Randall Isolation Cabinet Review
I recently purchased a Randall Isolation cabinet after watching some reviews of them on YouTube as well as reading about them on Forums. I record and film loads and loads of pedal, amp, and guitar demos on YouTube and I wanted a solution for recording where I could still get the full 12″ speaker sound while being able to cut the volume way down.
What sucks about YouTube to some extent is that I am really certain there’s paid positive reviews going on which are misleading at least. I am not sure this is the case of course, but it could either be the people reviewing the products have no idea or they are just oblivious to how to actually do an honest review. One of the more popular reviews of this unit online only discussed the pros of the unit and forgot to discuss the cons.
Firstly let me say I know love this unit, but it took some time to get right. My first impression of it was I’d be able to bypass any amp speaker I like and run my amp on 10 and not hear much of anything. Let me say, this is not the case at all. I wanted to write a review before I post a video review of it online to make sure I cover all the information someone like myself would want to know before purchasing the Randall Isolation Cabinet.
Randall Isolation Cab Build Quality 7/10
I am giving the build quality a 7/10. The box itself is, it’s sturdy, it’s heavy, and strong. The downside of the cabinet is it has metallic hinges on the lid and also metallic handles which can vibrate loudly when you crank your amp. The situation is this – You want to cut guitar amp noise down by recording in an isolation cabinet, but you’re substituting rattling for speaker noise. I found if the lid was closed and the latch on the front was folded down then that would also make noise. If you have the latch hinge facing straight it doesn’t make noise. Ideally, if you’re good with tools and know that you won’t have to move it around much replace the hinges on the lid and remove the handles. I now record with my Deluxe Reverb or Blues Deluxe no louder than about 3-4 before the rattle starts. What’s great though is the rattling never gets picked up on the microphone, this is all external noise.
Randall Isolation Cab Sound quality 9/10
I’ve seen some people whinge about where the mic handle is placed on the inside. I personally think it’s in a great position that allows you to to easily mic up the center of the cone or off to the edge which is what I actually prefer. I recently changed the SM-57 mic clip and put on my Rode M3 Mic clip because those mics to my ears sound nicer than a SM57.
The cab records brilliantly, even if you are cranked up on 5-7 on the amp volume. By this stage the Randall Iso box is beginning to rattle and make quite a lot of acoustic noise externally, but internally you get nothing but a great recording. This box has made recording for me a breeze and I much prefer this over the old AxeTrak I used to own which I ended up selling. You won’t hear a difference if you record with the lid open (loud) or closed (quiet) on the recording. They’ve put some thought into this and I really dig it.
Randall Isolation Cab Noise Cancellation (7/10).
So here it is the all important feature of this amp. I am giving it a 7/10. it does reduce about 70% of the volume of the speaker with the lid closed which is great but as I mentioned above you end up with another noise which could be too loud to record if you live in an apartment. if you’re running an amp at lower volumes it’s awesome but once you start to really turn up the cabinet shakes and vibrates. I found putting a blanket over it stops the handles rattling and putting a 10 Kg / 22 Lbs weight plate on it helps the other noise coming from the hinges. During the daytime, it’s fine – I can wind up the amps and bit and have no problems doing my thing, but there’s no way I could use this at night and not wake up someone sleeping in the next room for example. If you want a dead silent option the AxeTrak will be a better choice but it doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as the Randall Isolation Cabinet.
Randall Isolation Cab Mods
I made some changes to the cabinet 2 days after I got it home. I put some really thick foam in the roof of the lid as well as lined the walls and floor under the speaker. I had to remove the speaker to do this but it was very easy to do so. I used 5cm thick foam on the lid, 3cm thick foam on the floor and the regular wall-style acoustic foam on the walls of the unit. This made a HUGE difference to the sound both internally and externally. It help cut down the external noise and rattle on the amp as well as making the recording more tight and warm.
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Here’s a video of me discussing the Randall Isolation Cabinet on my Podcast.