Following on from the hugely successful Sheriff and Copper collections, Victory and Two notes have released 20 more speaker captures, available individually or within six-packs (of 5 cabinets each), capturing two more of Victory's cabinet range - the legendary 'Duchess' and highly respected 'Kraken.' Nick Jennison breaks down this impressive collaboration from Two notes and Victory.
I've had this discussion with a bunch of guitarists recently, and I don't think this is a controversial statement anymore: I'd be happy if I never mic a speaker cab ever again.
It hasn't always been this way though I don't want to play my old man/hipster card, I've been dabbling with "speaker substitutes" for over a decade now, from the original (and frankly, terrible) analogue filter designs, to early "IRs" when we were still calling them "convolutions". There's always been a trade-off between convenience and tone, with mics on a speaker long being considered the only "pro" option. That is most definitely no longer the case, with innumerable top-level players adopting a "hybrid" approach - a tube amp into a load box with IRs in lieu of the speaker and mics.
Two Notes were the original innovators of this hybrid setup, with their Torpedo line of digital load boxes being the first products on the market to combine a speaker load with IRs. Since then, their collection of cabs has absolutely exploded, with dozens of third party studios producing their own captures and collaborations with legendary manufacturers like Celestion, Mesa/Boogie, Vox, Suhr and many others. This is where Victory come in.
My clear bias towards Victory amps aside, I was very excited when the new Two Notes/Victory cabs were announced. Victory make (in my opinion) the best sounding 2x12s on the market, and Two Notes (again, in my opinion) are the masters of capturing the nuances of not just speakers, but the cab as a whole.
What I wasn't quite prepared for was the dizzying array of cabs on offer. There are four "families" of cabinet, each loaded with a different Celestion speaker - Duchess (a mix of 65w and 75w Creambacks), Copper (Alnico Golds), Sheriff (G12H Anniversary) and Kraken (Vintage 30s). Each family is further divided into an array of 1x12, 2x12 and 4x12 cabs, in both regular and wide-body form, open and closed back. As if that wasn't enough, every cab comes in both "Classic" and "Boutique" varieties, with "Classic" offering all of the industry-standard guitar microphones and "Boutique" being a collection of expensive high-end condenser microphones.
While it's impossible to cover every combination of mics and cabs in this review, but what I can comment on is how impressive these virtual cabinets sound. Starting out with the Kraken vertical 2x12, it has all of the tightness, punch and midrange focus of the actual cabinet that's sitting next to me as I write this. Similarly, the V30-loaded Kraken 4x12 is more open and sizzly in the top with a bigger bottom end, just like the Victory 4x12 I have in my rehearsal space. In terms of accuracy to the hardware equivalents, these cabs are bang on.
The mic selection is as you'd expect from Two Notes, with eight fully movable mics per cabinet. In all honesty, I can't imagine a situation where I'd choose the "Boutique" cabs over the "Classic" ones, since all my favourite industry-standard microphones are included in the latter: Shure SM57, Royer R121, Beyer 160 and Sennheiser 421. What IS interesting is that the Victory cabs come with an angled SM57 option, and to my knowledge these are the only Two Notes cabinets with this option. This might seem like a small point, but this is by far my favourite mic in this pack - on its own, blended with a 121 or using the VariPhi feature with a straight 57 for a pseudo-Fredman configuration. This mic option alone makes these cabs worth the price.
The Victory/Two Notes Virtual Cabinets are some of the best IRs I've ever played. There are so many options that it's easy to get lost, but even with a single pack, you get more than enough options. If you're a Two Notes user, you need at least a few of these cabs in your collection.