Ah, the sweet sound of a genuine tube amp! And it’s Bugera – a budget brand associated with Behringer – who delivers today’s featured model, the V5 Infinium. This popular model is an all-tube amp that comes in at under $200. Surely it can’t be any good… right? There’s only one way to find out!
The controls to the Bugera V5 Infinium are simple, but effective and certainly enhance the design with a retro style. On a front-facing panel at the top of the amp you are presented with gain, tone, master volume and reverb, as well as a cool on/off switch. Perhaps it would have been nice to see individual treble and bass controls – considering the versatility some other amps in this price range offer – but otherwise it fares quite well.
The main feature of the V5 Infinium is the fact that it comes with a 12AX7 preamp tube and EL84 power tube. For such an affordable price, this is a great offering and a breath of fresh air in the sub-$200 market, which is made up primarily of solid-state combo amps. Bugera also uses Infinium Tube Life Multiplier technology, which keeps the tubes in better shape for longer.
The amp itself offers 5 watts of power through a single 8” Turbosound speaker. This is housed in quite a uniquely designed case with an elegant retro style, made up of black, cream and gold components. While it looks pretty cool, this Chinese-made amp does suffer poor quality control in places, although something had to give to deliver a real valve amp at this price.
All in all, the V5 performs very well indeed and gets very loud, with good power and great natural valve tone. The cleans aren’t crystal clear, but it sounds sweet and rich with chiming harmonics. There’s always a hint of crunch and this can be quickly turned into warm overdriven tones and classic breakup, perfect for dark vintage blues – although asking it to perform modern rock and metal is perhaps a step too far.
As for tone shaping, we’ve discussed the limitations, but there’s still flexibility thanks to the gain control, while the reverb dial offers good variation – from a subtle hint to auditorium levels of atmosphere. It also works pretty well with pedals.
If you’re looking for an all-purpose beginner’s amp or a decent partner for the stage, you’re probably looking in the wrong place. However, the Bugera V5 Infinium is excellent for lower-volume practice or casual jams, as well as an affordable way to experiment with tube amps for the first time.