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Author Topic: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.  (Read 404 times)

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Elantric

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Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« on: December 04, 2016, 09:47:32 AM »

We all have different ears, experience, and perspective.
http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/the-ultimate-modelling-amp-shootout.1769136/
I also have either auditioned in store, or own bulk of the amps below ( many will be sold )

Line-6 spider v60 = sounds like a Line-6 amp and despite owning many , i battle with poor dynamic range, requirement for noise gate. inability to clean up with rolling the guitar volume down - I never experience the suspension of disbelief that this sounds or feels anything like a genuine tube amp - I alway know I'm playing a DSP amp when playing all my Line-6 gear - except a few patches on my Helix

Blackstar ID Core 100 - closer to tube amp feel, but too similar in sound to my ID CORE-40 - and shares bulk of comments DSP amps above.

Marshall CODE 50 - with its ultrasonic treble is great for clearing the room of all flying insects
If you have noisy neighbors and trouble sleeping it also works fine as a white noise generator with gentle "sounds of rain Forrest " in the background anytime you plug in a guitar.
They did improve it recently with a firmware update  -  Reduces hiss, clipping and distorted recording amongst a few other things.
But the Cab rattles and resonates like a drum  / tamborine on many notes.


My 2002 VAmpPro had better sounding FX - the harmonizer is noisy joke - its a toy.



Mustang III V2 - lots of attraction , and I prefer playing this amp over any Line 6 gear - but it farts out when using external OD/ Drive pedals, and poor dynamic range - needs that noise gate to mask the fact that notes fall apart when signal falls below a threshold. , suffers the LCD Menu deep diving to edit effects mid song, and the 4 button + 2 button _ Fender EXP Expression pedal daisy chain with only a 2 wire speaker cable for data / power for external foot controllers can go wonky from EMI /ESD events mid gig on a stage full of other gear or ( DMX Lights, Strobes)

Quilter Micro Pro MACH 2 - almost perfect, reverb and tremolo were fine ( no substitute for my external '63 Fender Reverb tank I use in my surf band) - but the 20 degree tilt of the cab has poor center of gravity, wants to fall over if I place Amp on a stool and no chorus, no delays -makes it off the list for my goal of a grab & go amp - lots of plastic bits on the cab leaves me concerned that in 20 years, it might resemble the white powder oxidation on my old mini van bumpers. (spritz with Armour-All)

Fender SuperChamp XD - this sounds very good - even better after I swapped the speaker to a Celestion G80 Gold 10" -played many gigs with this amp, the clean channel is pure op amp based and does take external boost / drive pedals very well The clean channel topology resembles an old MusicMan HD130 amp (Opamp preamp >Tube power amp), and the DSP Lead channel is the roots of Mustang amps - a few great usable tones here, but Lead channel suffers same as Mustang - it does not work well with external boost pedals - readily apparent after using an external boost / drive pedal over loads the Lead channel A/D converter. ( same as Mustang)

Katana 100-112 - If you only use a single coil Strat guitar , you might think the katana Crunch, Brown channels are overtly brittle and harsh - but plug in a Les Paul and crank it up at the gig, and Eureka - I'm experiencing touch and feel of a fine tube amp - unlike anything else on the list above , this amp genuinely cleans up and provides clean Rhythm tone - even with the Brown channel. This amp is a real joy and very robust GA-FX foot controller that takes two EV-5 Expression pedals for vol /wah - I have already used this amp for a few recent gigs with just my guitar+ snark HT-1 headstock tuner+ Katana 100-112 with GA-FC and can sit in anytime, anywhere, and have touch response and tube amp feel - dive into Boss Tone Studio and setup the tones / EQ for single coil pickups, its deeper than you think with 55 excellent Boss effects (Dual Harmonizer, Slicer with 20 patterns , Multiband EQ, Para EQ, Several types of Compressors, Wahs, Delays Multiple phasers needed for the gig that night ( Blues band, Funk Band, Surf Band, Metal Band) and work great as a grab & go with a MacBook + USB cable as Katana is an excellent 24 bit 96kHx Audio interface write songs / lean tunes, overdub your lead parts on your Protools in a hotel on stereo headphones or connect IK iLoud Micro monitors and mix demos - Katana Delivers in spades - explains why there is an 90+ page thread and many favorable reviews over at TGP
http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/boss-katana-amplifiers.1744135/
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 09:07:02 AM by Elantric »
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Elantric

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Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2016, 09:52:22 AM »

Elantric sonic-fadeout test
I can judge ANY DSP TUBE AMP Modeller in a few easy steps.

