NAD: Roadster Head

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bandit2013
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NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:50 pm

When I came home for lunch, I found this huge box leaning on my steps. I was expecting a delivery and it came earlier than I expected.
:shock: How big is this thing? was my first thought. The box the RA100 came it was not quite that big (it was the original shipping carton from Mesa). I pulled all of the components out carefully not sure if there would be a bag full of tubes. I was also looking for a big bag of candy since I bought it from Sweetwater (nope, not a big bag, but as usual there was something). :roll: not that I need it or anything.

I checked everything out and placed in on top of my Oversized Rectifier Cab. I did plug everything in to check to see if all was working. Powered it up briefly but did not have much time during lunch to do more than verify the tubes were glowing. After getting home at the end of the day was when I had a chance to play though it. Since I had some difficulty on my first go around in 2012 when I tested one in Guitar Center and came home with a Mark V instead. I took some time to look though some example settings and set it up. Sweet. Finally an amp where Tweed sounds great :P Unfortunate for the Mark V, tweed in the V sounds very brittle. Brit mode is very nice. I believe I will be spending a lot of time in both CH1 and CH2. Brit mode is very close to the Crunch in CH2 of the V. Even the Raw setting of CH3 gets into that territory. Set up CH4 for that well known tone of the traditional Rectifier and was blown away. This amp is far more than I expected. I did an A/B sound test between the two cabinets. The cab with the V30' was nice but waking up the beast though 4 EV is a pleasure I will never get enough of. I am at least thankful that I did not toss the V30's, they are the only speaker best suited for the RA100. Eventually I will end up tube rolling. I am dying to hear how SED =C= 6L6GC will sound, or the quad of KT77 I have on reserve for the RA100 or the Mark V. I did not go full tilt on the power and volume as of yet. That can wait until the weekend. So out of the box this amp is a winner!!!!! :mrgreen: Best of all, it is dark 8) I can boost the treble much easier than remove it. I really love the presence response. I have yet to get this amp to become brittle or too bright. In Fact, it is almost perfect. It fits very well between the RA100 and the Mark V but yet is in a class all of its own as are the other two heads I am referring too. I have plans to convert the Mark V to a combo unit ( have an EVM12L black label just waiting to be used.) so it will not be sitting collecting dust as I like to use all of my equipment and collection of guitars. Let the exploration begin in this new world of tone.

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bandit2013
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:24 am

I spent some time this morning with the amp in more detail. Bummer that I woke up at 3:50am. It was egging me to check the preamp tubes in the cathode follower circuits V3 and V5 (assuming it is the tone stack and effects loop that are cathode followers). The Mesa tubes are all the same. Mesa branded JJ 12AX7A. I have no plans on doing any tube roll with this amp. It sounds perfect just as it is. I actually like the tone of the Ruby 6L6GC. Those did not last very long in the Mark V (reason I suspect there may be a tolerance issue on the bias circuit of that amp considering how hot it is in the high frequencies). So far the only tubes I have been able to use with that amp without red plating are the SED =C=6L6GC or the KT77. The TAD 6L6GC-STR are nice too but prefer the SED. That being said, the Roadster offers a well balanced tone as it is. Somewhat neutral in the mid range tone which is actually pleasing to listen too. Best of all it is not tubo charged in the high frequency range like the Mark V is. My amp quest is complete. The Roadster is definitely what the Dr. ordered. Perhaps why I did not like it 2 years ago may have been due to the cabinet I was testing it through. It is not like I was in a huge showroom, I was not, it was in a sound proof room where the kept all of the Mesa Amps (under lock and key) with all the high dollar guitars. Also would have helped to have a sales person who understood the Mesa products better (there Mesa guy was busy with other customers, the tech who helped me out deserved the commission but the person who was unavailable got it instead. I know this for a fact since while I was paying for it, he came over and assisted in the sale. In other words the Mark V sold itself, where as a Dual Rectifier Roadster sat there waiting for a new owner. To think I could have avoided 2 years of tube rolling and experimentation of different power tubes to find what would work and at least last for more than 2 months). Off the soap box.

