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Ever since Behringer founded Bugera, the hype surrounding this new brand almost unreal. For once, we had a player on the market who promised to deliver affordable tube amps.
In a world where ‘affordable’ and ‘tube amps’ don’t go together very well, this type of announcement was bound to cause some ripples. However, the reality wasn’t all that shiny and sweet.
Behringer itself had a spotty track record when it comes to building quality. I remember owning the BX4500H and having the dumbest problem with it, which nuked the whole thing. It wasn’t some crucial piece of electronics that died.
No, it was the plastic jack ring, which snapped thus short-circuiting the input. That wouldn’t be such a big problem if you could find the replacement ring, however out of all the spare parts, that one just didn’t exist. That’s the type of reputation that plagued Behringer for years. The question is, has that changed? And more importantly, is Bugera a different story or just the continuation of the same?
Down And Dirty In Depth Review
When the Bugera V22 first came out, it was one of the only all-tube amps in this price point.
. As expected, many took the gamble and snatched one of these amps.
With first feedback coming in, things were looking pretty good for Bugera. The amp worked, there were very few quality control issues, and the tone was more than decent. It took a while for the community to accept this brand and the V22 Infinium combo as a viable alternative to much more expensive tube amps.
We received a great little unit which gets you your money’s worth, but not much more than that.
Is this bad? No, far from it. It’s a fantastic value and a great investment in your overall audio quality.
With this beautiful tube amplifier, guitarists working with a limited budget have a very competitive alternative.
Let’s pull this thing apart, see what makes it tick, and talk about the performance you can expect.
Bugera markets these as ’boutique style’ amps. This label has nothing to do with the sound of the amp, but rather it’s vintage design.
We’re looking at a decently large combo, which features a single 12″ speaker made by Bugera. The whole thing is powered by three 12AX7 tubes in the preamp stage and two EL84s in the power stage. So far, so good. After all, this combination is more or less the standard these days.
Combined, all of the valves are capable of pushing out 22 Watts of power, which places this particular unit somewhere in the mid range.
For a combo, that’s not bad at all.
Looking at the control cluster, there’s a lot to work with. The amplifier comes with two channels – a clean one and a dirty one. Switching between the two is done either by pressing the small button on the control panel or by using the footswitch that comes with the amp.
For controls, you’re looking at your standard Clean, Gain, Volume along with the three-band EQ. Up next, we have the Master knob, Presence and finally Reverb. One more great feature is the pentode/triode switch, making the V22 a great practice amp as well.
3. Build Quality
From what we talked about so far, this Infinium ooks pretty decent for the money. However, when we reach build quality, there’s a lot to discuss.
Bugera claims that V22 Infinium combos are hand made. Whether this is true or not is up for debate. All I know is in my experience handmade amps are usually built like tanks, with hand soldered components ensuring that uncompromising signal integrity.
That’s not really what I’ve seen on Bugera V22. To me, this looks just like another serial production combo made in Asia.
Will it fall apart on you? I doubt it, but I had to clear that little detail up.
The tubes inside the amp are decent, but swapping them out for branded units will boost the overall performance of the amp significantly.
One thing that caught me by surprise is the quality of the speaker. That thing is just beautiful. Replacing it with something such as a Celestion, or similar degrades the sound quality – something I did not expect.
The cab itself is solid but heavy. This has got to be one of the heavier combos out there, especially considering the power we’re talking about.
One of the explanations for the extra weight can be found in the fact that Bugera used the good ole particle board. This type of wood is heavy on its own, which is only made worse when you add the rest of the components.
Why is weight so important, you might ask? Well, considering that many wanted to use the V22 for gigging, having to deal with this type of weight could prove to be difficult on regular basis.
Enough with the cosmetics, let’s talk performance. As I’ve mentioned above, you get a clean and dirty channel to play with.
Clean is decent, actually more than decent. The tone is clear, crispy and has that punchy vibe to it. Both single coils and humbuckers sound great. There’s that certain organic flavor to it, which is reminiscent of the vintage tubes.
Tone shaping using the existing controls is a bit rustic, but you can be pretty precise if you spend enough time dialing in what you want.
Once you switch to the dirty channel, you are greeted by a rather greasy overdrive. While it’s easy to work with, it is a bit muddy, especially if you’re comparing to something such as the AC15 by Vox.
I like this type of overdrive, but not everyone will. When you attenuate the amp, you can push those tubes into that sweet spot. V22 doesn’t fail to deliver in this regard, either. You can extract a lot of crunches, that’s for sure. The integrated reverb is digital. However, it feels organic enough for stage use.
Personally, I see the 22 Watt Infinium combo as a great bang for the buck deal. You get what you pay for, but there’s a lot of room for upgrades should you wish so.
This amp gives you a very solid foundation, with a speaker that took me, and many others by surprise.
I’d say it’s an excellent choice for a gig unit if you don’t mind the weight. The tone is definitely worth the extra effort.
Some will say that the build quality is bad. I don’t agree. While it’s not a ’boutique style’ unit regarding craftsmanship, I don’t see it as any better or worse than your average mid-range combo.
All you have to do is treat it as such, and you should have problems with it. The tubes are Chinese made, low-quality units.
While I understand the need to keep the costs down to market the amp at its current price, I think they could have done better.
7. Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, V22 Infinium is a perfect choice for someone who plays blues or classic rock, and gigs from time to time. The amplifier has all the qualities to support this type of use, while I would even put into a jazz environment.
The stereotypes about Behringer fall short with this combo. Sure, there was a period when Bugera suffered from some quality control issues, but those days are long gone.
Whether you are a professional looking for an affordable gig amp, or a beginner hell bent on having a set of tubes in the bedroom, Bugera V22 Infinium is a viable choice.
As long as you understand exactly what this model was designed to do, and what it offers, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
After you get to know it and what type of tone it is capable of delivering, replacing the tubes might be the next logical step. The increase in sound quality is too obvious not to do so.
You’ve got to realize that this is coming from someone who has been burnt by Behringer one too many times.
And even I would gladly invest in one of these units.