Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

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RichM
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Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by RichM » Mon May 05, 2014 10:32 am

Having spend the last couple of days playing the hellcat as much as I can get away with, I thought I'd post my comparison to the RH 30 head I've had for a couple of years.

Clean sound:
My 6l6 RH has a more 'hi-fi' clean tone with very deep lows and very crisp highs. The el84 hellcat has more chime in the high mids and a little less deep bass. They both sound excellent - just a but different.

Overdriven sound:
Now the chime comes through here too with a more aggressive upper mid clarity whereas the RH is more smooth in the mids but with a little more fizz in the top end. The thing that surprised me is that I get better note separation and definition with the hellcat - I was expecting that the boosted preamp in the RH would give more dynamics and clarity and whilst they are very similar in terms of amount of 'touch sensitivity', the HC is definitely more transparent even with high levels of gain. The HC also has more total gain than the RH with boost on full - ie too much!! :)

Noise levels:
The HC is noisier than the RH which might be PTP vs PCB - however both are quiet enough under high gain so not an issue just an interesting note.

Features:
This ends up being a big deal for me - there are a few things the RH needs that the HC has and this makes the HC a much much better all round amp:
1. Two channels - now I am a big fan of the one channel philosophy but you can do the one channel thing with the HC modern channel and still have a crystal clean option with the vintage - you can't do that on a RH.
2. Valve driven fx loop - the RH loop is my biggest issue - it sounds noticeably worse than the (valve driven) loop in my Jet City. The loop in the HC is wonderful and I am using more chorus, delay and flange as they sound very warm, clear and natural whereas they sound 'bolted on' with the RH. I also prefer having the sockets on the back!!
3. Reverb - now I have a hard-wire reverb pedal which I really like but the built in reverb is lovely and quite different to the pedal sound. I also am much happier with an amp that isn't dependant on too many external pedals for its base sound.

Build and prettiness:
Similar high quality construction but the HC is much prettier with the oxblood tolex and valves on display .... I am also much happier with the valve sockets, pots etc being not PCB mounted for future repairs and maintenance.

I bought the Hellcat as a 'dream amp' and so far it is living up to my expectations. The RH, good as it is, is now a backup ... for all the reasons above!!

Hopefully this will keep me from wanting a MK50II for at least a few months!!! :)

Rich.

leos
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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by leos » Mon May 05, 2014 12:11 pm

Hi Rich, congrats with the cat :)
For some reason, I have not found a really good video on youtube showing off the hellcat - and quite many for the RH and MK50/II
I have seen the HC described as lacking bottom-end - and I wonder , with the RH as the reference , do you find that ? I am a bit concerned, as I never really found the RH as having huge amount of bass.
What does the drive sound like ? Is it more like Vox AC30 with the EL84's or is it Marshally (like I think the RH is) ?
Finally - is it a "stiff" (unforgiving) amp to play ? I like the feel of the RH , it is articulate but still manageable ..
Cornford RK100 (SE)
Cornford Mk50 II Black #450 (Martin Kidd)
Cornford MK412 Black
Cornford RH30 Combo (6L6 SE)

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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by RichM » Mon May 05, 2014 6:05 pm

Agee - the RH has some great YouTube demos and nothing sounds nice with the Hellcat - maybe I'll post something if I get some time :)

Anyway re the bass response - I'd say it is broadly similar in terms of outright prominence comparing RH to HC - this was a major worry for me too as lots of people call the HC thin sounding. So I wouldn't worry too much about that although prob the MKs and the RKs are most bassy if you want that. The transparency and upper mids can make it a little harsh sounding to some ears but I like the 'bite' and lack of mush with neck humbuckers etc - this is quite noticeably different from the RH - I have an Ibanez RG with a bareknuckle Emerald in the neck and this still sounds quite mushy on the RH - super clear pick attack and note separation with the HC though :)

R.

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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by RichM » Mon May 05, 2014 6:13 pm

And to your stuff/unforgiving question:

I'd say it is a little more unforgiving compared to the RH - it does expose sloppy playing a tad more. It is in the same ballpark though - still miles away from my old Marshall DSL for example :)

In terms of the overdriven sound it is less Marshally to my ears than the RH - I always thought the RH sounded like a Marshall should - whereas in real life they sound fizzy and lacking in bite (well the DSL did). The HC is a bit further away but never owned an AC30 so not sure whether it is similar - perhaps it just sounds Cornfordy eh??

R.

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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by RichM » Sun May 18, 2014 9:51 am

Leos,

Got a better answer to your question now I have played around some more with the two amps side by side. The RH is much closer in sound to the vintage channel of the HC and if you boost it the tones are in the same ballpark. Switching to the modern channel on the HC gives more bass and treble - I guess kinda like the classic V eq on Mesa etc - so I get more bass volume (and extension) with the HC vs the RH although this comes with the extra bite/treble too which some I know find a little aggressive. Dialling in the HC does take a little longer than the RH (which just sounds good, and broadly similar, wherever you put the dials) and it is more sensitive to different pickups etc but you end up with quite a surprising range of tones available especially if you add the option of a boosted vintage channel as I now have.

Also I'd like to report - maybe surprisingly - that customer support is alive and well! I've been having a number of discussions with Martin via PMs on this board and he has been extremely informative and responsive - clearly taking pride in his designs irrespective of the complex/tawdry history of Cornford as a brand. He has pointed me at certain component values and changes to make sure my amp is 'on spec'. Great to see personal commitment to a quality product coming before politics and legal nonsense ....

R.

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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by 59Bassman » Mon May 26, 2014 4:54 pm

...nice one... I have the EL34 RH30C and I like the VOX-Y vibe I can get with a particular pedal engaged and also to add to definition - I output to an additional 1x12 V30 loaded cab.

Recently I have had great delight getting the RH to sound classic early Marshall with the EHX East River drive and my Les Paul... all amp dials under 2-0-clock as I do not like monster gain. I leave my boost permanently on too.
Still toying with:
PRS Soapbar ll, Les Paul Studio, Yamaha SG2000s, Gibson 335, 1973 Strat
into a Cornford Roadhouse 30 Combo (+ ext 1x12 V30)
BOSS ME5 - With Custom 'Boutique' Upgrade Set - see below:


http://boss-pedals.jimdo.com

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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by richard » Wed May 28, 2014 9:22 pm

Hey 59 Bassman - is your extension cab closed back ? How much difference does it make to your sound ?

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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by 59Bassman » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:17 am

The extension is closed back. The difference in sound is for a looser more wide spread. To be honest sitting in a smaller room you don't realise it but stand back on a larger staging and it is like your own PA system filling the void! Is easy to accomplish with any amp that allows for a 1/4" input to the speaker only.

BUT - REMEMBER! - you have to select the correct ohm ouptut from your RH and of course swap it back when not in use!
Still toying with:
PRS Soapbar ll, Les Paul Studio, Yamaha SG2000s, Gibson 335, 1973 Strat
into a Cornford Roadhouse 30 Combo (+ ext 1x12 V30)
BOSS ME5 - With Custom 'Boutique' Upgrade Set - see below:


http://boss-pedals.jimdo.com

richard
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Re: Hellcat vs Roadhouse 30 - initial experience

Post by richard » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:26 pm

Bassman - are you running both speakers from the 8 ohm taps ?

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