Carvin Quad X-Amp
Carvin Quad X-Amp
macfizz 11/19/2012

Carvin Quad X-Amp : macfizz's user review

« One of the best preamps, versatile and effective »

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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).