Friday, 30 December 2016

Randall RD1 head review

This is the smallest amp of RD series and the only one that has small preamp tube -sized power tube. While it's a "lunchbox" size amp the construction is more like a regular amp, only smaller. The features are simple, there is one channel with gain, tone and volume knobs. There is also a tone shift switch with three positions. On back of the amp you have an effect loop which is very rare in amps of this type and price, and also a XLR output with Randall's 4x12 cabinet simulation.

While this amp is clearly aimed for heavy metal it can also, quite surprisingly, produce clean sounds. It requires minimum setting on gain and preferably low output pickups in guitar, but it's doable. The gain range is wide from low distortion to crunch and then heavy metal. The distortion stays dry through the range. Maybe for that reason this amp doesn't have a ton of gain, but in my opinion it works really well with overdrive pedals. It's like the designers decided to leave room for overdrive pedals. I like the gain, it doesn't become fuzzy and stays focused.

The weak point of this amp is EQ, but it's not uncommon in bigger amps either. Tone knob adds treble, but works only on certain point. Overall it feels like there isn't enough anything, but then again it is a 1 watt amplifier. Some 1 watt amps can be loud, but this is not one of them. If anything this amp can be too quiet for anything else than practicing by yourself.

I'm using the amp with Marshall MX112 cabinet (under a keyboard stand if you are wondering what that thing is). With XLR recording output you can disconnect the cabinet, because the amp has an internal load for silent recording. This option has an interesting side effect as you can also use a bass guitar with XLR output! And even bigger surprise is how well it works. It's not an actual bass amp of course, but it sounds a lot like a bass guitar.

The reason I bought this amp personally was that I had used several types of modeling cadgets and was tired of trying to get sound out of them. With real amp you got it, a real amp sound. And in this case it's not even a bad sound, although the sound is what you would expect in this price range and with a small power tube. However in my opinion it's still better than in any modeling cadgets I have tried.