For a couple of years I have owned a Code25 and a Code100. And I'm very happy.
I understand the criticism of Marshall's patches, but for me it's no problem. I have simply never used any of them. It was enough with one try and I realized that I have to find the right sound myself.
Only once have I found a patch that fits my guitars directly. It was SCJM800 SLF, but in that patch everything goes to eleven.
It is far as I can see some extremely important things to think about.
First of all, the settings differ a lot between the guitars, I guess because it is a digital amplifier. A perfect setting for a Les Paul can be useless for a Stratocaster etc.
I myself have played on the amps with a Les Paul, a Stratocaster and a Telecaster. And each guitar requires its own settings. This is not strange, a consequence of how the amplifier is designed.
Another crucial thing is the height of the microphones. There you have to test yourself to get a good sound, especially single coil may require adjustment of the microphone height. Height adjustment gives enormously much more effect than on a tube amplifier.
In general, I can say that my sounds are closer to the original with both precence and resonance quite loud. In addition, the Compressor helps quite well.
In short: Since Code is a digital amplifier, it obviously works completely differently than a tube amplifier. It is not possible to fix good sound for a Gibson and then think that it will automatically sound the same on a Fender.
All this applies to JTM45, Plexi, JCM800 and Classic American. I have not tested the rest so carefully.
Hello Anders and Jake
I agree with both of your comments too. I have a Code 100h head that I have had for over a year and the original patches just were not very good. I got rid of all of them but a couple. I just found the best user ones i liked and made up my own. i like creating patches noone else does to try and keep the code alive. Marshall seems to push the Code more in Japan than here in the U.S.A. I also run a Peavey AMR Tube Sweetener tube line amp in the effects loop. It has 2 -12ax7 tubes on the input and 1- 12at7 on the output. this helps give the Code more of a tube sound.
Soundwise, the unit does the job nicely. Some subtle compression, though not very much. The effect obtained with the unit really depends on the kind of material pumped through it. I find that stuff with a good amount of mid high and high range material seems to be effected the most. Some samples sound great through it, and synths like the Jupiter 8 sound great. Not a whole lot of distortion, but subtle overdrive and accentuated harmonics.
Again, the overall effect depends on the material. I wind up recording tracks with it and then a/b ing the tracks. Sometimes the slightly higher noise level isn't worth it, if the effect isn't very pronounced or necessary. Sometimes it can add enough to a track to really justify it. It works very well with the code 100h. you must have the effects loop so the 25 and the 50 would not work. I have also have noticed that a Centaur or one of it's many clones does help with the clean channels on the code, to boost them louder and add better definition. A rangermaster treble boost or one of it's clones can help get rid of the Bass on some of the darker deep bass models. Over all it has been a fun amp for the price 250.00 free shipping when sweetwater was blowing them out. I have some new patches coming just working on them and comparing with the recordings. bunch of artist never done before. if you ever get the code head try and find a peavey tube sweetener for the effects loop. It's becomes a tube amp and sounds so mutch better. plus you can control the loudness on the sweetener.
I agree with everything you say here.
I think with some knowledge, experience and a degree of experimentation with the settings you can get some great sounds out of the Code. I only have experience of the 25 so can't comment on the 50 or 100, but us a practice amp I feel the 25 is better sounding, has more features and is just more fun than the competition at this end of the market. If I had to pick a fault I would say (as you said) that the code is much less immediately approachable compared to the Blackstar and Fender models for instance.
There are some issues with some models, I keep criticising the 50's British, OD DSL pre-amps and British Class A power amp which clearly have software issues (or at least they do on 1.45 firmware), However I realise that the Code 25 is just a practice tool and therfore its easy to ignore these few models and use the others to get some really good sounds at low volume.
I understand some of the criticism of the Code25, however I think sometimes people lose site of what it is and what it was designed to do. But Marshall are not free from criticism either as they seem to have a half hearted attitude towards the code with poor software support and what seems like a general lack of interest in the product.
Obviously nobody else thinks much of their Code!