Carvin Quad X-Amp
Carvin Quad X-Amp
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All user reviews for the Carvin Quad X-Amp

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Average Score:4.5( 4.5/5 based on 11 reviews )
 7 reviews64 %
 3 reviews27 %
 1 user review9 %
Audience: Advanced users Value For Money : Excellent
CharlotteGuitar1@gmail.com01/17/2015's review"Overkill....The Right Way"

Carvin Quad X-Amp
I bought this preamp and amp (T-100) as a pair in April, 1994 (I think). The T-100 stb during a rehearsal. The Quad X has remained a highly-valued part of my rack simply for the sounds it brings to the table.

Channel 1 is a twangy Fender Tweed feel to it (even with a LP). It can be completely sparkling clean with the right EQ (knobs) and touch on the guitar. At some points, it can rival (operative word can) an AC 15 with good technique and the right pickups.

Channel 2 is useless...NEXT....

Channel 3 can really be the end all to preamp high gain and nasal at the same time if you play with the EQ (and yes) Cloaking enough. From Pete Townshend to Angus Young to Early Page to High Gain Adrian Smith, this channel CAN do it all. It can't do them all simultaneously, but it can make every one of those sounds whether you're beating on the strings like the Clash or picking them quietly with a ten pence like Brian May. Best Channel on this preamp.

Channel 4: Like Randy Rhoads, this is your channel. Big loud and totally in your face. Boasting a "Cascade Tube" circuit, Carvin pulls this one out with Over The Top Gain. Big Noise.

Great Little Preamp... Still Love It

macfizz's review"One of the best preamps, versatile and effective"

Carvin Quad X-Amp
4-channel tube preamp (9 12ax7):
Channel 1: Clean (1 preamp stage, 1st stage of tube 1), volume, low, mid, high
Channel 2: Clean (1 preamp stage, 2nd stage of tube 1), volume, and low, high EQ, cloak shared with channel 3
Channel 3: Clean (5 preamp stages, tubes 2, 3 and 1st stage of tube 4), volume, crunch and low, high EQ, cloak shared with channel 2
Channel 4: called Sustain (and rightly so) (11 preamp stages, 2nd stage of tube 4, and tubes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), volume, gain, low, mid, high

Boost switch, bright, separate EQ for the master.
Effects loop on the master and specific loops for each channel.
True reverb that simply sounds.
Good quality noise gate circuit.

Ultra-comprehensive connection options (jack, xlr, stereo, mono outputs with separate volume controls), inputs on the front and rear, footswitch jack for each channel (on the non-MIDI version).


The settings on each channel are fairly simple (volume, eq).
Knobs are very responsive, you can get interesting sounds right away.
The manual is very well-made and not mandatory.
Do note that the status of the master graphical EQ is activated by channel, so you can activate it for channel 1 but not the rest and these settings will be saved.


Channel 1, wonderful clean sound, crystal-clear, easily shapeable with the EQs
Channel 2, clean sound, crystal-clear, EQ shared with channel 3, very handy to have a "clean" version of channel 3
Channel 3, it goes from a warm clean to a downright rock sound with a good amount of distortion (with boost engaged if necessary and depending on the pickups you use). Among the most beautiful crunch sounds (from smooth to really driven).
Channel 4, from crunch to fat distortion. Ideal for lead sounds, as its name implies it has a huge sustain.

Probably among the most versatile preamps I know.
On the same level as a Soldano (X88), Mesa (quad or triaxis) or Bogner (fish, for example)


I use it mainly within a studio setup and record it via the direct output into a soundcard input, I then add a speaker emulation (like a Torpedo), and the sound is wonderful.

Unbeatable value for money secondhand.
Its only negative point is that it depends a lot on the quality of the tubes used and when you need to replace them, you need to break the piggy bank. I opted for a cabling mod that allows me to use Russian 6N2P-EV tubes of excellent quality, which only cost a couple of bucks (and sound way better than some $50 NOS ones).

nickname009's review

Carvin Quad X-Amp
4 channels (two clean, crunch and lead)
9 12ax7s preamp tubes
Noise gate
5 band graphic EQ
Speaker sim
bright switch
boost switch

CH 1 knobs: low, mid, high, volume

CH 2 and 3: low, high, cloaking, volume, overdrive

Ch 4: volume, overdrive, high, mid, low.

