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Cabinet simulator / load box?


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Background: I have never used any sort of simulator or direct-in system, nor do I use gain pedals for distortion/drive. I have always used tube amps with "real" cabinets - I don't even use any sort of pedalboard. My main rig is a Bogner XTC with a wah pedal and a time-delay rack unit for chorus/echo/reverb; backup is an old Marshall JCM800. The handful of times I've tried to run direct, it has sounded like garbage; I realize that it can be done with the right gear, but since I am 100% satisfied with the rig I have, I have never wanted to spend any more $$$ on more electronics.

 

Issue: I have just been asked to play a show series where the expectation is no amps - 100% direct. I honestly detest the very concept of not having live sound to get the feel and balance of the ensemble, but I really want to do these gigs because I want to work with a couple of the other players. Trouble is, I have no way to do this today, and I'd prefer not to have to borrow something that I don't have time to dial in, nor do I want to drop $2K+ for a Kempler.

 

Question: Is there a device on the market that does a credible job of simulating a cabinet load and sound, and gives a direct out that doesn't sound like crap?

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There are tons of them, many are very affordable and do a great job.

 

My questions are, when you say direct I'm guessing you mean playing through a PA. I'd need to know if you'd be using a Mic cord or using a high impedance guitar cable to feed the mixer.

 

A cab simulator only can work. It does mimic the EQ coloration of the speakers, but there is no additional preamp gain that you'd get from an actual amp.

 

I in fact just bought one of these for $25. It will take care of the speaker EQ issue. Its got gain, color and a selection of cab types. http://www.ebay.com/itm/220860699173?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

If you're going to be using a mic cord then you need a device with an XLR jack.

This one is a Sans Amp clone that works very well. I've owned one for several years and it does as good a job as many others I own.

You will have some control over the amp type and mic position. You can dial up 100% clean, add a little crunch or have a driven signal. http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/behringer-gdi21-v-tone-guitar-driver-di-guitar-amp-modeler-direct-recording-preamp-di-box-effects-pedal

 

This unit can run a normal mic cord or a guitar cable to the board. Its very quiet and simply gets the job done well. I think it would be a better choice because you have some EQ control like you'd have using an amp and you can tweak the gain so your string sensitivity matches what you'd get from the preamp of your guitar amp.

 

Gain staging and coloration is the biggest issue plugging direct into a PA because a PA has horns and is designed to produce full frequencies. An electric winds up sounding like an acoustic guitar plugged in direst with too much highs and lows. Electric Guitar is a midrange instrument so rolling the highs and lows off is essential. The second item is gain. A guitar amp receives instrument level signal from the guitar pickups so its hotter in gain then a PA's line level input. This pedal gives you that boost needed to make the string sensitivity correct for the player. The EQ handles the coloration and you can tweak things as needed.

 

There are other options of course. Many can be better but because they are more complex, you'd have to spend time tweaking or programming them to get best results, preferably playing through the PA to get best results. If you plan on just walking in and plugging in simplicity is your best route. Since this is one time only event its not like you have to spend $300 on a sans amp or similar device. The V tone will get the job done well.

 

One of the JOYO amp emulators would probably work well too. I have the AC Tone pedal that does an incredible job emulating a Vox amp. They make an American, California, and British too which give you a Fender, Boogie, and Marshall emulation. https://www.cheaperpedals.com/collections/amp-sims

 

They are inexpensive and do an incredible job emulating amps. They can be dialed up for clean or driven tones too. They don't have an XLR out however so feeding a PA has to be done with a guitar cord. I've used them for recording or feeding an amp to change its coloration and they do well in both cases. Again, you'd have more tweaking involved so, again, I'd recommend the V Tone for feeding an amp direct.

 

Too bad they still don't make the Morley JD-10. I have one that's about 20 years old and its my preferred pedal for feeing a PA. They are hard to find now and have gone way up in price. I paid $80 I for one new. I saw one being sold on EBay the other day for $500 which is pretty common.

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My questions are, when you say direct I'm guessing you mean playing through a PA. I'd need to know if you'd be using a Mic cord or using a high impedance guitar cable to feed the mixer.

 

Theater gig, so I'm assuming balanced mic in. I have a stack of DIs and matching transformers in any case, so input type isn't the issue.

