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Amp options

Many of you will know I've been looking at amp options recently and now I have 4 distinct routes to consider. I play an Ibanez RGT42 with Bareknuckle pups through a GNX3000. At the moment I only play in the home so can't go too loud but would like to play live at some point. Good quality sound at all volume levels is important. I want the amp to be reliable, not need tweaking all the time and let the GNX really shine as I think the superdisc patches are basically very good but I do want it to sound more authentically tube-like, hence the added tube pedal on most of them. Real tube warmth seems to be essential for the best tone as far as I can make out as I heard a Spider Valve the other day that was really good and I KNOW my GNX can sound better than Line 6. I don't mind paying the most expensive if it is clearly the best but I don't want to waste money either if I don't need to.

Comments

  • shreddshredd Posts: 5,649
    Use your ears. Test-play them all.
  • RawbRawb Posts: 1,459
    \Doadman\ wrote:
    Real tube warmth seems to be essential for the best tone as far as I can make out.

    Tone! Once again. A bro think about all the great ones thru the last half century. They found their own tone ie sound. If someone was telling them what amp to use then it is that amp guru you should seek out!

    Shredd is correct, you have to test drive them all and decide which one you like the best and go with that one.
    If after awhile you feel it doesn't sound/feel right to you, then you can just trade it in for the next one on your list and so on. The small amount of money lost in the trade in just think of it as if you just rented it for awhile :) Unless of course (as someone mentioned in another thread) you want to sound like someone specific then you will have to research them and buy the exact same gear and fx they use.

    It all comes down to what YOU like! :D Just take your guitar with you when you try them amps out cuz .. after all that is what you will be using with it ... yes.

    But I definately understand you asking so as to get the best bang fer ya buck! trust your ears and yer gut.. And have fun on the test drives!
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    \shredd\ wrote:
    Use your ears. Test-play them all.

    Yes, I appreciate that and in an ideal world I would do that but there are some very specific reasons why I am looking for advice. Firstly, there is no dealer network for Atomic and I don't know anyone who has one so that is impossible to play. There are only 3 Tech 21 dealers in the UK and the nearest one is over a two hour drive. Plenty dealers stock Peavey items but keyboard amps are a rather more problematic issue and I haven't yet found anyone locally who stocks all of the Samson items I listed at the same time. Even if I could locate them all, it is clear that a side by side comparison will be impossible as there is certainly no store that stocks even 3 of them, nevermind all four. To complicate matters, I live in a fairly rural area so opportunities are more limited that if I was in a city.

    I will certainly try as much as I can but realistically I'm going to need to rely, at least to a degree, on the advice of others who may have more experience of them than I can manage.
  • joerockerjoerocker Posts: 44
    \Doadman\ wrote:
    \shredd\ wrote:
    Use your ears. Test-play them all.



    I will certainly try as much as I can but realistically I'm going to need to rely, at least to a degree, on the advice of others who may have more experience of them than I can manage.

    Then you're goint to end up with a sound that THEY like...

    Can you get amps on-line with GREAT return policies in case you don't like them?
  • guitar3456guitar3456 Posts: 3,494
    depends if you want a stereo rig

    If you are going for stereo, then a stereo rack type amp and speakers would work fine. Level adjust, would most likely be GNX.

    rack amps like Peavey classic 50-50, or even solid state type amps into stereo cabs or a pair of small guitar cabs if fine too.

    Atomic amps are fine, but again, you should run your output mode in MONO. Same for a Tech 21 Power Engine.

    Going direct into guitar amps with any preamp, preamp modeler has many coloring offsets to consider in both the power stage and the cabinet and speaker ( types vary).

    Powered PA speakers are another popular option. Behringer 212A's are common among users as are JBL EON etc.
  • RawbRawb Posts: 1,459
    deadman, there was a thread a few weeks back on Atomics . From that post I gather that they are the cats meow for a gnx, and touph to come by.

