Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum
This aural weapon is the bigger brother of the 22 Caliber, and as the name suggests, the 44 Magnum is a similar package boasting double the power.
It's a genuine power amp designed to react in much the same way as a more conventional unit; plug your guitar into the input and hook the output up to a speaker or cab with a load between 8 and 16 ohms via a speaker cable.
"A significant improvement comes when pedals and effects are used to help the tone."
Increase the volume and it gets more dirty in the familiar way and there's even a small bright/norm switch to add a modest boost in the high end if required.
When used by itself, the Magnum's clean tone is perfectly acceptable and - into our Orange cab loaded with four Celestion Vintage 30s - there's enough headroom before break-up begins.
Set the volume anywhere past 12 o'clock and it begins to overdrive, but not in an especially musical way and, at full blast, the drive is overly flabby and indistinct.
A significant improvement comes when pedals and effects are used to help the tone, be it smoothing it with a Tube Screamer or augmenting it with the likes of the Line 6 M13.
Portable. Works well. Adequate headroom.
Doesn't sound great by itself.
As an eminently portable safety net for your temperamental vintage amp, the 44 Magnum could prove indispensable. The intrinsic tone isn't especially impressive, but feed a pedal or two through it and it's certainly very usable.