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Thread: tubes vs. modelers

  1. #1

    tubes vs. modelers

    go, Batman!
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  2. #2
    Raven Lunatic Raven17's Avatar
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    New to the tube amp world......holy **** Batman! Tube amps rule!
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  3. #3
    chief Shawn@PRS's Avatar
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    I think you can get some pretty decent tones from modeling amps, but when you compare them side by side with tube amps, the tube amp will crush. But I'm not hating on modeling amps, I think they certainly have their place too.

  4. #4
    Senior Member themike's Avatar
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    There are two categories that modelers fall into in my eyes when you make comparisons like this - Amp VS Amp and Effects VS Amp/Effects. Basically if you are comparing a tube amp and a modeler in the same room, with my experience the tube amps obviously sound a little more fuller. Now, for someone in my position - I can't crank an amp at home and I dont want to have another live rig. So the small amount of hugeness I give up by not using tubes is paid for 100000x fold by the convenience of having everything in a box that I can use at low volume through my monitors at home or record directly for a studio sound via USB.

    Now as far as effects are concerned - think of some groups who are known for insane amounts of effects ontop of their amps. They're touring with multiple pedal boards and racks and racks worth of specific effect units ontop of their amps. In the box modelers (i.e. Fractal) has all that gear built into it with what I would like to guess is close to 90-95% accuracy of replicating those boxes. Combine that with the possibility to blend whatever amps you want, split the signal and run as many cabinet impulses and microphones you want.

    So in closing - tube amps? Always the go to. Nothing will ever BEAT it. Modelers? Convenient and constantly improving on getting to the tube amp level, and they're pretty damn close. Its all personal preference.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by themike View Post
    There are two categories that modelers fall into in my eyes when you make comparisons like this - Amp VS Amp and Effects VS Amp/Effects. Basically if you are comparing a tube amp and a modeler in the same room, with my experience the tube amps obviously sound a little more fuller. Now, for someone in my position - I can't crank an amp at home and I dont want to have another live rig. So the small amount of hugeness I give up by not using tubes is paid for 100000x fold by the convenience of having everything in a box that I can use at low volume through my monitors at home or record directly for a studio sound via USB.

    Now as far as effects are concerned - think of some groups who are known for insane amounts of effects ontop of their amps. They're touring with multiple pedal boards and racks and racks worth of specific effect units ontop of their amps. In the box modelers (i.e. Fractal) has all that gear built into it with what I would like to guess is close to 90-95% accuracy of replicating those boxes. Combine that with the possibility to blend whatever amps you want, split the signal and run as many cabinet impulses and microphones you want.

    So in closing - tube amps? Always the go to. Nothing will ever BEAT it. Modelers? Convenient and constantly improving on getting to the tube amp level, and they're pretty damn close. Its all personal preference.

    Very good summary....knew it was just a matter of time before you chimed in!
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  6. #6
    Senior Member slev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyMoonsRJT View Post
    Very good summary....knew it was just a matter of time before you chimed in!
    +1

    I would add that the Line 6 M# series represents a significant step forward in stomp box modellers. There are limitations but the ability to have access to models of some iconic pedals that are adjustable for your rig and tone in a relatively inexpensive package is really excellent for those of us who are non-pros but still want that "tone" so we can cover a tune and get the bar hopping.
    Gear: Fender, PRS, Orange, Budda

  7. #7
    I use both. I like the way a tube amp moves air, especially as you kick in overdrives. From an in the room sound perspective the sound guy at our church, who has the ears to tell which guitar I'm playing, feels like a mic'd amp and a modeler sit in the mix pretty equally. We use in ears so some of the air movement effect gets lost. I prefer playing through a tube/pedalboard rig, I prefer carrying a modeler.

  8. #8
    Maybe the question should be, "Which tube amp vs which modeler?" Because there are certainly some tube amps that aren't competitive with the better modelers out there. And there are some modelers that are simply not competitive with the finest tube amps.