    Guitar3456 , he is the closest one here to being an amp guru ... well I'll put it this way if he was to have a gnx/gear camp. I would be there! He's a real nice guy for sharing his knowledge and knows what he's talking about. But if you can't go any of the routes he suggested. Then go with one on your list!

    Like I said, you can always trade it in for another on your list. And that brings up another route for ya. You can buy a trade in and save some bucks that way too. And like joerocker said online stores are pretty good on returns. There are a few guys here that only deal thru online with no problems.
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    Response to the poll has been pathetic but I have had some useful feedback from this and other forums. Trying out all of these options side by side is impossible so I need to rely on some forums to a degree. Based on the feedback I've received and research I've done myself I have concluded that a keyboard amp isn't what I'm after as the tweeter will be too intrusive. I suppose the same may be said about the power amp and speakers. That leaves the Tech 21 and Atomic.

    Both are highly regarded and despite the lack of tubes in the Power Engine, many seem to feel that there isn't much to choose between them. That would suggest that trying to add real tubes to the chain would be a wasted effort on my part yet it can't be denied that many people swear by tubes. This seems to be something of a contradiction so I think my first course of action is to try a Power Engine with and without tubes in the chain. As I can't try an Atomic my decision may have to be based largely on how impressed I am with the Tech 21. If it doesn't quite do it for me I'll try the Atomic and if it's OK, I'll simply save the difference.
  • iliaceiliace Posts: 5,567
    Look for atomics at second-hand music stores, if you have any in your area.

    Also, don't rule out PA speakers simply because you are afraid of tweeters. With any setup, you will have to adjust your patches at least somewhat, and in my experience, it's extremely easy to compensate for any top-end harshness. For example, by turning the speaker compensation on.
  • RawbRawb Posts: 1,459
    )
    \iliace\ wrote:
    Look for atomics at second-hand music stores, if you have any in your area.

    Also, don't rule out PA speakers simply because you are afraid of tweeters. With any setup, you will have to adjust your patches at least somewhat, and in my experience, it's extremely easy to compensate for any top-end harshness. For example, by turning the speaker compensation on.

    Doadman... ( sorry misread your name last time ) Check it out here is another nice guy who knows and shares alot! And he's telling ya where to look for Atomics.

    Lookdude , don't fret <---- ( like the whole guitar pun thing :lol: :shock: 8) You don't have to compare your choices side by side! It would be nice!but... If ones here and ones there, just go to where they are and check'em out! Just get something and start playing, If a month or so you find you ain't happy trade it in for another till you are happy?!

    Check me out for instance I have a Marshall half stack , but I have it cuz I like it and have fun with it. But the truth is if I don't find some bands mates pretty soon, I'm thinking of trading it in, still might even if I do find some mates. And putting it towards a new guitar. My point is just cuz you buy it, it doesn't mean it has to be forever!

    Musicians have been trading and selling equipment since theres been equipment 8) :) They have been nortorious for being broke amongst other things. That's why they have always been on the list of people to keep your daughter away from! :lol::lol::lol: :roll: :shock: 8) 8)
  • jamminmjjamminmj Posts: 415
    First you should consider how you want it to work. Do you want to use the amp modeling? If yes buy a separate power amp. Do you want to use the cabinet modeling? If yes then buy a Full Range Full Response speaker.
    If not buy your favorite guitar speakers. If yes to both, Then you can buy powered speakers and kill two birds with one stone. Buying a separate power amp can give you the option of using guitar speakers or Full Range Full Response speakers. I find that type or brand of power amp is not a critical factor for my sounds as long as it supplies good clean power. I prefer my Celestions as I can get whatever sound I need from them, I had them when I got my GNX and wasn't interested in spending more money on another type of speaker either. Narrow down your parameters to how you want to work and get the best you can afford. Everything will have some pro's and con's and no matter what you get you'll have to tweak your patches to it. You can drive yourself crazy forever over thinking this and never get any playing done. If you know what other people are using to get similar sounds you want, then that can be a good indication of which way you might want to go.
  • guitar3456guitar3456 Posts: 3,494
    Sorry not much about the poll, but since there are many choices it was not as simple selecting one as an option.

