Price paid: A$ 600
Purchased from: gumtree.com.au (similar to Craigslist)
Features: The amp was made in the early 2000's, here's some specs:
- 300 watt solid state power amp
- Two Channels
- Channel 1 (Clean) features 3-band Eq with presence
- Channel 2 (Distortion) features 3-band Eq with mid-sweep and a 9-band graphic Eq
- Includes digital reverb
- Two speaker outputs to handle 4,8, or 16ohm loads
- Stereo send and return effects loop
Obviously, the biggest feature with this head, as with all other Randalls with this feature, is the 9 band EQ. I'm not entirely sure how I lived without the EQ before, the amp's versatility is second only to the newer Randalls with dual preamps. I play through a Marshall JCM 900 quite regularly, and while it's a good amp, it just has that one 'Marshall' sound to it; not the case with the Cyclone. // 9
Sound: I won't lie, Randalls are made for metal, but it is DAMN good at what it was designed for. When people compare solid state Randalls with tube heads like Marshalls and Mesas, they often say "the difference between a Marshall and a Randall is the difference between get punched in the face with a boxing glove, and getting punched in the face with a bare fist." ...and I'd say that's quite an accurate analogy. Our band is covering the song "The Grand Conjuration" by Opeth, and there is a verse riff in there that is very staccato, just single notes played in a very stop-start rhythm. When I play that riff, it just blow everyone's head off. It's intense. I just don't understand how this amp can achieve such attack. I play that same riff on the JCM 900 and its is nowhere NEAR as aggressive sounding.
It's a bit of a shame, but when people think Randall, they think Dimebag, and they think his tone. I couldn't get close to Dime's tone with this thing if I tried. And that's a good thing. One of the first things I noticed with this amp is that it's got quite a hump in the mids, when everything's set to 12 o'clock. It's got a bit of harshness on the high end, but by pulling the 8khz slider down (guitar speakers cant reproduce 16khz so that slider is useless) that harshness disappears, but you still have plenty of treble to play with in the form of the treble knob and the 4khz/2khz sliders. Yeah, you could say it's kinda versatile.
Some downsides... lets see... not enough gain. The ch. 2 gain knob is kinda weird, from about 4 onward it really doesn't do a whole lot. But for you death metal fanatics or anyone who wants that saturated sound, you might need a compressor or a distortion pedal in front of it. There is plenty of gain for my liking though, I like my chugga-chug riffs to have as much definition and dynamics as possible.
Clean channel is ultra clean, with 300W, you'll never break up into distortion as long as you have the gain knob lowered. It's quite flat sounding so it would go great with effects or even after an amp simulator line a Line 6 Floor POD, especially with all that power. ...and boy is it loud, screw 5150s, they're for putting people to sleep. You might wanna get another quad cab or 3, just to handle the power. I'm running 2 quad cabs, and it's loud enough. // 8
Reliability & Durability: As I said earlier, this amp was made in the early 2000's and its not holding up too bad by any stretch of the imagination. A little bit of the leather-cloth stuff has peeled off, but nothing a bit of glue wont fix 100%. The amp has never skipped a beat and of course you don't have the maintenance issues like you do with a tube head. Nothing to fault here. // 10
Overall Impression: If a Marshall JCM 900 was an animal, it'd be a Lion; mostly vicious, feared, and definitely legendary, but some soft fluffy bits here and there. If the Randall Cyclone were an animal. It'd be a crocodile; just intense and brutal on every level. No soft fluffy bits. I don't usually like to give reviews 9s and 10s, but in this case, the amp is really that good. There's really not much more you could ask for in metal amp, crushing distortion, deafening loudness, and ultimate versatility with the 9 band EQ.
I can't find a lot to complain about with this head, there is a bit of hum though, so you'll need a noise pedal. I don't get why every amp ever invented doesn't come with a built in noise gate, because they all need one, but the Cyclone just needs one a little bit more. Overall, my favourite thing about this head is the EQ, and the attack of the picking. If you haven't guessed: yes, I prefer this over a JCM 900, every day of the week. And that says something about this amp. // 9