    There is a certain amount of chaos - unpredictability - in what happens to the signal running through a good tube amp. There are happy accidents when a note over-saturates a tube, a transformer, whatever, that can't be predicted accurately in a model. This randomness, and how the amp handles it, is part of the coolness of a tube amp's sound.

    Chaos is why computers - that were originally invented in an attempt to predict another chaotic system, the weather - still can't predict the weather as accurately as we'd like.

    There is still a "butterfly effect" in tube amps that isn't happening with models, and I think this is one of the main things that distinguishes the two categories of amplifiers.

    I have yet to hear a model that sounds anything like my HX/DA, though I'm sure one will come along at some point. So there's another thing: if you have a great tube amp, is it really necessary to replace it with a model?

    To my mind, the reason to have a model is to have tones on tap that you'd need a pretty good amp collection in order to produce. Or to serve the needs of those who have volume issues. where they live.

    So the two kinds of amps aren't mutually exclusive. It's good to have both. Maybe a good title for the thread would be tubes AND modelers.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 04-06-2013 at 12:15 PM.
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  9. #9
    DEEPER STRIATIONS markie's Avatar
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    Tubes for me........................... I'm to lazy to learn all the mdeler stuff
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  10. #10
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    What themike said is spot on. I tend to play a bit more when I have a tubes around though so I prefer them.
    Plank Owner

  11. #11
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    There a tube amps I get excited about, and then there are modeling/DSP units I get excited about too.... use whatever works.

  12. #12
    Senior Member themike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Maybe the question should be, "Which tube amp vs which modeler?" Because there are certainly some tube amps that aren't competitive with the better modelers out there. And there are some modelers that are simply not competitive with the finest tube amps.
    Agreed - when I say modelers, I am honestly only speaking of the Fractal AxeFX II and also the Kemper Profiling Amp. To me, anything else on the market doesn't compete in this competition.

    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyMoonsRJT View Post
    Very good summary....knew it was just a matter of time before you chimed in!
    Haha
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by themike View Post
    Agreed - when I say modelers, I am honestly only speaking of the Fractal AxeFX II and also the Kemper Profiling Amp. To me, anything else on the market doesn't compete in this competition.
    Both are very good, indeed! Though I have heard some individual software models that I think are also very good; the Scuffham S-Gear software has a darn good model of a cascading gain amp; the Vox model on NI's Guitar Rig is quite convincing. Etc. But in terms of the totality of what's presented, the two boxes you mentioned are the top of the heap.

    It's all a matter of what one needs and enjoys. The most satisfying amplification experience I've ever had, hands down, is with the HX/DA.

    No surprise there, of course, based on all of my comments from the last 5-6 months. I'll either get another as a backup, or put a similar PRS amp in the studio for that purpose, and call it done.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    I have been a proponent of tube amps for a very long time...and own several. I also jumped on board the modeling game fairly early on...and owned every version of the Line 6 Pod's up until the HD series...I never jumped into the fractal game....although having heard them in action I'm floored. I for the most part always used the modeling and tube amps together...I always ran through a tube power amp. I spent countless hours tweaking and tweaking and tweaking...I've got some amazing sounds out of the gear I've owned over the years...that being said I jumped off the modeling band wagon a few years ago....because I was getting lost in tweaker land instead of just playing....now if you ask the guys in my band they would tell you I still spend a ton of time twiddling knobs but I find I play more. In the long run as long as you can get the sounds in your head out with your gear you've got a successful rig....I don't care if it ends up being a pignose and a squire...whatever works!
    -Bob

  15. #15
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Got to agree with Shawn here...

    I've got a Valve amp and a little modelling amp now and in the past have owned anything from valve amps, hybrid amps, solid state, modelling amps and the likes of the POD's and BOSS GT Modelling / multi effects. Each and every one of them has had their pro's and cons. I could get good tones out of the modelling and / or hybrid gear but I had to work at it. Certainly, with the GT-10 and POD XT Live I felt like I was spending way too much time fiddling with menu's and settings to get the tones I wanted.

    I've had a little more success with modelling amps. I've got a little Fender Mustang 1 for practice. Cheap as chips but the tones are acceptable for it's purpose. The Line 6 Flextone III I had when I was in my last band was pretty decent sounding and well built.