    I think most people look at general usage and amplification. In the age of Full range requirements for modelers to stalemate tweaking associated with amp coloring, many in any multi effect usage world have chosen that route... PA, Powered Wedges, etc. This also provides the option of jamming the set at home in a simple studio on the PC. The playback of audio files on the PC as well as the mutieffect of choice seem to mate quite nicely.

    Field comparisons on Atomics and Tech 21 Power Engines also have their pros and cons. The biggest pro is a clean amp setup with less coloring associated with the amp rig. You can get an all tube rack rig like a Carvin TS100, Mesa 50-50 ( I use), Peavey classic 50-50, Marshall has a few as do VHT, Randall etc. IMPORTANT thing to note with these rigs is they are meant for LOUD use. At bedroom volumes get ready for not so chummy sounds unless you use a power reduction/scaling device.

    When using these units or any modeler with a LIVE GROUP, your sounds will need to change to FIT the band mix. This is common with guys that buy these amp rigs , jam at home and love it but with a group they can't cut through. Worse if another guitar in the group has a full rig. I've seen Spider Valves all over stages and most are getting consumed by a simple Fender Twin on stage. Bring on a 2203 Marshall and it's over for the SV. However, being a combo they can cut. The head version depends on the cab. I've heard some really bad matings with SV heads and mismatched cabs (non stock oem).

    You can have a GNX, a Prophesy II or any other unit and YES, you will tweak from venue to venue just like you do with most amps. nobody's setting on any amp stays in one place unless perhaps the mixing at the console is doing the EQ'ing. I can tell you as a sound tech I get that a lot. \"I already tweaked my amp\". Ok, a 57 and some PA tweaks will get YOUR channel mix going. 9x out of 10 I have to cut their treble and presence controls back.

    You will tweak presets that BLEND with the group you play. Just try it on recordings.. change mixes and see how the preset has to have some eq or the track does itself. It all changes in a MIX than it does from simple at home jamming.

    There are guys that come to shows with heavy delays and effects. I ask them to cut them back a little, even on pedal stomps. They say \" I set this up at rehearsal\" Yeah, with carpet floors and egg crates on the walls right??? \"Yeah\" Well, this room is not like that place and will echo forever. Cut the effects back and see how natural reverb takes on the mix. In other words, you can't NOT expect some dialing down or up or effects, gains and other things with preamps, multieffects in any stage situation. Some guys even store banks of their presets for varied locations. They come back to that location and they are all set. This is no different than guys ( like me) that used to make pencil notes on settings for certain venues for both pedal settings and amp settings. I still have too for consoles etc when we change venues or have repeat jobs at those clubs.

    In any event, either method of amplification will have their pros and cons. Ease of use is one thing, for that Power Engines or Atomic amps that deliver some very clean tube power are great suitors. Can you expand on features of the GNX?? Not as much as you can with Powered Speakers. Some even do both. Have an Atomic and jam at home with the comp rig with a PA, Powered Speakers, or studio nearfield monitors.

    So its best for you to evaluate based on need and what you think you will do more with the application. Doesn't matter what preamp modeler, the idea is pretty much consistent as far as strengths, weaknesses, or common practice of the equipment used to amplify these devices.

    PA, Powered Speakers= clean , transparent amplification.

    Tube Power amp- Clean amp, speakers used are the workaround. Could be V30's, G1275's, Greenbacks, Eminence, etc. Find a few sounds that FIT that speaker and look for common eq's that better suit the driver style. Modeling 12's from Eminence or Ear Candy Green machines are the closest to transparency that I have seen.
    Tube rack amps : Carvin TS100, VHT 5050, Mesa 5050, peavey 5050 etc.

