As we delve deeper and deeper into the mammoth stockpile of weapons of mass tonal destruction, we uncover new and unusual combinations of need and want that deserve resolution, no matter how small the target market. Things like fuzz pedals with phase circuits built in, permanently cocked wahs, buffers, noise suppressors and any number of other left of center ideas litter the fringes of Tone Town like marauders at the castle walls. Some have proven themselves worthy of board space, others not so much, but occasionally an idea comes to life that is handy in ways that none of us necessarily expected to need. Enter the Unleash V2, a re-amp unit come attenuator come speaker simulation unit so useful it’ll just about play the song for you.
Now, before I go on I must quantify somewhat, there are specific situations where the Unleash V2 is at its most purposeful. I don’t mean to sound like it’s going to replace everything you own, but it might. Recording engineers will love this thing thanks to its lossless signal splitting and ability to push an amp to the gates of hell without bursting mic pres like popcorn. The bedroom Bonamassa will too, thanks to the deceptively lifelike silent recording mode.
The idea is that it’s a powered signal splitter with the capacity to push and/or pull signal sent between head and cab, almost like a middleman in a real estate deal with a few extra tricks of his own. Plug your head into the back and then pass through via Speakon connection into your cab (or cabs) and you now have the ability to boost the amount of grunt coming from small wattage amps or throttle back your 100watt behemoth. There is an isolated effects loop perfect for boutique amps that don’t come so equipped or, as for using extension cabs to imitate a ‘wet/dry’ style set up. Across the front you have two dials controlling the output level of the two foot-switchable channels and the all-important rooster-head that controls the amount of juice coming in in the first place.
While there may be a fair amount of competition in both the re-amp and attenuation fields, few come as close to pairing the two quite as successfully as Bad Cat has with the Unleash V2. The crowning glory here is the focus on the details inside the housing and its ability to make or break sound quality, and as follows usability of the design. There is a patent pending on the Reactive Load Input, which is what makes ‘silent mode’ (where the output channels are muted but signal still flows to either a desk or headphone amp) operation sound and feel as realistic as it does. Matching output resistance at the flick of a switch and the fact that the input dial will never allow you to choke back too hard and ruin any of your favourite pieces of equipment are details that are all too often overlooked with expensive and catastrophic consequences. Never fear though, Bad Cat has absolutely thought of that.
For a company known for their refined yet rambunctious amp builds, I have to tip my hat to the care and attention to real world application that Bad Cat have paid here. The Unleash V2 shines a light on every option possible in the mysterious world between head and cab. It’s a sturdy and trustworthy addition to any rig.
Hits and Misses
Attention to detail both sonically and engineering-wise.