this well-loaded, budget-priced amp.