The Headload from Radial is a dream come true for many of us who have personal production rooms within earshot of neighbors and can’t let our Marshall and Mesa Boogie heads rip into 4X12 cabs. It’s basically a combination load-box and attenuator that allows a guitar head’s output to be plugged into it, simulating the sound of a miked cabinet. It can also be used with up to two cabinets connected, to turn the output levels down on stage (or in the studio) while retaining the pure tone of your head. It can handle up to 130W RMS (180W peak) and can be rack-mounted for use on the road.
Radial Engineering’s Headload sits with Rich Tozzoli’s personal guitar/production rig.
I won’t go through every setting, but Headload has more than enough to make it an invaluable studio tool. There are multiple ways to run it; I took the 8 ohm output from my Mesa Boogie Mark IV head and plugged it into the 8 ohm Amplifier/Speaker quarter-inch input on the back of the Headload. I then took the JDX Post-EQ/Mon Out XLR output and ran that into my Pro Tools rig via a Manley Labs preamp. The Headload has a JDX Reactor direct box built in; on the back, there are two separate XLR outputs: one for Pre-EQ/PA output and another for Post-EQ/MON Out.
On the front, I set the Load to “off,” which is recommended when there is no cabinet connected. The Range knob is basically a trim, allowing users to run from 1 to 20 percent; it’s active only when a cabinet is plugged in. I armed my DAW and wham—I had the sound of my favorite head, at any volume I choose.
To take it a step further, I used the JDX Balanced Output Controls Low and High EQ as well as the Speaker Cab Voicing knob. There are six settings that users can click through to subtly (but clearly) change the sound, somewhat like moving a mic on a cabinet—or, to my ears, changing cabinets. For my setup, I actually recorded signal twice, adding in Universal Audio’s Ocean Way Studios room plug-in directly to the signal. With the Wet/Dry control, it sounded like my Boogie was in a nice recording studio. Combined with the direct signal on the other channel, panned opposite, it was a superb guitar tone, all thanks to the Radial Headload.