    However...

    Something was always missing and it bothered me for years. There's a response you get from a valve amp. They respond to your playing in a way a digital box never can. So even when the digital gear sounds like an amp it doesn't respond like a good valve amp, and that's crucial to me. Digital has it's place but for my main rig i'll be sticking to the glass!
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  16. #16
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyMoonsRJT View Post
    ...I was getting lost in tweaker land instead of just playing...
    +1
    My POD was a great practice solution but every time I attempted to use it live, it bit me where it hurt. And not that it couldn't be done, I just didn't get it done. Spending time finding a tube amp that made me smile was a more "sound" (sorry!) investment of time and for my gigging needs, essential. The undefinable vibe that my rig brings to my game is the difference...the secret sauce that makes me long for the next gig. Until someone can walk up, hand me the solution, dial it in, and have it so the same thing, I will respectfully remain very old [school].

  17. #17
    Junior Member dadoffive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    +1
    My POD was a great practice solution but every time I attempted to use it live, it bit me where it hurt. And not that it couldn't be done, I just didn't get it done. Spending time finding a tube amp that made me smile was a more "sound" (sorry!) investment of time and for my gigging needs, essential. The undefinable vibe that my rig brings to my game is the difference...the secret sauce that makes me long for the next gig. Until someone can walk up, hand me the solution, dial it in, and have it so the same thing, I will respectfully remain very old [school].
    +1 Boogie... I previously had the POD XTLIVE and though it was great at home practice levels, I could not find a happy medium for band rehearsals and live. The one plus I will give it, should my tube rig fail, I had a backup that I could throw into the board if I needed. Now I just carry a second tube amp in the truck.

  18. #18
    Pincher of Harmonics Blackbird's Avatar
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    Great discussion here. Aside from the convenience and all-in-one effects benefits, there's also the sheer variety of amp types available with the Axe and KPA. If you run one of those boxes through a power amp and cab, you can get 90% authentic to tube/amp-in-room/pushing air, etc. Some of the models can get even closer than that (subjective of course.) And the only people that can discern differences are guitar freaks like us, the common fan really couldn't care less.

    But if you can pay ~2k for a box that can get you 90% close to Bogner, Marshall, Trainwreck, EVH, Diezel, Orange, Fender, Mesa, Hiwatt, Vox, Two Rock, Rare-crazy-unheard-of-amp, etc., then the value of that box is exponential. For most recordings, getting 90% close is going to be pretty sufficient.

    And I have a feeling that the technology will only get better, until it's pretty much impossible to tell the difference.
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
    But if you can pay ~2k for a box that can get you 90% close to Bogner, Marshall, Trainwreck, EVH, Diezel, Orange, Fender, Mesa, Hiwatt, Vox, Two Rock, Rare-crazy-unheard-of-amp, etc., then the value of that box is exponential. For most recordings, getting 90% close is going to be pretty sufficient.
    For someone who feels they need that kind of variety, I would agree.

    If, on the other hand, one is the kind of player who plays a variety of material with one amp, and that amp works well, then perhaps it's preferable to have one great real deal thing.

    We're all so different, with so many different desires, that I say "whatever works for the player" is the way to go.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
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  20. #20
    Pincher of Harmonics Blackbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    For someone who feels they need that kind of variety, I would agree.

    If, on the other hand, one is the kind of player who plays a variety of material with one amp, and that amp works well, then perhaps it's preferable to have one great real deal thing.

    We're all so different, with so many different desires, that I say "whatever works for the player" is the way to go.

    Well yes, that all goes without saying. Just illustrating the value-added aspect of the two boxes. As just one of those amps costs as much as the digital box. Mainly applicable for recording purposes, as you know, varying amp tones can completely transform a mix. Not to mention the ease of re-amping.
    12 408 - 12 DGT - 09 Tremonti II - 98 CU24 - 97 CE22 - Mesa MarkIV - Kemper Profiler Amp - EVH 5150 III - PRS Archon

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