 

A cab simulator only can work. It does mimic the EQ coloration of the speakers, but there is no additional preamp gain that you'd get from an actual amp.[/Quote] How does this solve the problem? That won't take the speaker output of my Bogner or Marshall as an input. Note that I said that I don't use a pedalboard, only the amp for gain. I don't own a single overdrive or distortion effect, because I never use them. The goal here is to use my normal rig exactly as it is, just without the cabinet.

 

Look, I've been playing live and recording for over 25 years, and my day gig is data acquisition engineering. I understand the technology. I'm just looking for a reference on the various cabinet sims/load boxes on the market. In theory I could use my old Hotplate, but it just doesn't sound good enough to use on a very high-profile gig.

 

If you've ever done theater work, you know that it is much like studio work - taking time to fart around with your gear isn't acceptable when you're on their clock. You have to have solid sounds ready to go without any hesitation, and if the director wants something different, he/she won't tolerate "I don't have that sound on this rig", or "give me a minute to find a patch". You have a row of different instruments lined up that can change FAST - think of playing the intro to a song on nylon-string, then a 6-bar break to change to electric for 24 bars, then change to dobro or mandolin. Going in with unfamiliar equipment doesn't cut it.

 

Thus, I don't want an amp sim or modeller - I need to use my existing gear. The only sim approach that I might be able to make work would be a Kemper, where I could transfer all of my existing patches from the Bogner and Marshall to the Kemper as-is in the same order....but that's a bunch of cash. Now, that approach has the upside of being a very good lightweight rig that I might actually use for other gigs, but it has the downside of consuming cash to duplicate the sounds I already have.

 

So, I'm back to my original question - are there any load box/cabinet emulator sims out there that actually sound like a real mic'd cabinet, and can do so for less than the price of a Kemper?

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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I've been quite satisfied lately with a Boss ME-25 speaker emulated headphone output going directly into a stereo line input of a Yamaha mixer. From the mixer I can spread the sound around via stage monitors and also send it to FOH.

 

I've done a bit of recording this way and you can hear some examples here...

 

btw, the ME-25 sells for about $200 new.

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I have, in the past, run Fender amplifiers (incliding 6 Watt Champs and 100 Watt Twins) into resistive dummy loads with a Peavey EDI (Equalized Direct Interface) for either recording or a direct feed to the PA.

 

The EDI has a timbre control which basically controls how much high end gets rolled offo in an effort to tame the edge that we normally don't like from direct feeds.

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I've been quite satisfied lately with a Boss ME-25 speaker emulated headphone output going directly into a stereo line input of a Yamaha mixer. From the mixer I can spread the sound around via stage monitors and also send it to FOH.

 

I've done a bit of recording this way and you can hear some examples here...

 

btw, the ME-25 sells for about $200 new.

 

Very nice sounds - and nice playing to go with it!

 

The only problem for me is that I have a relatively short time period to prep for the show's run, and I was hoping to avoid going with something totally new. You've given me something to think about, though - I've never been able to get a DI to sound that good.

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The main thing I like about the ME-25 is that it is easy.

 

It sounds good with everything in 'neutral' so, with a few minor tweaks I can have something worth saving that suits my needs in a speciifc situation.

 

It's extremely portable and simple to setup - I use an insert cable with a stereo DI and it all fits in a notebook computer case.

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Theater gig, so I'm assuming balanced mic in. I have a stack of DIs and matching transformers in any case, so input type isn't the issue.

 

How does this solve the problem? That won't take the speaker output of my Bogner or Marshall as an input. Note that I said that I don't use a pedalboard, only the amp for gain. I don't own a single overdrive or distortion effect, because I never use them. The goal here is to use my normal rig exactly as it is, just without the cabinet.

 

Look, I've been playing live and recording for over 25 years, and my day gig is data acquisition engineering. I understand the technology. I'm just looking for a reference on the various cabinet sims/load boxes on the market. In theory I could use my old Hotplate, but it just doesn't sound good enough to use on a very high-profile gig.