1) crank the amp up to gig volume with a high gain patch , stand 6 feet away from the Amp with a well setup Les Paul on Bridge PU, Guitar Vol on "10"  and a straight 1/4" guitar cord plugged straight into the amp under review.

2 )  Fret an E power chord ( A position at 7th fret) with open low E string  - , and with one Pete Townsend style power strum hit all the strings once , and then

3 ) hold the chord with your left hand and spend the next full minute carefully listening to what the DSP Amp delivers as the strings vibration naturally decay


I analyze the following :

The initial Attack transient ( was it too spikey or too spongy with too much sag)

The sustain , (a good DSP Amp sustains just as well as the real tube amp)

Around 15-30 seconds after the one power strum and all string vibration decays to a low level and have less energy/ less amplitude delivered into the Guitar input jack is the key area of interest for me.
At some point specific to each Amp under review (with all noise gates disabled and off ) a poor designed DSP amp will no longer deliver the remaining sound of your barely vibrating strings , instead it delivers its own poor noise floor of hiss and noise , and bury the sound of the last remaining string vibration energy.

The best ones (like my AXE-FX into a QSC K12 cab, Boss Katana Amps ) will deliver a complete range of musical expression for nearly a full minute after the one power chord strum

The poor ones will begin to sputter and choke around 15- 20 seconds. Lacking good dynamic range makes it impossible to play many styles of music
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 07:57:10 AM by Elantric »
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snhirsch

Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2016, 10:58:40 AM »

Mustang III V2 - lots of attraction , and I prefer playing this amp over any Line 6 gear - but it farts out when using external OD/ Drive pedals, and poor dynamic range - needs that noise gate to mask the fact that notes fall apart when signal falls below a threshold. , suffers the LCD Menu deep diving to edit effects mid song, and the 4 button + 2 button _ Fender EXP Expression pedal daisy chain with only a 2 wire speaker cable for data / power for external foot controllers can go wonky from EMI /ESD events mid gig on a stage full of other gear or ( DMX Lights, Strobes)

And here I thought I was the only person whose Mustang jumped settings on its own.  It seems to happen on stages where we all pile on a single 15-amp AC circuit.  We have a 600w class-D bass amp and 2 x 1KW class-D powered speakers. That amp topology presents a fairly wild load (capacitive phase angle) so my suspicions lie in that direction.  I'm tempted to drag my little digital scope along to one of the more problematic gigs and try to get a sampling of the power line waveform at intervals through a set.
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Elantric

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Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2016, 11:32:47 AM »

Fender Mustangs are using the "lets place communications  data and power distribution on just one wire" communications technique for the external pedals - I first saw this mentioned in an old Don Lancaster CMOS Cookbook - and employed commercially on old 1980''s IVL technologies gear ( and suspect the same IVL engineer might now be employed at Fender after IVL Imploded after a dispute with cross licensed IVL pitch rider code and  TC Electronics 20 years ago  - same IVL code base is used in Harman Digitech gear but things went south for IVL,( another long story) 


Fender advises using non shielded 1/4" cables for the external 4 button controllers  - and that to retain a lower capacitance cable at a cheap price.  - but Fender must have skipped the IEC EN55024 immunity compliance test, because I can make it mis trigger with a hand held BBQ Propane GAS ELECTRONIC ignition spark - or a common strobe Xenon light EMC emission - might be useful for if you want the Mustang amp to change patches in synch with your on stage strobe lights

