An incredible fully-featured amp designed in partnership with Misha Mansoor of Periphery. The Peavey Invective MH Mini Head shows us yet again that Peavey is constantly innovating and attracting new players to their huge arsenal of amplifiers. Equipped with a 20W power-soak and MSDI technology, you can record silently with no need for a cabinet and get the most out of your amplifier. Nick Jennison reviews this small but monstrous bit of gear.
To say that the Peavey Invective head is full-featured is like saying Nicholas Cage can be a little intense. It has three distinct channels (each with its own boost), gates on the two “gain” channels, two effects loops, MIDI, presets, even two 500ma 9v outputs to power your pedals! It’s also 120w, really heavy, really expensive and quite hard to get hold of in many places.
Enter the Invective MH. Unlike some solid-state “mini” versions of popular heads, this pint-sized powerhouse is a 20w all-valve design, and sports the clean and lead channels from it’s bigger sibling, along with a wealth of features for both tonal tweaking and functionality.
First of all, let’s set the record straight on power. Despite being “just” 20 watts, this amp is LOUD. Trust me - I’ve played for five people and I’ve played for 50,000 people, and this amp is louder than I could get away with on any stage. Thankfully, there are a few features included to tame this boisterous little amp. Firstly, the power scales from 20w to 5w, all the way down to 1w for home use. But there’s also a speaker defeat switch that allows you to run the amp completely silently, without a cab.
What’s the point in that, you ask? Well, dear reader, it’s so you can record using the included “MSDI” XLR out. This analogue speaker sim is a great sounding way to get your guitar into your DAW, or to FOH at a gig without the hassle of mixing up a cab. You can even record this signal without an audio interface by using the included USB output! If I’m being critical, I’d like to have the option to bypass the speaker simulation and record the “dry” output of the amp to process with my own IRs, but the simulated sound is very good nonetheless.
On to the tones, then! Our first port of call is the clean channel, with its super simple three-knob control configuration - just volume, bass and treble. There’s no boost function like on the Invective 120, and there’s no real saturation available here (even with hot pickups like the Devin Townsend Fluences used in the video), but for sparkling modern cleans this channel really delivers. It’s also very responsive to the right overdrive pedal, which means filling the tonal gulf between the two channels on this amp should be easy enough if you need something in between “sparkling cleans” and “crushing gain”.
The lead channel is the real star of the show here though. It sports the same Misha Mansoor-approved 6505 gain structure as the Invective 120, with switches to engage tight, gate and boost functions. The latter two aren’t adjustable like they are on the 120, but rather have been preset by Mansoor to his personal sweet spots - and they sound absolutely killer. The gate does the “djent” thing really well, with total silence in between notes during complex percussive riffs, and while it does kill a little sustain on long-held bends, you can always use a footswitch to turn the gate off when it’s solo time. The boost function does exactly what you’d expect a “metal” boost to do - pushing the mids for a tighter, more aggressive tone. I compared it to the industry standard “Tube Screamer with the gain on zero and the level on full”, and for both aggressive riffs and singing leads, I preferred the Invective MH’s onboard boost. Lastly, the tight switch is a great feature for snugging up the low end, especially with low tunings and extended-range instruments - and like the gate and boost functions, it’s foot-switchable.
If “mini” versions of popular tube amps are like listening to a tribute band, the Peavey Invective MH is more like a “greatest hits” album. It’s the best bits of the Invective 120 without compromising the sound of the original. Sure, it might not boast the same staggering versatility of its big sibling, but it’s much more affordable, and it’s so small that you’re in serious danger of losing it down the side of the studio couch. If you need the absolute best crushing gain tones and sparkling cleans but money and space are tight, this is the amp for you.
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