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Switch from RA100 to Mark 5:25/TC50/... or not?

Posted: Tue May 23, 2017 4:13 am
by kode
Thinking of selling my RA100 and getting something else instead. Love a lot about the RA100: Clean, HI, usable at low volumes thanks to multisoaks & gradual masterpots, etc. ... What I like less is the LO 's thin sound (not enough bass to my ears), and the very different character when switching guitars (strat vs LP need completely different amp-settings imo), ... Furthermore, the RA100's weight is a real pain...

I'm thinking of replacing it with either a TC50 combo or a Mark 5:25 + light & small size cab.

Had a very short test drive with the TC50 and I liked it. It seemed to be easier to dial in a less thin sound on the Blue channel, compared to the RA100 and the blue channel seemed to have a more bluesy sound, which I'm looking for. But of course it 's still heavy and big so not much easier to live with compared to the RA100 in that respect.

I really like the sounds & versatility I have found online about the 5:25, but I haven 't tested/heard it in real life yet. Seems like the ultimate swiss army knife (small, light, versatile, headphones out, ...), capable of a lot of different styles, including an impressive gain-range of bluesy stuff. But I'm worried it might be too loud for home use & too aggressive (gain-wise) to my taste: reason why I traded my Rectoverb 25 for the RA100 a year ago. And if I get the 5:25, I'm wondering what (small & light) cab is the best choice: no experience whatsoever in the cab-department (open/closed back, front ported, ... duh?).

Mark 5:35 seems a bit more versatile than the 5:25, but on the other hand it's bigger, heavier and more expensive. So the 5:25 is in the lead for now.

Not sure if it's the right move to replace the RA100 with one of these. Might be the dumbest move ever ... Really like the headphones out-idea on these 3 though. But maybe keeping the RA100 and getting a cab clone (headphones out), a Five Baind Graphic EQ (more bass in the RA100's LO) & a roadie (weight) (yeah right) would solve the GAS. I guess putting a seperate 5 band EQ in the FX-loop is exactly the same as a built in 5 band EQ? Or maybe there are better Mesa alternatives which I'm overlooking.

Availability of Mesa amps & cabs is practically non-existing where I live (Belgium) so testing differtent amps (/cabs combinations) is not possible. Mesa 's are really expensive here too, so having more than one is out of the question budgetwise.

Any advice?
Thanks in advance.

Re: Switch from RA100 to Mark 5:25/TC50/... or not?

Posted: Fri May 26, 2017 7:53 pm
by bandit2013
Do you have the RA100 combo or the head? I have both so I know well enough how heavy each is. At least the combo has removable wheels on it. To lift it into a vehicle for transport may require two people (almost weighs as much as the 412 cabinet). The head version has to be the heaviest of head that I have so that is difficult to maneuver if you have to carry it a distance.

If you really like the RA100 in respects to the clean channel and find the Lo on the thin side, I generally push the bass on the Hi/Lo channel. Yes the amp is loud unless you are using the attenuators. Hint, stock tubes will sound thin with the RA100. Mullard EL34 or SED =C= EL34 power tubes are insane. The =C= is on my top list for the RA but no longer in production. Bummer. Change in preamp tubes also helps with this amp.

I would definitely recommend the TC-50 as a replacement. It does sound similar to the RA100 but with a twist. The bottom end is present on all channels. Clean channel, it is not dominating like the RA. Lo channel definitely a screamer channel and can also be subdued with lower gain settings. Hi channel is just as robust as the Lo with bold bottom end. It sounds similar to the RA but not as spongy. Some have claimed the combo sounds great. I opted for the head version since I have several cabinets to choose from. Actually the TC-50 sounds much better with the Mesa branded EL34. I am impressed with it. My favorite cab is the Mesa Vertical 212 but the TC-50 will also fit on top of the 1x12 wide body cab (or even the 1x12 lonestar 23) as it shares the same footprint as the Mark V. My preference for the TC-50 or the RA amps is the V30 in closed back cabinet. May reasons to get the TC-50 as it does play well at lower volumes vs the RA100 that needs to be pushed to sound its best. The master / solo feature is great. Switchable FX loop and reverb on the footswitch controller and independent channel controls. Midi function and cab clone (you can use headphones and go silent) That is not novel though as you can do this with most 100W amps if you get a good attenuator. One of the best selling features that captured me was the use of 6V6 which will bring the output down to 25W. Having that capability as well as being able to use 6L6 or EL34 gives you options later on. This is my second Mesa amp with the Midi controller. I am impressed with how the footswitch works without any issues and it also uses the midi controller for channel switching. A better approach to the older controller used on the other amps. Head only weighs 35lbs, combo is 56lbs. Vertical 212 cab weighs about 75 lbs but it is very easy to pick up as it has side handles and your reach for each side is not that wide. The horizontal 212 cab weighs about 10 lbs less than the vertical but feels heavier since it has only one handle on the top, much larger than the RA head and feels about as heavy. Obviously the 1x12 cabs do not weigh as much. If the TC-50 combo is to your liking great. I would not hold back on getting one. No harm in trying out the Mark V:25 or 35 if you can find one to try.

