Hotone’s Nano Legacy Series includes four tiny 5W amp heads—one modeled on the Ampeg SVT, one on the AC30, one on the Mesa Rectifier, and the Purple Wind, modeled on a ’59 Plexi Super Lead. When I saw these heads, my first reaction wasn’t very “rock—“in fact, I think I said “Awwww! So cute!” I’ve been in the biz long enough to know cute can still cut—and the Purple Wind does a surprisingly good job providing vintage rock tone, but at close to 100 dollars, the other shoe has to drop at some point, right? Let’s dig in.
What is it?! The Purple Wind is a 5W Class AB amp head. On the face of the amp are five common controls (bass, mid, treble, gain, and volume) along with the instrument input and a tiny toggle switch to power the unit on. On the rear panel you’ve got the power jack, eighth-inch stereo line output for using headphones or for recording, eighth-inch stereo input for an aux in (iPod, etc), FX loop send and return jacks, and a single speaker output. The cool thing about the speaker output is that it can automatically match different impedances between 4–16 ohms, so you don’t have to worry about wiring to the right output and the Purple Wind will work with nearly any cab.
Considering that I’m not planning on playing Madison Square Garden with this thing (nor am I playing there ever, most likely), I decided to first check out it’s headphone capabilities. Plugging directly using headphones, there was an immediate buzz in the signal that I couldn’t diagnose or get rid of, no matter how far down I dialed the gain, no matter which guitar I used, no matter what power outlet I plugged into. I accepted it and moved on. For a headphone amp, this thing is pretty great—though through headphones certainly sounds thinner than it does once it’s pushing air through a speaker. With the three band EQ, you can dial in a good variety of tones—and you can crank the gain for a ton of grit, though through headphones I didn’t really get a great Plexi vibe out of it—but it was serviceable.
Running it into my normal cab, a 1x12 Celestion Seventy 80, produced much better results but I was still confronted with: the hum. Using a cab immediately gives the Purple Wind a warmer, more well-rounded tone and I was able to dial in several classic rock tones almost immediately—I spent a good 15 minutes wandering happily through AC/DC-ville. For fun I scooped the mids (you can take the girl out of metal but…) and found a pretty decent Maiden-esque tone that kept me happy for quite some time. I’ve heard better Plexi copies, but the Purple Wind gets the job done. Summation: This amp is not going to be your go to for anything, but it sounds good enough, it’s tiny, it’s affordable, and it’s flexible. There may be other options out there, but maybe not with the value of the Hotone.
What we like: The Purple Wind (along with all of Hotone’s Nano Legacy Series Amps) is FUN! I always wanted an amp head on my desk and this one takes up no space at all! For its size, it is packed full of features and at a completely affordable price.
Concerns: No two ways about it—it’s noisy. I was unable to ditch the hum from this, though admittedly I only used the included 18v adapter, plugged into my Furman power strip. Your mileage may vary.