The Roadster is absolutely amazing. Very easy to rip into some controllable feed back, and yet warm and subtle for that delicate blues expressiveness that I have developed over the some 30 years of playing. I could not find a bad sound or voice on any of the channels that would make me cringe and want ear plugs. I tried my best to make it brittle only to find my SSS Carvin Bolt C (super Stratocaster) to sing with unbelievable tones. ( I am using Lace Sensor Hot Golds, on my other Carvin Bolt C, it is an HSS with the Lace Sensor as well).

There is a lot to explore with this amp. This morning I was experimenting with rectifier tracking in Spongy mod. This amp is just as much fun as the Royal Atlantic. The only difference, I can dial in a nice tight heavy metal chug with the Roadster. Next thing to check out with the Roadster is the effects. I did get the Mesa 5 band EQ and will definitely see how I like it with the Roadster. Also have a Line 6 DL4 to play with, along with the EH Epitome (pink Floyd in a box). Of course the Dunlop Crybaby will get some use as well.

I feel the Roadster has plenty of gain when needed. Not sure I need anything to tailor the gain stack. I may eventually try an OD pedal but so far not sure if that is required for my style of music. In a relative comparison of the Roadster to the Mark V, and the Royal Atlantic, the Roadster has the best clean channels I have yet to hear. My early favorite is the Tweed in CH1. Clean and Fat are also very sweet too. Comparing the Tweed in the Mark V, I have yet to figure it out as I find it on the brittle side. Roadster wins in CH1 so far. CH2 Brit mode is close to the CH2 Crunch on the Mark V. They are different tonally but I would say not one is better than the other. As for the RA in the clean channel (as it is not a pristine chimey clean) falls into this area (depends on power soak and gain) is just as sweet and can be rich and edgy like the brit or crunch modes of the other amps. The higher gain channels is where they all differ considerably. If they all sounded the same there would be no point in having all three amps.

In conclusion, The Roadster is one amazing amplifier. I am very pleased that I decided to finally get one. If I cannot get the tone that I am after with the Roadster, Royal Atlantic, Mark V or Mark IV, there is something wrong with me.

rabies
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by rabies » Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:24 am

sounds like you need an Axe FX. any tone you want. i'm about to buy a roadster. i had a RK1 and liked the spongy with recto tracking when playing along with Kind of Blue...
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rabies
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by rabies » Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:27 am

and i'm sure the mark V cleans are damn good b/c i had a mark V and rush guitarist uses it for cleans. roadster may be pretty good as well.

i'm planning on running a marshall dsl simul with this amp...
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by domct203 » Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:01 am

Congrats! Best of luck with her.

The Roadster is my favorite out of all my amps. They all have their own character, but overall the Roadster is just so much better for me, it has an "authority" to it's character that's hard to beat.

I've had mine since 2007 & it's still my A-Rig, the MKV sits in the wings for backup.

Dom
'07 Roadster Voodoo modded
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rabies
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by rabies » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:12 am

somebody needs to do a cover of this song with roadster (EL34's of course!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C--d2w4_26I

I'm going to see Helmet next week at the Viper Room, wow!!
nothing is more powerful than dynamics in the world of music; tone is secondary

bandit2013
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Sat Jun 21, 2014 9:44 am

Nice rippin sound. Interesting.

The Roadster could muster that tone as is.

I have done a brief comparison to the Roadster and the Mark V. It seems that the Mark V has more boosted mids even with the EQ having them reduced some what. It may be the preamp tubes I have in it. Hard to do a complete apple to apple comparison considering the Mark V does not have the stock tubes. Time permitting, while I do the conversion of the V head to Combo, I can roll in the stockers just to see how it stacks up. Having 4 flavors of Mesa Boogie to choose from is awesome. There may be some similarity between the RA100, Roadster, Mark V and Mark IV but they are quite different in the gain structure and overall tone. However, you can still hear that boogieness in each amp. Of course there is the difference in speakers.

