Victory V4 ‘The Kraken’ Head: What is it?
The Victory V4 series performs the clever trick of presenting preamp pedals and fully functioning guitar amps in a floor-based unit the size of a box of Milk Tray, presenting the heady whiff of boutique-grade tones for the gigging musician looking for a super-portable fly-rig.
Designed in collaboration with Rabea Massaad, the V4 version of The Kraken is something of a fire-breather. As with the superlative Duchess V4, it comes in a little bit larger than the preamp pedals in the range and houses a valve-driven preamp with a 180-watt Class D power section.
Unlike the Duchess V4, however, the Kraken has the addition of Two Notes Torpedo speaker emulation it is even more practical, giving you the option of a wide variety of Victory cabinet emulations to choose from when going direct to a sound desk live, or straight to your DAW when recording.
This kind of functionality is changing our expectations of what we should demand from our amp in the 21st century. And the best bit is, it doesn’t require buying wholesale into guitar culture’s digital transformation. Indeed, as we have seen on amplifiers such as Mesa/Boogie’s Badlander and the Revv G20 lunchbox amp, these digital features can sit side-by-side with old tech like valves and complement them without overly complicating the control layout.
As such, the V4 Kraken is a familiar prospect. Like a quote/unquote proper amp, it connects to the wall via a kettle lead. It’s a two-channel affair, with the channels switchable via the onboard footswitch or with a remote switch should you choose to position the amp back with your speaker cabinet.
Both channels share a passive three-band EQ and control for the digital reverb, with each having its own individual preamp gain and master controls, and there is a six-way cab sim preset select switch and output level control, too. An LED on the enclosure glows red or green depending on which channel you are on.
The rear of the V4 Kraken has a range of connections. There is a balanced XLR output, a balanced line out, footswitch input, series effects loop, a single speaker output that delivers 180-watts into 4 ohms or 90 watts into eight-ohm speakers, and a very handy 9V DC power outlet that we’d earmark for our tuner but you never know when you need an extra power source. Very practical.
The Two Notes software is intuitive and comprehensive. Use it to manage your presets, perform firmware updates and access more cab sim options. In this digitally augmented world, there are always more virtual options, and then some more again. As for the v4 Kraken’s early 20th century technologies, there is a EC900 triode and a trio of CV4014 (EF91) pentodes in the preamp section, the latter military grade. Victory is so confident in its durability they come with a two-year warranty.
There’s also a switch to turn the fan on and off – ideal for recording situations when you want it whisper quiet – and if you turn the unit on the side you’ll find a USB socket for connecting to the Two Notes Remote desktop amp and managing your cab sim game.
Victory V4 ‘The Kraken’ Head: Performance and verdict
As we have come to expect from Victory, the V4 Kraken is one tough cookie, its pressed steel chassis would see it through armageddon. In a sense, now that we have heard what the V4 Duchess can do, bringing the “big amp” V40 Duchess sound to a floor-based format, there is also less surprise when turning the V4 Kraken on.
Here we have all the gain, with a distinctly British overdriven sound on channel one, with the second channel more intense, tightening up the gain with a solid low-end and aggressive midrange, intensifying it too, and making the Kraken a natural choice for metal guitar players.
• Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 Floor
Super-tough, super-tweakable, with great valve-amp dynamics and onboard effects, the Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 Floor is a tone monster.
• Victory V4 'The Duchess' Head
Ample headroom, clean tones sweetened by an incredible valve-driven preamp, reverb and tremolo for adding space and movement to your tone, the Duchess has it all in one little box.
• Victory VX The Kraken
If you don't need the Two Notes tech and would prefer the Kraken in an all-tube, lunchbox format, choose the original head.
That’s not to say it is all about thermonuclear guitar tone. Stick your Telecaster through channel one and that bridge pickup can tease out a gnarly level of crunch for a more than respectable Marshall-style classic rock tone. But put with a down-tuned electric guitar through channel two and the V4 Kraken will perform its special move, balancing a formidable level of saturated gain with detail and note separation across the fretboard.
The V4 Kraken arrives loaded with six virtual cabinets created by Massaad to choose from, with 10 virtual Victory cabs to swap in at your leisure. This is a great way to begin your cab sim explorations. The sounds are incredibly convincing, and whether sending it direct for live performance or recording these will lend a three-dimensional authenticity to your guitar tone.
Okay, the fact that you need your USB connection to edit the presets might preclude editing on-the-fly, but in practice, how often would that be a problem? Besides, the editing process is easy, and the design of the Torpedo Remote app was clearly driven by user experience.
For high-gain tones in portable form, the V4 Kraken is hard to beat. There is a sense of the spectacular when you engage channel two and dial up the gain; it’ll put some meat on your riffs for sure.
That's not everyone’s bag, of course, but channel one is where the Kraken – a mythical beast from the depths, let’s remember – reveals some depth of its own with blues-rock crunch and tones that are more Deep Purple than Deicide.
When you factor in the Two Notes tech, it makes the V4 Kraken a no-brainer, matching that portability with practical, easy-to-use features that make the amp a potent option for stage, studio or home recording. And, lest we forget, it has 180-watts under the hood to drive a real-life speaker cabinet and push some air about the room. It’s a monster.
MusicRadar verdict: The addition of Two Notes cab sim tech to an already super-practical floor-based amplifier makes this Kraken a superb option for top-quality British drive and high-gain tones on the move.
Victory V4 ‘The Kraken’ Head: The web says
"The exciting addition of Two Notes technology catapults V4 The Kraken into a different league, providing industry standard speaker and cabinet simulation effects for recording, live stage and quiet stage environments.
"For what’s on offer, this is great value for money and we think the exceptional Torpedo cab sim is well worth paying the extra. Aimed at pro players and serious amateurs across a wide range of musical genres, Victory’s new V4 The Kraken amp is a formidable tool even by the company’s standards – and totally worthy of our 10/10 score and Gold Award."
"If you love your amp’s clean channel but long for an equally killer dirt channel (Fender tube amp lovers, I’m talking to you.), the Kraken stomp demands a look. It’s essentially a Kraken amp without the power section, and you can completely bypass it to take advantage of your amp’s lovely cleans. At a fraction of the cost of a Kraken amp, the V4 preamp version of the Kraken is an all-around victory."
Victory V4 ‘The Kraken’ Head: Hands-on demos
Victory V4 ‘The Kraken’ Head: Specifications
- PRICE: £799 $999
- ORIGIN: UK
- TYPE: Valve preamp, Class D power amp
- OUTPUT: 180W RMS into 4 ohms, approx. 90W into 8 ohms
- VALVES: 1x EC900 triode, 3x CV4014 (EF91) pentode
- DIMENSIONS: 258 (w) x 174 (d) x 105mm (h)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.7/3.6
- CABINET: Pressed steel CHANNELS: 2, footswitchable from top panel or any standard remote switch
- CONTROLS: Gain 1, Gain 2, Master 1, Master 2, bass, mid, treble, reverb level, 6 position cab sim pre-set select, cab sim output level
- FOOTSWITCH: Single-button footswitch toggles channels, external 2-button switch (not supplied) toggles channels and reverb
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Series effects loop, digital reverb, balanced line out, 9V DC power outlet, integrated Two Notes Torpedo cabinet simulation (available for Windows and Mac) with balanced XLR cab sim out OPTIONS: None
- RANGE OPTIONS: 180W V4 The Duchess head is £699; the non-amped V4 pedal preamp range includes The Kraken, The Jack, The Copper and The Sheriff, all at £369
- CONTACT: Victory Amps