This is basically a huge 4 channel preamp. Similar i believe, to that of a boogie mark IV in a rack style preamp.

HUGe in size! Gigantic!! Heavy and tons of tubes too!!


Ok it gets a little bit confusing especially since the 5 band EQ can be assigned to nearly any channel so you have to set that.

The clean channels are easy to use and have gain knows so you can crank them to get any bit of dirt if you want a sort of mild crunch.

It's slightly difficult at first, you should most likely read the manual to get started if you haven't dealt with multi channel amps before. The manual is quite easy to read and understand each setting etc.

Though it is generally easy to get the ball rolling and get some decent sounds to start.


I like carvin clean sounds. They are completely underrated and suit for any type of genre doesn't matter what, blues funk, jazz etc. It works all the time for anything! It's so crisp, clear and shimmers!! There isn't much else a clean channel can really do for you but now with the quad X you have TWO? What?! So now you can make one super clean, and one dirt up a bit to get those bluesy sounds all in one? And just switch between them if you feel? How perfect is that?

Let's not mention the dirt, it stays true to the hot rodded vintage sound that can range anywhere from classic rock to modern heavy metal depending on the rest of your gear of course. The poweramp you have plays an important part in this. The 3rd channel has the super hot rodded vintage sound while the 4th channel is very reminiscent of a lead boogie mark series, thick and creamy! Very cool!

Another thing to note is the speaker sim it was unfortunate that I didn't have enough recording equipment at the time to try this but the fact that it's tonally adjustable means that the speaker sim was not an afterthought and must have some potential in some way.

The added noise gate is a good feature too I wouldn't say it's completely transparent but it does a half decent job and stopping squeaks and whatnot depending on how you set it, try not to set it it too high and stay a good distance from the speaker to avoid any unnecessary noise.


Overall, I think this is carvin's response to the boogie preamps that came out during the same era and I gotta say it's held up quite well in terms of tone. In terms of popularity it hasn't gotten as big, but that's ok, it keeps the costs low for players who know about this amp! It's the price point that really gets me, it's so cheap yet it's amazing. How is this possible in today's world? It's not really, I think I'm just lucky! Super lucky!

I could imagine pairing this up with a VHT poweramp and just going balls to the wall crazy!! Good buy good price, if you can find one with the footswitch you'll be in tonal heaven!!
Audiofanzine FR11/29/2008

Audiofanzine FR's review

Carvin Quad X-Amp
(Originally written by Millido/translated from Audiofanzine FR)
Tube preamp

Nine 12AX7 tubes (changing the tubes is expensive)

Four channels (two clean, one crunch, one lead)


Noise gate

5-band graphic EQ

Speaker simulation for direct recording

Bright switch

Boost switch (if the source signal is too low). I don't hear any difference between the active and passive pickups...

Mono master

Stereo master

CH1: volume, low, mid, high

CH2/CH3: both channels use the same circuitry, that is low and high EQs (I miss a mid filter!) and a control labeled "cloaking". Even the user's manual is imprecise regarding this control and instead of describing it, it recommends you to try it out. It's an envelope or tone control that allows you to adjust the response from metallic to round and damped. It works a bit like the voicing control other brands use... Each channel has its own dedicated volume control. Channel 3 adds an overdrive setting that allows you to adjust the crunch intensity.

CH4: volume, overdrive, low, mid, high

The rear panel provides several FX loops you can assign to each channel or to the master, a L/R output, Midi connections, an additional input connector, a special loop for the reverb effect.

Carvin made it very comprehensive. They packed everything possible into it. It's clearly the opposite of a Soldano amp for example.

This preamp is conceived for people who like all-in-one solutions.

Personally, I don't use all connections provided by the preamp. But I like knowing I have many possibilities.


Setting it is not simple considering all the options.

But it's easy if you concentrate on the EQ of each channel. The EQ controls are very effective in their respective frequency range. For example, extreme mid settings won't influence a lot the low-end.

It's a totally different concept from a Mesa where all controls interact. With this amp you can make extreme settings with each control, and you'll have to do that if you want a unique sound. And that won't alter the sound's clarity.

In short, it's a very effective and versatile EQ.

On the contrary, avoid extreme settings with the cloaking control, they are worthless.

Notice: the FS-77 footboard included allows you to control all four channels, the reverb, the FX loop and the graphic EQ. It has a memory function that recalls the reverb setting on each channel for example. It also works with the effects and the EQ. Very powerful!

