« Better... but still not quite there. »Publié le 05/01/11 à 07:31
* 100-Watt valve head
* Valve complement: 5 x ECC83 (12AX7s) in preamp, 2 x EL34s in power amp
* 4 independent, footswitchable channels-Clean, Crunch, OD1 & OD2
* Each channel boasts 3 footswitchable modes — Green, Orange & Red
* Studio quality, footswitchable digital reverb with level controls for all 4 channels.
* 2 footswitchable master volumes
* Two FX loops — Series/Parallel & Parallel
* Series/Parallel FX loop is footswitchable
* Emulated line out
* 6-way, 7-LED footswitch with memory capabilities (UK patent pending)
* All switching can be done via MIDI
* Made in England
It's got lots of different features and sounds for sure, which does match the goal of ultimate versatility. It's certainly got a lot more going on feature wise than say, a Marshall DSL or even the TSL. Those were not great amps in my opinion, so I hoped the JVM would be different. Well...
As I stated previously, this amp has a LOT going on, so it can be difficult to dial it in quickly. I had to spend about an hour just going through the channels and modes to know roughly what each channel sounded like with each of the three modes before going on and tweaking the tones from there.
The clean channel goes from very clean to a gritty sort of "edge of break up" type of tone to an even more gainy clean sound, reminiscent of the older Marshalls when pushed a little bit. It's nice to have that variety to be able to switch to those tones as opposed to dialing in another channel for them.
The crunch channel picks up where the clean left off and it covers everything from classic seventies arena rock to a late seventies hard rock tone. There still isn't a whole lot of gain in this channel, so you're going to be relying on power tube distortion and sustain if you use this channel a whole lot.
The OD1 channel was definitely my favourite. It covered everything from Van Halen esque rock tones all the way up to modern rock tones. OD1 orange mode was definitely the stand out distorted tone on this amp as I really enjoyed it for everything from 80s LA rock to modern rock. That one mode alone was probably reason enough to enjoy this amp, but not at the price Marshall would charge.
OD2 was a decent channel as well, much like OD1 but with scads more gain. It was almost too much gain, and combined with the overcompression that most Marshalls nowadays have, it was almost unusable at higher gain levels. The compression and scooped midrange issues were still there, but not quite as badly as on the DSLs and TSLs.
I tried it only with one guitar (Parker Fly Deluxe) with DiMarzio humbuckers and a coil tap mode as well. The cleans had a nice chime to them with split coils and I really liked adding a bit of reverb to give it a bit of that classic sixties flair. Going to the higher gain modes on that channel resulted in some cool quasi overdriven clean tones that, though I didn't have much use for them, sounded cool. The crunch tones were nice as well... very rich and dynamic overall (though like I said, I feel they would rely on power tube distortion/saturation so high volumes are better with this channel).
The OD1 mode was my favourite. Using it with split coils resulted in some cool hard rock Strat esque tones and putting it back into humbucker mode was great as well, perfect for many styles of British voiced rock tones. The biggest issue I had with this channel was how noisy it could get at higher gain levels. It was a bit louder noise wise than I would have expected... c'est la vie I suppose. OD2 was cool for wild gain sounds, but it was very noisy and compressed, so it was not a channel I gravitated towards often.
Aside from the compression and slightly scooped midrange nature of a lot of Marshalls nowadays, the biggest surprise was the amount of noise. It had a prominent hiss at higher gain levels and I couldn't imagine using such a noisy amp on a regular basis. Keep in mind this amp was new out of the box so it hadn't been used or abused in any way.
I feel that JVM is a step forward for Marshall, but it still doesn't quite get there. There are some nice tones within (on the clean and OD1 modes especially), but the inherent compression and buzzy sound that is a problem with Marshalls did get to me. Ultimately this would result in me not purchasing a new Marshall or recommending one, but they do sometimes take measures to improve them. This amp's closest competition would be a Mesa Boogie amp, of which there is no contest. I'm a MUCH bigger fan of Mesa than Marshall and have no problem saying so.
For the $1,700 or so new price that these amps are... I think you're getting a deal that's okay. Personally, if I wanted ultimate Marshally tones with versatility, I would spend $150 more and get a handbuilt Splawn Quick Rod with three gear modes. While the JVM isn't a bad amp by any means (there are actually some great tones inside it), it just has a high price and that pesky compression sound that can't be dialed out...