NAD: Quilter Aviator 12 - Review

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by HillbillySims, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. HillbillySims

    HillbillySims Supporting Member

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    UPDATED - I did a quick non-PRO demo of some of the tones. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu1Qw...ature=youtu.be

    My aviator just came in today & I couldnt wait to get it home & unpackage it.

    When I took it out of the box the 1st thing I noticed is it was easily manageable weight wise (YET) heavy enough to realize it was quality construction. The fit, finish, tolex work & screenprinting look fantastic.

    The 2nd thing that struck me was it had this perfect mix of "vintage" looks while having very subtle modernality. Not sure if that make sense. I guess I'm saying, you can tell its a new amp, but it has that vintage/boutiquey vibe.

    So I finally got it home & tested it out with an american deluxe ash tele with Lindy Fralin blues specials.

    Clean Channel - very clean, crisp, detailed. I was worried about the single tone knob (until I tried it).. man it is so useable throughout the range & I don't miss the mid/bass knobs. I was really worried about this. If I had to compare the clean channel to any other amp I've played/owned I would have to compare it to 3 seperate amps (because there are many various characteristics you can soak out of it)... 1st, it reminds me of the clean channel on my old Pearce G2R amp and Evans JE150....very crisp, studio clean sounding. When bump the volume up a little & dial out a little of the highs it responds very much like a deluxe reverb except the ability to be much louder. My personal experience was the tone of the "AMP" didnt vary a whole lot between lower volumes & moderate volumes. Any variances I noticed I think are attributed more to the speaker in how it handles various amounts of power thrown at it (<< more on that later) *UPDATE - its a "little" bright with a brighter single coil guitar, but bassy enough with the tone turned down. Plenty of highs throughout the range for humbucker guitars & darker guitars

    GAIN CHANNEL - This is a SUPER useful channel, I could see myself using it a lot!...not just for gain sounds... but for clean all the way through higher gain. Lets talk about the clean 1st. At lower gain settings it reminds me loosely of the clean channel on my Bogner Shiva (which has a gain & volume level as well). Just a fat, smooth sound with no fizziness. As I bumped up the gain a little more I started hearing a lot of those tones you hear from Fender Deluxe's cranked in the studio on so many country albums in the last 20 years.. just that edge of breakup that'll get nasty if you dig in. For this alone, I could see me being able to use this amp on my country gigs without even taking any pedals... I could get by without a compressor pedal because the sustain is very good & it seems to slightly compress naturally. As you turn the gain up it gets a little nastier but not super high gain. I would compare the mid to high gains to my Xotic BB preamp. Others may disagree, but thats what it reminds me of. If you've ever played a Pritchard amp & liked it, this amp would please you tone wise.. it reminds me of the pritchard while being much more affordable.

    REVERB: VERY VERY NICE!! I love the reverb level along with the dwell level. The only other amp Ive ever had with this was the Dr.Z EZG-50. I cant remember enough about the reverb on that amp to compare it, but the verb on the Quilter is very nice, useable & sounds real. I like it.

    NEGATIVE THOUGHTS? Just to be fair & honest, I always try to think about anything that I didnt like or I feel could be improved. Let me tell you, there isnt much to not love about this amp. I've owned all the popular solid states, modeling amps, Fractal Ultra, Bogners, Kittyhawks, 3rd Power American Dream, etc etc.. and this amp would be right at home on stage with me. Am I saying it is as good or better than high end tube amps? NO. It is different & has it's own unique positive characteristics. I am saying I would be totally comfortable playing the amp at a gig because it is fully capable tone-wise & output wise.

    But if I were to pick 1 thing I wasnt in love with (and there is ONLY 1 thing).. It would be the stock speaker. Not because the tone is bad. The tone is very nice. However this is a very powerful amp, for me personally, the speaker breaks up too soon (which is at a fairly moderate level)... it isnt a slack speaker. We all have preferences right!?. So I hooked the quilter up to a cab at the house with an EVM12L & WOW!... Now this thing sounded like a fat Fender Twin or something. So I was able to confirm it wasnt the amp breaking up at higher volumes.. just the speaker. Which I was glad to find out. As I turned the gain up more & more & turned up the bass.. this thing could punch out quite a whollop.

    Final Thoughts: In it's factory layout..I this is a very capable amp for studio guys, church players, as well as bands that don't tend to play at blistering stage levels. If you are a louder band, I would suggest swapping out for a EVM12L, Swamp-Thang, or other similar high wattage amp that can handle some massive bottom end because this Quilter can dish it out.

    I am assuming this would be a very reliable amp & I feel VERY confident with Quilter's customer service so far should a problem ever arise.

    Is it worth $899?.. for me personally, yes. It sounds better than some tube amps I have owned & sounds better than most solid states I've owned.