    Crate Power Block- ran through the line in's (CD IN), clean and not bad for a very inexpensive amp.

    PA type power amp. On the low side of maybe 100W/ch at 8 ohm. plenty of clean power and will drive the cabs easily.

    Atomic amps- 112 or 212 model. Plenty of power, cons are supposedly with high gain amps and bass heavy presets. I have not confirmed this but some have swapped the internal speaker for Eminence Swamp Thang's or EV12L reissues. See to handle the RECTO sounds better. But if you think about it, not many amps in combo form do bass heavy oversized Mesa 412 too well in the first place. Some closed back cabs will do a fairly decent job though. The Atomic is Closed back IIRC. Just watch the bass EQ.

    Power Engines, like the Atomic have similar reviews but are not quite as pricey.

    hth
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    OK, thanks for all of that, it is genuinely very much appreciated. Perhaps I should clarify exactly how I want the sound to work. My user presets are loaded with a variety of amp patches that I like from the Supermodels disc. Through my headphones I love the sound of all of them. Some are a touch digital maybe, hence I was thinking of some kind of tube in the chain but generally I really like what I hear through the headphones so generally, that is the sound I want reproduced in an amp.

    Does that help in terms of what would work best for me?
  • RawbRawb Posts: 1,459
    :shock: WoW! :roll:

    Dude unless you are playing out or with a band. I say just get some powered speakers. Or a wedge as G3456 suggested!

    Guitar3456, Thanks.. Once again!
  • guitar3456guitar3456 Posts: 3,494
    Headphones have an advantage in clarity since the transparency and full range capability of good headphones is superior. That along with speaker comp DI filtering allows for a cleaner representation with ANY modeler or even preamp. Obtaining that clarity is going to require an amplification similar in nature to headphones.. or full range. KB amps are ok, but not practical by most users choice of options.

    Some have purchased a set of Behringer B212A amplified speakers along with a powered subwoofer so they can get that extra low end found on 412 cab models. For the most part with a transparent system you can have the benefit of \"as is\" minimal tweaking of gear. Now how practical of a use is up to the user and debatable always.

    if you are doing simple small gigs the Powered PA is really a good way to go. Your going to mic a cab anyway usually, but you need a source of sound monitoring.. ie powered wedge. You can also get the benefit of full stereo output when using the PA rig. This is a great advantage to single guitarist groups. OTOH if you have more than one guitarist, things could seem odd at first but again, you have to acclimate to the MIX and the style of performance.

    Here's what I have seen- if running a pair of wedges or powered speakers, the guitarist usually has them off to either side of the stage. Advantage??? You bet! He can hear himself anywhere unlike if you have a 412 you better be near it since the only ones hearing the directness of that cab are the audience. Many guitar players I see running back and forth lose their sense of timing more with a 412 than with any other open back design ( which spreads the sound more effectively in most cases).

    So ask yourself, do you need the low end or does the bassist carry the load? Different genres have different requirements as well as different mixes within the groups arrangements. I can tell you that most lean toward a pair or speakers and a rack type amp for most live situations no matter what modeler or what preamp they require or prefer. Gives them the feel of traditional setups. I do and am seeing more users with Rack PA amps ( solid state) in many rigs so there is much less of a coloring attribute. Another popular amp is the Rocktron Velocity, Samson Servo 170, and some low wattage QSC's.

    Many users accompany these rack amps with rack TUBE preamps. To be honest some it is seems placebo more than anything else to me or from the perspective of sound FOH mixes ( by hitting preamp bypass on those rack preamps) . A sub $200 preamp will be more subtle than would a nice Focusrite or other higher end preamp.

    There are budget EQ's and budget Sound Enhancers that would be more beneficial IMHO.