As for the lunch box amps, either the Mark V:25 or the Mark V:35, I would probably go for the 35w Version if I had to decide but the 25W is great too. I have not had the opportunity to play either of them unfortunately. Not bad for an EL84 tube amp. If you decide to look for a change, all you get is EL84 so there lies the dilemma. Not that it is bad but well I like options. If you are fond of the RA clean channel from clean to driven, The TC-50 has that mojo and more with the other channels.

Sound test between RA100 using stock tubes and the TC-50, first two blocks are of the RA100 combo (V30 then changed to Celestion Creamback), TC50 though the creamback in the RA combo, and finally the Vert 212. I should have adjusted the bass a bit as it was on a bit higher on the clean channel and I was using the humbucker guitar vs the strat type. My preference with either RA or the TC-50 may vary but I generally go for the super strat for blues. ... cb-tc50wav

Re: Switch from RA100 to Mark 5:25/TC50/... or not?

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:49 pm
by griff3
Since I use both an RA100 and a MarkV (the big one) I can tell you that you simply won't get the same thing out of both.

Clean tones will match pretty close. But the RA100 is quite different from the Mark V. I don't know about the TC-50, haven't played one yet (I'm scared to, I have a lot of amps already.)

The main thing I want to impress is that, the difference between guitars isn't due to the amp - they all do that. I have to completely revoice most of my amps when I switch between guitars. The best option I've found is to use something like a Voodoo Lab Giggity or Xotic RC Boooster, or even a graphic EQ pedal, to try and even out the differences before they hit the amp.

In some ways, that helps... but in some ways, it negates the reason I switch guitars in the first place, so there's a tradeoff there. Really I just want to share my experience that chasing amps because your guitars change so much will be an expensive chase that doesn't end well.

Re: Switch from RA100 to Mark 5:25/TC50/... or not?

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:15 pm
by bandit2013
I cannot say anything to help you decide to go one direction or the other.

Weight wise, TC-50 wins. I have head and Vert 212 so it is much easier on my back to move around the house, and gig if that were to ever happen. RA100, well that is heavy either way you look at it, head with 412, or 212 combo. A Horizontal 212 is also awkward to move around having only one handle.

I would consider V:35 or the TC-50. Still different animals on the tone farm. Depends on what era of music you play and style.... The TC-50 can dish it out heavy on CH3 which is quite different than the RA100 CH3 or the Mark V 90W. I would still find it hard to let go of the RA100 even though I have two of them as well as the TC-50. However, I do like the TC-50 as it is quite versatile, EL34/6V6 and 6L6. The 6V6 option is one of the buying factors for me. Although the EL34 sound great after some time is spend on the glass. Also the feature set of the TC-50 is hard to ignore.

What griff3 said on instruments.... Strat output is not as high or in the same voltage range as a humbucker so there will be dramatic differences between the two. What may help in addition to griff3's suggestion is an optical compressor on the front end that has a boost function. Those usually help with the strats and or tele type guitars. There may be a boost transformer the size of a sugar cube that may help (gets mounted under the pickguard ) but not sure if they are worth it.

Re: Switch from RA100 to Mark 5:25/TC50/... or not?

Posted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:36 pm
by bandit2013
If you still have the RA100, now may be the time as Mesa finally released the TC-100. And it is the same size as the TC-50. Looks very interesting.

Re: Switch from RA100 to Mark 5:25/TC50/... or not?

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:00 am
by bandit2013
TC-100 is a bit more in weight than the TC-50 but not by much. It weighs much less than the RA100. The tone of the lo gain on the RA is intended to be that way. There is hope if you swap some different tubes into the preamp. Long plate 12AX7 in the Mullard family does help in V2 and a medium plate 12AX7 (Mullard CV4004) (RA100). the tubes will thicken up the tone on the lo gain channel, and tighten up the bass response on the Hi gain channel.

TC-50 has a similar tone on the lo gain channel (CH2) but the difference is you can dial in more bass which is very effective. The tone controls on the TC-50 are more responsive so you can dial in some really great sounds on CH2 (LO) without affecting the tone and character you have dialed in for CH3 (HI). Having to share tone and gain controls between two channels can lead to some difficulties.

I was very much in debate how I like the TC-50 relative to the RA100. I like both equally.

I recently got the TC-100. Now that could easily take the place of the RA100. I have not compared the two yet as I have been focusing between the TC-50 and the TC-100. I am impressed on the distortion character I am getting from all three channels. Sure when set aggressively the amp is a beast. Being conservative you get all the fundamental character of the RA100.

However, when it comes to Stratocasters and their lower signal levels, a transparent compressor tends to work well especially if it has a boost. Transparent being that with medium settings the tone does not compress and become sterile. Optical Compressors tend to be more transparent but yet effective with single coil guitars. They work just as good with humbuckers too.