Future-Proofing / Obsolescence - Classic Tube vs. Modeling Amps

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by rob5755, Feb 14, 2020 at 10:19 AM.

  1. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's

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    If it's still usable for you, it's not obsolete.
    I have a Katana 50. It has yet to be connected to a computer. I found tones I like just tweaking knobs on it.
    I've had my POD HD400 for something like 8 years now. Used the online community to grab shred patches when I first got it, and maybe a few times since, but I could easily tweak and adjust from what's there to get anything I want out of it. Outside of a master volume tweak here or there, I've not changed any of the patches in probably 5 years.
     
  2. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Holic

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    For any piece of equipment that wasn't engineered to a low price point and didn't have any design flaws that made it prone to failure, the answer to that question is "yes."

    Here's one point: my Alesis Quadraverb 2. The Q2 was designed in the early 1990s and sold as professional-grade gear. They were extremely versatile, with eight blocks that could take the role of any of several dozen effects and wired together six ways to Sunday. Architecturally, it looks a lot like most digital gadgets on the market these days: it has a CPU, DSP, analog/digital conversion, a display and a bunch of switchgear and knobs on the front panel and connectors on the back. The digital parts were state-of-the-art when it was first released (1994), which means it can't do the same kinds of sophisticated things as its current counterparts. Despite its age, the innards are almost indistinguishable from modern gear: everything except the large capacitors and the ROM holding the firmware is surface-mounted on a single PC board and the front panel parts are cabled in.

    Do Q2s last? Hell yes, they do. Mine was used more or less daily since I bought it from the original owner in 1997 until a few months ago when I dove into something that did amp and speaker modeling. The only maintenance it should ever need is the battery that backs up the memory, and even that still had a good charge on it last time I measured it. It still powers up and does everything it was designed to do as well as it did two decades ago. Is it as good as its modern counterparts? No, but the car I was driving in 1994 wouldn't be, either.

    Here's the thing: it's not a piece of cheap junk. MRSP for the Q2 in 1994 was US$800, which is about $1,400 in today's money. I thought about unloading it because its replacement does just fine, but I think I'm going to keep using it and see how long it lasts.

    I have two words for you: Kemper Profiler. Those are pushing a decade in age and the first ones are still able to hang with everything in the current firmware. Few people seem to know this, but the DSP and storage on those is on a removable card, which means the whole unit won't have to be tossed out when it runs out of horsepower. Things like that cost extra up front, but as I often tell my wife, buy it nice or buy it twice.

    Modern mobile phones are just general-purpose computers in small packages. The Android phone I had ten years ago will still run the applications I ran on it back then. What it won't do is run things that ask too much of it, and that's to be expected.
     
  3. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    failed to upgrade my blue-tooth supported shovel and now it's a brick

    the black deelux - still kickin'

    ;)
     
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  4. ataylor

    ataylor Tele-Meister

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    I’m not sure that’s the best comparison.

    Digital amps are more like digital cameras, and something like a Tone Master is like a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless. Something new will come along, but there’s not going to be reason to replace these with any frequency for most users.
     
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  5. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Poster Extraordinaire

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    A few thoughts:

    Firstly, don't consider hardware that relies on software, because sooner or later, software development will end for that product ( hence, the term "planned obdolescence).

    Secondly, as technology is introduced/developed, it gets better. This is a 2-edged sword because, while it can make for a competitive marketplace, in terms of technology and pricing, it also pushes the development of newer, improved technology.

    As I see it, solid state, analog amp technology is here to stay, and is posing a serious threat to vacuum tube technology, in terms of cost and quality. There will come a time, in the not too distant future, when tube amps will go the way of the dinosaur.

    Any future amp purchase that I make will be solid state technology.
     
  6. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm still waiting on the modeler that's actually a PRRI with a bolt on unit that replaces the rhythm section, complete with holographic projector.

    I give it 16 more years, give or take?

    Then I'll have Frankenstein's monster playing an upright and one of them aliens from Independence Day on the drum throne

    ;)
     
  7. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Very very very few transistors get used the way tubes or transistors get used in analog amps.

    Tubes are obsolete cause they are terrible for switching compared to transistors and 99.9999999999% of all uses of transistors is for switching.

    How many tubes even get produced a year... probably fewer than the # of transistors in a single smartphone.

    But an amp doesn't use a tube for switching.. the tube still has useful properties that a transistor doesn't have.
     
