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Carvin RL1018

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Kraig99, Jun 1, 2002.

  1. Has anybody had any experience with the Carvin RL1018 1000 Watt 4x10, 1x18 Stack? How are Carvin amps quality-wise, and do they sound comparable to any other types of amps? Thanks!

  2. You really don't want to know what I think of Carvin. Trust me, you really don't.
  3. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    me either.

    Carvin makes good amps, when you get a good one. But their quality control is not so good. Their speakers are not really good. They lack the definition of some of the better speaker makers.
  4. Wrigley


    May 26, 2002

    Ultimately your own preferences will make the decision, but here was my experience. Take it with a grain of salt though, I'm still a beginning player, and may not be the best judge.

    I had an oppotunity to hear the full Carvin 2x10,1x18 w/Redline 1000 head a month or so ago. I was looking for a decent, well-priced stack myself, since I was on a budget. I really wanted to like the set-up because it seemed like such a good value.
    I found the head to be decent (although very difficult to dial-in unless you have a good bit of patience). The cabs, however, were very lacking. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't like them. Later I heard the head with an Aguilar cab (a single GS112) and it sounded much improved, but still not as good as most of the other amps sounded through the Aguilar.
    Bottom line for me, the tone just wasn't there. It wasn't true, it had no life (no soul to it). The guy who owned the Carvin stack, also brought his SWR combo (to use to rehearse I guess). To be honest, to my ears, the SWR Workingman's combo (the 12 I think) sounded much much better tone-wise. Oddly enough, he did too. He's been trying to sell his Carvin stack, so he can buy an SWR rig. He didn't say for sure, but it seemed like he's finding that they don't have very good re-sale though.
    I also know somebody who had a very bad customer service experience with Carvin (which I think is pretty important, especially since theres no store to go back to, and everything is sight-unseen/unheard).
    Taking all this into consideration, I decided to look elsewhere.
    Like I said, I'm by no means an expert, but good luck in your search. I hope this was helpful.

  5. Wrigley


    May 26, 2002

    Time Bandits? Or am I off on that quote?

  6. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    It is interesting to see how many on this board dislike (and even hate) Carvin speakers. I've used them for years and love them. And in a review that is timely for this thread, the current issue (July 2002) of Vintage Guitar Magazine reviewed the Carvin amp and speakers. Here is what they had to say about the 4x10 and 1x18 cabs:

    "Run independently, we noticed that the 4x10 offered nice, tight low-end, even when we dropped the low E string to low B. With the attenuated horn, this cab is a great full-range choice that handles high power levels with aplomb.

    And for those that like it really low, the RL118 offers sounds reminiscent of '70s classic rock tone, similar to an old Sunn or Casino rig back before the days of midrange drivers and compressor horns."

    I agree. I sold my Ampeg SVT-410 and have been using a Carvin 210 because I like the sound better, and it is far lighter and more portable. Of course YMMV. If we all agreed this would be a boring world, and there would be no need for TalkBass...;)

    They also said very good things about the head, but I'm too lazy to type it all in.
  7. KB


    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Wrigley: Yep Time Bandits :cool: :D
  8. Wrigley


    May 26, 2002
    Sweet. I haven't seen that movie in years. I'm gonna have to go rent it now. I love the Legos at the end. :cool:

  9. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    Carvin speakers and cabs are not very good. i've heard a good bass player play through it and although it sounded decent.. it lacked sufficent low-end and had that wonderfull farty sound when hitting notes in the lower register... however.. the carving power amps and heads are great. I've played a head and enjoyed it (thought not the sound I'm looking for).. i'd say grab a carvin power amp and buy different gear
  10. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    I'll join the minority voice here. I've been using a Carvin 210 for a few years and usually get compliments on the sound. Easy to transport and nice focus to the sound. For big gigs, I add a Carvin 15, both powered by my SWR SM400S. Also sounds nice. I don't like the 15 on its own, but combined with the 210, it's a balanced full-range sound with plenty o'punch.

    These cabs are a good value and plenty sturdy. I'm sure there are lots of better sounding cabs (with higher prices), but often in the thick of the gig, that good sound ends up in the "mush" along with everybody else who's competing for sonic space.