 

If you've ever done theater work, you know that it is much like studio work - taking time to fart around with your gear isn't acceptable when you're on their clock. You have to have solid sounds ready to go without any hesitation, and if the director wants something different, he/she won't tolerate "I don't have that sound on this rig", or "give me a minute to find a patch". You have a row of different instruments lined up that can change FAST - think of playing the intro to a song on nylon-string, then a 6-bar break to change to electric for 24 bars, then change to dobro or mandolin. Going in with unfamiliar equipment doesn't cut it.

 

Thus, I don't want an amp sim or modeller - I need to use my existing gear. The only sim approach that I might be able to make work would be a Kemper, where I could transfer all of my existing patches from the Bogner and Marshall to the Kemper as-is in the same order....but that's a bunch of cash. Now, that approach has the upside of being a very good lightweight rig that I might actually use for other gigs, but it has the downside of consuming cash to duplicate the sounds I already have.

 

So, I'm back to my original question - are there any load box/cabinet emulator sims out there that actually sound like a real mic'd cabinet, and can do so for less than the price of a Kemper?

 

By your response I'm guessing you've misunderstood what I posted. I suggest you Google up the devices and see how they are used.

From what I understood in your first post you were going to be playing without an amp. If so the boxes I posted are exactly what you need to play ampless.

 

These are NOT typical DI's which simply match impedance or can be run from the speaker send off the back of an amp. They are exactly what you asked for - preamp/speaker cab emulators that can be used for feeding a PA or recording system direct from a guitar. You can use your other pedals you mentioned without a problem before one of these units.

 

What they will do for you is provide s signal to the PA which mimics a miced amp which is what you want if you're playing direct. Without one you have a full frequency sound and whatever the guy can do running the mixer can do with his EQ setting. You wont have the tone of an actual amp nor the resonance of a speaker cab.

 

The first Item I posted lets you choose what kind of cab you want to emulate. You can choose a small with a single 8" speaker, all the way up to a 4X12" cab. You can choose a Fender, Vox, Rolland, Boogie, or Marshall cab depending on the selector switch. The other two knobs, you have clean gain and color which is a tone knob that balances between bass and treble. This pedal does not add drive, its purely a preamp cab emulator.

 

The second does allow you to add some gain to emulate an amps front end. You can go from 100% clean to fully driven if needed. If you want clean you simply turn the drive completely down. Its got a couple of switches to select the amp/cab type and a mic phasing switch which simulates an on/off axis mic. There is also treble and bass there so you have some basic control over you sound. The pedal is speaker emulated so you get the sound of a miced amp through the PA without using an amp.

 

Both of these are ultra simple to set up and get a good sound which is the other item you mentioned.

 

Onelife mentioned the Boss unit. There are many such devices available. These are full effects units which you would need to program or find a preset that gets you the sounds you want. Again, you mentioned simplicity and cost were a factor.

 

The one I'd use is the little Vox stomp lab pedal I bought recently. I got one for around $50 and works both as a pedal before an amp, or you can change a setting to switch to line level and feed a PA or recorder. Its got 90 presets you can choose, from clean to driven, with or without effects. You could select a preset that has the amp type you want, use its built in echo/reverb which are excellent, then just use your wah pedal before it.

 

Its got 20 user presets which you can use to save the settings you like the best, then just use those for the gig. You can set one up that's cranked a little higher for leads, and others for rhythm etc. Again, you don't have to spend $1500 to by a Kemper to do this. The technology is small efficient boxes now is astounding. Here's an example. I have a Vox unit for Bass and Guitar and both were recorded direct. You'd get the same kinds of guitar tones playing direct through a PA. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1682170/001%20Dining%20On%20Ash%20%5BMaster%5D.wav

 

 

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By your response I'm guessing you've misunderstood what I posted. I suggest you Google up the devices and see how they are used.

 

I did. None of these are load boxes that will take the speaker output from my Bogner, which is what I am looking for. I can't run the amp without a load, and what I want is as close to the exact sound I have today, using the electronics and amp that I use today.

 

From what I understood in your first post you were going to be playing without an amp.[/Quote]

 

I have to go direct without a live cabinet preferably using one of my existing tube amps. Thus, what I need is what I asked for - a load box with a cabinet emulator that sounds good enough to actually use.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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I did. None of these are load boxes that will take the speaker output from my Bogner, which is what I am looking for. I can't run the amp without a load, and what I want is as close to the exact sound I have today, using the electronics and amp that I use today.

