Back and forth with modelling vs tube amps.

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octatonicoctatonic Frets: 33906
edited June 10 in Amps
I've just spent the last 2 days building a Kemper based guitar rig, where I profiled my Matchless Lightning Reverb and Matchless Laurel Canyon amps and recreating as many of the effects that I use.

I've been gigging a lot lately and sometimes the stage volumes have meant I haven't been able to turn the amps up to where they are really working. Also it was a bit of an exercise to see how close I could get.

Initially I was really happy with what the Kemper was doing and then I A/Bed the Kemper rig against the Matchless amps plus my pedalboard.
No contest and it wasn't even close.

The Kemper sounds great in isolation.
The models sounds pretty similar to what they are modelling but there is just none of that 'this sounds so good I just can't put it down' feeling i get with the real amps.

I think I am just going to go back to using the amps plus pedalboard, possibly with an attenuator.
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  • strtdvstrtdv Frets: 2493
    It's a tough one. 
    I agree there's nothing that compares with a real amp in the room turned up enough that you're getting the best out of it.

    However, I'm very impressed with the sounds out of my Helix after some tweaking, and for live use the audience won't be doing what you're doing and comparing the sound of the real amp with the profiled amp in quick succession. 

    For me the convenience of the Helix outweighs the fairly small sonic compromise in a live setting. 
    I can bring literally everything I need in 2 compact cases (my guitar case and a live-in flight case for the Helix) instead of adding a head and cab to that, and the speed of setup, consistency of sound to the board (no need to worry about mic placement etc) and the fact that to get the same range of sounds I regularly use live on the Helix I'd need to bring at least 3 amps with me are all big advantages. 

    Obviously if I had a crew to set up for me I'd be bringing the 3 amps and my pedalboard
    Robot Lords of Tokyo, SMILE TASTE KITTENS!
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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 4997
    I've done the modelling Vs amps thing a few times, Amplifire and Helix, plus I had the PT15IR I could use into PA etc. and the PT15 was the best compromise. Thing is though it's just that for me, a compromise. I could never get to that happy place of an amp in the room reacting to me playing and all of the complexities of it. Plus I get too much option paralysis and it never sounds great and I end up frustrated :( (thats where the PT15 won because it was an amp so less tweaking needed)

    At the end of the day, I'm firmly of the belief you can get most of the way with modelling and seeing the pro guys doing it means obviously they work. A lot of the time for them though and as mentioned above, it's consistency, ease of setup, less reliability issues and shipping costs that make the difference and even then they can go wrong. 

    I've not gigged with an amp for about 10 years so maybe things might change, but the way I see it, it's amp, pedalboard, guitars.... It's not absolutely loads compared to Helix, Speaker and guitars. 

    The yard is nothing but a fence, the sun just hurts my eyes...


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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 27066
    The way I see it...I've never failed to get "my sound" from a modeller, but I've failed to do so with many amps that I've owned over the years. That's a massive plus in the digital column.

    I suppose that, unlike a lot of people, as long as I can get 95% of that one sound for rhythm and one for lead, and it cleans up nicely with the volume control, everything else comes down to quality-of-life stuff...and that's an area where valve amps will never be able to compete with modellers/profilers - especially with stuff like the ToneX ONE on the market.
    <space for hire>
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 4214
    They both have their pros and cons tbh, the FM9 is a great but of kit but there is something almost visceral when plugging into my Two Rock.  We are a fickle bunch and I think the only solution is really have both and use whichever does the job I hand at the time if you can afford it
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  • noisepolluternoisepolluter Frets: 819
    I’d love to hear what a home/studio setup of the latest Fractal and some good monitors sounds like, especially compared to a valve head through a Waza TAE. 
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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 17863
    tFB Trader
    I suspect you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference through FoH (The Kemper might even have been better), but it just doesn't feel quite right.

    I found having a combo blasting into my back helped (even if the crowd couldn't hear it) 
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 10521
    I've come to the conclusion a lot of people who go back and forth between amps and modelling are doing partly out of boredom and partly because they like buying gear. There's nothing wrong with this in my book as it keeps a healthy supply of used gear in the classifieds. 

    I play in 4 bands and have to spend a fair amount of time learning songs and going to band rehearsals  so the last thing I'm going to get into is writing patches on a modeller that I can achieve in seconds with the gear I already have. The convenience isn't really there for me either. I often go to gigs in an Uber and my Hotrod, pedalboard and 2 guitars fits in the boot. I have a foldable trolly that fits in the back of the Fender so I don't even have to carry the amp to my gigs. 