Roadster = EVM12L black label in sealed oversized Recto Cab is total bliss. I tried the traditional sized V30 cab, not bad but the EV just kicks. Totally a incredible masterpiece of tone. I never fathomed that this amp could do so much. From pristine cleans to amazing grunt of a super axe grinder. This amp fills in that bridge between the RA100 and Mark V. I am still in awe of this amplifier. This amp can do it all!

Royal Atlantic = V30 (OEM from Mesa, made in England) in a traditional sized 412. Definitely the authority of classic rock at its finest. Blues and Jazz delight. Vintage Hard Rock made easy.

Mark V = EVM12L Black Label in combo from sounds the best so far and still can deliver 412 sound and volume (had the EV in the Mark IV for a short time and found the V to be perfect for this speaker format.) Commanding with the EV 412 cab, subdued with the V30 412 cab.

Mark IV = Fane AXA Studio 12L. Best 12 inch British speaker that enhances the tonal qualities of the Mark IV in its combo format. Clean channel is dry and airy, reaching towards that acoustic guitar quality. The Fane speaker is so far the only speaker I have found that I can really push the amp with the mid gain on the lead voicing without an overload of feedback (no phase shift). With the mix of TAD 6L6GC-STR (outer) and SED =C= 6L6GC (inner) in the power amp section and pushing the EV 412 cab is totally sinister.

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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by Chester » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:31 am

Good to see you've finally received the beast - It's a great amp

I am running TADs in the power section with a Tung Sol in V1, which work great. Totally agree that Tweed is less spikey than on the V. And Brit is addictive - secret for me lay in higher mids (through Marshall cabs)

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bandit2013
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:16 am

Yesterday, I did experiment with a few of my power tubes I have in inventory (I did order them for a hot bias of the Mark V)

I did try the Tung Sol in V1, V2, V4 and I put Chinese tubes in V3 and V5 (if these are truly cathode follower circuits, tone stack and effects loop, why did Mesa use JJ tubes in all positions?) Unfortunately the Tung Sols were on the noisy side, I had used them quite a bit in my Mark IV. I put the original tubes back in (thankful I numbered them in the boxes I stored them in, I suspect that Mesa must sort the tubes for matched triodes as well as gain and tone character, otherwise the PI tube would be out of balance)

I also decided to borrow three tubes I had in use in the Mark V. Two Mullard reissue (long plate) for V1 and V2, left the rest as JJ tubes except V6 which got the matched triode Sovtek LPS. For the Power section, I installed the matched quad of TAD6L6GC-STR. That actually brightened up the amp a bit. The high gain channels were very nice, but the tweed and brit of CH1 and CH2 seemed a bit different. After that experiment, I swapped the TAD's for a matched quad of Gold Lion KT77. Those tubes have transformed the Mark V into a mega amp compared to the SED =C= 6L6GC. I had a similar effect with the KT77 in the Roadster as I got with the RA100. Not bad but not spectacular either. I believe the bias of the RA100 and the Dual Rectifier series are not as hot as the Mark V simul class power section so the monster was not unleashed with the KT77 as I hoped it would be. I could if I dare borrow the SED=C= EL34 from the RA100 but I would rather not.

When it comes time to replace the Mesa Tubes, I may just stick with the Mesa tubes. I really like the way the amp sounds with the stock tubes. At least I have a quad of TADs waiting for use. However, if I decide to go a different route with the tubes, I will order them for the Roadster or Dual rectifier specifically.

rabies
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by rabies » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:27 am

afaik, Mesa rebrands JJ tubes. you may as well buy from eurotubes, it's cheaper. i had problems with a brand new stiletto from mesa hollywood a few years back and the tubes kept shorting. returned for a refund.
nothing is more powerful than dynamics in the world of music; tone is secondary

bandit2013
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:43 am

I also experimented with the effects loop. The delay pedal I have sounded just as expected. I did want to hear the difference with the Mesa 5 band EQ in the loop. It works great with the RA100. With the Roadster, it seemed a bit overkill. I may try it in front of the amp just for kicks. I would agree, the Roadster sounds great with boosted mids rather than cut mids. For now I am going to focus on the tone and character of the amp, what modes work best with Bold/spongy and silicon / tube rectifier tracking, 100W vs 50W.