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  8. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Meister

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    Perhaps the wild card in the deck will be downloading amp sims to a pc.
    Great for recording or any number of speak systems could be used to rock the house
     
  9. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    It would be a good design if they made the boards on the Tonemaster plug and play swappable. That way, if it was broken or a new version came out, replace the board and you're set. This would be a great innovation for Fender since that was one of Leo's original guiding principles when it came to guitars.
     
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  10. USian Pie

    USian Pie Tele-Meister

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    If it sounds good today, why wouldn't it sound good tomorrow?

    Resale might suck but, if it sounds good, why sell it?
     
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  11. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    Yep. Or the original developers won't be around for one reason or another. Yesterday at work I spent most of the day trying to track down the source code for a barcode label printing application a contract developer wrote in 2012. After I found it, I discovered he had written it using a third party library component that's no longer available. Rewriting it isn't a priority so my users on the factory floor will have to have someone in IT manually create and print the label when they encounter the bug.
     
  12. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Or even hardware connectivity.

    Particularly with an amp that relies on Bluetooth to talk to a smartphone.. I think it is inevitable Bluetooth gets replaced with something else down the road with no backwards compatibility.

    The software would probably be broken before that anyway if it's running on a Smartphone though.. If you're not actively keeping an iOS application up to date Apple will break it in a few years.
     
  13. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    As a former software developer, the very last thing in the world I'd want is for my guitar tone to be tied to that ridiculous upgrade cycle, and commodity-obsolescence.

    I'd take bets that the current crop of modelers will die or be deemed useless, long before my SFs decide to quit. In fact, I can't see any reason why my SFs would ever quit, permanently. Unless consumables like tubes were no longer available.
     
  14. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Replacing the board is the best way to fix a lot of stuff. If you can get a replacement board !
    My buddy had some kinda bass amp in for repairs. No idea what it was, a small recent thing that put out mega watts, about the size of an old cassette recorder.
    Anyway new cost was around $800 and the replacement board around $400.
    In a year or two you probably can't get the board anymore.
     
  15. soul-o

    soul-o Friend of Leo's

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    They aren’t making any more of the really cool amps from the 60s and early 70s that some of ius bought when they were reasonably priced. It’s perfectly fine to me that you can get great simulation of a Deluxe in plug in form on UA for $100 and get really close for recording. It’s nor quite as good as the real deal, but it’s close. Same for their Ampeg b15 plug. For $100, you can get pretty close, but it’s $1500 if you really have to have a real one.
     
  16. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    In the world of consumer electronics, vacuum tubes have been obsolete for over fifty years.
     
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  17. gkterry

    gkterry Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    On the other hand I am using a solid state amp that is around 35 years old. It sounds glorious and meets my needs perfectly. It is repairable by those like myself with some electronic knowledge because of its relative simplistic design. I see it meeting my needs for the rest of my term here on earth if I choose to continue using it.

    Sitting next to it is a modeling amp that doesn't see near the use and if it died, I would probably chuck the innards in the trash. The difference is that most current technology is much more technically complex than older technology. The complexity is what limits its ability to be repaired and essentially makes it disposable.

    Were I limited to one amp only, I would pick the older amp because of its performance but also because I know I have a pretty good chance of keeping it going into the foreseeable future due to its relative technical simplicity.

    I think the technical complication built into modern technology is a very large factor in its perceived shorter life cycle. That complication requires a much larger and more complex selection of parts to produce and keep current technology working and being useful. I also believe a big part of the attraction of tube amps, other than the sonic advantages, is their ability to be maintained and useful into the foreseeable future.
     
  18. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Something that I don't think has been mentioned , is how as technology progresses, there is trickle down, what used to be cutting edge high end and expensive within a few years is now available cheaper and often better.
    That's for computers, phones , all types of things.
    And for musical gear.
    I remember seeing the first Line 6 ASSYS combo amp at a Summer NAMM show in 1996, my buddies and I were all impressed!
    Now you can get amps that will do more, sound better and they are cheaper than that model.
    Same with effects, recorders, etc..

    And just because it's older, doesn't mean that the gear doesn't still sound good, maybe not as good as the latest stuff and a lot of it still works well.

    I love tube amps, but I am learning to embrace new tech, I have been playing a Quilter 202 amp for a while now, it's small, light, powerful , dependable, and it sounds good.
     
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  19. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Holic

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    In the future, tubes will be obsolete because we will have Mini-DSP pin-compatible tube replacements that emulate each tube type - with class D amps in the power tubes.
     
  20. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    If you consider tube guitar amplifiers to be consumer electronics, which I think they are since the majority of players/purchasers are not professionals, then vacuum tubes are still state of the art.
     
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