    My rig is this:

    GNX> Old Mesa 50-50> pair of 212 cabs separated on stage. 212's each have a Eminence Modeling 12 TOP and Swamp Thang on the bottom. I have not changed this setup in a couple years. I run XLRs to the board and 1/4\" out to the rack amp. I mic one cab to blend traditional guitar amp sound along with the stereo outputs of the XLR's at the console mixer.

    For a small club I go right to PA via XLR and use a powered wedge. That's all I need. For rehearsals, just the GNX. No amps just right to the mixer PA. Our other guitar player started doing the same thing and stopped lugging amps to rehearsals.

    Another decent source of a DI is the Behringer Ultra GI100. Now once you dial in a few sounds with that in the output you can get some great basic cab sounds. Under rated DI IMO.

    I have at times had to use a outboard EQ. Some venues have required it since the house PA may have had limits, limiters or something weird going on that board tweaks or the guy on the board were limiting factors. Just a simple 2ch 15 band EQ is enough to tweak the master out of the GNX to fit sonically. Again, those occasions are rare. Most of the time, it's not needed.

    Some do prefer that option to internal GNX adjustments... but once more, you have to adjust for THAT environment, mix etc. Only once if you play one venue, but that's not usually the case for amps, preamps, sound systems, etc. Venue changes, you'll most likely have to tweak it a bit. Sometimes it's just a simple change in treble or presence. Other times it's changing effects levels etc that really influence the behavior of sound in that venue.

    On other occasions, I've used the Power Block via CD in's to a simple stereo 212 cab at small venues, grad parties and it's plenty. I've used that as well when we have power source current limits at the venue and the 50-50 is too much strain... out comes the Power Block and the outlet drain is much less.. show goes on. When it's a choice of Lights or something needed for the gig, or the 50-50, the Mesa concedes to the $75 Power Block or just right to the PA.

    I do have banks set up for those output amp devices. Actually on the 3K I have 4 banks , 1 for the 50-50, one for the 50-50 with outboard EQ, one for the PB, and one for a Standard rack amp as last resort. ( we have one ch of a QSC I can always source for amplification).

    CHOICES GALORE! The biggest thing is how many users are adapting to Full range and non traditional amps when using these preamps etc.

    You can always use a clean guitar amp. I've seen modelers on Crate G130's, Roland's, Fender Twins. They can work just fine. Just like pedal stomps, effects loops, you have to appreciate HOW the amp deals with those things. Fenders and other amps have really nice natural compression, so why use compression on a preset?? Other amps have intense gain, so why use a high gain preset ? What happens there is you cascaded the gain stages beyond what the amp is designed for, so you have to rethink the amp gain, compression, effects just like you do using stomp pedals. Common sense ideas for appreciating the amplification rig and the modeler/ preamp application.

    Many other times dynamics are washed out by effects levels. Crank up effects level on a DD20 or other chorus pedal etc and watch the guitar amp just sound colored messy. You dial it back and go for subtle effects and the amp has room to work. THIS IS also true with volume changes among ATOMICS, POWER ENG etc. As volume changes so does the nature or the amp and its input source reactions. Speakers and amplifiers respond very differently at volume. Verify and proximate your preset in use at nominal band volume. Then you get a better idea of HOW the preamp reacts to the amp, and vice versa. Some users freak out when they find less coloring at stage volume than there is at Home jamming. Its different since the speaker is at its optimum, not at 2 watts. Speakers in amps don't usually respond to their marked territory until pushed.
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    Once again, I am extremely grateful for the effort you've put into giving me information.

    Despite the evident popularity of the Atomics, there seems to be a general consensus that any advantage over the Power Engine is marginal. As a result, I am so far not convinced that the Atomic is worth the extra.

    Plenty people seem to talk about keyboard amps but they also all seem to complain about the tweeters dominating things too much so that's out too.

    That leaves a power amp like the Samson Servo 200 I mentioned and some speakers. The only problem at this stage is that I have no idea what speakers would be best for it in my budget so I'm in dire need of some help in this area. I am working on a total budget for the amp and speakers of about £300 and the Samson Servo 200 can be bought for £99. That is assuming the Samson amp would be the best option; I'm open to sugestions in this area too as I'm well out of my comfort zone.

