What is it?
When Peavey and Misha Mansoor of progressive metal pioneers Periphery got together to spec up a guitar amplifier that could take the baton from the 6505 model and offer state-of-the-art high-gain performance they did not disappoint.
Peavey's Invective 120 Head was a 21st-century amp with monster levels of gain, some hidden depths too by way of very respectable cleans, and a very practical MSDI output that made it sound just as good when going direct either through a PA for live performance or straight into a desk/DAW for recording.
But with 120-watts under the hood, it was not going to be suitable for every setting. The tones were, sure, but many players – perhaps most of us – do not need that much power. That's where the Invective MH Mini Head comes in. It takes the Invective concept, shrinks it into a two-channel lunchbox format offering 20 watts at full steam, but switchable down to five or a single watt.
Many of the features of its big brother are retained. There is a buffered and footswitchable effects loop, perfect for bringing your pedalboard online when needed. There is a speaker-emulated USB and cab-emulated direct output with XLR and ground-lift. With the Invective designed to breathe fire into your riffs, it's good to know there's an onboard noise gate.
Gigging players will especially appreciate the Tube Status Indicator (TSI) lights on the front panel which let you know if there are any issues with either EL84 power tube. The LEDs glow red until you take the amp off standby, whereupon they'll glow green unless you have an issue.
The front panel is busy but clearly ordered. Peavey has positioned the Clean channel on the left-hand side with controls for Gain, Low and High.
Beside this, there are a quartet of buttons to engage/disengage the noise gate, switch channels, engage a TS-style boost or activate the Invective's Tight mode, which does just that, replicating the Crunch channel of the 120 head and consolidating your tone for a fuller and more articulate chug. The Boost function adds some drive in the style of Mansoor's favourite Tube Screamer setting.
Channel switching and engaging the Tight mode on the Lead channel can be performed with the footswitch, and there is another set of inputs for your noise gate, Boost, and effects loop footswitch.
The Lead channel has controls for Pre-Gain, Low, Middle, High, and Post-Gain, with the latter controlling the overall output level of the channel. There global controls for Resonance and Presence to allow you to tailor the amp's response, with the former controlling low-end power amp damping and the latter the high-end.
Turn the amp around and you'll find a similarly busy set of I/Os and switches, with a USB output, two footswitch inputs, send/return, balanced XLR out with ground and speaker defeat footswitches, a 1/8" headphones output, speaker output with 8-ohms/16-ohms impedance switch, a three-way power scaling control and your AC power input.
The headphones output allows for silent practice and uses Peavey's Mic Simulated Direct Interface tech which emulates a 12" speaker that's mic'd three inches from the speaker cone.
Performance and verdict
At just 16.6lbs, the mini-head version of the Invective is a lot more portable, a low more compact, but there's no quarter shown when it comes to performance. It translates its larger sibling's exceptional gain stage into a smaller and more manageable format while offering a Clean channel that's a super pedal platform but impressive in its own right. Of course, with no output level control on the channel, its voice ranges from glassy to a pleasingly musical crunch – with the two passive controls for bass and treble calling to mind a Princeton-esque channel.
Fans of the 6505 will find a lot to like about the Lead channel. Its preamp was designed around the 6505's and it, too, has everything the metal player could need. Even without the boost engaged, the Lead channel has a generous amount of dirt. The gain is abundantly rich in harmonics and it is a truly inspiring channel for hard rock and metal players looking to split the atom with their solos.
• Peavey Invective 120 head
Need more power? Well, there's a full-sized 120-watt head for that, and Misha Mansoor and Peavey's successor to the 6505 might just be the ultimate metal amp.
• Revv G20 head
A super-versatile amp with some real high-gain menace under the hood, the Revv G20 marries old-school tube amp magic with cutting-edge digital emulations that make it an exceptional option for pros and serious players.
Looking to lay down a tight rhythm piece? Well, the Tight switch can help. It actually takes a little of the gain off, but in adjusting the EQ it helps bring out all the details in your powerchords, adding a sense of three-dimensional oomph to your rhythm playing.
Though the noise gate cannot be manually adjusted, it works very nicely indeed. Those who are tuning in on the strength of Mansoor's name and similarly wish to walk a polyrhythmic path into a staccato chug will love how it refines your performance.
The MSDI tech remains impressive and makes silent headphones practice a joy rather than the lifeless chore it can be with lesser emulated outputs. Amp technology is moving apace, with digital modeling amplifiers pushing the envelope of what is possible, but it is designs such as this and in Revv's G20 that we can see the future of the tube amp being secure.
The quality of emulated outputs for both the stage and the studio add a level of practicality to the tube amp paradigm that should go some way to future-proofing it against its digital competition. So, too, the switchable power. At 20-watts, the Invective Mini Head has a very loud bark, but at five- or one-watt, that bark can be housetrained for practice or attenuated for recording, without losing any of the high-gain venom along the way.
When you factor in the price, it really is a sweet deal. There is plenty of range here. The clean tones are musical and precise, and there's an expanse of uncharted gain to explore, from hot and dirty crunch to the sort of searing nuclear tones that sends the black t-shirt demographic into raptures.
MusicRadar verdict: The Invective MH Mini Head is compact, convenient, user friendly, versatile and ferocious, capable of stripping the paint off the wall with its ridiculously awesome gain stage. It's everything a metal player would want in a moderately powered lunchbox head.
The web says
"The Lead channel is a beast that generates the most harmonically complex distortion I’ve ever heard from a 20-watt EL84 amp, with rich saturation that rivals boutique heads costing thousands of dollars more. Although this channel’s gate feature only has an on/off function, it’s dialed in so perfectly most players won’t mind not being able to tweak it further. Fast-picked riffs explode from the speakers with tight, percussive attack, delivering astounding definition and clarity."
"If you’re into Misha Mansoor and modern metal, the Invective.MH is a no-brainer, must-check-out amp. But it’s also surprisingly versatile, and whether onstage, in the bedroom, or the studio, just about any guitarist could find a use for this monstrous-to-mellow amp"
Riffs, Beards & Gear
- POWER: 20/5/1 Watts
- CHANNELS: 2 plus boost
- VALVES: 2 x EL84, 3 x 12AX7/ECC83
- EFFECTS LOOP: Footswitchable and buffered
- OUTPUTS: 1/4 jack, Headphone, XLR, USB
- FOOTSWITCH: Yes (Channel Select, Gate, Tight, Boost)
- NOISE GATE: Yes
- CONTACT: Peavey