Advice on best modeling amps

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by cmutt, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    5,205
    Likes Received:
    7,926
    My goal would have been to go to one place, with my guitar and try out as many of the choices as possible. Reason being that going to another store yields different results in a different room.
    So if any of those stores has most/all what you're looking at in stock, go there. Where you buy it might be there, or...???
    I'm always happy to spend a couple bucks more at a place that treats me right and has the stuff I need/want.
     
  2. Lee B.

    Lee B. I stitch my wings and pull the strings.

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2016
    Messages:
    561
    Likes Received:
    630
    If I was ever in Houston, I'd hit Rockin Robin to chat up the Robin Guitars/Rio Grande Pickups folks.
     
  3. flux

    flux 594 & CU24

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2017
    Messages:
    986
    Likes Received:
    1,858
    This is by no means an exhaustive list, but might as well just rack up a bunch of potentials in your price range and weigh pros and cons. These should be easy enough to locate and fall within your target budget. At a GC you may find most or all under one roof:


    I wouldn't even get too hung up on specs or minutiae, just ask for a round of starter amp demos and see what sounds you like best. This isn't intended to be a product endorsement or anything, just thought I'd paste in a bunch of URLs as I'm bored senseless waiting on a service call.
     
    #43 flux, Oct 17, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
    Lee B., dmatthews and charliefrench like this.
  4. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    23,076
    Thanks!
     
    DreamTheaterRules likes this.
  5. sloanthebone

    sloanthebone I love quilts!

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2012
    Messages:
    370
    Likes Received:
    494
    I own 2 JBL LSR305s. I never thought to play my Kemper though them. Oh well. I will know better when I get my next Kemper....
     
    bodia likes this.
  6. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules New and improved member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Messages:
    5,605
    Likes Received:
    8,163
    I’m sure that sounds great. Those are really nice little monitors.
     
    sloanthebone likes this.
  7. flimbo

    flimbo New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    18
    Forget the Marshall CODE. Sounds like wasps.
    Boss Katana or Blackstar ID TVP are both awesome sounding amps.
     
    Elliot likes this.
  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    24,093
    Likes Received:
    19,258
    I like to kid around and tease the modeling guys, but there’s nothing wrong with a modeling amp. It’s another tool in the box.

    In the modeling amp world, there are several different approaches. One, of course, is software in a computer through monitors or headphones. It’s the least expensive approach, with the widest variety of choices. But modeling amps can go through studio monitors, too.

    Some modelers are built into things that look like amp heads, or combos with speakers. Most of these have more limited choices in what’s being modeled, though this isn’t always the case.

    Some modelers do more extensive things (such as modeling many amps, many effects, amp profiling with impulse responses, cabinet and speaker profiling with impulses, etc.), and generally sound better, require a speaker cabinet, and some also require a power amp. There are several good choices there, with the Kemper and the Line6 Helix being the most highly touted.

    As you can imagine, because they do more and have higher audio fidelity they’re the more expensive choices, but you do get what you pay for in both sound quality and flexibility. Keep in mind that a modeler is only as good as its computer, its audio circuits, and the speaker it plays through. Improve each of these bits and pieces, and you’ve got a better amplifier, and one that responds to your picking and fingers better, with less delay between hitting the note and hearing the sound (all modelers have a small amount of latency, the more you spend, the less latency you experience, and yes, latency will throw your playing off). And because all modelers use analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, how quickly they respond, how uncompressed the audio circuits are, and things like sample rate and word length matter. A lot.

    You’re smart to decide to play through a bunch of things. Play through some higher end tube amps, too, just to get a feel for how they sound and react. That way, you’re in a better position to judge whether a particular modeling amp is in your wheelhouse.

    If you’re a bit shy to play in a store, have the salesperson play, and listen for the details.
     
  9. Michael_DK

    Michael_DK New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    276

    not all of these require a speaker cabinet or power amp, but it's down to how you prefer to play. Most (all?) of them allow you to just plug headphones in. If you do so, get a good set of quality headphones. Not everybody likes playing through headphones, though.

