TOP SHELF: Vic­tory V130 The Su­per Count­ess

ALEX WIL­SON CHECKS OUT THIS HOT-RODDED ROCK MA­CHINE FROM ONE OF TO­DAY’S BIG­GEST UP­START AMP COM­PA­NIES.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

The amp’s phys­i­cal build looks el­e­gant and feels depend­able. There’s a nice heft to the wood and steel frame, com­pli­mented by a classy de­sign and colour scheme. While you cer­tainly couldn’t fit the V130 in the over­head com­part­ment, it still feels rel­a­tively com­pact and light­weight for its prod­uct class.

Turn­ing it on, play­ers fa­mil­iar with the orig­i­nal V30 will im­me­di­ately hear fa­mil­iar sounds. While the newer amp is over­all brighter than its an­ces­tor, it re­tains the same core tone and gain struc­ture. The clean tone is punchy and as­sertive. The in­creased wattage means there’s far more head­room than could be man­aged on the orig­i­nal Count­ess, yet a player can still dig into the cir­cuit and find that pleas­ing tube com­pres­sion if they de­sire.

En­gag­ing the voice switch adds some ex­tra gain. Sound­ing sim­i­lar to a Full­tone OCD through a Fen­der Twin, the crunchy brash­ness of this set­ting would be a fine match for clas­sic rock play­ing.

There’s a cer­tain some­thing to the V130's over­drive chan­nel that just works. It’s got strong Mar­shall and Mesa notes on the pal­ette, with an af­ter­taste of Soldano. The gen­er­ous sat­u­ra­tion of the cir­cuit never sac­ri­fices clar­ity, in­stead adding lay­ers of har­monic depth to the dis­tor­tion. You'll need to hear it for your­self, but suf­fice to say, Vic­tory are on to some­thing with this tone that feels both fresh and fa­mil­iar.

In terms of voic­ing, the over­drive chan­nel’s Voice II is mod­eled on the old V30. It’s the heav­i­est of the two, em­pha­sis­ing thick bass and ex­tra gain. Voice I of­fers a smidge less dis­tor­tion, cuts the bass slightly and bright­ens up the tops. I like how the Voice switch of­fers a dif­fer­ent take on the same sound, rather than rad­i­cally al­ter­ing it.

The same could be said for the voice on the clean chan­nel, and the over­all ef­fect here is to give the amp a real sense of sonic unity – which it achieves whole­heart­edly. A player will find that there’s real ver­sa­til­ity here, but all the footswitch­able changes don’t com­pro­mise the or­ganic feel­ing of the amp. It feels like its re­spond­ing holis­ti­cally as it gets pushed in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. This is com­ple­mented by the shared EQ, which I can hon­estly say is one of the best and most mu­si­cal gui­tar amp EQs I’ve en­coun­tered. It may not be much to look at, but each con­trol af­fects the sound in such a grat­i­fy­ing and use­ful way.

For in­stance, push the midrange all the way and your gui­tar will be honk­ing and snarling with the best of them. Pull it back all the way, how­ever, and you’ll be rock­ing a smil­ing EQ that ac­tu­ally sounds... Good! Th­ese choices trans­late re­ally well across the dif­fer­ent chan­nels, giv­ing the amp real ver­sa­til­ity.

Say you’re do­ing a gig or project that re­quires a dark gui­tar tone - just ad­just the EQ to get in the right spot, and you still have those same fa­mil­iar tonal moves avail­able via the chan­nels and voice switch­ing. There’s a lot to rec­om­mend this school of amp de­sign, which favours broad strokes over finicky de­tail.

If that's not your cup of tea, then this may not be the amp for you. But, bear in mind that if you’re sold on the ba­sic tones here, it wouldn’t be hard to add some ex­tra EQ flex­i­bil­ity via a stomp­box.

IN-DEPTH SPEC­I­FI­CA­TIONS

With a di­verse lineup of high-qual­ity tube heads al­ready on the shelf, the V130 Su­per Count­ess only helps firm Vic­tory’s po­si­tion at the fore­front of mod­ern bou­tique amp man­u­fac­tur­ing. The orig­i­nal V30 Count­ess, small enough for air­line carry-on, was a re­mark­able prod­uct that gar­nered the brand ku­dos and as­so­ci­a­tion with lead­ing play­ers like Guthrie Go­van. How­ever fine as that amp was, its small size led to cer­tain sonic and tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions. Much like Fen­der’s Su­per Bass­man, the up­graded Su­per Count­ess ex­pands upon the orig­i­nal de­sign, rather than mas­sively over­haul­ing the fun­da­men­tals. Other Vic­tory mod­els have also ben­e­fited from larger and louder re­vi­sions – take for ex­am­ple the VX100 Su­per Kraken, the Sher­iff 44 and the V40 Deluxe – so there’s some nice sym­me­try there. The V130's two chan­nels are the req­ui­site clean and over­drive, with a switch­able voice on each chan­nel that amounts to four dis­tinct sounds at the player’s feet. The orig­i­nal Count­ess had 40 watts of power, but the V130 has cranked things up to 100 with high and low out­put modes. This ex­tra juice flows through four 12AX7s in the pre and and six 6L6s in the power sec­tion. Round­ing out the front­plate are seper­ate mas­ter vol­umes for each chan­nel, and a shared EQ sec­tion with bass, mid and tre­ble con­trols. There’s no on­board re­verb, but there is an FX loop on­board. An in­ter­est­ing tid­bit: the ‘standby’ switch on the V130 has been re­la­beled ‘pre­heat’. It does pre­cisely what the standby switch does, the new la­bel orig­i­nat­ing in EU leg­is­la­tion. Law­mak­ers are ap­par­ently con­cerned that the unini­ti­ated may leave the amp on per­pet­u­ally in the same way one may leave a TV set on ‘standby’.

WHY IT’S ON THE TOP SHELF

It’s hard to iden­tify faults with the V130. Sure, there are things it doesn’t have – I per­son­ally would've loved some kind of di­rect out with a phan­tom load for speak­er­less record­ing – but no amp can be all things to all play­ers. Taken as a rock amp that will re­spond ex­cep­tion­ally to a va­ri­ety of styles, lis­tened to with ears or a mic on a cab, there’s pre­cious lit­tle that the V130’s de­sign could im­prove upon.

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