From day one of stepping onto the amp sim scene, Audiority has focused many of their efforts on the wonderful world of solid state amps. Some amp sim enthusiasts get caught up in the dollar value of a particular amp when they see it modeled. Hell, who doesn’t like laying into a plugin based on a piece of gear that’s worlds and maybe even a universe out of their price range in analog form. However, not every legendary amp from throughout history carries a hefty price tag, some of it can be found at your neighborhood pawn shop for peanuts. In this case, one of the amps in question might just be one of the more unsung heroes in amp history.
When many hear the names Darrell Lance Abbott, Dimebag Darrell or the preceding Diamond Darrell, they think of the iconic Dean ML, the big ass hair, the incredible playing and obviously his very unique signature tone. Rarely thought of however is the amp he called his #1 for his entire career; The Randall RG100ES. His live stage backline changed many times over the years but in my 25+ years of being a Dime fanboy, it’s always been noted that he always recorded with the RG100ES. The amp really just never received the praise that much of his other gear did which always seemed odd to me because it was the amp that was always at the center of his iconic tone.
In addition to Dimebag, being that the amp came out in 1984, the RG100ES can be heard in full force behind huge names like Crowbar, Death (before the Valvestate), Journey, Dio, Def Leppard, Poison, Eyehategod and many others across a world of styles. Amps like the RG100, Marshall Valvestate, Ampeg VH140c and a few more were absolutely game-changing amps in the late 80s/ early 90s. Starting in the hair metal / shred game and then more notably with the blossoming death metal and skate punk movements, the amps sold really well because they were affordable, light, reliable, loud and had a lot of gain without needing a distortion pedal. As a result, many notable solid state tones can be found from that time frame which makes plugins like this a really nice addition to the market.
The Solidus Randy 250 plugin from Audiority features two complete multi-channel Randall amps; the RG100 and the RH150, three different EQs in various places in the chain, a dual cabinet loader packed with premium IRs, a modern boost pedal and more for a very reasonable price.
Audiority has found a very nice uniform way to present their amp sims which is nice when going from product to product. It takes a couple minutes to get used to but after that, nothing but smooth sailing and pure ease of use. The GUI offers the choice between a nice off white background that is very easy on the eyes during long sessions or the sleek all black dark mode that gives off a hint more of a professional vibe. All of the gear looks phenomenal right down to the eerie deep blue glow that looms inside of the RH150 (nice touch!).
As mentioned above, this is a multi-amp suite that features two different Randall amps. The RG100es is an amp I am pretty familiar with in it’s analog form but my hands-on experience with the RH150 is pretty much limited to firing one up at a local guitar shop a few times. Even the research material available online for the RH is pretty limited. The amps do have a few similarities to note but overall, they are very different beasts with different sets of capabilities entirely. Either amp can be found in it’s analog form on Reverb.com most of the time for under $500USD, how’s that for a price tag!
The first amp in the suite and the “default” amp when opening the plugin is the considerably more famous; RG100es. To me, the main strength of the RG is all types of rock and most things associated to said rock. Despite being known for being the voice behind the sounds of a few higher gain players over the years, the amp itself doesn’t actually have a ton of gain by today’s standards. Whenever the amp has been used to pound out higher gain sounds, an external distortion or boost source usually needs to come into play. The Randy 250 does come fully stocked with boost and drive options but we will get to that.
The RG amp is incredibly warm, full and crisp for a solid state amp. It’s so simple and easy to dial in that it doesn’t take long at all to go from genre to genre with only a few small adjustments to the controls. Starting with the amp’s clean tone, while it may not be the most legendary part of the amp, it’s a very serviceable clean with a nice feel and with some compression, verb and delay, CH1 was easy coax some nice country and blues tones out of. I expected the clean tone to be a bit bland or flat but I was happily mistaken as the clean tones for both amps actually surprised me quite a bit.
Moving to CH2 on the RG100 amp, the preset “Bare Bones Gain” provides a very nice starting point tone that can be adjusted to go in many directions. The quality of the rhythm and lead tones for all things rock-oriented is very high. It’s really easy to completely forget that the amp modeled has no tubes because the tones are just so warm and full sounding. The original amp has such a long history in the rock genre with many hair metal/glam rock, thrash metal and other 80s slingers turning to it for their main sounds.
