- Feb 22, 2013
- Reaction score
- North Carolina
To start off, all black was not my desire but the one with the cream/Black jute faceplate was going to take considerable time to get my hands on. I can always change the face plate at some other time. That does not define how the amp sounds or performs anyway. I still have the original faceplate for the JP2C and thought of going back to black with that one too. I do not mind that the cabs have a tan grill. For this NAD thread, I will relate the Mark VII to the JP2C at times and not just because they share a common head shell. I will reference the Mark V90 if it is related or similar.
Where to start with the amp? How about glossing over what usually gets no traction. Clean, or in this case CH1.
Clean channel is the best I ever heard yet. Clean and Fat are superb. Enough said. GEQ on or off, it just sounds that good. Plenty of chime without sounding thin or too warm. Push the gain to get it dirty and that sounds great too. Best of all it does not get muddy but may need to dig into the clean modes to find any weaknesses or quirks. I got into the habit of just running the lead or high gain channels on amps and dial back on the guitar volume to clean things up as I often found the clean channels to be too warm, dark or lacking any desired character I cared for. Nope, Fat is great as is the clean modes. Having a duplicate FAT on CH2 does not bother me one bit.
The crunch mode is also very impressive. It is voiced well and does not seem to push midrange content in attempt to emulate a British amp of sorts. Based on the manual, the gain setting will affect the voice of the crunch mode's midrange. Perhaps I need to explore this in more detail as I just got the amp yesterday. In some respects, it is similar to the Mark V90 crunch but is also different. I will go into more detail on comparing the Mark V90 to the Mark VII but not at this time, just pointing out there is some similar aspects to this basic mode or voice.
Where the magic is: CH3. The IIC mode is true to its label. This mode nails the JP2C CH2 loaded with the STR415 to a T. I can see why others have sold off there JP2C after they got the Mark VII. If they were still using the STR440 or STR443, yeah, I can see that being the deciding factor. The STR415 Sylvania tubes that are difficult to get your hands on made the JP2C something completely different; Awesome.
Mark IV mode, not sure how to relate this to the Mark IV. I no longer have that amp for a direct comparison. As you guessed it, it will surpass the JP2C in all respects in terms of drive characteristics. I do not believe I can emulate this with the JP2C on CH3. Mark V90 mark IV mode can't touch it. the MK7 at its best for the hard and heavy. It can also be used in many other ways. It is one of the many WOW factors of this new Mark amp.
So what is new? I am sure you read about it. Mark IIB and Mark VII modes. I will start with the IIB as a follow up to the CH3 offerings. The IIB mode is different and nothing like the Mark I mode of the MkV90. This one mode is worthy of exploration. It may not be as saturated as the IIC or IV modes but still deserving of use. It can grind just like the rest. I have only explored the Mark VII with standard tuning 6 strings and drop-D on occasion. I have yet to bring out the 7 stringers. That will happen soon enough. The IIB does not sit back like the Mark I (V90). I did not feel the need to redial my settings on the channel. GEQ on or off, it just sounded great. Mark I (V90) is more of an acquired taste. You literally need to cut bass and midrange and make some adjustments to pull the bottom end out of the swamp. That is with the mark I voice in normal, not thick.
Before I jump into the other mode Mark VII, I want to point out a few observations: Crunch voices CH1, CH2 and Mark IIB are out of phase with the rest. I can assume there is a gain stage drop to achieve those voices. Similar to the Badlander Crunch and Crush. Crunch is also out of phase. The same would apply to the RA and TC lo gain channel. I wanted to point this out in the event you are playing with another guitar player with a different amp. There is a slim chance you may be out of phase with the other amp. Keeping that in mind, if it happens, bring in some more distance between the Mark VII and the other amp in contention as this will result in thinning out the blended tone of the two amps due to some sound wave cancellation.
CH2 Mark VII is nice but much more than that. It has an interesting voice and gain quality. Mesa says it is a cross-over between a Mark and a Recto. In some ways it is a good description but not what it sounds like to me. I have to pull out another reference as to what I feel is a cross breed of amps, The Badlander. To me it seems to bridge that gap between a Recto and a Mark. However, it is all based on the Rectifier preamp. Since the Mark VII may not have a cold clipper circuit, it will not get that close. In short, it is quite aggressive in some respects. I would say it is the Badlander like mode set on crush. This is one mode I do like just as much as the IIC and IV modes on CH3.
There is nothing I felt I could do without. Every channel and modes were amazing. This amp is a masterpiece, a work of audible art that has impressed me beyond my comprehension.
A note about the FX loop that some of you may want to know: It is about the same as the JP2C loop. Fully tube buffered from send to return. I ran this in stereo mode with the JP2C through a strymon Bigsky reverb. The effect was well balanced between the two amps. Just as a test, I dug out the Line6 DL4. I could not use that one with the Mark V90 as it would overdrive the input buffer and sound distorted and compressed. Clean modes and high gain, repeats and dry signal did not get any tone suck. Same with the TC flashback3. No issues with that one either. Those are the only two in my collection that the Mark V90 did not behave well with. I wonder what I did with the the Boss GT-100. I left it somewhere but have no desire to retrieve it.