Carvin V3M

Head/Combo: 
Head
Price Paid: 
£450
Condition: 
New
Country of origin: 
USA
Tube Type: 
EL84
Features: 

 

3 channel amp, 12AX7 pre-amp tubes. Channel 1 and 2 are essentially the same, with a wide spread of gain from crunch to high gain. Channel 3 is the clean channel, breaking up as you dial up the gain (above 5).

Separate tone controls x3, presence, volume and gain (they call it drive) for each channel, plus master volume and volume boost via (supplied separately) footswitch.

Each channel has an EQ boost option which gives the tone controls a wider range - and in my ears you're better off having that option on permanently, for clarity if nothing else. Each channel also has a 3-way switch, which can either act as a treble boost or a lower frequency boost depending on the position. This makes a significant difference to the tone, and it's definitely worth spending time trying out all variations, as well as tweaking the tone controls.

Built in reverb, footswitch activated. Effects loop (non-footswitchable). 3-way output impedance switch, plus 120-240v switch. Also blue or red internal light (or off), for that atmospheric glow.

 50w-22w-7w switch - VERY handy. 16 -  8 - 4 ohm switch for speakers.  And a direct line out, presumably for direct recording.

Pros: 

Extremely versatile - does very good clean sound, and can get a very nice bluesy crunch from the clean channel with the gain up. Also does a very nice clear high gain sound, cuts through the mix very well. If metal is your bag, the 10-0-10 sound is certainly good enough for me. Very tweak-able, with loads of tone variations, and controls do make a significant difference to the sound, so worth spending time with it. Very light compared to a standard head - mine's in a gym bag with the footswitch, power lead and a towel round it!

Cons: 

Not quite a "plug-in-and-play" amp - finding a low-ish gain setting on channel 2 I like took several hours of fiddling. Getting a clean sound I was happy with was easier. The high gain sound came pretty easily too, it's the in-between ones that seem to be causing me trouble. Having to buy the footswitch separately is annoying - who would want the amp without it? Also, everything is backwards - Channel 3 LED on over-rides the other 2, then you either have Channel 2 LED on, or off for Channel 1. I keep getting it wrong!!! And being Carvin, you're buying in faith - no retailers. And who gets a guy called FISTER to demo gear? I ask you...

Sound Quality: 
4
Reliability: 

Only had it a few weeks, but it survived a Transatlantic trip unscathed.

Customer Support: 

Not needed it yet. They responded very quickly to my initial enquiries though.

Summary: 

For the money, it's a fantastic piece of kit, and I'd almost go as far as referencing a Modern Boogie Mark with regard to the versatility and tweakability. The high gain setting does have a bit of Mesa Boogie in it - but no top end fizz, which is good. I've not tried to re-create more Marshall-y sound, but I bet it could. I've put it through a Marshall 1936 and 1960 and it did the business. It hasn't got the tonal depth my Elmwood has, but these days they go for around five times the price of the V3M, so it'd BETTER sound better! An excellent amp for those with a limited budget, or those wanting portability. I'd definitely get another one if it was stolen. Or get my brother to send me one - saved a load of money (£900 locally instead of $599). 4/5 because I've heard better - but not at this price. Maybe I'm being picky.

Overall Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)