    Latency can be very low. I myself have the kemper, and its latency (including AD/DA conversion etc) is down to around 4-5 ms, which is what you'd experience if you were standing 4-5 feet from a guitar cabinet (ie. due to speed of sound). If you play it THROUGH a guitar cabinet, you'd of course have to add that distance to the total delay.

    For the Kemper, the limiting factor is the quality of the setup that has been profiled (hereunder the "source" amp, how the amp was dialed in, which cab, which mics, how the mics were positioned etc etc.). There's more than 10.000 free profiles available, I think. There's both gold and crap to sort through, but you can always go by recommendations.

    No matter which route you go you will develop an ear for what kinds of tones you like as time goes by.
     
  10. cmutt

    cmutt New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    7
    Thanks, that's probably one of the best descriptions that I've read about modeling amps. It helped me better understand how they work, and also helped me in terms of understanding what things to be mindful of.

    Good insight and info. from everyone.

    I do understand that "you get what you pay for", and as much as I'd love to go out and buy a top of the line amp... my budget simply won't allow it.

    I'll have to find the best amp choice in the $300 - $400 range. But I have a little more knowledge now, and I have narrowed the choices down a bit.

    Now I just need to do a little research into which of them has the best response, or least amount of latency. Is that something that is listed in the specs?
     
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    24,093
    Likes Received:
    19,258
    Not often; round-trip latency specs are more often listed with studio computer interfaces. However the concept is the same.

    Latency can be felt more with some than others when playing. It’s another reason to check a few out in person, and playing through a tube amp as a “reality check” at the same testing location is useful both to determine tone and feel.

    The good news is that as chips get faster and cheaper, latency is becoming less of a problem. If you can sense the feeling that the amp’s response isn’t immediate, that’d be the one to avoid, because it can trip up your picking.
     
  12. grausch

    grausch New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2016
    Messages:
    418
    Likes Received:
    539
    I recently got a pretty basic multi-fx pedal which offers amp modelling and until I read this thread I was not even aware of any latency. Most evenings I practice with headphones and most of the time I play along with songs on the iPad, so any latency should be pretty easy to detect. Either there is no latency, or it is so minute that I cannot detect this.

    That being said, computers and USB audio devices can have latency due to the way USB technology is implemented. I would guess that recording with a modelling amp via USB can lead to latency.
     
  13. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    24,093
    Likes Received:
    19,258
    Most of the players in my business wouldn’t use USB, and neither would I.

    I use Thunderbolt 2, and there’s still a little latency, though for the most part it isn’t too bad; it’s way better than USB. Before that, I used FireWire for many years. Less latency than USB.

    Point is, latest-greatest digital technology is still not perfect, and it pays to try things out.
     
    grausch likes this.
  14. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    6,770
    Likes Received:
    15,249
    They don’t.

    My Kemper is the best piece of live gear I own.
     
  15. Marco R

    Marco R New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2017
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi cmutt,

    It will be great to hear what you got in the end. Too many forum topics have the question and opinions, but very few have the final choice and comments.

    If not too late, here’s my two cents.

    After a learning /playing hiatus, I came back to the guitar two years ago and I was immediately impressed by the amount of choice for amplifiers at a reasonable price, especially in the modeling flavour.

    What you may found out soon is that most amplifiers can get much louder than what you need / your family will tolerate. The issue for home practices is usually getting good tones without issues with family and neighbours. Modeling amps are your friends in that quest.

    In my personal search I was looking for a small amp, with headphone output. Back then my shortlist had the Fender Mustang IV and the Vox VT20x. I bought the vox and was quite happy for a while. Then i got the tube bug, sold the vt20x and bought a vox ac10c1. Great and affordable small tube amp, way louder than what I need, but with a master volume I can control it to get good tones in the apartment. I am keeping it, but I am now looking to buy a Yamaha THR10C to complement it. But my Vox won’t get the kind of tones you’re looking for.

    In your list, I would consider a good headphone output and an aux in to jam along with tracks / learning aids as must haves.