  11. I have an older model of the RL1-18. I like it although it brakes up a quite a bit on the low end. I have seen this is a big problem wih carvin speakers. I was wondering if it is a flaw with the cabs or with the drivers. Would it help to get a different 18" speaker or is the cab to small. If it is a good idea to change the driver what would be a good replacement? I am using it in a bi-amped system so it isnt necessary for it to really nail the highs just thwe lows. Thanks
  12. The RL1018 stack is great, about 2 weeks ago @ Walter State(Morristown, TN) and a guy from a band called Johnny Feedback pulled up with it, it sounded GREAT!!!
  13. I'm not a huge fan of the Carvin speakers, though I think they're decent value and certainly not as horrible as some other folks seem to feel.

    I think the head is quite good, though. For my tastes, it is noticeably better than G-K or Hartke, for example, and to me it stomps all over the SWR Workingman. I never found it all that hard to dial in, either: I just pushed the mid shift in, left the graphic out, adjusted bass and treble *very* slightly, and I had a good strong fat clear tone.

    I'm not sure I entirely buy the bad reliability thing either. I've seen flaky Carvins, it's certainly not as if they don't exist, but I've also known more than one Ampeg to go up in flames (not literally), and I've seen Traces, G-Ks, Peaveys, and SWRs go belly up too.
  14. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    The only Carvin speaker I've ever had break up is the 15" in their old PB300 combo. The cabinet on their combos is too small to get decent low end, and will break up at high volume. I've never had a problem with their stand alone cabs, even when I was in a heavy metal band playing at extremely high volumes. In the country band I'm in now I don't even come close to breaking up, even when playing the low B string through a Carvin 2x10.
  15. I use an R1000 (series III) with an 8 0hm Eden 410 xlt bridged for 700 watts, and I think this combination sounds great. I also own an R600 (series II) and both have served me well for sound and reliabilty. I dont have any experience with the Carvin cabs, but their amps are top notch for the money and offer many features not found on more expensive amps.
  16. Wrigley


    May 26, 2002
    I haven't really heard of major realiability problems with the Carvins...although I do know somebody who had a very bad experience dealing with their customer service department on a repair issue.
    The Carvin cabs use a low-cost version of Eminence speakers. I've heard that some people replace them with better quality Eminence speakers (the Kappa I think), and they were quite happy with the result. Somebody on this board (in an older thread) commented that he didn't realize what he was missing until he had to replce the speaker in one of his Carvin cabs (it blew). Since Carvin uses Eminence, he decided to replace it with higher quality Eminence speakers and...Shazaam! Much better sound.
    Okay, so I'm not really sure I spelled Shazaam right. :D
    My whole point against the Carvin is that it would have been so much easier (better) to put good speakers in them in the first place...even if you had to charge $50 or $100 more for the setup. You very rarely hear of anybody replacing the speakers in their SWR, Ampeg, Eden, Aguilar, Trace, Bag End, with something different....they're good already.
    Take it for what it's worth as it is all personal opinion. You should get what makes you happy. That's what will keep you playing and enjoying it more in the long run.

  17. If you can, take a look at the July 2002 issue of "Vintage Guitar" --- the RL1018 is featured in the gear reviews.

    I think they're too kind when it comes to the speakers, but here's an excerpt of what they have to say;

    "...Run independently" (not bridged), "we noticed the 4x10 offered nice, tight low end, even when we dropped the E string to low B....the RL118 offers sounds reminiscent of `70's classic rock tone, similar to an old Sunn or Casino (sic) rig back before the days of midrange drivers and compressor horns...
    In all, the RL1018 performs fantastically as a stage or studio setup. At 1000 watts of output power, it produces loads of clean, deep sound. Carvin admits that it takes a bit of familiarization to get the most from the rig" (i.e., it has lots of tone controls), "but once you've dialed it in it's eminently versatile."

    My well-traveled RL1018 is a couple of years old, so it's a Series II. It has never let me down.

    If you can afford it, or if you're like me and need considerable volume for a 5-string, you should, IME, get better cabs than the Carvins.

    I bought my RL1018 before I owned a 5-string and began running the 5-strings through a Sansamp Bass Driver full time. The Eden cabs I bought since then handle high volume situations better than the Carvin cabs. But the R head is still a solid performer that holds it's own - at the very least - with other preamp-power amp combo heads, (or outperforms them, IMO).

