NAD: Victory Super Kraken VX100

Guitarjon

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Got my Victory Super Kraken VX100 last week. I've wanted a full-tube Kraken for quite a while. I also have the V4 guitar amp which is really cool but I just prefer tube power amps for recording. This Super Kraken surely delivers with its 100w rating. The funny thing is that it's sort of "lunchbox sized" (not as small as something like a Tiny Terror) but it's still 100w. It's also pretty heavy still haha, so portable in terms of size, yes, but not as light as a micro terror ;)

This amp has some sweet features like the preamp focus, which essentially functions like a tube screamer. Cutting some lows and boosting mids. The poweramp focus is basically a pre-set depth/resonance control. I love it when amps have these sort of features built-in. I don't play live atm but the midi control can be super handy for playing on stage obviously. The power scaling is good too. On the 30w setting I could get some good bedroom-esque levels!

The tones: let's start with the clean channel. It's not amazing to be honest. I mean, it's fine, but it's not as scooped or sparkly as some other cleans and it also breaks up pretty easily. It may require some extra pedals to get some really good cleans out of the amp but it's still a great addition to this amp. The crunch tones on the gain I channel are really really nice. With the preamp focus off this setting reminds me somewhat of my DSL 50. Nice and fat driven tones with a loose low-end. However with the preamp and/or power amp bass focus controls you can make this mode sound more like a Friedman.

Gain II is where all the high-gain magic is at. HUGE thunderous but very tight lows, so great for metal and extended range guitars. And again, the preamp focus can really help to make low tunings more tight and clear. The mids are very strong and it just sounds huge in a mix.

This amp doesn't have a presence control which is a shame. Sometimes I find myself missing it but it's not a big deal. I could always use either my Amptweaker depth finder or an EQ in the loop.

Here's my review with 6 soundclips (6 different guitars, 6 to 8-string) in case you're interested:

 

Emperoff

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Always happy to hear Kraken love!

I always wonder why didn't they include a presence control instead of the poweramp focus switch that nobody seems to use. The preamp focus actually is a high-voltage FET (similar to what James Brown has done in the Iconic for the input stage) so it kinda acts like an extra 250V tube stage. Since it has pre-filtered lows and highs, you get the "Tubescreamer-esque" curve.

Problem is that stage is fixed, so if using it in the low power mode (that cuts tube grid voltage in half) you can overload the tubes pretty easily, and the distortion gets flubby when engaged. There was a very vocal dude about it on the VIctory FB group that made a super click-baity video about it.
 

Guitarjon

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Always happy to hear Kraken love!

I always wonder why didn't they include a presence control instead of the poweramp focus switch that nobody seems to use. The preamp focus actually is a high-voltage FET (similar to what James Brown has done in the Iconic for the input stage) so it kinda acts like an extra 250V tube stage. Since it has pre-filtered lows and highs, you get the "Tubescreamer-esque" curve.

Fwiw: I do use the poweramp focus. In the third clip for example, with the crunch tone. With the power amp focus off, the tone just was too bassy. That control really helped there.
 

Emperoff

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Fwiw: I do use the poweramp focus. In the third clip for example, with the crunch tone. With the power amp focus off, the tone just was too bassy. That control really helped there.

I think you're the first person I've heard that likes it. More reason to also include an adjustable Resonance control then! They should be in all amps, imho.

Worth noting the crunch channel ahs a lot more bass than the lead channel, so if you adjust the bass control for the lead tone, you will probably have too much on the crunch. That's why I only boost the crunch channel boosted.
 

Guitarjon

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I think you're the first person I've heard that likes it. More reason to also include an adjustable Resonance control then! They should be in all amps, imho.

Worth noting the crunch channel ahs a lot more bass than the lead channel, so if you adjust the bass control for the lead tone, you will probably have too much on the crunch. That's why I only boost the crunch channel boosted.

Adjustable is always better, I can definitely agree!
 

Deadpool_25

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I actually really liked mine too (I’m sure there’s a NAD thread somewhere many pages back lol).

I agree with most of Jon’s sentiments. The clean was okay. Better than a 6505 but not as good as say a 5153. It’s definitely a heavy head—heavier than its size would lead you to believe. But Jon…

“On the 30w setting I could get some good bedroom-esque levels!”

Lies!! Lol. That amp is loud as fuck. Are you using your load box or something?? I found it super hard to control volume through a real cab. In fact I resorted to a volume pedal in the loop for just that reason.

But yeah it’s actually a very good amp. About a year ago I put mine up for sale on Reverb. A guy hit me up asking if I was interested in any trades. My default answer is “no thanks” but for whatever reason I decided to look at his shop and he had a 5153 Stealth 50w for sale. We quickly worked out a deal. I’m much happier with the Stealth overall, but that SK is a beast as well.
 

Guitarjon

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I actually really liked mine too (I’m sure there’s a NAD thread somewhere many pages back lol).

