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Today's Guitar Amp Market


Today's Guitar Amp Market  

8 members have voted

  1. 1. Which architecture has the most long-term potential?

    • Kemper - Profiling
      2
    • Axe-FX / Helix - Modelling
      1
    • BluGuitar - Analog/Digital Hybrid
      0
    • Tubes
      5
    • Other (Please Explain)
      0


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Looking at the current crop of products, it seems that there are 4 competing architectures, three of which have well-established market leaders:

1) Profile an existing amp to digitally copy and recreate the transfer function - Kemper.
2) Digitally process the signal through individual component blocks that represent the schematics of existing amps - Axe-FX (and maybe Helix?).
3) Digitally re-configure an analog circuit to re-create the analog circuits of existing amps - BluGuitar.
4) Use a tube amp - Marshall, Vox, Bogner, Diezel, Two Rock, Mesa, Fender, etc.

Does this pretty well sum it up?

If so, how does this reflect on what guitarists want/need, as opposed to what the amp builders want to design?

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yes, leaving out solid state amps, like Quilter, seems egregious...I also agree that the down side of the new wave of 'sim-tec' amps suffers from 'rapidly planned obsolescence'... by the time you unbox it, plug it into the wall, power it up, plug your axe into it and start playing, there is a newer, better, more realistic sounding 'sim-tec' amp being marketed, making your brand new amp obsolete:wave:

I also agree that despite being century old tech, tube amps continue to be what all the 'sim-tec' amps aspire to sound like, and for that reason alone, the entire exercise is one of futility.

To paraphrase one forumite...'just get a tube amp and be done with it'

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On 1/18/2020 at 9:45 AM, daddymack said:

I also agree that the down side of the new wave of 'sim-tec' amps suffers from 'rapidly planned obsolescence'... by the time you unbox it, plug it into the wall, power it up, plug your axe into it and start playing, there is a newer, better, more realistic sounding 'sim-tec' amp being marketed, making your brand new amp obsolete:wave:

I also agree that despite being century old tech, tube amps continue to be what all the 'sim-tec' amps aspire to sound like, and for that reason alone, the entire exercise is one of futility.

To paraphrase one forumite...'just get a tube amp and be done with it'

The Kemper has had the same hardware since its release about 8 years ago, so I'm not this is entirely accurate....but certainly true for the modellers.  They go obsolete faster than cellphones and laptops.

I would also point out that the profilers and modellers really aspire to sounding like a mic'd tube amp, not a tube amp in the room with you.  This is not an inconsequential difference, and it has both positive and negative consequences.

As far as "get a tube amp and be done with it"....well, that's fine, but what do you do when you get a call for a "silent stage" gig?  This happened to me for the first time about 3 years ago, and the money was so good that I had to take the job and figure it out.  At the time I solved it with a Bogner and Torpedo loadbox/IR; today I would use a Kemper. 

In the end, I think that I am headed for keeping my tube amps at home and gigging with a Kemper.  I still want the tubes as the template for my sound, but going direct actually gets me to a good FOH sound faster than micing a cabinet, and managing stage volume is a lot easier.  JMO, YMMV, lather, rinse, repeat.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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I'm a Kemperer, as you know, and I love it. 

The difference in sound and feel is really tiny compared to a tube amp. The totally careful placing of an SM57 and/or ribbon mic has already been done in a studio (optimised per actual amp/speaker) and imprinted on the sound, so you're not at the mercy of whatever mic placement you get on the night or having to use third party IR and load boxes.

I play lots of covers across a bunch of genres, so the flexibility is really crucial. But I'm also a fan of always trying to have amazing amp tones and feel, and none of the modelers do that as well as Kemper. If the Kemper didn't exist I'd be using my Bogner and probably would have bought a Torpedo on your recommendation. 😎

In the future I think tube amps will stay around as long as there are still Gen X people walking around. After that who knows what entertainment will look like in 50 years. 

 

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i'm looking in the same direction but for different reasons.
most of the venues we play have a drumkit and/or a bass amp, or we can arange to sharethe drumkit with another band. for me my guitar sound is crucial and playing stereo with big fx board means, i have to haul a lot of gear to a gig, two tube amps  (a combo and a head with a 2x12 cab) the pedal case and two guitars. while my band mates only need some cymbals and drums stick and the bass guitar.

i would love to down size and have a more transportable rig, as small as possible so i could use public transportation.
so even a normal kemper i consider too big, as well as the floor kemper.

currently i'm looking at the new mooer ge250 if this could handle all my requirements. but also i'm thinking how i could than build a setup for my stage sound. running my guitar over the main monitors might not work everywhere, it might create mud or the singer cannot hear themself anymore... yeah in ears for everyone, but as we are only hobbiest with a couple of gigs per year such an investment is not justified...

the quest for perfect tone which fits for every occasion is still ongoing :)

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55 minutes ago, SteinbergerHack said:

Sure, but what does that have to do with amp technologies?

Only half serious about this; per Tele's post, you could make a go of merely adequate rather than stellar sound.

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1 hour ago, 1001gear said:

Only half serious about this; per Tele's post, you could make a go of merely adequate rather than stellar sound.

Ahhh...sorry, I missed the sarcasm.  And yeah, I agree, which is why none of the modellers have ever gotten me to consider moving fro tubes.  The Kemper, OTOH, sounds pretty darned good.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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8 hours ago, t_e_l_e said:

i would love to down size and have a more transportable rig, as small as possible so i could use public transportation.
so even a normal kemper i consider too big, as well as the floor kemper.

Think of it this way:

You can go to a rack Kemper and use a plain old MIDI floor controller to select rigs and presets.  No other pedals required - everything is in the rack box.

