Matrix VB-800 amp

Discussion in 'Reviews of amps and cabs' started by C-4, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. C-4

    C-4 Member

    Mar 23, 2009
    Europe...I wish!
    The Matrix VB-800 is a two valve pre and Matrix SS power section amp with the sound and controls, sans presence control, of a Marshall JCM 800. It is 400 watts. Gain, treble, mid, bass, and master volume.

    The difference can be heard and felt, but not to a large degree. As with any valve power section amp, the tones are a bit more 3-D with valves. The trade-off is in the weight, primariiy. Where as the JCM 800 is a heavy head, the VB-800 weighs 4 pounds, and is far smaller, making it a joy to work with.
    At volume, the lack of power valves is not as noticeable, especially when distortion effects and time-based effects are added to the basic dry amp signal.

    The amp has an effects loop, wherein a digital unit, such as a Kemper or AXE, or other digital pre will sound as loud as you need to keep up with a drummer, and have a neutral response EQ-wise.

    It has a low and high input. The low input bypasses one of the preamp valves. There is an effects send level for balancing the effects signal, and a very small cooling fan. The amp puts out a clean, dirty, or anywhere in between sound, and the controls respond very similarly to how a JCM 800 would react. The sound is bold and punchy.

    I paired the VB-800 with a Matrix NL-12, neo cab weighing 16 pounds. This cab will get loud and has a dispersion a bit wider then a typical guitar speaker, but has tone that will not give away it's build specs as being different from a regular cab. The cab is built of European poplar. Upon striking an open A chord, I felt the cab for vibration and there was none. One such cab will work in small combo bands if not mic'd. Two of these cabs will hold their own with a harder rock group.

    The amp has two speaker inputs and as long as the impedance stays at 4 ohms or more, it is possible to mix cabs with different impedances. I tried the NL-12, which is 16 ohms and takes 60 watts, with a Marshall 1912 which takes 150 watts and is 8 ohms. The mix of two different speakers sounded very big and full, and more 3-D in feel.

    The amp tones are authentic to a Marshall JCM. While some players will not wish to give up their fully valved amps, at the end of the night, I walked out of the room with the cab in my hand, and the amp under my arm. In the other hand I had my guitar.

    I will be using this setup for both the Kemper and as a regular guitar amp setup. If you want loud, hook the VB-800 up to a 4x12 and stand back. It can get deafening.

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