Well I’ve finally tried a JVM410 head so here goes….
Overall the construction is the usual Marshall….birch ply cab, steel chassis, black tolex. Marshall have abandoned the slimline plastic vents and gone back to the JCM800/900 style top vent.
The back panel has both a serial & parrallel FX loops, the parrallel has a level control and the speaker connectors actually have a guide to how to connect regarding ohm..age and the like, so the chances of blowing up the head through misconnection are pretty much nil.
The controls are remisniscent of a TSL100, however the mode buttons do look a bit plasticy & naff, other than that minor point, it looks like it means business.
The big plus of this 4 channel multi mode head, is its user interface. Someone at Marshall has clearly realised that although theres a generation who’ve grown up on multi FX and line 6 pods, many guitarists will be intimidated by an amp head with 28 controls on its front panel.So everything is very simple to use. The fact its programmable means it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be
By pressing the 1st button on the 6 function footswitch you can access channel ones clean sound, tap it again and it goes to amber mode, which provides a nice tight clean which was almost Fender twinish, tap again and in red mode theirs a nice almost breaking up type clean. Kinda country ish. Its possible to go through the first four buttons this way and access each channel and each mode, as well as solo boost and reverb.
The test guitar, a burstbucker equipped Les Paul gave all the right noises on the Crunch channel. The usual ‘Classic’ Rock type sounds are all there, But if anything I thought they were a bit subdued.
OD1 is probably the best channel as far as distortion goes, using the modes I was able to get some pretty good sounds, it was like a TSL only slightly more refined as regarding the articulation of individual notes, especially at the lower end. Big riffs sounded big and well defined. Amber mode on OD1 was superb. A big modern hi gain crunch with plenty of low end definition. All the Tool/Deftones type sounds are here.
OD2 Would be good for soloing, personally I found it way over gained for riffing, but I imagine if Metal’s your thing then you’d spend all day on this channel. But tonally it was more kinda Randall-ish, more transistorised sounding. I guess if your into Hatebreed/Pantera et al this channel is for you.
The footswitch interacts with all the front panel controls, so its possible to set them up anyway you wish, in addition the dual master volumes are a godsend, beside solo boosts I think the ability to raise your channel volume mid song at a gig a realistic benefit for sure. The footswitch’s functionality means you could have the whole gig programmed up on it. Or if you’ve rack mounted FX or a midi compatible multi effect. You could really go to town, it would be like having a JMP-1 in a power amp. The other big plus is by using a 1/4″ jack cable to link the footswitch to the amp, if it does fail its quickly replaceable. As someone who’s had a few failiures with the TSL’s 5 way switch, this feature is long overdue.
Instead of the JCM2000′s scoop and deep switches we get the mosfet powered resonance control from the Mode 4, using this and the prescence controls along with each channels 3 band EQ, I was able to get a fairly wide range of tones. No it doesn’t sound like a Boogie, but the whole point is that it sounds like a Marshall.
The accutronics reverb of earlier Marshalls has been replaced by a digital plate. This is actually sensible as it reduced weight and does not make a rattling noise when the amp is in the back of a car/van. I also imagine it assists in keeping the retail price down as well.
My overall impression is of a good solid working mans valve head, essentially this is a refined TSL. My only criticism is the front panel, its too busy, I think if Marshall had gone for one set of global programmable gain-bass-mid-treble-channel volume controls like the H & K Switchblade, then this amp would only have around half the control knobs and retain all of the functions. Somehow too many buttons don’t go with a Marshall in my humble opinion.
However the price is the real Killer, the RRP of £899 translates to £750-879 in the real world. The only amp that comes anywhere close in specification at this price is the H&K switchblade although thats not as good for ‘Classic rock’ type tones and won’t hold its residual value quite as well.
Overall this is an impressive package, the tones alone are good, but the way the JVM interacts with the user is worth the price of admission alone.