For me, the Kemper would let me drop close to 100 lbs, cut floor space by roughly half, and simplify the setup massively. 

I add the kemper rack and a wah control pedal.

I no longer have to carry the Bogner XTC, the Bogner pedals, rack FX unit, rack tuner, the 4x12 or 2x12 stage cabinet, my Morley wah, one 9V battery, and about a half-dozen cables.  I already carry monitor(s) for acoustic instruments and vocals, so nothing additional there.

...and the Kemper sounds extremely good; in the FOH it is indistinguishable from a mic'd tube amp.

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I resisted solid state until I tried a Quilter. I now own an older Aviator head, and I have actually gigged with it. If, as SBHack mentioned, the need arose for a 'silent stage' gig, I would use the Quilter.

I have tried, and been impressed by, the Kemper Profiler since they first came out. What keeps me from getting a Kemper? Economics, pure and simple. The idea of spending close to $2500 on another 'amp' does not work for me. I suppose I could sell off part the existing 'stable' to finance it, but that seems like too much work...so, if I win the lottery...

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It's an interesting thing.  I've spent the last 6 weeks or so playing with a Kemper.  Next week I'll be returning it...and I will probably not buy one.

From real world experience, I have the following observations:

> The factory profiles generally stink and do not reflect the ultimate capability of the rig.

> You can get really good profiles from several 3rd party vendors, or you can make good ones yourself.  Spend the time/$$$, and you will be rewarded.

> You really need a high-quality monitor system to use a profiler effectively.  If your monitor cabinet is junk, it will make the entire rig sound like junk.  You get what you pay for.

> A good profile can sound very good indeed, but you can't do much tweaking without getting a very processed, "digital" sound.  Changing gain, for example, I found to universally mess up an otherwise perfectly good profile.

> It takes a lot of time to build a complete patch from a profile (rig) and the various FX options, and the UI is a bit clunky, IMO.

> The Performance mode is limited to 5 patches per block, which I find to be very limiting in real world use.

> I have found that some profiles do not respond well to partial-volume inputs - you really almost have to build a new profile for every different instrument and setpoint for it to sound really good.  OK for studio work, but trying to tweak on the fly during performance can be annoying when you start to hear that fizzy digitized sound.

> The potential versatility is outstanding - but at the cost of a lot of effort for every individual sound.

> The ability to control volume and send a perfectly matching signal to FOH is very helpful, but I don't find it to be any more or less effective than using a good loadbox/IR with a tube amp.

> The software ain't so great.  I have had a number of crashes on a Win8 laptop, and lost a lot of time when changes I had made were undone due to non-intuitive workflow procedures.  There is also still not a fully-functioning patch editor (there is one in Beta, but Kemper tells you not to use it for any actual performance or paid work). 

In the end, I can see why people with certain approaches to their playing would love this amp.  It's capable of a lot of really good stuff, and the ability to customize it with your own profiles is something that the Fractal and Line6 units simply cannot do.  I can also see why others might want to throw it off a cliff after getting frustrated with its limitations.  I think that for something this complex, they really need to spend some time on developing a software UI that is intuitive, comprehensive and simplified.  I don't think it will work for me, either.....but it has convinced me that the digital technology is getting very. very close to duplicating what a tube amp can do.

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In many cases for home noodling,  I find Computer based modeling to be great!  I have a huge pile of tube amps from the days of yore too.

And I'm kind of old (56) and should be one of those "it can only be tubes and analogue or it's just a snapshot of the real thing" types.

I find myself smiling ear to ear using Guitar Rig 5 into a Behringer U-Phoria 404 into a Soundcraft folio mixer into a Pioneer 1080 1970's era receiver into a pair of Polk 12b 

towers.   It sounds epic and goads me to just keep playing.

That said,  I do LOVE my old amps and have built an iso box so large I can fit a 4x12 into it and it isolates so well I can crank my 100 watt Marshall heads and only hear what comes out of my monitors if I want.  Still for quick, easy and great sounding home guitar playing I tend to use the computer based ( I own most every consumer level sim software out there and right now I'm fixated on GR5 even though it's a little long in the tooth I find myself choosing it even over Helix Native.)

But yeah....  For me I think tubes are the long term winner.  If just for the sake of history.

Edited by jhall
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On 2/28/2020 at 4:50 AM, jhall said:

That said,  I do LOVE my old amps and have built an iso box so large I can fit a 4x12 into it and it isolates so well I can crank my 100 watt Marshall heads and only hear what comes out of my monitors if I want. 

 

I'd love to see some pictures of that, and maybe a write-up describing how you built it. I think a lot of people might be interested in making one for themselves as a home recording / DIY project. I certainly would! 

 

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On 3/2/2020 at 1:57 PM, Phil O'Keefe said:

 

I'd love to see some pictures of that, and maybe a write-up describing how you built it. I think a lot of people might be interested in making one for themselves as a home recording / DIY project. I certainly would! 

 

Believe it or not I made it out of two layers of 1/2" homosote screwed to 1x stock .  I made six frames this way that assemble with two 3" screws each.  Then I made dual 3-1/2" layers of rockwool insulation encapsulated in plastic. (Those large 3 mil contractor bags are perfect as you can slide two batts side by side into them and tape them off creating very sound absorbent panels that you can use in a bagillion different ways).  I actually find myself stuffing an amp into a closet and just piling those "bags" around them and the mic stand and they are brilliant!  The Iso box when assembled takes up half of the damned room but sometimes there's no substitute.  

I must say though that I recentely got a Marshall 1912 1x12  100 watt cab that was a little spendy for a 1x12 but it sounds excellent and can go into a very small space for 

sound treating.

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