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NAD: It has FINALLY arrived after 15 Months. Mesa Boogie Mark V 90 Combo. Truly a "Collection of Amps"


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Some may recall me obsessing over what colors I wanted on my Mesa Boogie mark V. I think the blue tolex, wicker grill, brown leather, and white piping turned out great!  It's a classic look, and the piping doesn't get "lost" like tan would.   I've only got a few hours in, but there is just SOO MUCH in this amplifier. The manual has about 40 pages going through all the different ways to configure the amp, which is a bit more complicated than the Stiletto ACE sitting behind it, especially with respect to the many power section options, Each channel has three main options, with a switch to modify some modes on the back, in addition to the overall Variac from the power transformer.

I will say that dialing in the EQ really takes a fine touch, partly due to the design, which has the EQ BEFORE the gain control, unlike a lot of amplifiers. On the up side, this allows you to really fine tune what is going in to the overdrive circuit to control the overdrive character. On the downside, it definitely allows you to make some genuinely BAD sounds, as if you have the bass set up high you get a flubby mess. They say many times in the manual: "As gain goes up bass should go down". This is definitely true for all of the "Mark" modes on channel 2 and three.

The graphic EQ is honestly such an awesome tone shaping device, I don't know why more amps don't have one built in. Especially with the type of gain structure there is, being able to tweak it after the fact on the high gain channels is just awesome. They even have a "preset" mode with a depth control for that "V" shape that has been made famous over the years.

Right now I'm still in the "breaking in" stage I guess. The speaker definitely is a bit more harsh / paper sounding than the same model in my used amplifiers. I'm hoping that will open up soon. I'm considering hooking up a stereo or something to the speaker and playing some music through it to help speed up the process.

This amplifier has the "new" designed power and output transformers from Schumacher, which was the company that made their transformers back during the 80s and 90s. My DC-5 and Tremoverb have Schumacher iron, and I think my Maverick does too. My Stiletto ACE and Royal Atlantic have Magnetic Components / Marvel Electronics transformers, which is the company that made Classic Tone transformers and went under November 2020.

273902532_10160449254268923_3156316600773087338_n.jpg

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Happy NADs!  I bet that monster really Boogies.  The people who can dial those in are often very happy people!  May you find great happiness!

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10 hours ago, tbonesullivan said:

I'm considering hooking up a stereo or something to the speaker and playing some music through it to help speed up the process.

 

I probably wouldn't do that if I were you... the reason being is that I believe the guitar speakers are designed to operate within a much smaller frequency range than what a PA speaker would be designed to operate in. Either that or use a stereo with a EQ rack or a sound board and dial out all the low end and extreme high end frequencies to match the range that you'd get from a guitar.

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If it ever comes up missing, it will be easy to identify. 🤣 I think my next amp may be a Mesa. Let us know how the time you spend with it treats you, please.

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20 hours ago, tbonesullivan said:

Some may recall me obsessing over what colors I wanted on my Mesa Boogie mark V. I think the blue tolex, wicker grill, brown leather, and white piping turned out great!  It's a classic look, and the piping doesn't get "lost" like tan would.   I've only got a few hours in, but there is just SOO MUCH in this amplifier. The manual has about 40 pages going through all the different ways to configure the amp, which is a bit more complicated than the Stiletto ACE sitting behind it, especially with respect to the many power section options, Each channel has three main options, with a switch to modify some modes on the back, in addition to the overall Variac from the power transformer.

I will say that dialing in the EQ really takes a fine touch, partly due to the design, which has the EQ BEFORE the gain control, unlike a lot of amplifiers. On the up side, this allows you to really fine tune what is going in to the overdrive circuit to control the overdrive character. On the downside, it definitely allows you to make some genuinely BAD sounds, as if you have the bass set up high you get a flubby mess. They say many times in the manual: "As gain goes up bass should go down". This is definitely true for all of the "Mark" modes on channel 2 and three.

The graphic EQ is honestly such an awesome tone shaping device, I don't know why more amps don't have one built in. Especially with the type of gain structure there is, being able to tweak it after the fact on the high gain channels is just awesome. They even have a "preset" mode with a depth control for that "V" shape that has been made famous over the years.

Right now I'm still in the "breaking in" stage I guess. The speaker definitely is a bit more harsh / paper sounding than the same model in my used amplifiers. I'm hoping that will open up soon. I'm considering hooking up a stereo or something to the speaker and playing some music through it to help speed up the process.

This amplifier has the "new" designed power and output transformers from Schumacher, which was the company that made their transformers back during the 80s and 90s. My DC-5 and Tremoverb have Schumacher iron, and I think my Maverick does too. My Stiletto ACE and Royal Atlantic have Magnetic Components / Marvel Electronics transformers, which is the company that made Classic Tone transformers and went under November 2020.

273902532_10160449254268923_3156316600773087338_n.jpg

 

Can I bring over my new blue guitar that I bought this weekend to play on that blue amp?

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13 hours ago, Steiner said:

Happy NADs!  I bet that monster really Boogies.  The people who can dial those in are often very happy people!  May you find great happiness!

