Okay, Okay, slightly more initial thoughts.
For the most part I've found that the only way I can really discuss an amp and have it be understood easily is by comparison. For reference I was using a pair of ML112s.
Amps I've owned and gigged over the last few years:
Gallien Krueger 1001 RB-II
Gallien Kruger MB800
Gallien Krueger MBFusion
Genz Benz Streamliner
Markbass Big Bang
Markbass Little Mark II
Mesa Fathom (M6)
TecAmp Puma 1000
I've played a ton of other amps at shops, GTGs etc and used a few different rigs as backlines (SVT, Eden, SWR etc) and owned a few others years ago but for the sake of reference I'm only looking at the ones I've had in the last five years and have a lot of experience with.
Okay, in brief the construction is in keeping with a high quality, boutique amp. The knobs look better in person and have a pleasing weight to them while turning easily. The lights for Tube Drive, Bright and Mute are bright enough to be seen without being overbearing and having them be different colors is a nice touch. I have not opened the amp up to look inside buy externally everything about the amp just seems solid and well built. It reminds me of the Aguilar in that regard.
In terms of size, the Valkyrie is about the same as the M6 both in dimensions and weight. The balance is shifted towards the transformer (I believe) which is something to remember when carrying it - the 1001RB-II has a similar center of gravity.
Having churned through a few micros lately my only other amp at the moment is a Markbass Big Bang which I like but have primarily kept over others because the headphone and aux in features have made it a nice practice amp as well.
Also, it's worth noting that I used the passive input with all my basses (passive and active0 as I just found it sounded best. My passive, Aero loaded Stambaugh fiver is actually my highest output bass and I just flat out liked the sound better in the passive input with the input gain turned down (about 10 o'clock for that bass) appropriately rather than in the padded active input. The manual states that the clip light comes on 6 dB before clipping occurs.
Given that I see the Big Bang (and LMII) as relatively uncolored I thought they would give a good reference point as Roger's stated design goal was for a transparent tone with the EQ set flat.
And yes, with both amps set flat there's some similarity in the mids and highs, but the Baer very clearly has more going on in the lows. Not boomy or obviously goosed such as with the Streamliner or Mesa M6, just organically bigger and richer. It isn't scooped like the GK or have as much going on in the midrange as the Walkabout, at least set flat.
It doesn't have the "immediacy" of the Big Bang which really spits out notes. The feel is rounder, though certainly not in the Streamliner ballpark. I'd say it feels more like the Puma 1000 or especially the Carvin B1500 in terms of attack. There is a warm, roundness to the notes with some real heft behind them. Similar to the DB750 but with more punch and clarity. Going back and forth between the Markbass and the Baer the latter just feels "burlier" while also being clean and relatively quick sounding.
The EQ section is simply put the best I've ever used on an amp. Intuitive and with great center points and Q values plus the great flexibility of the semi parametric mids. And I love that the range of each knob is (1) sufficient but not extreme at +10/-10 dB and (2) equal in amount whether boosting or cutting. Having gigged a 1001RB-II for years and years I know it cuts more than it boosts for equivalent angular displacement (twist amount
) of each EQ knob.
At least for me, this amp is the absolute easiest I've ever used for me to say "I want more low mid punch" or "I want a bit of high mid cut to simulate an old school 410 tone" and immediately be able to dial it in.
Boosting the deep knob is fantastic for modern pop, R&B or hip-hop tones. Likewise, cutting the deep knob is the best way for me to reduce the boominess of my 32" hollowbody without losing it's warmth and thump.
The center point for the treble control is relatively low at 4 kHz especially considering it isn't shelving. The Streamliner and DB750 are also there, though I believe they are both shelving (the GB for sure, I think so for the Aggie), the TecAmp at 5kHz the GK at 7 kHz and the Markbass & Carvin amps at 10 kHz. Personally I dig the treble control as it is. Unlike most amps I can boost it significantly and have it still be very usable.
I don't know where the M6 & Walkabout treble controls were set but it seemed REALLY low to me (1 kHz or so?) and shelving with a huge boost (+15 or 20 dB) which meant a TON of sizzle if you weren't careful.
For people that want that upper end sizzle, the Bright boost on the Valkyrie is at 6.5 kHz and it is shelving, though it is set at a relatively modest +4 dB. For me that's as much shine as I'll ever need. YMMV.
One thing I am really excited to try out live is the DI. Just fooling around at home my first thought is that it is really high quality.
Of course a huge feature is the tube circuit. Engaging it with a fair amount of tube gain rolled in changes the volume considerably and requires a substantial cut to the Master to reach unity. This is NOT a distortion or overdrive circuit. Sure, cranking hte tube gain dialing up the input gain you can get it to add noticeable drive but at least IMO that's not the value of this feature. I'd MUCH rather get my overdrive from a pedal - more on that in a bit.
What it essentially does is give a vibrancy and excitement to the tone - a "clean" tube sound if you will. As for the "tubeyness" of it I'd say it falls somewhere between the MBFusion and the Walkabout. It certainly doesn't have the sag that the Streamliner has (especially at high volumes) but it definitely feels like a clean tube amp or playing through a tube DI. The response even feels more 3D. Honestly, once I turn it on I don't really want to turn it off.
The Valkyrie in general sounds good with effects, especially dirt. For anyone who uses pedals I ran a few overdrives (Darkglass Vintage, Darkglass B7K, Aguilar Agro, BJEF Blueberry clone from John Kallas, Way Huge Pork Loin, Fairfield Barbershop) and they all sounded pretty stellar especially with the tube pathway switched in.
Side note - based on some effects usage (IE Subterranea and Xerograph) I'm guessing the Valkyrie has a HPF but Roger can confirm that. I certainly didn't experience the speaker threatening subs that the M6 was capable of when using pedals for electronica type tones). If the Baer does I consider that a very positive feature.
Yeah, definitely very good initial impressions. Still haven't played a gig (and with nothing booked this weekend probably won't until after Christmas) so lots of data still to collect but without swooning after a day with a new toy, I will say that nothing about the Valkyrie has disappointed which is saying something given my high expectations.
More to come after I spend the time and road test her. I can certainly record soundclips if someone really wants but I'm not sure how much value they would hold especially since the amp really emphasizes the character of my 5 very different basses.