    I know it's now down to either the Power Engine or power amp and speakers and I also know that I will try them both myself so what I really need now is ideas on which combination of power amp and speakers I should be testing to get the results I'm after within my budget. Suggestions gratefully received.
  • saxcopsaxcop Posts: 17
    what type of cabinets would you want. do you play out anywhere?

    I run my Unit into the PA and just use my power engine for a monitor. The problem before is that I was always tweeking my sound in the monitor(guitar amp) because I didn't like it.
    Now I can tweek it and know that I'm sending the same sound to the PA.
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    At the moment I only play in the home though I have found a guy who'd like to do a little jamming and despite my advancing years, the dream still lives on that I'll play in a band so I'd like an amp that is capable of some reasonable volumes as well as sounding good at bedroom levels. If I went the power amp route I'd want cabinets that meant I had to tweak settings as little as possible and reproduced what I get through the headphones as accurately as possible.
  • saxcopsaxcop Posts: 17
    I recommend the power engine then. It has a lot of power. In the future you could always add another. Its portable and wont take over a room in your home.
    They look good too.
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    I've just returned from trying the Power Engine and it was an interesting experience, certainly convincing me that I shouldn't buy something unless I try it first.

    Overall the Power Engine is a good amp. It seems solidly built, has plenty power, looks good and does a decent job of reproducing the sound of the modeller. There were however some issues. Putting the controls on the back as opposed to the top or front of the amp is just silly. The amp itself doesn't exactly reproduce the sounds the GNX produces but it is fairly close. I found the sound to be a little 2-dimensional and tinny, tending towards sounding a bit more digital than it appears to be through headphones. I tried a couple of things to try to liven it up but nothing really worked. Firstly I experimented with the Speaker Compensation but either on or off, it had little effect. I also connect to the amp via a Presonus TubePre which surprised me in also having very little effect on the sound. Some patches did warm up a bit but it was marginal at best.

    The shop didn't have the PA gear in stock that I was looking at but I tried a Mackie SRM450 Active PA speaker. At £379 it is somewhat over budget and was only a 12\" speaker where I'd been told a 15\" works best but it was certainly noticeably better than the Power Engine. At first I thought it was awful but realised I'd forgotten about speaker compensation. This time it did have a dramatic effect and the resulting sound was much bigger in every way. Now my guitar sounded much fuller and warmer, far more like the sound I get through the headphones. I didn't try the Presonus on the Mackie.

    So while I still haven't bought an amp, I am significantly closer to knowing what I want. The keyboard amp is out and sadly the Power Engine is also out. The Atomic looks good but there is no way I can try it before I buy so that is out too. That leaves me with a PA system and as I haven't looked into this in depth before, I have a few things to now consider.

    1) Should I go with a power amp and passive speakers or active speakers?
    2)In a budget of £300 - £350 should I get two speakers to go stereo or simply get a better quality single speaker and play in mono, as I would have done with the Power Engine?
    3) As I know absolutely nothing about PA speakers, other than being able to confirm that the Mackie was good and built like a tank; what are the best ones to look at in that price range?

