The next and most important part of the tests came with actually recording various amps to check out the tone inside the box. As I mentioned, the Silent Sister comes with two goosenecks and connections for two mics. This is great for those of us who like to blend mic combinations for a wider range of tones. With the JCM800 still plugged in, I hooked up an SM57 and ran it through my Chandler LTD-1 preamp and straight to Pro Tools. Opening up a track and listening through my studio monitors with the Silent Sister in the other room, I was treated to a stunningly open, bright and full sound. Impressive. The sound was instantly familiar. There was no stuffiness or boxy quality to the sound, and it didn’t exhibit the congested tone of other iso cabs I’ve used. Tone is subjective and a matter of preference, but to me, it sounded very much like a close-mic’d 4x12 with 75s inside.
Some good news for players preferring a different speaker: it’s merely two solder joints away from replacing with your favorite speaker choice. Of course, you will always need to be aware of the power ratings and how much you are pushing—nobody wants to blow their Celestion Blue by cranking a Dual Rectifier through it. Be careful and use the same common sense you would with a 1x12 cab and your favorite head.
It’s what’s inside that counts
Over several weeks I recorded a Carol Ann OD2r head, various Marshall Super Leads, a Mesa Dual Rectifier and an Engl Ritchie Blackmore signature head, all with terrific results. Standing next to the Sister and hearing the low woofy sound coming through it can be deceiving. More than a few times I found myself pulling the bass down and cranking the treble and presence on the amp to accommodate for the outside sound, only to realize how bright it was in the recording. Don’t let the outside sound fool you; it’s a byproduct of the way it attenuates the signal. It’s what’s inside that counts, and that sound is about as close as I’ve ever heard to a speaker being mic’d up in a pro studio environment.
For solution-minded gigging guitarists who are sick of being told to turn down by the sound tech, the Silent Sister is a must-have. Being able to set up your tone with the mic positioned just the way you like it—so you can plug right into the mic pre of the house mixer—is probably the best way to get predictable results and a killer tone at every gig. You’ll make friends with the club and sound great in the process. I’ve seen bands that have used iso cabs to great success on the concert circuit. As far back as the ‘90s, bands like Garbage traveled with this setup, and the sound was the best I’d heard in years. It’s a little different and may take some getting used to, but in the right circumstance it can make all the difference in the world.
The Final Mojo
Rivera has a winning product with the Silent Sister. Whether you’re a studio cat that doesn’t have a separate iso room, a player with more high-powered amps than understanding neighbors, or just somebody looking for high quality and real-world mic’d amp tones for your next project, the Silent Sister delivers. Is it 100 percent silent? No. But pulling 30dB out of a blaringly loud amp is no small feat without the use of an attenuator or master volume, and the guys at Rivera have done it in style, and without losing the ability to pull off killer recorded tones. It’s expensive if you compare it to the price of a single 1x12 speaker cab, but cheap if you consider the cost of building a room that would allow you to accomplish what the Silent Sister does. Thanks Rivera, you just made my recording life a lot better. Now, where’s my Super Lead!
you need to record loud amps in volume-sensitive locations.
you tour with Deep Purple and three stacks of Marshall Majors is just enough power to be heard.