For the past 2 years I've been using a Mesa DC-5 combo (plus the 1x12 extension cab) and a Boss ME50 in the loop and while I do like the amp (with and without the ME50) I've never been completely satisfied with the sounds I was getting. I absolutely love my clean tones but I never really find myself getting really inspired by my distorted tones (all from the Mesa, I don't use the distortion on the ME50) so I'm starting to think it's time for me to possibly move on. I'm also looking to downsize to something possibly a bit more practical because I may be sharing a room come this September and even attenuated this "little" 50watt Mesa combo is not college bedroom friendly
The 2 options I've given some thought too are the Digitech GSP1101 and the Engl E530. I've been really interested in the E530 for a while now because from what I've gathered (I know like nothing about exactly how it works) it has a tube preamp and built in solid-state power amp so I could just technically plug it into a cab and go (I figure it would sound nicer at low volumes compared to the Mesa as well). The headphone out on the power amp is a nice feature too. It sounds awesome in this video I found on the other site:
I know nothing about the GSP1101 other than it's a modeling preamp, all solid-state, and seems to be a poor mans Axe-FX . I have no idea if I would have to buy a separate power amp if I decided to go this route instead of the Engl.
Now if I bought one of these units I would also have to buy a cab or some monitors to run it through. I was thinking a set of decent monitors might be the better option for me as most of playing is done in my bedroom and I really only need something loud enough to be occasionally heard over a bassist. I have no idea what effect choosing monitors over a cab would have on the tone though. I'm also curious about what other equipment would be necessary if I wanted to used either of these units for recording.
To sum it up I'm a bedroom guitarist/student that needs something slightly more practical than a full tube amp, I'm not satisfied with my tone, and I'm suffering from major GAS. I also know absolutely nothing about rack gear/monitors other than they look cool