    I've never struggled to get a good enough sound at low volume. I'm not saying I can make a Fender at a low volume sound like a cranked 100 watt Marshall but using some pedals and a Lion tamer it's close enough and to my ears, better than the moddlers version of a Marshall IMHO. 

    There's not even a price advantage for me. I paid £340 for my Hot Rod and about £150 for my pedals. I doubt I could buy a used Helix for £500. 

    Longevity and reliability. There's nothing any tech can't fix on a Hot Rod or any valve amp. Most repairs are very easy and some, like a valve gone bad you can do on the spot. i have changed a power transformer on one and even a PCB on another but these repairs are rare and these amps had been thrashed for years at a rehearsal studio for years with no maintenance.  
    Modellers are a different story. You can change some parts very easy. I've just done a scribble strip on a Helix but if there's a fault with PSU then that can be quite tricky. A fault with the main DSP will be very tricky and not because it's SM and all BGA chips but because there will be no boardview and schematic  software to help tell what's what and no supply of pre coded chips. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • chrisj1602chrisj1602 Frets: 4057
    I suspect you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference through FoH (The Kemper might even have been better), but it just doesn't feel quite right.

    I found having a combo blasting into my back helped (even if the crowd couldn't hear it) 
    This is what I missed, and the band on stage said they did too.

    I use a combo again now, and I got myself a ToneX One, so I can do either or both, depending on the gig.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 27066
    edited June 11
    I suspect you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference through FoH (The Kemper might even have been better), but it just doesn't feel quite right.

    I found having a combo blasting into my back helped (even if the crowd couldn't hear it) 
    This is what I missed, and the band on stage said they did too.

    I use a combo again now, and I got myself a ToneX One, so I can do either or both, depending on the gig.
    For what it's worth, the best gigging rig I ever had was an HX Stomp with a couple of pedals into a Seymour Duncan PS170 power amp, and into a guitar cab (lightweight Matrix 2x12"). Everything on the pedalboard, all the flexibility I needed with a single stomp, just pedalboard -> cab when setting up on stage (was always on multi-band gigs), light enough to carry everything from the car in one trip and it sounded great.

    Plus no faffing about trying to get the sound guy to run XLRs to the board - just mic it up, same as for everyone else.

    Ultimately, as good as IRs and cab profiles can be for recording, at gig volume nothing beats a real speaker. That was the best of both worlds for me - digital amp, physical speaker. I'm baffled as to why more people don't do it that way.
    <space for hire>
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  • NerineNerine Frets: 2234
    I think for most pub and club gigs, plopping down a combo or something and sticking a mic in front of it is the best solution. 

    Ironically I think it’s the larger stages and rooms with proper arrays/reinforcement where modellers sound the best and are most effective. 

    In smaller places where everything is piled on top of everything else, having a live drummer and modelled guitars through the PA can just sound really crap if people in the audience aren’t standing at an optimal FOH position. You might hear just drums, loads of guitar, quiet guitars etc so I think backline, and having most of the sound coming from a similar area of the room makes sense. People could be standing directly in front of speakers etc or nowhere near them which is going to sound disjointed. 

    In large venues it’s more of an even playing field. The drums will be in the PA as much as the bass and guitars and this is where modellers work best IMO. The audience has a fairly balanced sound wherever they are located. 
    Plus when everything is being mic’d on larger stages it’s nice to be able to control bleed and spill on the vocal mics. Especially from drums, but even so, not having loud amps on stage is often useful too. 

    I’ve gotten mega results doing both in both environments, but I think the the above applications make the most sense sonically. 

    Modeller into backline (power amp and guitar cab) and to FOH sounds suitably impressive and is the route I’d usually go, but at that point you can do the same with a guitar amp and a mic and the obvious conveniences of modelling are lost a bit because the gear load isn’t any less. 
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 27066
    Nerine said:

    Modeller into backline (power amp and guitar cab) and to FOH sounds suitably impressive and is the route I’d usually go, but at that point you can do the same with a guitar amp and a mic and the obvious conveniences of modelling are lost a bit because the gear load isn’t any less. 
    I disagree - less gear isn't the only advantage of digital gear (although even if there isn't less, it will almost certainly be lighter...which is a major advantage for the older among us).

    For me, I've always had to compromise something with regard to getting my tone from valve amps. Whether that's a lack of convenience (tapdancing), buying more pedals and a bigger board to make it do what I want, or just living with the fact that the amp doesn't quite give the right sound on both channels, or the rolled-off clean is too quiet...there's always a compromise somewhere along the line. With a good modeller, I've genuinely never had that problem.
    <space for hire>
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  • chris78chris78 Frets: 9573
    The argument I can never agree with is “the audience won’t notice anyway”.