Rock tones of all types are the RG amp’s strongest area but with the amp’s sustain switch in addition to some help from the included EQduo, Wild Drive and other components included in Solidus Randy 250, high gain metal tones are available and on tap. Using the Wild Drive’s drive control will help to add a little more saturation to the tone for the purpose of chugging and shredding with a little bit more of a streamlined sound. Modern and vintage high gain sounds are both possible depending on the user and their preferred tone destination. Modern is easier to acquire with the Wild Drive where slightly more vintage metal tones are available with either the EQDuo or no boost at all. My personal favorite high gain application for the RG section is vintage scooped thrash metal, before you know it, your jeans will get tighter, rip and your hair will grow long and tattered. (Perfectly white British Knights hightops not included).
Now we come to the RH150 amp section of the plugin suite. This amp is a serious gain monster of epic proportions with two channels of very high gain and a cleaner channel. The clean channel like the clean channel from the RG amp is serviceable and can be tweaked to be used for some really nice cleaner applications. The clean channel on both amps also works out really nicely as a sort of blank slate for distortion and fuzz pedals like the HM2, Fuzz Face, Big Muff and more (all of which Audiority also has available). The RH150’s clean channel has more flexibility and freedom throughout the controls and thus making it a bit better of a candidate for smashing it with fuzz and distortion. Using fuzz and distortion with the RH amp’s lead channels however is not advised given the already serious amount of gain available, it will only end up making a ton of noise.
I almost see the RH150’s Gain 1 and 2 being like a continuation where the RG amp leaves off gain-wise so users that just can’t quite get enough gain/distortion from the RG can simply hit the “Swap” button to switch over to the gain-loaded RH amp. As mentioned, the amount of gain available in the Lead sections of the RH is immense. Turning either Gain 1 or Gain2 passed about 7 or so on the dial is counterproductive as it only invites needless mud and harshness to the tone without really providing more gain. Gain 2 is basically double the gain of Gain 1 and as turned up, it sort of creates that “squishy” sound many know as “the brown sound”. It’s interesting because you don’t generally find that type of tone in solid state amps. To explain it simply, Gain 1 goes crunchy to insane and Gain 2 ranges from insane to ludicrous.
Audiority’s Solidus Randy 250 includes a few EQs in the chain to help shape, cut, boost and if preferred, even completely maul frequencies into just the right places. There is a nice list of overall presets as with any plugin but there are also presets for the individual components to help users get to know how they operate as well as with finding all the desired tones possible. Be forewarned however that the EQDuo can take some getting used to and it can also create some very undesirable sounds if not used properly or to too high an extreme. The EQduo (a mix of MXR and Furman eqs) is more effective with the RG100 amp over the RH150 in my opinion. The RH150 can really create some extreme sounds on it’s own so utilizing the EQDuo with this amp requires a soft hand and time to really get them to mesh in just the right way. However when they do, it’s a very nice combo. The second EQ (MXR 5-band) comes after the amp and it’s meant to alter the signal before it hits the cabinet. Once again, the individual component presets come right into play with my favorite here being the “Smooth Scoop” option.
For those that prefer a much more simplistic or modern boost set up, the Wild Drive pedal is waiting. This pedal is sort of a developer blend of two different boost pedals; the Horizon Devices Precision Drive and the MXR ZW-44 Wylde Overdrive. Controls for drive, level, attack and bright (tone) provide a number of ways to push either of the suite’s two amps nicely. I found the pedal to be invariably more useful with the RG amp but it can be really good at keeping the RH amp’s crazy amount of gain a bit more in-check. When coupled with the RG, the pedal creates a very nice cut and clarity. Starting with conservative boost settings with either amp is suggested as both amps seem to respond to the Wild Drive differently.
The dual cabinet section is new from the company’s previous VS8100 (Marshall Valvestate) plugin’s single cabinet loader. Adding the ability to blend files is a huge plus and the company does plan to add the loader to the previously mentioned Solidus VS8100 plugin. It can be used to fire up a wonderful selection of internal IRs from Redwirez, Dr.Bonkers Sound Lab, Seacow Cabs and more or any two 3rd party user IRs.
Overall, it’s a solid and simple component but I can see Audiority streamlining the design a bit in time. I would say I enjoyed about 90% of the IRs included with the Redwirez Legends and Texas Heats being my favorites of the bunch. Most of the IRs blend pretty nicely but I did find some phasing issues here and there that were then easily meshed with the DEL control. Whenever moving the DEL control however, be sure to return it to default when switching files as if left on, it can also create some phasing issues between files that are already match up nicely.