    "Vintage Guitar" made a very good reco for learning how to use the head - push in all 3 Pre-Shape filters and set everything else flat or so that they don't color the sound beyond the filters' effects.
    Try that sound and then begin tweaking the other knobs from that point. Otherwise, some of them, such as the graphic EQ and the Parametric controls, can "fight" each other until the controls make sense to you.
  18. "...Run independently" (not bridged), "we noticed the 4x10 offered nice, tight low end, even when we dropped the E string to low B....the RL118 offers sounds reminiscent of `70's classic rock tone, similar to an old Sunn or Casino (sic) rig back before the days of midrange drivers and compressor horns...
    In all, the RL1018 performs fantastically as a stage or studio setup. At 1000 watts of output power, it produces loads of clean, deep sound. Carvin admits that it takes a bit of familiarization to get the most from the rig" (i.e., it has lots of tone controls), "but once you've dialed it in it's eminently versatile."

    You'd pretty much have to run the speakers on this stack independently in order to balance the volume of the cabs. It comes with two cabs that don't match in the impedance department. The 4x10 is 8ohms and the 1x18 is 4ohms and running the amp bridged will give the 1x18 the lion's share of the power. Now maybe supplyng mismatched cabs is Carvin's way of balancing the difference in the SPL of the cabs, but I think it far more likely that's it's Carvin's way of preventing the amp from going into thermal shutdown. I have heard more than a few complaints from owners of the RL1000 head that it isn't stable into a 2ohm load and it goes thermal fairly quickly. Carvin rates this head at 1000 watts into a 2ohm load, but the speakers they provide with the stack guarantees that you can't get a 2ohm load, ergo, you won't get 1000 watts out of it. I think that's pretty damned deceptive of them.

    Did the RL1018 sound remind me of my old Sunn Coluseum 300? Well, it kind of did. My Sunn, a terrific amp incidently, didn't have exceptional deep bass response and neither does the RL1018 as one would expect a rig equipped with a 1x18 should.

    Next, how could any review worth it's salt have failed to comment on the compressor that comes with the RL1000 head? Even Carvin owners who like Carvin find the compressor nearly useless. It's noisey, twitchy and difficult to control.

    I don't know who "Vintage Guitar" is, but their review sure doesn't reflect my impressions of the RL1018 when I tried it.

  19. Mudbass, it's cool if you just didn't like the amp, nobody with sense could have a beef with that--but you have some facts wrong. Carvin does NOT rate the head at 1000 W into 2 ohms. It rates the amp at 500 *a side* into 2 ohms *a side* (equivalent to bridging into 4 ohms, not 2). Nowhere do they ever say you can *bridge* the amp into a 2 ohm load (equivalent to 1 ohm per side)--in fact, they explicitly say in their manual, don't bridge into loads lower than 4 ohms. Thus there's *no way* you should bridge it into a 4 ohm cab plus an 8 ohm cab, which would yield a load of 2.67 ohms: it's explicitly not rated for that, so it shouldn't be surprising if it shuts down in that setting. Now, the 118s *used to* be 8 ohms; when that was the case, you could bridge into the 118 and the 410, but you can't now and Carvin doesn't claim you can. Using an amp outside its specs is user error, not manufacturer error.

    I generally don't believe in arguing about tastes--de gustibus non est disputandum, and all that--but facts are another matter.

    I have to say also that the argument about Carvin being deceptive makes absolutely no sense to me. As for the speakers they provide "guaranteeing" that you can't get a 2 ohm load, they do nothing of the sort. All it means is that to get the max power, you have to add another cab. I don't see what the big deal is. Many, many, many rigs are sold with speakers that don't add up to the minumum load, and everybody knows that all you have to do in that case is simply buy another cab or two. That's not deceptive in the least. It's common practice. To say an amp is rated at 500 W per side at 2 ohms is in no sense a claim that you are selling two 2 ohm sets of speakers with the amp.
  20. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I like my RC210. I use it by itself a lot. I used to use it with it's matched RL118 and have usually gotten good feedback with regard to the tone.

    It's not efficient like Edens, SWR, et al... But It sounds good, different, but good. No one expects a SWR to sound like a Ampeg, or Eden to sound like Aguilar... Every manufacturer sounds like itself.

    I have not had any issues with the amp. It seems to be well built. I am not too into complex amp controls, so I don't really use all of the amp features though. Mostly the tone knobs, and the EQ... so that I can activate it or not to easily swap between two different sounds.

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