    The Yamaha THR10 should be one of the contenders, as well as the other recommendations.

    May I throw a curve ball?

    Blackstar HT1 and HT5. In your price range, great small tube amps, and probably close to what you’re looking tone wise. I don’t want to open that debate here, many people argue they are hybrid amps, not true tube. Nevertheless, great sound and features, sound great on headphones.

    The Marshall DSL5C is very good, but the headphone output is horrible.

    Last advice is: don’t overthink, and don’t overspend. As you evolve in your learning, you will be able to choose better, and you may want to change your amp after sometime.
     
  16. Dancing Frog

    Dancing Frog Senior 513 Whore

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2012
    Messages:
    610
    Likes Received:
    597
    I play through high end modellers, an AxeFX IIXL or an AX8, on most jobs. Before that, I was using a Hughes and Kettner zenTera. While I can't tell you which one of the current budget modellers would be right for you, I can tell you how to spot the one that sucks. Primarily, if you go out to the web and can't find a demo of it that's not loaded down with effects, that's probably the one that sucks. A good modeller doesn't need effects to sound good. Of course, one should test a candidate in the store before buying if possible. Since most of them have manuals that are available online, you can actually read the manuals before you go to the store, so that you are familiar with how they are set up which brings up another point. If you get the feeling from reading the manual that the interface is confusing, then it probably is.

    The next thing is when you go to the store, play the amp at the different volumes that you might be using and slightly louder than that for a bit and see how well the models hold together at various volumes. Also, rollback the guitar volume on the various models the amp has, especially the ones that are distorted. They should clean up. If it doesn't, the modelling is crap. Finally, if you can figure out the difference between the gain, master, and the patch level volume, select a clean model and turn up the gain and master volume and see if it starts to distort and how it distorts when you pick hard. If you like how it responds, then it probably has good dynamic response.
     
    Ovibos and sergiodeblanc like this.
  17. ivandolz

    ivandolz New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    89
    If money is not an issue, I find as the perfect solution a Helix LT connected to a pair of JBL 305's . Amazing sound, infinite possibilities, all the effects, can connect an Iphone or Ipad through USB for backing tracks, looper... I think that the 305s were on sale in Guitar Center for 100 each (in red colour).

    With this equipment you can raise the amp level as much as you want and the low the master volume to get the tones.

    Just giving another alternative... But probably too much if its the first amp.
     
    Goldfixer likes this.
  18. Goldfixer

    Goldfixer Is it football season yet?

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    92
    I know it's above your stated budget, but I've had my Line 6 Helix for about a year, and I love it. It's very simple to create your own tones, plus there are guys out there that sell artist presets and such. Many of the presets I use were available for free on Line 6 Customtone page. They add more amps/effects about twice a year.
     
  19. pac90

    pac90 In Helix Land, the waters warm

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2014
    Messages:
    769
    Likes Received:
    774
    I took up guitar in my 40s too and your never too old, gives you no end of pleasure. Cannot go wrong with a PRS SE, there are bargains new and second hand too

    I've been there and bought and sold amps trying to find a good home use product. Honestly for the price point get a katana 50 or stretch a little to the 100 model. You get something that can be used at low volume too, which valve amps struggle to sound good with, plus they have loads of Boss effects included so you dont need to spend further for now, but it takes pedals great too. I cant see myself needing anything else now. I had the 50 and its great, only returned it for the 100 for the added effects loop

    If you order online from some retailers with good returns policy you can try at home in private. It can be a bit inhibiting wandering into a guitar shop as a newbie as I know, and its easy to latch onto the wrong thing in enthusiasm, and we normally lose selling and rebuying something else

    Checkout justinguitar for free lessons and more
     
    Ovibos likes this.
  20. MistaSnowman

    MistaSnowman Play it LOUD!!!

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    28
    Might I add one other amp to your list of contenders? Although it’s not a modeler, it’s definitely one of best solid state amps to date, in my opinion...

     
    Melisschief likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice