Price paid: $ 475
Features — 8
The new Randall Diavlo series of amplifiers are a superb addition to the companies tried and true line of equipment. The Diavlo series covers alot of ground with many wattage and tone options, the amps range in wattage from 1, 5, 20, 45 and 100 watt options. Today we will cover the RD20H.
I bought my RD20H for 475 brand new from a local shop. I was looking for an amp that had decent tonal versatility plus came in a relatively small package. At first glance the RD20 doesn't boast many features plus to the shopper it looks like a "metal" only head. I know this because this is what I thought, I owned a Randall RH300 before and it was a metal monster. However when I plugged into the RD20H I was sadly mistaken.
To me these amps fall under the minimal features maximum tone concept. Here is a list of features on the amp:
- 20 watts tube powered by 2 6v6 and 4 12ax7 tubes. A pleasant note on the tube compliment is that it ships with ruby high grade tubes.
- 2 channels (clean/dirty) with boost. the boost is footswitchable and packs a punch. it is a pure clean gain boost. The downside of this is that - the clean channel's volume jumps up considerably, but on the plus is on the dirty channel you really don't need a tubescreamer in front to get a good metal tone.
- master section: master volume and presence
- an instrument level fx loop.
- standard 4,8,16 ohm cab selection
- speaker emulated line out
- it weighs in at a total of 12 lbs.
- shared eq between the channels plus a master presence control.
- red led lights because in amp lights equal tone
- superb build quality
All these features are standard on most amps (minus led lights). At this price point shared eq and a decent boost for the dirty channel cant be complained about but i would prefer separate eq's and a more refined boost. For this section ill give it a 8 due to the RD20 being a bang for your buck amp with superb build quality.
Sound — 9
Now about the sound... I rated the features section rather high due to a couple of things. Randall seems to have kept the amp on a more simple level which delivers massive tone. In the past years I have owned several high gain tube amps and this RD20H can hold its own against them all. I have owned the standard 5150II/3120/XXX/ type amps and I will say the RD20 is in the same vein as the 5150. It has a commanding tone that will punch you in the chest and kick you in the teeth at the same time. All while only being 20 watts. I keep most of the controls at noon or close as possible to it. that's where I started with finding my tone on this amp and that's where I ended. I did try the eq controls in all areas and it was decent. Nothing to brag about, but the amp seemed to scream with all controls straight up minus the gain. I have the gain around 3 o'clock. I run 3 main guitars into it. 2 mahogany bodied explorers with EMG 81/60 or JB/59 or a ltd super strat with DiMarzio Tone Zone and Liquifire pickups. The amp is very responsive to what your putting in front of it. Each guitar sounds completely different which I love.
Pristine to be exact. Not fender glassy cleans but very bell like clean cleans. Due to it being a 20w head they will break up at high volumes but even with the master high and the channel volume high the cleans still stay clean. They are quite enjoyable.
As I have stated this amp rest in 5150 territory. Brutal, chugging, metal WITH an alter ego. You can get quite convincing hard rock and rock tones out of this amp. Even classic rock if you dial it in right. I'm playing everything from Blue Oyster Cult and Mr. Big all the way to Lamb Of God and Killswitch. Hands down the drive is the amps bread and butter. Randall scored a home run with the drive channel on these amps. They deliver a clear but brutal tone that can be quite refined and dialed back if needed.
Once again the boost is to blame from being a total 10 on the score. The boost causes noise, which is to be expected. The noise I'm talking about is when your not playing on the drive channel and you have the boost engaged, a slight howl starts to come out slightly reminiscent of a microphonic preamp tube. It is easy to deal with, just turn off the boost when your done playing or switch to the cleans. The problem is there even though its not a massive problem it still is one. There is a plus side to this issue though, those of us who like to manipulate feedback can do so with ease in a live setting due to this issue. I myself have done it during a jam session and wrote a jam based on feedback.
Reliability & Durability — 10
As with most middle to high end Randall gear this amp is built like a tank. I actually did a double take when I read the owners manual and it stated that it was only 12 lbs. I call bs it has a certain heft to it, but a good one. All the knobs are secure the pots aren't scratchy, and the jacks provide a nice chunk when you put a cable into them. If my RD20H was stolen I'd most likely buy another or step it up to the RD45H. I never gig without a backup but I would if I had to with comfort just because of how impressed with this amp I am.
Overall Impression — 10
This amp fits my personal style perfectly, I'm a 5150 brat and I have no shame in admitting it. The RD20H also would be a decent choice for a cover band due to its surprising flexibility. When you can't seem to find a 5150 or can't afford one of the new ones you wont be wrong looking at the RD20H, or any of the RD amps in the line. It may be a simple no frills amp but it carries tone for days with a very wallet friendly price tag. I have had this amp going on 2 months now and I love it more and more every time I plug in and play. Bravo to Randall on a fantastic line of amplifiers.