The very clear user's manual with setting examples.


I use this preamp with a Marshall 20/20 amp and an ENGL speaker cabinet equipped with Celestion V30 speakers.

I find that this Carvin has a slight lack of lows so I always enable the Deep switch on the Marshall amp. It enhances the low frequency response and allows me to get a Mesa sound for example.

My settings:

CH1: Fender-type twangy sound

CH2: round clean sound

CH3: big crunch sound (think Marshall JCM)

CH4: Mesa lead and rhythm sound.

In the beginning I thought the versatility would be compromised by the fact that CH2 and CH3 use the same circuitry, but that's not the case at all. I first set CH3 to get a big AC/DC crunch sound and when I switched back to CH2 I noticed that it gave me a great jazzy, round and dynamic clean sound.

The clean channel sounds always clear (it doesn't saturate) and it belongs to the nicest clean channels I know (it's Carvin's trademark). The spring reverb enhances the clean sound.

CH3 sounds dirty like a Marshall (drive set to max).

CH4 provides an endless sustain. It's response is compressed like with a Mesa Mark. With an amazing precision. The sound is not muddy, even though you get a lot of lows. Some might say it resembles too much an FM. I think you can remove the aseptic sound character with the right settings.

As a summary, it sounds perfect! It's exactly what I was looking for. I play rock, hard rock and heavy metal. So I need both Marshall and Mesa. And I get both with this Carvin. It doesn't sound like modern VHT or ENGL amps. The graphic EQ allows you to shape the sound to play black or death metal but it's certainly not the best preamp for that.


This preamp is a versatility monster. I've been using (and studying) it for over six months. It's easy to find your own sound. The sound cuts through the mix, which is an important thing.

The response is very accurate and provides classic sounds (Fender, Marshall, Mesa) without losing its own character.

Until now I haven't found a better product in this price range.

For this review I compared it to classic products from Marshall (JCM 800, 2000), Mesa (Rectifier, DC, F Series, Mark), Fender (Hot Rod, Twin), ENGL (Powerball), Orange (Tiny terror => very assertive compact amp!).

If you read reviews about Carvin products it will be clear that their quality is very high (made in the USA), their prices very appealing and their sound very rich. People tend to forget this brand because it's not visible enough in certain markets. Don't hesitate to buy a Carvin, you won't get ripped off or be disappointed.

To understand how they manage to offer such low prices take a look at their factories. You'll quickly understand that the production process is well thought out and that the use of state-of-the-art machines allows them to reduce costs dramatically. Compare that to Mesa, which still uses an old production facility without optimization and sell their products at very high prices in order to have a nice profit margin. So don't worry, you get high quality at an affordable price.
MGR/Jonny T.03/07/2003

MGR/Jonny T.'s review"Carvin Quad X-Amp"

Carvin Quad X-Amp
I bought this preamp off ebay for $399 US.

This preamp is very very versatile. The cleans are very Fendery, maybe a little bit too bright at times, but you can always turn down the treble! Channel one and two are clean, channel 3 and 4 are dirty. They all sound great. I like all of them equally, for their own reasons. A lot of people say they don't like Channel 3, but I use it for my solo sound and I think it is very smooth. (depends a lot on the tubes you are using though.) I have just been using it with the stock tubes and it sounds great, so new EH or groove tubes would probably make it sound fantatstic! The tone controls are active, so you can take any eq possibility to the extreme, and, more importantly anywhere in between. The thing I like the best about this is it's degree of control. There is an eq for 1, 2&3 share,and 4, and an assignable 5 band graphic eq. There are effects loops on each channel (always on) plus two master effects loops (a serial AND a parallel) that you can turn on and off via the footswitch. Full stereo capability on these effects loops. Many more features I like, read the manual at
I use this for prog rock with fairly complex chord inversions, and the distortion lets every not come out clearly. Try playing a Bbmaj9b5 with your distortion sound and see how clear it sounds. The quad-x makes it clear. I use the gain on channel four at about 3.5 or 4 and it is a perfect sound for me.

The only thing I don't really like about this is that the reverb has some 60 cycle hum when you turn it up, but I use an external reverb when I need it. The midi capability is there, but you can only change channels, and the midi patches are preset in the unit; you have like four options in how to lay it out. But I still think that it's usable. The distortion could probably be a little bit tighter at times, but that would probably change with tube selection.

