ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL GUITAR AMPS WE’VE EVER TESTED, THE V2 ARCHETYPE IS A HYBRID design that couples a solid-state or tube preamp (the latter is activated in Tube Overdrive mode only) to a MOSFET output section (with a tube driver stage) that can pump a blistering 480 watts into 2Ω or 400 watts into 4Ω. The V2’s three channels are selected via front-panel switches or with the included 5-button footcontroller that plugs into the MIDI In jack on the rear panel. Channel switching and activation of the effects loop and graphic EQ can also be controlled by external MIDI commands. Designed to deliver a broad range of clean to furiously overdriven tones, the V2 does so without the duplication of knobs and switches you find on some multi-channel heads. The Clean and S.S. (solidstate) Overdrive channels share a set of tone controls, and there is a volume boost function when you pull the Treble pot, which only works in S.S. mode. The Tube Overdrive channel has its own EQ controls along with Attack and Bright switches. Completing the knob count are global Master, Density, and Presence controls, as well as a 6-band graphic EQ that can be assigned to any of the channels.
Appearance-wise, the Archetype looks cool with its metal faceplate, blue indicator lights, and thick metal grille. Tech geeks will appreciate the giant power transformer and the large heat sink in the center of the chassis, which has a fan atop it to pull cooling air though the silicon transistors. Recessed handles on the 49 lb head make it easy to carry.
The V2 is all about gain and headroom. The fun begins with the S.S. Overdrive channel, where we find the distortion coming on strong with the Gain up about halfway. This is where you get your heavy crunch tones, which can sound positively sinister when you click on the graphic EQ with the sliders set in “V” formation with a scoop in the middle frequencies and boosted highs and lows. The chunk factor of these tones is ridiculous, especially when you crank the Level and Master controls to one half or higher and start feeling the sheer horsepower that lies under the V2’s hood. Drop down to D or C, and the rumble shakes your insides. Switching into Tube Overdrive mode brings the V2’s highest gain preamp on line. Its dynamic sensitivity and great blend of tightness and tube compression allows you to dial in scathing lead tones with as much sustain as you want. The Attack switch tailors the response for a looser or tighter feel to best accommodate your picking style, and the Bright switch adds a cutting edge that allows solos to slice through a mix. The V2 Archetype isn’t the most flexible amp around— its clean sounds are sterile, and it’s also very noisy when you really crank up the gain and volume—but Randall knows a thing or two about metal amps, and, if that’s your sound, you’ll definitely want to give this monster a try. —Art Thompson
MODEL V2 Archetype
PRICE $1,649 retail/ $1,249 street
CONTROLS (Clean channel) Gain, Level, Bass, Middle, Treble (pull boost), Presence. (Overdrive channel) Gain, Level, Bass, Middle, Treble (pull boost), Presence. (Tube Overdrive channel) Gain, Bass, Middle, Level, Attack switch (Loose/Tight), Bright switch. Global Master, Density, Presence controls, 6-band graphic EQ
POWER 400 watts
TUBES Four JJ 12AX7s,
EXTRAS Fan cooling, effects loop w/ series/parallel switch and send and return level controls, slave out with level control, XLR direct out, dual speaker jacks (can accommodate 2Ω, 4Ω, and 8Ωloads), voltage selector, MIDI In and Thru jacks, footswitch included
SPEAKER Randall RS412XLT100BC 4x12 w/Mic Eliminator D.I. outs; $879 street
WEIGHT 33.8 lbs (head)
MAXIMUM MEASURED VOLUME 127 dB
KUDOS Furious distortion. Super tight response. A beast in the power department.
CONCERNS Noisy at high gain and volume settings.