Having IRs in a suite made by professional IR developers is always a huge plus. With so much of any amp sim’s quality resting on the quality of the IR, it only makes sense. It has slowly but surely become the industry standard with premium plugins to have pro IR solutions involved and for me it definitely gives the plugin a lot more independence to stand on it’s own. Solidus Randy has a great selection of IRs from Redwirez, Dr.Bonkers Sound Lab, Seacow Cabs that includes a nice range of speakers and names. Users will be able to choose files from two 412 Krank cabs (Legends and Tex Heats), and an Engl Pro 412 as well as a huge mixed bag of files that sound great both on their own and blended in the dual loader. The blend of Dr.Bonkers files is random on another level but I love that the bunch is able to bring so many different sounds out of the amps.
On the Dime side of the plugin, it’s worth mentioning that for the most part, Dimebag did use mostly the same Randall 412 cab loaded with Randall Jaguar speakers when recording during his career. The problem with trying to nail that specific down in a plugin situation is that no IR developer has shot that cab and speaker as it’s kind of a rare cabinet. Luckily, the Jaguar speakers were made for Randall by Eminence who happens to manufacture the Texas Heat speakers that Dime turned to for his live set up later on in his career. Sure there’s a pretty big difference between the Krank and Randall 412 cabs but for those looking for that authentic Dime tone, the included Krank IRs do a great job with the Tex Heats being the better of the two.
As some that frequent our various platform may or may not know, we are pretty big on Stoner / Doom here at HASR and the analog RG100es is kind of a big deal in that scene so we had to test those capabilities thoroughly. Being a huge fan of many of the bands from the “NOLA” collection of bands like Down, Crowbar, Eyehategod, Superjoint Ritual and others, I know all of those bands have at one point had the RG on stage or in the studio. The amp handles being smashed with massive amount of external fuzz, distortion and other types of chaos and when I fired up Audiority’s collection of pedals with Randy, I found out the plugin acts accordingly. Throw anything you want at the RG100 and it will likely do a great job of bringing out the best in your pedal plugins. The RH150 can do similar things but I would mostly aim those applications at the RH’s clean channel. The RH150’s two gain channels work a bit better with a very light amount of fuzz out front but I like the RG better for walls of stoner / doom goodness.
If shred is your bag and obsession, Solidus Randy has a lot to offer. I managed to get so many amazing rhythm tones with the plugin but that was not the limit. When I started adding delay and verb after the plugin, I found an endless supply of perfectly cutting lead tones. The RG100 with the sustain switch engaged is already a formidable lead machine on it’s own but when I add some additional dirt and attack from either of the plugins pre-boost options, it really comes to life. On the other side, the RH150, really doesn’t require the boosts at all but instead just a careful hand to dial things in. The RH amp’s ridiculous amount of sustain, the slightly compressed solid state nature of the beast and the ability to customize the mid frequencies to such a degree all band together for a serious shred machine. The plugin does not come with delay or reverb but honestly, post-FX sections are for the most part useless in anything but a standalone scenario so it’s not really a concern. Users can easily add their own delay, reverb, modulation and other effects after the plugin in their DAW FX window.
UPS / DOWNS
From the first riff session with this plugin I could tell immediately that this plugin wasn’t simply trying to deliver and capitalize on just Dimebag tones without attention to the rest of the amp. Every nook and cranny of both amps has been modeled accurately and effectively, which enables users to go after a complete and full variety of quality tones. Pretty much everything needed to get on or very close to all the tones both amps are known for is included in the suite and everything included is very effective.
The plugin carries a very high score so there’s really not a lot to the negative side. The only negatives I can really find are tighter knit to the analog gear so it’s not fair to list them as downsides to the plugin itself given the actual flaws are in the real amp. We have to remember that an amp sim developer’s job is to model things accurately rather than to make their own improvements on the original design where they see fit. The RG and RH do however both have lists of mods in the analog world so perhaps the mod-loving Audiority will add some of those in time to make the plugin even better.
All in all, this is a very versatile plugin based on a whole bunch of gear that really does not have a lot if any plugin representation on the current market. Being a rare addition alone isn’t a full selling feature but knowing that the gear has been modeled very effectively at a high level is very comforting. Whether users want to immerse themselves in a full on Dime-experience or use the plugin for it’s tons of other applications, Solidus Randy 250 is ready and waiting to be the next great tool in the box.
See more – Audiority release video w. Johan Lund