 

 

 

I have to go direct without a live cabinet preferably using one of my existing tube amps. Thus, what I need is what I asked for - a load box with a cabinet emulator that sounds good enough to actually use.

 

OK than that's a completely different solution. These were for running ampless. If you want to run your amp you need a power soak unit that emulates your speaker and also has a line out to feed a PA system.

 

Its going to cost you allot more money because it needs to act as a substitute for your amp speaker. This one will do it. http://www.humbuckermusic.com/products/suhr-reactive-load?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=googlepla&variant=3328173569&gclid=CNes64WMutACFUQdgQodCt8Kag

 

Personally, I'd just one with one of the amp emulators and leave the amp at home.

If you have to use the amp, I'd try it this way.

 

You amp has an effects loop. What you can do with most loops is separate the preamp from the power amp. You can use the effects send and run it to that first box I posted which will act as your power amp/cabinet. Use that to send the signal to the PA.

 

Then you plug a dummy jack into the effects return plug and set the effects button to serial (not parallel) This should disconnect the power amp so you don't hear any sound from it.

 

You'd still need a speaker attached to act as a load. It can be any speaker. You wont be pumping any sound through it but the power tubes and transformer need to see a load. You can pick up a high wattage 10" speaker for $16 here. http://www.parts-express.com/pyramid-studio-pro-wh10-10-woofer-accordian-surround--290-262 It simply needs to be connected to the head to act as a load. There wont be any sound going through it.

 

Total cost for this setup, $41. You can use the amp's preamp adjust the tone and gain you normally use. Then select the type of speaker cab type you want the PA to produce.

 

This video gives you a basic demo of the unit. He's using a gain box before it. You'd simply be using your guitar heads preamp first.

 

 

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Heres another cab emulator that was recorded well. This is closer to what you should expect to get. He too is using a gain pedal before this unit and again, your heads preamp would be doing that job. This pedal is just the substitute for your amps power amp and speaker which aren't being used.

Edited by WRGKMC
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OK than that's a completely different solution. These were for running ampless. If you want to run your amp you need a power soak unit that emulates your speaker and also has a line out to feed a PA system.

Precisely this. No more, no less.

 

Have you actually used the Suhr box? I've seen some reviews on the Palmer and Mesa units, but notuing on the Suhr. If it's anything like the THD Hotplate, it's not up to the task....but that is a lot less coin than the Palmer.

 

Personally, I'd just one with one of the amp emulators and leave the amp at home.[/Quote]

 

I have zero interest in this approach at any level below a Kemper. I've spent big $$$ and many years getting a library of sounds to use for this type of gig, and I simply cannot spend the amount of time it would take to reproduce them - and no cheap modeller is going to sound anywhere near as good as the Bogner.

 

You amp has an effects loop.

 

...which is already in use for time delay FX, and which is in front of the power amp stage. Non-starter.

 

Cost is not a primary driver. The primary goals are:

 

1) Keep the operation and configuration of my current rig as close to existing as possible.

2) Duplicate existing sound as closely as possible.

3) Minimize time spent making it work.

 

Kemper is an option, but something simpler would be nice.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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I haven't tried the Shur, but it can be run as a load without the speaker connected which is what you seem to need. Some attenuators are run to reduce the volume and provide a line level out, but they still need to have the speaker running which is different. There are also speaker level DI's but they all require the speaker working as a load.

 

Simple speaker level DI's wont work either because they simply tap a low voltage signal off the speaker jack. The Shur acts as a load so its OK to run without the speaker. Not too many allow you to do that so you have to look at the specs carefully. Some are just high wattage resistors with no inductive reactance do you're basically running the hear against a brick wall that doesn't change with frequency.

 

As far as my other suggestions go, take or leave them as they are. I been doing this kind of stuff professionally for over 50 years and seen it all. Many people think they have to use their amps to get the sound they want. Most are at least 25 years behind the times on the capabilities possible now.

 

No matter what you use, you're not going to sound like you're playing through a guitar cab because you wont be.