This amp really sounds great with my super strat (hot-rodded Carvin Bolt C with hot gold lace sensor pups). Every channel, and all of the gain settings, the axe sounds awesome. I have a few other guitars to try out, some are walnut, maple, mahogany, koa and alder. I have plenty of time so no rush.

The Roadster is definitely a welcomed addition and could easily become one of my Favorites since it basically replaced the Mark V in its primary role as the driver for the EVM12L stuffed oversized rectifier cab. One trial I have not done yet, running two 412's. The RA100 does not mind giving up its cabinet once in a while.

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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:47 pm

Spent some time with the V30 cab. It actually sounded really good. Now I cannot decide what sounds better with the Roadster. The V30 in a smaller cabinet will be tight and have that dry character for that traditional Rectifier tone. The larger EV cabinet (which originally had the V30's) is a bit more wet in the bass with a darker tone but yet still sounds awesome. Running Both cabinets at the same time has its merits too. The reason why I swapped the V30's out for EV was I did not care much for the V30 with the Mark V head. I did not anticipate that I was going to end up with a Roadster. :o

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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:04 am

I spent more time with the V30 cabinet, was starting to get similar opinion of the V30 and the Roadster as I did with the V30 and the Mark V. Very easy to turn a good tone into mud. I will stick with the EV cab. Running both is always an option. Seems the Royal Atlantic is the only amp that will keep its composure with the V30 and sound great through them. I would have tossed them out long ago if the RA did not sound so good through them.

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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by domct203 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:26 am

bandit2013 wrote:I spent more time with the V30 cabinet, was starting to get similar opinion of the V30 and the Roadster as I did with the V30 and the Mark V. Very easy to turn a good tone into mud. I will stick with the EV cab. Running both is always an option. Seems the Royal Atlantic is the only amp that will keep its composure with the V30 and sound great through them. I would have tossed them out long ago if the RA did not sound so good through them.
Been down this road. A full boat of V30's in the Recto 4X12 can get mushy real quick. I've settled with a mix of V30/Delta Pro 12A in my bottom cab for Half-stack gigs, and a mix of V30/C90 in my top cab for the full stack (both o'size Recto cabs).

Try a mix of EV/V30, you might like it 8)

Dom
'07 Roadster Voodoo modded
'08 Stiletto Deuce II
'10 Mark V - sold
'18 TC-100
'01 Recto 4X12 Slant
'04 Recto 4X12 Slant/Straight
'74 Les Paul Custom
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bandit2013
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Re: NAD: Roadster Head

Post by bandit2013 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:44 am

I had that mix (V30 and EV) for a short time when I was using the Mark V head. I was still annoyed by the V30 as they were the dominant tone (reason for all EV in the oversized cab). I am happy with the EV 412 cabinet. I can't seem to get a bad sound out of them. Where the smaller V30 cab gets mushy, with the same signal the EV cab remains bold. Also, the tone of the amp is slightly different when driving both cabs in parallel. The V30 needs to be housed in a specific volume to sound good. I believe the oversized recto cab is a bit too much for the V30. Probably why I did not use it much for 14 years since it was easy to drive into flub and when the bass was cut to correct the cabinet was too bright. The V30 was definitely transformed into a great performing speaker when I installed them in a smaller cab. So much for that, if it was not for the RA100, I would not be using the V30's.

Now for a question. Since the Roadster has two cathode follower circuits (part of V3 and V5) why did Mesa install JJ tubes in those positions? Are they suitable for Cathode Follower circuits? Has any body studied the schematics to confirm the tone stack and effect loop are cathode followers?

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