The world of audio and musical equipment can be a tricky one to navigate at the best of times. With so many different products, conflicting opinions and confusing reviews, it’s hard to know what’s actually the best product for your needs. Luckily, the team at Mixdown have put in the legwork for you, sifting through the spec-sheets and putting the products through their paces to bring you Mixdown’s Picks - a new series of expansive, category defining product guides across our digital channels. Anything that has made the cut has rated highly across the board with the Mixdown staff, garnering a unanimous tick of approval from our staunch critics.
This time, we’re getting into what’s now a must-have for any guitarist looking to jam out or record awesome sounding tracks from their bedroom: low-wattage amplifiers.
Carr Mercury V
Distributed by: Jacks Music | Expect to pay: $4,266
Key Features: For a low-wattage, super portable combo with enough tonal versatility to cover everything from the ‘60s till today, the Carr Mercury V is one hell of a unit to consider. Using four 12AX7 tubes in the preamp section and with two 6V6 valves providing the juice in the power amplifier section, the Mercury V drives a total 16 watts of tube power into a single 12” speaker, which should be more than enough to cut through in a small-to-medium live venue.
However, it’s in the bedroom studio where the Mercury V really shines due to the versatility of the inbuilt attenuator, which lets you toggle between 4 to 0 watts as well as the full 16 watts of power. This feature allows you to tap into glorious cranked valve amp tones without needing to push your amplifier volume to obscene levels, making it the ultimate partner for bedroom rehearsals or home recording - your neighbours will love it just as much as you do.
Carr have added a line output to the Mercury V which lets you plug straight into your audio interface for simple, unadulterated home recording, or even into a PA for more volume from the front-of-house speakers onstage. There’s also two unique volume controls to tweak the High Frequency and Low Frequency volume of the amplifier, while a toggle switch lets you tap into different gain stages by alternating between Series or Parallel circuits. The Mercury V also offers three-way boost toggle to flick between settings inspired by overdriven Fender and Marshall amps, as well as a higher gain setting that uses the inbuilt spring reverb reverb circuit for a thick, saturated valve distortion. Combine all of this with a beautifully voiced three-band EQ, and you’re in boutique amplifier heaven.
Mixdown Says: From glassy neck pickup cleans and Telecaster twang all the way out to woolly overdrive and scorching hot tube distortion, the Carr Mercury V conquers all you can throw at it. It’s quite remarkable to play with an amplifier of this calibre; every control is touch sensitive, and allows you to explore the depths of what’s on offer in all departments.
I’ve never encountered an amplifier of this size that can cover so much ground tonally, letting you navigate the past, present and future of valve amplifier tones while still retaining its own discernible characteristics. The spring reverb also sounds beautiful, and makes the Mercury V a true weapon to have in the bedroom studio.
Overall: It’s clear that there’s been a lot of time and effort put into the design of the Carr Mercury V, and ultimately, it makes for what might be one of the best boutique combos on the market today. If you’ve got the cash to splash on a high-end amplifier to rule the studio just as much as it does the stage, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than this.
Get in touch with Jacks Music to find out more about Carr Amplifiers in Australia.