Features: This amp was made in September 2008 and sports some pretty sweet features. It is first of all, a hybrid amplifier. It has 2 solid state channels (clean and solid state overdrive) and an all tube channel (tube overdrive). While it doesn't have any official power tubes, it has a 12AT7 tube which drives the power section. This is Randall's Valve Dynamic technology which is featured in several other amps of theirs.
The clean channel has volume and gain controls and is a classic solid state clean channel. Not much to add here, pretty basic.
The solid state overdrive sports gain, volume, and the standard bass, mid, treble eq. However, the treble knob has a push/pull feature and, when pulled, offers the channel a sustain/gain boost. This is incredibly useful and really beefs up the overdrive channel.
The tube overdrive has an attack Switch (tight/loose) as well as a bright switch. It also sports a 3 band EQ but no push/pull feature this time. The attack and bright switches make up for this though, in my opinion. It is driven by 3 Ruby 12AX7AC5HG tubes.
The best feature, in my opinion, is the amp's 6 band graphic EQ. This totally makes the amp what it is! When used for a given channel, it provides a 12 decibel boost and also shapes the tone depending on how you have it set.
The amp also has master volume, density (bass boost esentially), and presence (treble boost essentialy) as well as an effects loop (switchable between series/parallel), slave output, 2 speaker jacks, midi inputs, and footswitch inputs. It also has a world voltage selector so you can use it in any country by just swapping out a fuse! On top of that it sports and XLR direct recording output which is also pretty sweet.
The footswitch switches channels, EQ on/off, and Effects loop on/off. It is programmable, so you can go from clean without EQ to overdrive with EQ to tube OD without EQ (just for example) simply by switching channels. Same for effects, you can program the footswitch to switch to channels with the loop activated/inactivated.
Overall, this amp has great features and flexibility and is only lacking a headphone jack in my opinion. It is ridiculously loud (400 watts at 4 ohms, 280 at 8) and has plenty of power for me.
Oh yeah, and it has an amazing appearance with silver tolex and blood red script lettering. Just awesome looking! Probably the meanest looking head on the market right now! // 9
Sound: I use many different guitars, but all have active EMG pickups except for my custom strat which sports Mighty Mite double blades. I play hard rock/metal (think Black Label Society/Pantera/Godsmack hybrid) and this amp suits that style perfectly.
For such a high gain amplifier, I get relatively little noise from this head. I use it with the matching 400 watt Randall XL cab for the record. The solid state channel gets feedback only when the gain is up past 3 o clock for me (the gain is totally saturated by then anyway). The tube OD, however, can be a bit noisy. It has the expected "tube hum" but can also get some pretty nasty feedback if the gain is cranked past 1 o'clock or so. Again, the gain is fully saturated around 1 o'clock anyway, so it does not Hurt to keep it there. I do tons of pinch harmonics, and cutting the gain to those points does not affect my ability to get them on this head.
The amp is the most versatile amp I have ever used. The graphic EQ can totally shape the sound of each channel and give you essentially any tone you could want. With three great channels, your tones are truly endless.
I will say, it does not do a classic rock crunch very well (the overdrives are heavier than this and the clean does not break up at all). I have heard of people using these heads for blues/country and loving them though so take what you will from that.
The distortion is absolutely brutal as mentioned before--more low end and beef than I have ever encountered in an amp. If you want an example of how this head sounds, listen to Mudvayne's "The New Game" CD (Gregg uses one in the studio for that record). It has that signature Randall tone and plenty of punch for modern rock, death metal, black metal, etc. It is just vicious!
I also have a Peavey 5150 and I much prefer the tones of the V2 even though the 5150 is great, the Randall has a more distinct, powerful tone. Any clean passage is perfect on the clean channel, staccato riffs are perfect on the solid state OD channel and searing leads are perfect on the Tube Overdrive, so it covers the bases for myself perfectly.
Not giving it a 10 only because it fails to do a classic rock/blues tone well in my opinion. // 9
Reliability & Durability: This is where things get hairy. The amp's power supply totally fried on me the day of a gig (about a month after I purchased it)! Set it up, and nothing happened. Thankfully a friend loaned me his Marshall JCM2000 for that gig (which did not compare tonally to the Randall...but worked).
Sent it back to Randall, fixed it, everything was fine until the power light began flickering (ugh!). They assured me this was just cosmetic and a canon (spelling?) plug was just out of place. It wasn't affecting the tone, so I didn't mind it much. It stopped flickering about 15 minutes later anyway.
Three or four weeks after this, the amp dies on me AGAIN. I had it hooked up to a Monster PRO 2500 power conditioner, so the power was not the issue. The amp went into protection mode for no reason and now will not turn on without blowing the fuse. I sent it back again and they are replacing it with a new head this time.
This is why the amp is a huge gamble in my opinion. It truly has the best tone I have ever heard (better than RM100's, Kranks, Lynch Box, Marshall JVM, VHT pitbull; I've played them all and none compare to the V2 in my opinion), but it is simply not reliable. I got the 5150 specifically for that reason and now have a great backup head at least.
Hopefully my new one will be more reliable (Randall claims problems in these heads are rare). Can't give this a high score, since it broke down on me twice in less than a year (and probably only 20 hours or so of playing because I was at school most of the time I had it!). // 2
Overall Impression: I have been playing guitar for just under six years, and play hard rock/metal as mentioned before. Put simply, this is THE amp for that style. It absolutely suits my style perfectly (tons of pinch harmonics, some staccato riffs, leads which cut through the mix well). I own this with a Peavey 5150 and the Randall XL 400 watt matching cabinet. I like the V2's sound better than the 5150, but I like the 5150's reliability much better. I suppose it is a toss up in that respect.
I love everything about this amp except for the fact that it likes to break down (I realize this is a HUGE problem). I can liken it to owning a Ferrari that you can only Drive for 20 miles or a Ford Taurus you can Drive for 1,000 miles; which would you rather have? If you are OK with dealing with the hassle of replacing your amps, go for it. I am in this case simply because the amp sounds so great. It truly is worth this hassle and I'm sure not all V2 Ninjas have this problem.
As mentioned before, I compared this head to a Randall RM100, Marshall Vintage Modern, Marshall JVM, Peavey 6505+, VHT Pitbull, Krank Krankenstein, Krank Revolution+, among others and decided to go with the V2. It has ballsy low end and brutal distortion that the others simply couldn't match.
I would buy this again if it were stolen and hopefully receive one that is a bit more reliable! The amp truly sounds remarkable but the reliability leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully Randall gets this straightened out so people can enjoy the great sound this thing produces for more than a month or two at a time. // 7