    I hope this review has been helpful for anyone trying to decide whether to buy one or not. Thanks, Anthony

    A FEW PICS OF THE AMP
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2013
  2. Bikedude

    Bikedude Gold Supporting Member

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    Nice review Anthony,now you have me gassin again!
     
  3. ripoffriffs

    ripoffriffs Supporting Member

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    So I shouldn't expect the gain voicing to be British-like or Marshally? Or even trainwreck like?

    Is there a tube bounce or spongy feel especially when just strumming chords?
     
  4. HillbillySims

    HillbillySims Supporting Member

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    the higher gain settings do not sound "buzz-saw" or metalzone sounding. They sound more like a JCM800 maybe? Its not super high gain, but definately enough to get you into all the ACDC territory or some of Eddie's medium gain rhythms.

    Trainwreck?..eh? All I can compare it to as far as a trainwreck goes is that "other" 100 watt solid state amp head meant to sound like a trainwreck.. I owned it & I can 100% say I LOVE the gain channel on the Quilter compared to that trainwreck based amp. Ive never played a trainwreck so I dont know how to do an honest comparison. If the "other" amp sounded like a trainwreck, I'd say I wouldnt like a trainwreck then. The clean channel on the Quilter sounds better than the trainwreck clone too.

    I usually refrain from mentioning other brands in any negative way. I only compared the R****C****** amp due to the trainwreck question & since it is ALSO a 100 watt solid state based amp.

    As far as the sponge comment...there is "some" spongyness but I would characterize it as "light sag"...just enough to give it a tube'ish sound. Hope this helps
     
  5. scolfax

    scolfax Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the detailed review! The only thing I am still on the fence about is whether to get the 8" or the 12". I don't need a ton of volume, and the size/weight of the 8" sounds really appealing.
     
  6. McShred

    McShred Supporting Member

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    Does the gain channel on this compare to the Flexibility and tube feel of the Tech 21 amps?
     
  7. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Anthony, does this amp have a loop?

    jon
     
  8. QuilterLabs

    QuilterLabs Member

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    It does have an effects loop. Yes.
     
  9. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Chris. Mmm, intriguing...

    jon
     
  10. dharmafool

    dharmafool Supporting Member

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    Thanks very much for your review -- especially for trying the amp with a high-power speaker.
     
  11. Kyle Ashley

    Kyle Ashley Member

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    Thanks for an excellent review! I may end up getting one of these sooner than I had planned, and the EVM12L idea has already entered my head. Sure sounds like a winner of a SS amp.
     
  12. HillbillySims

    HillbillySims Supporting Member

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    mcShred, I didnt even think about the Trademark 60. Yeah, the gain channel DOES remind me of at amp on the medium to higher gain settings. But the Quilter wins on its clean to low gain settings (on the gain channel).. it just sounds more like a tube amp to me in that range than the Trademark series.

    I had spent a good while gigging a Trademark 60 & Trademark 120 a few years ago
     
  13. Bikedude

    Bikedude Gold Supporting Member

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    Get that thing on a gig Anthony, then do an update. What sounds good to me in my house, is often a different story in a live setting.
     
  14. dweebetweek

    dweebetweek Silver Supporting Member

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    I have a micro pro head that I use with different cabs and dirt boxes and it can definitely hang with loud tube amps onstage.That amp is scary loud if need be.
     
  15. HillbillySims

    HillbillySims Supporting Member

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    yeah, I ran some pedals in the front end as well & plugged it up to that EVM12L cab... its not gonna have trouble hanging on stage. it would be fine with the stock speaker too, depends on if you want some extra low end Ooomph.
     
  16. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    From what you're saying the drive channel would seem to be different than the Micro 200. It may be more to my liking than the Micro. Thanks for the info!
     
  17. Kyle Ashley

    Kyle Ashley Member

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    I just sold a TM60. I never liked the gain channel at all, and had issues with dialing in a decent midrange on the clean with pedals. If I was to buy an Aviator, I would probably hope to run it on channel 2, but with very, very little gain/breakup. If it was too similar to the Trademark tone, I don't believe I'd be keeping it. I like the Hi-Cut option on channel 2 on the Aviator. Seems like a cool function to mitigate the dreaded ice-pick.
     
  18. HillbillySims

    HillbillySims Supporting Member

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    Kyle, I think you will like the clean'ish to very low gain settings on the Quilter a lot better than the TM60... I know I did. I liked the high gain on the TM60 pretty good, but it did seem to have a little more of that digital sounding edge to it that kinda got worse as you dug in. The quilter softens a little as you dig in on the gainier settings. (more like you see in a tube amp). But for the money, I liked the TM60.. I think I paid about $300 for it
     
  19. Kyle Ashley

    Kyle Ashley Member

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    Thanks for the xtra info! Does sound very enticing and with the 30 day return, very low risk to find out!
     
  20. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Gold Supporting Member

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    Great review Anthony. It sounds like they improved the few things I didn't like in the Micropro I had on trial...
     

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