    Frankly, they won’t, but they also won’t notice the bum note, the bit where you messed up the solo etc. However, you’ll know you did it and you’ll also know when your tone isn’t right.
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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 4997
    edited June 11
    Nerine said:

    Modeller into backline (power amp and guitar cab) and to FOH sounds suitably impressive and is the route I’d usually go, but at that point you can do the same with a guitar amp and a mic and the obvious conveniences of modelling are lost a bit because the gear load isn’t any less. 
    I disagree - less gear isn't the only advantage of digital gear (although even if there isn't less, it will almost certainly be lighter...which is a major advantage for the older among us).

    For me, I've always had to compromise something with regard to getting my tone from valve amps. Whether that's a lack of convenience (tapdancing), buying more pedals and a bigger board to make it do what I want, or just living with the fact that the amp doesn't quite give the right sound on both channels, or the rolled-off clean is too quiet...there's always a compromise somewhere along the line. With a good modeller, I've genuinely never had that problem.
    With a good switcher though, tapdancing is negated I find, had no issues with that since I bought a DPC5. Board space can be a pain though, but I find actual pedals easy easier to dial in than the emulated ones in a modeller.

    The yard is nothing but a fence, the sun just hurts my eyes...


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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 27652
    I spent 8 hours at the weekend recording with my Tonemaster DR with an Origin RD and Kinglsey Page in front. Granted those are some serious pedals as well but it sounded fantastic and the DI made life incredibly easy, not to mention reamping at home as needed. 

    Of course I'm also looking at panning that to one side and a HelixNative-reamped signal to the other side as initial experiments suggest that sounds MAHOOSIVE. 

    I'm quite sure that a loud Matchless and Plexi in stereo would have been better, but logistically I'm ok with where I am. 

    Still want a Matchless, mind you.  How good is the master vol on the Laurel Canyon...? 
    The Assumptions - UAE party band for all your rock & soul desires
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 27066
    Boromedic said:
    Nerine said:

    Modeller into backline (power amp and guitar cab) and to FOH sounds suitably impressive and is the route I’d usually go, but at that point you can do the same with a guitar amp and a mic and the obvious conveniences of modelling are lost a bit because the gear load isn’t any less. 
    I disagree - less gear isn't the only advantage of digital gear (although even if there isn't less, it will almost certainly be lighter...which is a major advantage for the older among us).

    For me, I've always had to compromise something with regard to getting my tone from valve amps. Whether that's a lack of convenience (tapdancing), buying more pedals and a bigger board to make it do what I want, or just living with the fact that the amp doesn't quite give the right sound on both channels, or the rolled-off clean is too quiet...there's always a compromise somewhere along the line. With a good modeller, I've genuinely never had that problem.
    With a good switcher though, tapdancing is negated I find, had no issues with that since I bought a DPC5. Board space can be a pain though, but I find actual pedals easy easier to dial in than the emulated ones in a modeller.
    That's kind of what I mean - so you have to buy a switcher, complete with all the extra cabling, which often costs almost as much as an HX Stomp with a lot more potential failure points and limits you to the number of pedals it supports. I've been down that road, as well as the MIDI merry-go-round, and everything in between.

    Now, with the ToneX ONE, I've got everything I want in a single board with just pedals. I don't have the no-tapdancing bit, sadly, but then...I'm not gigging at the moment anyway. I also have the one thing I've always wanted but could never have...an ADA MP-1 without the hassle of a rack rig.
    <space for hire>
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 10521
    Nerine said:
    I think for most pub and club gigs, plopping down a combo or something and sticking a mic in front of it is the best solution. 

    Ironically I think it’s the larger stages and rooms with proper arrays/reinforcement where modellers sound the best and are most effective. 

    In smaller places where everything is piled on top of everything else, having a live drummer and modelled guitars through the PA can just sound really crap if people in the audience aren’t standing at an optimal FOH position. You might hear just drums, loads of guitar, quiet guitars etc so I think backline, and having most of the sound coming from a similar area of the room makes sense. People could be standing directly in front of speakers etc or nowhere near them which is going to sound disjointed. 

    In large venues it’s more of an even playing field. The drums will be in the PA as much as the bass and guitars and this is where modellers work best IMO. The audience has a fairly balanced sound wherever they are located. 
    Plus when everything is being mic’d on larger stages it’s nice to be able to control bleed and spill on the vocal mics. Especially from drums, but even so, not having loud amps on stage is often useful too. 

