Randall ISO12 Cab by Call_me_Switters
As I wanted to record guitars I took the highway to find the best solution for my needs, my budget and my studio.
I have a project studio, inside my house, in a residential area without soundproofing. I have a treated space and no problem tracking vocals, acoustic instruments, piano and small percussions. But cracking an amp? This is an other story!
I started from a white page. I had a Fender USA Strat and nothing else. The first thing was plugins. I tried everything. I had all this virtual choices, with amps, cabs, and pedals, but in the end of the day, nothing seems really consigning. OK, maybe some clean tones and some death metal distortion seems fine, but nothing in between, especially after stacking tracks.
I don't wanna talk about digital pedalboards. I tried a POD and some Boss GT.
Not my thing. Also I really wanted to use some analog pedals!
So I got out for shopping. Low wattage amps was the new trend, so I grabbed a VOX Nightrain and an Orange Terror. 7.5 or 15 watts, but all valve.
Also some pedals, ZVEX fuzz, Boss Tremolo and drive etc.
Next stop, load reducers and cab simulations. I tried that and it was usable. But...how you put a mic off axis? With a knob? How you try different positions? How you pick different mics? Passable tones with my new tones, but not fun!
Eventually I found this. This Randall ISO12 cab. I am in Europe and I didnt have other choices. USA have some more sophisticated manufacturers and also the DIY approach looked a bit naive.
I bought this. I had a real speaker!
Before serious work, I did some modding. I replaced the garbage foam with some really good staff, with more linear absorption and I attached a second mic goose neck. I consider a speaker replacement, but for now I am quiet happy with the Celestion Vintage.
This thing is build like a tank and it does what is says. I can crank my 15watt amps to the end, have the ISO12 in a closet and still monitor from my studio speakers and have the guitar player sitting in the couch behind me and feeling like a million dollars.
Now I felt more like an engineer in the area and not like synth programmer (that is what I do most of the time). I could change and try mics, find the best spot in the speaker, move them around, experiment and drive some real gear.
What about the sound you would ask!
OK, it is not as HiFi and easy to get as you can from your sterile plugins. You need to try and error and spend time til you find the perfect match.
As I have recorded guitars in different studios, with loud live rooms, I feel there is some boxiness and some mud as you go up in volume, but you get real tone.
You have a sound that responds better in the performance, zero (direct monitor) latency and you can feel the air moving and the valves biting!
I tried a bigger amp, and I dont believe that this box can handle so much power, but if you can be happy with low wattage you can get great guitars from that cab. It can not replace a real room, but is the second best solution for me.
I dont think that its a high end piece of gear and you might like some of the above approaches better. But inside a home studio, there is not a greater way to have real guitar tone and feel that you are controlling that.
It could be better?Sure! A bit bigger, with better foam and second mic neck.
But for this price and without much options I think its a really nice addition to anyone's setup. Even for a studio with live room, that wants to record other musicians at the same time.
Check it out by yourself!