What about online reviews? Companies pay the reviewers to review their product – an absolute conflict of interest. You won’t read anything other than glowing comments. Oh, they’ll throw in a, “… I would have liked to have seen them add such and such, but overall, I was very impressed”, to make it appear that they are being objective, but they rarely are. Reviewers want to make sure that they are asked to review any / all products produced by that company in the future, right?
Review: Hughes and Kettner Grandmeister 36
(I own the FSM-432 mkIII, but it's not shown in the picture)
I bought this amp almost 5 years ago after studying numerous amps over the course of about two months, and I learned a big lesson. You need to PLAY the amp you are going to buy before you buy it!
“Ok Captain Obvious”, you say. But I live on the Central Coast of California, and there aren’t a lot of big music stores nearby. I can drive a couple of hours to get to one, but then I have to sit in the maelstrom of wanna-be metal-heads, playing at a low enough volume that I don’t get judged – which is no way to buy an amp. Yeah... ok... I should grow a spine... but does this sound familiar?
Youtube videos are misleading. No matter what they say, you have no way to know whether or not the signal chain is being sweetened (or post-processed, pre-publication… hey… nice alliteration, no?) in any significant manner. If you HAVE to rely on Youtube, check out Anderton Music’s “That Pedal Show”. Those guys do a pretty good job. Also, I highly recommend reading about any gear you’re considering at Gearslutz.com.