[NAMM] Mackie Hotwire VT12
Greg Mackie returns to his first love – guitar amps – with innovative VT12 combo
Although Greg Mackie’s name has certainly become synonymous with innovative analog and digital mixers, among other things, it might surprise some to learn that his first pre-Tapco product designs were guitar amplifiers. Consequently, three years ago when Mr. Mackie stepped away from his day-to-day managerial role with the company he founded, he decided to return to his roots by again working on a guitar amplifier, the result of which is the new Hotwire VT12.
Mackie’s goal was to design a single combo guitar amp that could replace the six-plus boutique and classic tube amps he’d been lugging around for years. “I set out to design one guitar amp that could deliver those great vintage tones,” says Greg, “and to make it compact and lightweight so musicians wouldn’t have to break their backs taking it to each gig. After years of work and prototyping, we’ve finally created that guitar amp.”
Mackie’s Hotwire VT12 is truly the next-generation tube guitar amplifier, combining authentic tube amp guitar tone and premium voicing with extreme sonic flexibility and customization features in a unit that weighs less than 25 lbs.
The Hotwire VT12 has a fully reconfigurable analog tube circuit path, enabled by Mackie’s patent-pending Mode Switching technology, which allows players to switch between Class A and Class AB-style amp circuits. Through this instant “re-wiring,” the tube preamp profiles 12 different classic tube amps, from ’60s era classic tube combos to sparkling hi-fi and dynamic crunch tones, to the power and grit of American monster amps.
The Mode Switching technology changes the character of the Hotwire preamp and power amp sections and re-voices the speaker to actualize the recreation of classic amplification. The process of Mode Switching physically changes the fundamental analog circuitry of the amp itself, so each of Hotwire's 12 basic Modes sound inspiring and real.
“Hotwire lets guitar players effortlessly switch between different modes,” says Product Manager Paul Meisenzahl, “to the actual circuits of both classic and modern American and British guitar amps. It’s the throne of tone.”
The Hotwire VT12 features premium voicing, delivering the rich body and natural tone demanded by the finest electric and acoustic instruments and suiting a variety of performance needs. Its multi-way speaker system, consisting of a single custom-designed 12” neodymium speaker and a one-inch compression driver, can be reconfigured so the Hotwire can also act as a premium quality acoustic and vocal amplifier.
Great tone and flexibility were only two parts of Greg Mackie’s vision for the ultimate guitar amp; portability was also key. The iron power section components of traditional vacuum tube guitar amps are heavy and bulky, but contribute the natural compression that guitar players associate as “the tube sound.” The Hotwire replaces those heavy components with a discrete MOSFET power section that emulates the sag and soft-clipping of traditional analog tube components that give tube amps their distinct character.
Thanks to the engineering wizardry of Cal Perkins, a driving force behind Mackie innovations like XDR mic preamps, HR Series monitors and countless other classic audio gear, Hotwire's MOSFET power amp design steps completely around the pitfalls of common bipolar or "chip-based" power amplifiers by incorporating premium discrete, hand-matched output devices in a proprietary high voltage, low feedback design. It shares all of a real tube amp's critical elements of tone recreation, performing faithfully and accurately at peak power levels, while retaining the feedback stability critical for exceptional tone and feel.
Hotwire provides eight power output levels to perfectly pair the power amplifier's headroom and overall output level with the desired preamp circuit configuration. Dial in from 1 to 120 watts to balance the accurate interplay between preamp, power amp and speaker and you've got more great tone and flexibility than any guitar amp has ever offered before.
Hotwire also features 32-bit onboard signal processing, a bi-directional USB jack for connection to the included edit/store software with which a player can tweak and save their own “customized” tube amp designs, and storage capability for 96 presets. With the editing software, players customize their designs at the component level, altering the signal path with different capacitor values and circuit designs to recreate nearly any amp ever produced.
Hotwire: Features At A Glance :
- Real tube tone, ranging from crystalline clean to full-on high gain distortion sounds
- Fully-configurable vacuum tube circuitry with 12 distinct wiring modes including, UK I, UK II, USA I, USA II, CLASS A, HI GAIN I, HI GAIN II, ACOUSTIC, HI FI, JAZZ, BLUES and LINE IN.
- High power output – 120 Watt main amplifier with eight-position Output Power selector, plus separate 30 Watt amplifiers for compression driver and optional EX12 extension speaker
- Maximum portability – with a curb weight of less than 25 lbs., the Hotwire VT12 is roughly half the weight of a typical single 12" combo amplifier
- Four-band tone stack (Bass, Middle, Treble, and Presence) with user-selectable USA and UK tone stack types
- Storage capability for 96 presets, conveniently arranged in banks of Clean, Crunch, Overdrive, and Lead tones
- A 12" custom-voiced speaker, with neodymium magnet structure for reduced weight while retaining the tonal characteristics of traditional Alnico speakers
- A 1.35" Celestion neodymium compression driver with custom-designed waveguide, under wiring mode control for full-range applications
- Front-panel selectable USA and UK speaker voices
- 32-bit onboard digital effects, including modulation (chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, modulated delay, and rotary speaker), delay (simple delay, tape echo, multitap delay), and reverb (room, stage, hall, plate, and short spring/long spring)
- Pedal jack, for connecting optional PB1 pedal board or PB4 four-function channel selector switch
- USB jack – provides streaming cabinet emulated audio to your computer (PC or Mac) for recording, and provides access to deep editing, preset archiving, live control, and firmware upgrade function.
List price : $2000
Street price : $1500