I agree with most of Jon’s sentiments. The clean was okay. Better than a 6505 but not as good as say a 5153. It’s definitely a heavy head—heavier than its size would lead you to believe. But Jon…

“On the 30w setting I could get some good bedroom-esque levels!”

Lies!! Lol. That amp is loud as fuck. Are you using your load box or something?? I found it super hard to control volume through a real cab. In fact I resorted to a volume pedal in the loop for just that reason.

But yeah it’s actually a very good amp. About a year ago I put mine up for sale on Reverb. A guy hit me up asking if I was interested in any trades. My default answer is “no thanks” but for whatever reason I decided to look at his shop and he had a 5153 Stealth 50w for sale. We quickly worked out a deal. I’m much happier with the Stealth overall, but that SK is a beast as well.

When I just got the amp I plugged it into my ENGL 2x12 on the 30w setting and I was able to get some great low volume tones... Don't know what else to say :)
 

Deadpool_25

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When I just got the amp I plugged it into my ENGL 2x12 on the 30w setting and I was able to get some great low volume tones... Don't know what else to say :)

Cool man I’m just kinda messing with you. :) Yeah I found it really tough to keep the volume low. And I felt like there was a very noticeable jump/improvement in tone as you got just into the “ok that’s getting loud” zone. The amp is definitely a good one! And as always, great demo!
 

Guitarjon

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Cool man I’m just kinda messing with you. :) Yeah I found it really tough to keep the volume low. And I felt like there was a very noticeable jump/improvement in tone as you got just into the “ok that’s getting loud” zone. The amp is definitely a good one! And as always, great demo!

Haha all good man. Maybe the volume tapers on our amps just reacted a little bit differently.
 

Emperoff

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I wouldn't be surprised if they addressed that complaint adding a better taper to the volume knob.

If only they listened to the "Add a Presence knob!" thing... It's funny because the preamp section of the amp is actually quite bright. It's the poweramp what's dark.
 

Guitarjon

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Presence + Resonance need to become industry standard imo. I’ve had so many amps that were great but thought, “if only I had those two damn controls, this amp could be a beast”.

The Rockerverb is a great example of an amp that doesnt need those controls at all.
 

Guitarjon

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Update: here's another demo with my Les Paul Custom. It sounds so absolutely huge, raw and tight. Pretty unique sounding amp. I had to put an EQ in the loop to brighten up the top-end a little bit since sometimes it's on the dark side. Sounds great to me!

 

Emperoff

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Considering Victory updated their V4 Kraken amp in like months, I can't understand why they don't release a Mark II of these when basically *everybody* on Youtube complains about the lack of a presence knob.

I know, you can put an EQ in the loop, but everyone complaining about the same stuff is just bad press that they could easily avoid, and I'm pretty sure it's hurting their sales on this one quite a bit.

If instead of the poweramp focus the amp had proper resonance and (specially) presence controls it would probably sell three times as much. Wether they like it or not, they're competing against the EVH 5150 III which is more feature packed.
 

MatrixClaw

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Considering Victory updated their V4 Kraken amp in like months, I can't understand why they don't release a Mark II of these when basically *everybody* on Youtube complains about the lack of a presence knob.

I know, you can put an EQ in the loop, but everyone complaining about the same stuff is just bad press that they could easily avoid, and I'm pretty sure it's hurting their sales on this one quite a bit.

If instead of the poweramp focus the amp had proper resonance and (specially) presence controls it would probably sell three times as much. Wether they like it or not, they're competing against the EVH 5150 III which is more feature packed.
Agreed, I passed on buying one of these a while back for those exact reasons. If it had those controls, it would've been a no-brainer to me.
 

Werecow

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I'm really sensitive to top end. It has to be just right for me, to the point where a tiny adjustment can be the difference between loving and hating a tone. I couldn't buy an amp lacking a presence either.
 

complex-barb.0t

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I will have to watch this. I got the kraken v4 preamp pedal recently and I’m kinda disappointed in it. Was running it into my HX Stomp. Perhaps something is just lost with no power amp sim? Wish the HX/Helix had a few power amp sims. In my hands it sounds clanky and kinda boring.
 
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Deadpool_25

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I will have to watch this. I got the kraken v4 preamp pedal recently and I’m kinda disappointed in it. Was running it into my HX Stomp. Perhaps something is just lost with no power amp sim? Wish the HX/Helix had a few power amp sims. In my hands it sounds clanky and kinda boring.
Yeah that thing likes being used with a real amp's power section. I never tried it with a solid state power amp but suspect that would work well too.
 

complex-barb.0t

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Yeah that thing likes being used with a real amp's power section. I never tried it with a solid state power amp but suspect that would work well too.
Thanks I’ll have to give that a go. I have a 5150 III coming in this week so I’ll try it through that.

Guitarjon, as always great job on the video. I think I liked the emg 81 section best. Really appreciate the work you put into your videos.
 


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