Friday, September 10, 2021

REVIEW MESA CABCLONE IR 16Ω REACTIVE LOAD IMPULSE RESPONSE BOX

 MESA CABCLONE IR 16-ohm,     $599 street price

There are two models of Mesa CabClone IR. In this review we’ll be examining the $599 model which does not have speaker attenuation included. It does include a reactive load capable of disapating 150 watts of Mesa tube amp power plus impulse response technology. 

Like all Mesa products the build quality is stunning and heavy duty. This box comes preloaded with 16 impulse response curves which are arranged in two banks of eight. A rotary switch selects one of eight positions while a mini toggle switch moves from bank A to B.

The headphone jack is on the rear panel which is not a convenient location but it is a good sounding headphone output. Also on the back panel is an XLR balanced microphone level output. 

All the tone and volume adjustments are on the top of the box which makes them inconvenient to see and adjust if you have this box sitting on top of an amp head which is on top of a speaker stack or in a rack. 

HOW DOES IT SOUND?

My first test rig for the Mesa CabClone IR was to run a microphone cable to my studio PA and use it to reproduce a Mashall DSL-1 tube amp. After a minute of playing I completely forgot I was playing through the CabClone IR, it sounds and feels like playing through an amplifier. There are six 4x12 speaker cabinets in our studio, five of these are filled with Celestion speakers so I have a pretty good idea what they sound like. The Mesa CabClone IR is the closest to providing the sound of a mic’d 4x12 speaker cabinet of any of the technologies tested so far. 

I have worked my way through several studio amplifier favorites including the 100 watt Mesa Dual Rectifier, 50 watt EVH 5150III EL34, Fender 22 watt Super Sonic and the Marshall 20 watt Origin using the CabClone IR as my speaker, all of these amps sounded fantastic. Even more important was the feel, as you lay into heavy sounds the CabClone IR delivers huge fat tone that feels good to the player.

The addition of an XLR microphone output is brilliant, it sounds great and adds important connectivity for studio and live applications. 

LIKES

Great sound, best sounding reactive load / I.R. box I’ve used. 

Microphone output with I.R. imprint sounds fantastic.

No direct box required, the XLR direct out is included.

Solid packaging, feels like it will hold up on the road.

Easy to use and get great sound quickly without a bunch of mucky-muck :-)

I have never heard the fan 

DISLIKES

Knobs and controls on the top surface, does not stack nicely.

No line out including I.R.

Fan on side of CabClone IR

EPILOGUE - MESA CABCLONE I.R.

This box provides an active load to your amp so you won’t blow an output transformer. It is impedance specific so you’ll need to order one to match the available output impedance on YOUR amplifier. The one I own is 16Ω.

It has been a few months since I bought the one for this review. Mesa Boogie has since been acquired by Gibson brands and this box has become impossible to acquire due to demand for Mesa Boogie products. 

I ordered mine through Sweetwater and it took almost a month to arrive at the Proworkshop laboratory. It was worth the wait!

Thank you for reading High on Technology, Good Music to You!

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