Yeah... dialing it in is definitely an art, especially on the "high gain" channel 3. The low gain clean channel is pretty straight forward, and easy to get a lot of sounds. The Mid gain channel 2 is also pretty easy. I'm especially fond of the "Edge" and "Crunch" modes. The "Mark 1" mode pretty much makes me sound like Santana. Very smooth with lots of body, but almost devoid of any "snarl" or "bite". It also has a lot of bass in the mix, so using it with the "V Curve" graphic EQ isn't a good idea. Still, it is a great solo sound.

The high gain channel is A BEAST. Loud, Bright, and very easy to make sound "bad". That is the channel that takes the most dialing in.

10 hours ago, HANGAR18 said:

I probably wouldn't do that if I were you... the reason being is that I believe the guitar speakers are designed to operate within a much smaller frequency range than what a PA speaker would be designed to operate in. Either that or use a stereo with a EQ rack or a sound board and dial out all the low end and extreme high end frequencies to match the range that you'd get from a guitar.

I'm thinking now of Just using my Carvin Mach 100 and a looper to play 10 hours of Highway to Hell riffs...

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On 2/15/2022 at 7:45 PM, HANGAR18 said:

I probably wouldn't do that if I were you... the reason being is that I believe the guitar speakers are designed to operate within a much smaller frequency range than what a PA speaker would be designed to operate in. Either that or use a stereo with a EQ rack or a sound board and dial out all the low end and extreme high end frequencies to match the range that you'd get from a guitar.

No need to dial any of that stuff out...  just play recordings of good guitar music through it. That's what I've done with most every guitar speaker I've purchased in the last 2- years, and I've always gotten good results doing that.

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Ok, well after almost a week of playing with it, I would say that channel 1 and 2 are definitely the easiest to dial in. The clean channel can be smooth or it can spank, and get a lot of everything in between. You can use the EQ "preset" V curve to open it up a bit if you want, so it's good that the preset has a depth control.  The "FAT" mode is my favorite clean mode, but I also love the way that the standard "CLEAN" mode shimmers. Very black face sounding. Not QUITE the level of my Rivera Stage IV, but few amps are. The power options are really great, and the 10 watt "Single ended class A" mode is really something else. "TWEED" is also a great mode, and gets a bit of edge and light breakup. Awesome vintage sound.

Channel 2 has two modes I really like: EDGE and CRUNCH. EDGE is a stripped down gain channel, somewhat bright, reminiscent of early AC/DC type breakup. It's got some nice bite, but can also growl when you dime the gain. The CRUNCH mode is more CRUNCHY, think more Highway to Hell era AC/DC. Less bright and more mids. Very smooth breakup, great for anything 70s to 80s, and more. Classic rock is great with this mode. The channel EQ controls are useful, and I have used the Graphic EQ a bit, again with the preset, to give a bit of "air" to the sound.

The MARK 1 mode on channel 2 makes you sound like Santana on Abraxas. That's about the best way to describe it. VERY smooth. A lot less top end and more bass. A phenomenal single note lead sound. Not really the best for chording, unless you take out a lot of the bass in the sound. There is also a switch to make the sound THICK with more midrange.

The reverb on the amp really is great on all channels. Lots of sound. It's pretty powerful so I have to use it sparingly or else it is verb city. One of my complaints (a common one) on my DC-5 is that the lead channel reverb is completely anemic. Not so on the Mk V.

Channel 3 is still a work in progress. The modes are all quite loud and also have a ton of available gain. All of the channel eq controls (which are before the preamp) are very important to determining the gain characteristics, and the Graphic EQ is honestly almost a necessity with final tone shaping. There's a reason that most of the Mark II and Mark III amps had GEQs, and the Mark IV was only available with one. Heck the JP-2C has TWO GEQs.

I know some say that "well it's a jack of all trades but a master of none", and that's not really correct at all. Channel 1 and 2 alone are fantastic, with the lower gain settings on Channel 3, I don't think anyone would be dissatisfied with the sounds it produces. The biggest complaint people give is that it doesn't sound like the IIC+ sound in their head, which of course comes from studio recordings they have heard in most cases.  Anyway, I'll probably do another update once I really deep dive into the Third Channel.

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By the way, I share your opinion about the High Gain channel. 

The music I used to play (mostly classic soul, funk, 60s r&b, some classic rock and blues) of course never landed me there.

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On 2/27/2022 at 7:21 AM, gpuma said:

If you can find one of these 212 vertical cabs it is a match made in heaven.

Miss my Mark V. I still have it. I just don't play anymore. 

 

I'm pretty sure I'll be getting one of the compact 1x12 front ported closed back cabs to stick under the combo to give it a bit more OOOMPH when I want it.

Now I'm trying to decide if maybe it's time for my DC-5 to move on to a new home. It never gets played anymore.  Also eventually I think I'll need to make a choice between my Stiletto ACE 1x12 and the Royal Atlantic 2x12.

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And now for something a bit more interesting. Apparently someone at either mesa boogie or Sweetwater (or both) thought it was a good look, and made more than one. Maybe they have to order several in each color when they do a custom order?

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Mark5-112BBW--mesa-boogie-mark-five-1x12-inch-90-watt-tube-combo-amp-blue-bronco

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