Peavey Envoy 110

My initial glance at the Envoy 110 ($299 list/$240 street) took me back to a very exciting evening when I discovered my first amp—a Peavey Backstage—in the utility room where my parents would hide Christmas presents. Years later, Peavey expanded and improved its practice-amp line with the introduction of the solid-state TransTube series, which emulated the “sound, warmth, high output, and push-back” of a tube amp. The latest entry to the line is the stylish Envoy 110, which features a generously sized open-back cabinet, and enough power for some rehearsal/small-gig situations.

Although the Clean channel’s voicing options looked promising, the Warm setting proved to be the most vibrant and dynamically sensitive. I kept the switch there, because the amp sounded “bigger,” and the louder I played, the more compression and dynamic response the amp delivered. And with the Volume control dimed, I was able to conjure serious sustain. The digital reverb sounds quite good on this channel. I like to play Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” as a test, and the Envoy earned a passing grade.

The Lead channel was trickier to dial in, as the Pre Gain and Post Gain levels affect the tone, along with three voicing options: Classic is rather subdued, but can be pumped up by cranking the Pre Gain; Modern is loaded with gain and a big mid scoop; and the High Gain setting offers comprable distortion while retaining a strong midrange, and I found it to be the most inspiring setting. However, none of the three Lead voices delivered a high-gain equivalent of the Clean channel’s rich-sounding Warm setting.

A Stratocaster sounded best in the Envoy’s High Gain input, and a Les Paul performed better in the Low Gain input, indicating that the preamp sensitivity is set well to accommodate higher and lower instrument outputs. The footswitchable Gain Boost seems like a good feature, but I couldn’t test it, because the footswitch is sold separately and was not provided along with the review amp. The Speaker Simulated Direct Output was sonically accurate, although I had to unhook the speaker to kill the room sound. Sent to a P.A., however, this feature makes the Envoy gig worthy. The headphone signal was also accurate, and would be even more useful if there was the option to jam along with CD or mp3 players via an aux input.

The Envoy 110 offers a useful array of sounds that can be easily dialed-in, making it an ideal practice amp for those who don’t deal well with digital displays and presets. It’s often difficult for solid-state amps to deliver the three-dimensional tonality of tube amps, but, overall, the Envoy does an admirable job of emulating authentic tube tone and dynamic vibe.