    As always, your help is greatly appreciated
  • blueslandbluesland Posts: 177
    Hi Doadman
    The best sounding experience that I had with my GNX 3000 was when I plugged it to a couple of powered speakers, I've tried the Mackie SRM450, JBL Eon 15\" and a pair of Yamahas that I don't remember the model but they had a 12\" speaker.
    The only thing I had to tweak was Speaker Compensation on the XLR outputs and... instant magic. In my opinion the 12\" speakers are perfect for guitar, the 15\"'s are a little \"boomy\" to my taste but lowering the bass EQ on the GNX solved the problem.
    Try as much brands and models as you can, surely you'll find the pair that adapts to your sound and your wallet.
    The GNX is thought to be used maily with Full Range/Full Frequency systems (PA systems) so don't be afraid of tweeters, they'll give you the brightness and dimension you've heard thru your headphones.
    Keep us informed on your quest for the perfect sound!
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    Thanks for the help and support. I'm increasingly thinking that a good 12\" speaker will be better than an average 15\" unit, though I still have no idea if power amp and passive speakers would be better or worse than active speakers. I was speaking to a guy this afternoon who works at a store specialising in PA gear and he seemed to think that there were pros and cons for both but his real concern was that running a guitar through many PA speakers would end up in blowing the HF unit! I hadn't considered this. Is it a genuine problem and is there anything I can do to avoid it?
  • shodanshodan Posts: 34
    I play mainly through headphones or my bands PA which has 15\" Yamaha speakers. Dont know what model they are as they were given to me but I'm really happy with them.
    As I've read in other threads etc about the 3k it seems that no matter the venue or going through amps, PA etc you still have to tweak the settings to your taste, I'm guessing it could technicaly be the same with playing with different speaker sizes.
    I've also tried looking into getting the best sound out of my 3k but I'm leaning towards the view that there is no best sound but only the best you can find or at least are happy with.
    Again, good luck in your quest mate and keep us up to date with your findings!
  • joerockerjoerocker Posts: 44
    I think what you want is STEREO. It really opens things up. Compare your home sound system using just one and then both speakers. The one speaker will sound...thin... Add the other and WOW...
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    I've thought about stereo alot as it does appeal to me but with my logic there seems to be an obvious flaw in that approach. There is only so much money in the pot so I either spend, say, £350 on a 300w power amp and two passive speakers or I spend £350 on one active speaker. I'm assuming that the active speaker would therefore be of rather better quality. The first two that I put on my shopping list was Behringer B212A and B215A as I've found them mentioned on this forum quite a bit and they seem a very popular choice.

    Next on the list were simply brands that I recognised and guessed would be of good quality, though I haven't been able to find much mention of them on this forum. They are Yamaha MSR400; Carlsbro Gamma 15/400A and Carlsbro Gamma 12/300A. If anyone has tried these I'd love some feedback.

    Finally, a few of the stores I contacted suggested Active Speakers by dB Technologies, namely the Basic 400; Opera Live 402 and Opera Live 405. I know nothing at all about these and haven't noticed them mentioned here at all.

    It's proving very difficult to demo any of these locally and certainly not side by side but I have found a dealer in Newcastle who stocks them all so now I need to find enough free time to make the 3 hour drive! In the meantime, any help and opinions with these would be useful. If my logic is flawed regarding the single active speaker as opposed to the stereo setup then obviously I will look at the stereo issue again.
  • blueslandbluesland Posts: 177
    Well, the choice between powered or passive speakers plus a power amp, for me is a matter of budget and weight.
    I wouldn't buy the power amp/passive speakers option because of the extra weight to carry and extra connections to make. I'm a minimalist kind of guy (you can call me lazy).
    On the other side, you could begin with one active speaker, sounding in mono, until you save enough $$ to buy the second one.
    Trust your ears! If it sounds good to you and is in your budget range, go for it.
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    I've been wondering if another possibility could be a Spider Valve amp. The powered speakers seem to work well yet it's difficult to get past that hankering for a 'proper' guitar amp and real tube tone. I can't explain why; it sounds crazy. I guess part of it is that I figure that if I change my mind at least I can sell a guitar amp.

    Anyway, one possibility is to sell the GNX and buy a Spider Valve (assuming it sounds good) but this route has a few limitations. Firstly, the SV doesn't appear to have a headphone socket and I'd like to keep that option to keep my wife sane. Secondly, I like the range of options that are on the GNX as the SV is a bit more limited and if the SV uses Pod XTL type effects and models then I'm inclined to think my GNX is better.