Makes you wonder if Fender engineers ever use their gear under real working situations
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 11:42:52 AM by Elantric »
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snhirsch

Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2016, 12:03:29 PM »

At one point prior to my coding the Mustang <--> MIDI bridge I was thinking of reverse engineering the wire protocol for the foot pedals.  The chip used in their expression pedal is an I2C interface, so I assumed that to be the transport scheme.  I had originally thought I2C provided RF/ESD immunity over exposed cable runs, but Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%C2%B2C

implies it was more targeted at internal communication between boards or modules.  There is some discussion of more robust transport methods (SMBUS), but it certainly sounds like Fender overreached in their design decision.

I had never read anything official from Fender relative to using shielded cables for the 4-button pedal.  As I recall, mine shipped with the lamp cable style.  Was this a recent change?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 12:06:36 PM by snhirsch »
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Elantric

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Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2016, 12:09:38 PM »

IMHO they should have not scrimped -

they could use a variation on POE with todays cheap CAT 5 cable - or RS-485

or CAN bus

They ship it with a cheap speaker cable - to support the high slew rate of I2 C - but hold your tele near this cable and listen to the electrons fly in the I2c data traffic !   

If you substitute a shielded cable - that also present problems from the high capacitance of typical guitar cable impacting the rise/ fall time of the I2C.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 12:14:06 PM by Elantric »
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Chumly

Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2016, 01:53:09 PM »

2 )  Fret an E power chord ( 7th fret "A" position Bar chord), and with one Pete Townsend style power strum hit all the strings once , and then
Isn't an E power chord most often considered to be just the root and fifth (E5)? I get that you want to have all 6 strings ring out and my question would be, why not the open E chord variant given it would be easier to let the strings ring out for long periods, plus the lower frequencies might more fully task the amp?

I must agree that better tube amps (and well designed solid-state or hybrid amps for that matter) often have more consistent decay characteristics than modeling amps, and I have noticed that many modeling amps have limited input headroom. No free lunch I guess, and very much thanks for all your wonderful insights (the only downside being my lighter wallet)!
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 02:11:14 PM by Chumly »
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Elantric

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Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2016, 07:42:22 AM »

Quote
Isn't an E power chord most often considered to be just the root and fifth (E5)? I get that you want to have all 6 strings ring out and my question would be, why not the open E chord variant given it would be easier to let the strings ring out for long periods, plus the lower frequencies might more fully task the amp?

I use the E power chord ( A position at 7th fret) with open low E string  - for a specific reason. A good amp with lots of sustain allows me to use the old trick of implementing a slight vibrato for my chord, and that can add sustain as it "bows" the strings with the frets.  A Poor amp does not respond to this technique, while a good amp ( like Katana) if I applied this left hand chord vibrato, i can sustain the chord as long as I like. (minutes, Hours, Days) 

Quote
I must agree that better tube amps (and well designed solid-state or hybrid amps for that matter) often have more consistent decay characteristics than modeling amps, and I have noticed that many modeling amps have limited input headroom. No free lunch I guess,

perform my Elantric sonic-fadeout test
http://www.vguitarforums.com/smf/index.php?topic=19637.msg140854#msg140854
 with Many DSP modeling amps or MFX Processors , the notes don't fade out, rather they just fall off a cliff and into sputter/crackles/ hiss
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 08:00:51 AM by Elantric »
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pasha811

Re: Elantric's DSP Tube Modeling Amp comparisons.
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2016, 10:00:03 AM »

Thanks Elantric!

I do not know if pun intended but your comments on the Marshall amps made me ROFL. :-)
In any case it really seems that Katana it's the way to go. I had a chat with a Sales Rep. that I met
in the shop and he told me that Katanas took them by surprise. They knew it was a good amp but they didn't imagine
that it would have gone like that. As an amp arrives in the shop, it's gone in less than a week and for the 100W sometimes
the day after if the shop is crowded...

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Listen to my music at :  http://alonetone.com/pasha/
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