This thing is built pretty well from what I can tell. In mine, the circuit the tube sockets are on is a little loose, but I don't think that is a problem in any way, I've changed some tubes just to experiment a couple of times, no problems. It looks and feels like a quality piece of gear.

This thing sounds great and gives you a lot of control over all it's aspects.
You can get almost any sound I can think of with this thing. I have gotten good distortion tones from blues to scooped mid metal distortions (which, in my opinion, are kinda dumb anyways) and it does it all well, not excellent, mind you, but very good. If you want one particular tone to be excellent get a specialized amp, but if you want a flexible, versatile unit that sounds really good, get this. It is a really good value for the money, comparable to the mesa quad, but the mesa obviously has some advantages (again I reference price)If this were a value for the dollar rating, I would give it a 5, but this is an overall rating. I give it four. Very good unit! If you want any questions answered that you can't find elsewhere, feel free to email me!

This review was originally published on

antoinerp's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Woua!"

Carvin Quad X-Amp
Preamp Carvin brand lamps used in the studio recording my album


4 channels, spring reverb, you can get the sound you want in - 1 min config, ideal for studio and live.


used telecaster guitars and metal type, with a hot rod and a MXR OD, and out of its clean crystal big sound, vintage as it sounds, it works!


Used in the studio, will surely redeem for use in concert, the best current vintage preamp sound, coupled with old fender amp (hot rod or bassman)

bouicmusic's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Gas Plant - Plant Music"

Carvin Quad X-Amp
3 preamp channels 1/2 tube (1 channel real clear, real distortion channel with dedicated 3-band EQ, channels 2 and 3 have a shared équalo 2 bands)
9 12AX7
Format 19 "2U
Spring Reverb
6 effects loops!
5 Band Equalizer
Noise Gate
Speaker simulator
Mono or Stereo
Made in USA

This preamp is very comprehensive. It does everything except coffee.
That which I speak is the first version, which did not catch MIDI.


The use is not very complicated when you have the idea. Just turn the knobs and find its sound. It is the analog gear. That said it is very full, so it still take some time.
About effects loop:
This preamp has an effects loop mono channel. By default, it is located before the preamp section. The interest is to use an effect on one channel only. It is possible to mod the preamp electronics to move the loop after the preamp section. This allows for example to put a delay after distortion. I posted the trick on the page of the Quad-X AF.
The Carvin also has an effects loop Stereo Reverb specific. When you plug in jacks jacks, spring reverb is disconnected. The volume knob reverb, front, remains usable. It is a parallel loop. It can also be used for other effects as reverb. This loop is controllable with the pedals.
Finally the sixth loop is an effects loop Stereo Standard. I think this is a serial loop. It is also controllable with the pedals.
The bracket:
This preamp is analog yet it stores configurations. But it resets each extinction. To use: when turned on, we toured the channel by choosing for each effect that you want to use (Reverb, Loop, équalo). When you then go back on each channel, we find this configuration. This memory can be used interchangeably with the pedals or the switches on the front.
The noise Gate
Very efficient, and very discreet, because upstream loops stereo. With reverb enabled, we do not even realize it's there. That said, given the quality of the electronics, the noise gate is useless. It can correct the disruption caused by an external effect. But the Quad-X itself does not need a gate.


Sound level, this preamp is quite versatile.
Channel 1: The very bright light. Fenderien enough. With reverb, it is beautiful. I use a Mesa lamp for this channel. It is clear that the best sound I've heard in a preamp, Triaxis included.
Channel 2: The more clear than the previous round. No real interest in itself. I used it as a channel Fuzz, having put a pedal in the loop corresponding effect.
Channel 3: Disto Marshall typed, in any case with EHX tubes. Not a lot of gain, but it comes out sounds ACDC smoothly.
Channel 4: Grosse distortion, but not Hi-Gain so far. Good sound, quite versatile, especially thanks to the équalo. A good distortion lamp, but ultimately lacks personality.
The speaker simulator is very successful.
The reverb is quite short but perfectly done job.
The big criticism I have the Carvin is its lack of crunch sounds! Each channel has its use, which can not be diverted. Channels 1 and 2 saturate so disgusting. Channels 3 and 4 can not sufficiently low down between the gain level for a crunch correct ... Damage, but it does not deprive it of its qualities


The Carvin has its strengths and weaknesses. It's still a great value.

Sound factory, versatile, very comprehensive, clear sound sublime Simulator Cab, memory function effects the endless possibilities using the effects loop
Usine à Gaz, No Hi-Gain, Lack of personality distortion, no crunch, budget to change lamps
I finally sold my Quad-X, a Triaxis, I prefer the crunch and distortion sounds but not clear.
To give you an idea, I posted samples of the beast in the "Media".
Da Mool08/10/2012

Da Mool's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)

Carvin Quad X-Amp
Everything said above
Preamp extremely comprehensive connectivity impressionnate opportunities.


Very simple and efficient, no frills.
on the other hand not too clever, you soon realize when you're in the extreme, it becomes sickening.

Cloaking is finally a pure marketing gimmick (tried carvin ...) for which I really saw no use ..

I always used without pedals

Led to check the input clipping very interesting to know where we stand.


Lag Beast guitars used a very versatile, a Gibson studio 89
Amps: a Marshall 2X50 with EL34 tubes in a cab with V30 Harley Benton at the time (I have neither this nor the quad amp / cab I specify)

The clean sounds are not really at all in my téribles with my config, usually dull, but we may love. I would describe as fairly round with a small loss of life.
It was intended to be used in any case but boring very quickly.

The crunch is atrocious, I mean it is impossible for me to do something qque.

On the last drive channel, this is my favorite. Good headroom, with the Gibson I could find a sort of grunt underlying (hard to describe) behind the drive clean, organic something really coming out from behind .. I had never heard this before on any amp .. .
The grain of the drive is pretty tight, although for the metal eg.
One can find such sonts mid 80s heavy metal genre's first anthrax or slayer (I say style ... not exactly the same course)

The guy who says it sounds like a mesa must be operated ears. Nothing to do.


Lack of dynamics in general and this is what bothers me most, on all channels; This is why I sold it, but very versatile preamp.
Good versatility / price

For months it was a preamp "boring" in a very short time.
With the channel, again, with my config of the era, I was "ouhaaa genial" to tell me that it was crap after 3 minutes ....

boumar's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)

Carvin Quad X-Amp
I just wrote a novel for 30 minutes by highlighting the qualities of this preamp, and when I validated my opinion, everything suddenly disappeared! I am disgusted! I had put all my heart So I do not want to start again (thank you for the bug Audiofanzine).
In short this amp is the best but we must find the right Poweramp, I do not reveal all my secrets but be patient with the beast and you jeterez to oblivion as I did Fender Twin, your Marshall JMP-1 and Your Mesa Triaxxis
Genghis Khan11/21/2006

Genghis Khan's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)

Carvin Quad X-Amp
Everything described above adj t: pramplis team of nine lamps for 4 channels etc. ...;-)


Simple operation, which is not done quickly around the cattle but rglages is with such ease that comes quickly find the appropriate ear. APRS is paufine!
The manual is sufficient trs, trs clear. In fact, and at the risk of rpter, even if the X Quad offers an almost infinite number of combinations, its handling is very simple! So no need for a directory tlphonique (like Paris!).


I play with 2 guitars including a 7-string, the two are dtunes worse. So, well There's the low frquence! This may be the only point on which I block a little with my Quad, trs refine sounds serious for a "ooozz" a little less. It's the hair of c ** prs!
The sounds are (!) Hot gnreux ... In fact there really eat and drink: I may be wrong but I do believe that taking the time to the rgler , it is all styles, from the apps to the most extreme (unlike an opinion ;-)). Previous
The four channels allow very gradual transition from clean the purest saturation dcolle the big carpet and wallpaper ... like a DGRAD gray to black smooth!


I use it only for 2 weeks and got a lot of attention on it (the new toy enthusiasm!) And frankly, I pse my words, it's the thing-thing-something I was looking for PRS 15 years!
I try to hundreds (thousands?) Of pramps and I never even if we approach the sound I was looking for (you know, it's IDAL, indoor, that 'we try to recreate the collection's outdoor?) and l. .. ben banco!
So yes, one hundred, a thousand times yes, I would do this choice!
Now, on the report qualitprix (and not the argus dplaise Audiofanzine trs EXAGRES Submitted in the case - an average of 400, not 550!) Is more than adequate. In my opinion it's almost even given such a gem!
My only (very small) rsrve concerns the "finesse" in the rglages frquence low for the rest, nothing added, nothing removed!