    I’ve gotten mega results doing both in both environments, but I think the the above applications make the most sense sonically. 

    Modeller into backline (power amp and guitar cab) and to FOH sounds suitably impressive and is the route I’d usually go, but at that point you can do the same with a guitar amp and a mic and the obvious conveniences of modelling are lost a bit because the gear load isn’t any less. 
    Totally agree, it's the bigger venues that the modellers make sense in. Using the Pod Go in a tour of theatres and little O2's in London it was fine as everyone was on ears and the places had centre fills on the stage for the people up front. Plus in a little splitter van there was no room for amps. 

    Go too far forward at a pub where there's no monitors and the bands using modellers  and all you hear is the drum kit !

    In a small venue the PA is there for reinforcement, turn off the PA and the drums. bass and guitars should still sound balanced. in a large venue it's all PA and rightly so. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • chrisj1602chrisj1602 Frets: 4057
    Boromedic said:
    Nerine said:

    Modeller into backline (power amp and guitar cab) and to FOH sounds suitably impressive and is the route I’d usually go, but at that point you can do the same with a guitar amp and a mic and the obvious conveniences of modelling are lost a bit because the gear load isn’t any less. 
    I disagree - less gear isn't the only advantage of digital gear (although even if there isn't less, it will almost certainly be lighter...which is a major advantage for the older among us).

    For me, I've always had to compromise something with regard to getting my tone from valve amps. Whether that's a lack of convenience (tapdancing), buying more pedals and a bigger board to make it do what I want, or just living with the fact that the amp doesn't quite give the right sound on both channels, or the rolled-off clean is too quiet...there's always a compromise somewhere along the line. With a good modeller, I've genuinely never had that problem.
    With a good switcher though, tapdancing is negated I find, had no issues with that since I bought a DPC5. Board space can be a pain though, but I find actual pedals easy easier to dial in than the emulated ones in a modeller.
    That's kind of what I mean - so you have to buy a switcher, complete with all the extra cabling, which often costs almost as much as an HX Stomp with a lot more potential failure points and limits you to the number of pedals it supports. I've been down that road, as well as the MIDI merry-go-round, and everything in between.

    Now, with the ToneX ONE, I've got everything I want in a single board with just pedals. I don't have the no-tapdancing bit, sadly, but then...I'm not gigging at the moment anyway. I also have the one thing I've always wanted but could never have...an ADA MP-1 without the hassle of a rack rig.
    Could you tell me more about this ADA MP-1?  I have seen you mention it in the ToneX One thread, but I am not familiar with it!  
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  • CaseOfAceCaseOfAce Frets: 1413
    edited June 11
    Played an outside gig at a folk festival at the weekend. Large covered stage full PA stack either side facing onto a large courtyard with soundman in the booth at the back.

    The bass player turned up with his bass stack thinking that since we were outside this was his chance to re-enact The Who at Chartlon Athletic football ground in '74.
    I had my Hot Rod Deluxe on a stand behind me (to lazy to bring additional speaker but hopes of cranking the power section for once).

    Soundcheck - I'm a third or so the way up on my HRD (sounds quite reasonable - loud but not punishing). No mics on the guitar or bass speakers.
    IMMEDIATELY me and the bass player get told to turn down - we're drowning out the vocals. 
    Friends agree.

    We reluctantly do so - and get this - me and the bass player proceed to play the gig un-miced with an SM57 hanging over the drumkit and the vocals going thru the PA.
    (the sound guy even turned off the DI feed from the bass player cos there was enough signal already from the stage).

    I love valve amps - but it would be nice to actually do a gig where I could get the things warmed up.
    ...she's got Dickie Davies eyes...
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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 17863
    tFB Trader
    chris78 said:
    The argument I can never agree with is “the audience won’t notice anyway”.

    Frankly, they won’t, but they also won’t notice the bum note, the bit where you messed up the solo etc. However, you’ll know you did it and you’ll also know when your tone isn’t right.

    That's the opposite of what I'm saying. When I switched from a massive pedal board and expensive valve amp to an inexpensive modeller through the PA I got loads more complements on how good my tone was than I ever got before. 

    I actually had similar when I gigged a POD 2.0 into a PA at a big venue VS someone else who was using an Orange stack and 4x12
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  • TimmyOTimmyO Frets: 7694
    edited June 11


    Plus no faffing about trying to get the sound guy to run XLRs to the board - just mic it up, same as for everyone else.


    don't both of those scenarios involve an XLR cable going from the stage to the desk or have I misunderstood something? 
    Red ones are better. 
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