 

First, a PA produces flat frequencies from around 40~16Khz and has speakers designed to produce flat responses and designed to project that sound long distances. You cant get them to sound like guitar cabs without some kind of modeling when piping in direct. When you mic a cab you have the speakers themselves and the mics ability to taper the frequency response so what comes out the PA cabs it sounds more natural. You don't have those two items when you simply take a tapped signal off the speaker jack.

 

A guitar cab produces frequencies from 100~maybe 6K hz tops. After that load box you have to trust that sound man to shape your tones. If you think you have to capture the power amp saturation to get realistic tones, then a Load box will do that. Just realize that's super old school ways of doing things many inexperienced people think will get them the best sound. Its got some big issues you should be aware of.

 

The two big problems are tone sucking and power amp hiss. When you tap a signal from a speaker jack your noise floor is about 10X higher then it is taken from a preamp. You don't hear that noise because your speakers simply cant produce much above 5~6K hz and it gets rolled off naturally.

 

Taking a signal off a load box will have all that hiss and noise going to the PA where the horns are going to make it stand out very apparent. Some units may have some speaker emulation but its still going to have allot of high and low end.

 

Here again it's why mentioned the cab simulator because it does a nifty job. Its either a box like that or you jack around using EQ's to make the signal sound like a speaker. PA mixers aren't very good at that. They have broad EQ settings designed to EQ a mic. You'd need a good 4 or 5 band parametric EQ to get the kind of shaping you need to make it sound like a cab. I often use 6 ~ 20 bands and still have a hard time sculpting a good cab tone. lately I been into using cab modelers because they are just so frigging easy to dial up the tones you want and they nail the real deal very well.

 

You can use it after the load box to emulate a miced cab. Its simply a simple filter circuit that tapers off frequencies above 6~7Khz and rolls the lows off like a guitar cab does. Without something like that you're at the mercy of the sound man and what he can do with the mixers tone stack (which are usually broad cuts if he only has a three way filter, Highs, lows and mids.

 

I cant go into every detail of how and why all these things are important in a forum like this of course. If you have good gear and want it to sound good there are easy ways to do that. Just realize you aren't the only one with good gear whose been down this road before. Heck I been doing it for all my life. I currently have about 60K in gear. I've easily owned many times that amount over the years. Whoop de do to that. Its not the gear, its the experience using it in all the various applications that's important. I also have a degree in electronics and have worked in the industry full time for over 40 years so every band I've been in I wind up having to handle every all the technical issues too. I'm not saying this to try and impress you. I'm simply saying this is simple issue that can be fixed with simple inexpensive solutions so I target my suggestions based on what a person suggests they need. .

 

 

There aren't many issues I haven't come across including yours on a regular basis. Playing through a PA - man I do that all the time. I have a 3000w system in the studio and I can simply flip a switch and send my guitar from the heads through the PA.

 

Been doing that for 25 years steady now and believe me I've used every trick in the book extensively. I can get the PA to sound as good as the amps but they are different. PA cabs are designed to project the sound long distance. They sound best standing 25' or so in front of them. Up close they tend to boom because you hear the sides and backs of the cabs and maybe the sound bouncing off the back walls. Guitar cabs get that sound within a few feet before it begins to dissipate.

 

If you're luck you have a monitor to hear yourself. That's where the problem really becomes acute. You cant have two instruments occupy the same frequencies and be heard. you simply wind up in a volume war.

If your guitar isn't targeting the right midrange tones, you'll be fighting every other instrument in the mix. If you have a broad frequency response your either mask others and dominate the mix or you wind up being turnmed down and masked by everyone else. There is no in between.

 

The key here is "Frequency Separation" The guitar has to remain between around 200Hz and 5K or tighter. Everything else can be rolled off because frankly you aren't going to hear it anyway. You have cymbals and vocals up top and bass below. The guitar can then be heard loudly in those frequencies and sound normal.

 

If you planed on playing through a PA full time, then sure, buying a Kemper is one method. Good piece of gear. Just be sure to give yourself a year or two to learn how to use it well. Good gear provides the potential to sound good when experience guides its use. That experience doesn't come with the purchase, its something you earn the hard way through trial and error. That's all I'm trying to help you with here a simple way that avoids all the experience to run something more complex. You can choose to borrow that experience and save yourself allot of grief or figure it out on your own. Either way, good luck.

Edited by WRGKMC
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