NAD: Marshall JVM205C
So, my PhD is nearing completion, and as I've been far more enthusiastic about heavy metal than I have for years, I decided to get an amp as a gift for myself. I have played an ADA MP-1 system for years, and whilst I love the sound I think it is time to get something that does a more normal guitar sound, preferably something that was versatile enough to cover most dino bases in one box when necessary, and sized correctly for most venues where I am likely to play.
It just so happens that Joost has strongly recommend the Marshall JVM215C combo to me.* Whilst I would definitely have wanted to try before I bought anything, that is hardly an option around here; fortunately, return policies are excellent today. Whilst the 215C looked great, I decided to get its big brother, the 205C, but not so much for the two speakers as for an extra feature I would deem indispensable:
Yes! The JVM205C has side handles! I don't know why this isn't an industry standard. During my teenage years I hauled a 3x10 Crate Vintage Club (a good amp whose voicing I never liked) around by the top handle. I then swore never to get a combo unless the portability problems could be solved. No matter how philistine it might sound, it was a crucial reason why I got this exact model. Whilst I had planned to get it in September, I just found one on sale and decided to strike whilst the iron was hot.
So, here is the beast itself:
Unfortunately I will still have to wait a few days to try it, but based on my very limited use of it at home I can give a few first impressions:
*: There are two channels (clean/crunch and overdrive) with three modes, i.e. gain stages. I don't care particularly for the lowest-gain mode so far, but hey, its a Marshall! I will also have to try it with guitars more suited for dry cleans than my Kramers before making a final verdict. The second mode on the clean channel works far better for me, and should work well to do a lot of vintage tones. There should be more gain in this thing than I'll ever need.
* There are a ton of features on it, and a lot of them are very useful. One small but useful feature is the dual master volume, where the included footswitch can switch between the two. There are a number of situations where this could be useful, with solos being the most obvious.
*: There are two effects loops: one series and one series/parallel. Both of them, unfortunately, have been known to have problems: whilst the parallel loop has a blend knob, it has been claimed that it doesn't really do 100% wet, thus making it problematic with digital effects, which by their nature introduce a slight delay that may cause artefacts when combined with the dry signal; the series loop is said to be higher than line level, really only making it usable for using external pre-amps. I have a G-System I want to use as the heart of my rig, but neither loop seemed fit for the task on paper, but I nevertheless decided to make the jump, as it is possible to lower the signal level of the series loop externally. Fortunately, this doesn't seem like it will be necessary: I really have to crank the volume on the OD channels for it to start clipping. I will also have to try it in the other loop, and do some more testing before making a final verdict, but this bodes well. My amp was made this year, and might be that the loop has been improved on later models.
*: The built-in reverbs sound excellent. I will have to give it a go against the G-System, but I know it is there, should I need it.
*: The midi capabilities are excellent, and in practice I might be able to get away without using the included footswitch, which can be used to recall the positions of different switches, and thus be used to switch between channels, and turn the reverb, the second master volume and the serial/parallel fx loop on and off.
*: It seems to be an excellent platform for modding. Whether I'll ever go to the pains of doing so remains to be seen, but I do have a friend who is more than capable of making such operations, and there exist a ton of them that seem to have great appeal with other owners.
*: The speakers are a Vintage Club 30 and a Celestion Heritage model that doesn't seem to correspond to any of the normal models, and might be OEM. These are both excellent speakers, but it would be fun to experiment with some other ones… in time.
*: Unlike the 215C, this has an open back. I'm not sure why they went in that direction (surely it can't be producing that much more heat?), but whilst I believe I generally prefer closed backs, it is in no way a deal breaker.
All things considered, I think this bodes well. It will need to go through its honeymoon phase, be set up as part of a proper rig and actually be used in a band situation before I can give any final verdicts, though, but it wouldn't surprise me if this is enough Marshall for my demands for years to come.
For completion: Joost has stated a preference for one of the EVH models, but I try to keep my rig stripe free for now.
Post edited by Sirion on