    This gives me a few different options and questions with the SV and I'd really appreciate it if anyone has an opinion, advice and experience.

    1) I could simply use the GNX when I need headphones and the SV at all other times

    2) Could I simply plug the GNX into the SV power amp and get the best of both worlds? In this scenario I'd be using the SV like an Atomic amp but would the SV colour the sound more?

    3) Is it possible to connect to the SV normally and then run a line out of the preamp to the GNX, use the GNX purely for effects and then run the GNX back into the power amp stage? Actually, I'm not even sure if the GNX will work purely as an effects unit!

    4) Is it possible (I'm not technically minded) to split the signal from my guitar so that I could use a footswitch to move between the SV and my GNX through the power amp?

    5) Is the SV that elusive beast; a tube amp that will work well at bedroom levels as well as screaming? I've shied away from tube amps previously for that reason but I believe this, like an Atomic, is more flexible.

    Sorry if some of these points sound daft but I'd really like to know. The PA speakers I'm looking at would be about £300 - £350 so a SV wouldn't require that much more saving and would be worth it if it gave me that elusive tone we're all after. Overall I love my GNX but like all modellers it misses that real tube warmth and I'm assuming the SV provides that. Of course, another option is to go with an Atomic amp but I can't try that in advance and why should I if the SV can do the same thing at less cost?
  • joerockerjoerocker Posts: 44
    I don't think you'll EVER match the sound of headphones through anything besides headphones. The sound is isolated and in perfect stereo. Good luck...
  • DoadmanDoadman Posts: 71
    Well, an awful lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. I've been playing around with this problem of a good amp for a modelling unit for a while now and found a lot of solutions that weren't perfect. A powered PA speaker was very good but it wasn't like playing through a real valve amp. My GNX sounded great but a number of patches remained stubbornly digital in nature. After lots of research I decided to try valve amps but not the Atomic as it would tie me to modellers forever and I couldn't try it first. This search was narrowed to 3; the Spider Valve, the VC30 and the DSL401. I never got to try the VC30 but here's what happened with the other 2:

    The Spider Valve is incredibly versatile and I can see that there is a clear market for this out there. Surely other manufacturers will do something similar in the future. The valve power amp really brought the poor Line 6 amp models to life but not all patches worked equally well. Some remained very digital and at times it felt like I was listening to my GNX. Not a bad thing but not what I wanted. Furthermore, of the 3 amps I'd narrowed it down to, this was the most expensive and would still have limited use without the optional floorboard. It's good but it's not good enough to warrant the price in my opinion.

    The Marshall DSL401 was really quite good. The clean channel was much better than I expected though still with limited headroom. The overdrive channels remind me very strongly of my youth and I just loved the tone. It wasn't perfect but then I didn't spend long playing with it. The cheapest I could find this was £450.

    Having arrived home I started to look on ebay and found a DSL401 that was only a year old, never gigged and in mint condition. Furthermore, the stock speaker was changed to a Celestion G12T-75 and it had just been fitted with a new set of JJ Tesla valves. Apparently these modifications give it more bottom end, greater definition and more overall clarity. At £280 it seemed like a good deal so I bought it.

    I like the idea of modelling units very much but in practical terms it is just too much trouble to find decent amplification for them to make them work. It is therefore with some regret that I have decided to go down the route of a traditional guitar amp. I will use the GNX for practice when I need headphones and will use it in the effects loop just for effects. In the short term that is all I should need. The other development in the last couple of weeks is that I've been invited to join a band as lead guitarist and while they don't play my first love of Rock/Metal (they do 60s material), it should still be excellent experience for a guy who has never played in front of anyone in his life. For this type of sound my new set up should be ideal and in the longer term, when I'm looking for very high gain on the amp, I'll simply buy a pedal like a Seymour Duncan Twin Tube Mayhem to run through the clean channel or a Tube Screamer to give the overdrive a little more kick.
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