NAD! But the jury’s still out…

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by LGOberean, Mar 6, 2020.

  1. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Six weeks ago, I started a thread on the VOX Cambridge50 modeling amp. It generated five pages worth of discussion, and people’s replies were a mix of encouragement and information, with some insightful, challenging questions thrown in about the Nutube technology in general and specifically about this new modeling amp unveiled at Winter NAMM mid-January. All in all, the thread was helpful to me.

    But I could not find one locally to test drive, so last Saturday I took a “leap” (yes, on Leap Year) and ordered the Cambridge50 amp at my local GC. I did so, seriously hoping that this amp would work for certain gigs where a 50 watt amp would handle venues/situations where my 15 watt Pathfinder 15Rs weren’t enough.

    It arrived at the GC yesterday, and I picked it up after doing an afternoon gig. I brought it home and played through it for about an hour before my wife got home and we had supper and watched some TV together. I probably played through it for another hour before putting my wife to bed, then after she was asleep, I closed the door to my office/man cave and played through it some more, utilizing the “Power Level” attenuation so as not to wake her. And I’ve probably spent another hour or more playing through it on and off throughout this morning.

    So that’s the time I have in on it thus far. But so far, it’s not impressing me.

    I haven’t tried downloading software or whatever it is you do with this amp to access deeper options. To tell the truth, I had forgotten that was even a possibility until just a little while ago. But that’s consistent with how I want to use the amp anyway. I need this thing to work for me as an amp, not as a computerized amp simulation. If I can’t make this work for me like an analog amp and use it straight out of the box, then it’s not going to work for me.

    I’ve got a gig tomorrow night. I was hoping when I got this amp home that I would feel comfortable enough with it to gig with it tomorrow, but I can already tell that’s not going to happen. And since I want to prepare for tomorrow night’s gig, I’m not going to focus on getting comfortable with or past the learning curve of this Cambridge50.

    I want to share my impressions and do a review of the amp whichever way this goes, so others can (hopefully) benefit from my observations. But I probably won’t get that deep into it until after my gig. So this is just my initial reaction to the amp. More to come…
     
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  2. TeleTex82

    TeleTex82 Friend of Leo's

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    With modelers, especially the more budget friendly ones, it's important to remember that the out of the box tones are rarely the best ones they are capable of. I dont have any experience with the Vox but do they have community models you could download? That was super helpful back in the day with the Mustang.
     
  3. stevemc

    stevemc Tele-Holic

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    i know you love your pathfinders but, have you tried an ac10?
     
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  4. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    What is it about the amp that's disappointing?

    Just taking a stab here -- I love my Vox VT40X, the previous generation of Vox modeler, but it has one aggravating drawback. On all the clean presets, the noise gate is set too high. That does ugly things to attack and sustain, especially when you're playing softly. Pretty much all the clean presets are improved by manually turning down the noise gate, which is an annoying three-step process on the VTX amps.
     
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  5. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "community models." I recall hearing/reading about people developing their own "patches" (don't know if I'm even using the right word here), is that what you are referring to? This VOX Cambridge50 has a USB port on the back, and I know that something somehow is tweakable/programmable using a computer, but that's going to take a lot of research on my part to figure all that out.
     
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  6. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yes, I do love my Pathfinders. No, I haven't tried an AC10. Half a dozen years or more ago, I did record some things using the studio's AC15, but that's the extent of my experience with the tube AC line.
     
  7. TeleTex82

    TeleTex82 Friend of Leo's

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    Yep that's what I meant, are there community patches? If so it should just be a matter of downloading the software on your computer, hooking up the amp to your PC via USB and downloading the patches or presets on to the amp.
     
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  8. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    This is my first foray ever into the modeling amp world, and I'm not generally very tech savvy. I readily admit to the possibility (probability?) that the learning curve on this is due to my shortcomings in this regard.

    My disappointment with the amp thus far does have to do with the Clean amp models. They are disproportionately quieter than their overdrive counterparts (specifically, Boutique CL vs. Boutique OD, AC30 vs. AC30TB). I play clean the great majority of the time, with occasions in songs where I play a "lead"/instrumental passage, and then I want more "oomph." I guess when I have the time to look into/read up on the software, I'll follow up on your suggestion and see if tweaking settings like the noise gate. Thanks.
     
  9. VerySlowHand

    VerySlowHand Tele-Holic

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    From what little I've found out about modelling amps and my previously-held resistance to them, I'd say that if you're not prepared to dig beneath the surface with these things, they're probably not going to meet your expectations. I'm an old technophobe too, but my approach now is to embrace the technology, find what I want and then keep half a dozen settings to use 90% of the time. these can then be tweaked as your tastes change, or if you gig, to suit different venues.

    In a nutshell, don't give up too easily on it. Hope it all works out.
     
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  10. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've been spending more time with the amp. I should be rehearsing some things for tomorrow night's gig, so although I have yet to read up on the software and how to change things, I've been sort of rehearsing by going through song selections for tomorrow night while playing them through this Cambridge50.

    I'm still frustrated with the clean amp models being, as I described above, "disproportionately quieter than their overdrive counterparts (specifically, Boutique CL vs. Boutique OD, AC30 vs. AC30TB)." For those that are familiar with the VOX Pathfinder 15R, this volume/output disparity is very much like the difference between the 15R's clean setting then hitting the Boost switch (assuming said Pathfinder 15R amp hasn't been modded, as mine have not).

    And while I'm speaking of comparing the Cambridge50 to the Pathfinder 15R, with the Gain and Volume controls set the same on both amps (Gain at 9 o'clock and Volume at noon) I was was expecting the Cambridge set to it's full "Power Level" (i.e., 50 watts) to be significantly louder than the Pathfinder. But on the clean amp models of the modeling amp (Deluxe CL, Boutique CL, AC30), it is not. The Pathfinder is actually louder. Wasn't expecting that, and it is disappointing. Do y'all think that issue could be rectified by some software tweaking?
     
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  11. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

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    Thats what i was saying about the volume, tho i was mainly concerned with dirt tones unlike you. But i still found the amp quiet. I would however think for your senior center gigs it should be fine as far as volume, no? But if there is a software app that allows more settings as u seem to have implied, check that out because often amps will ship with a volume way down in software. Or maybe a graphic or para EQ on with the level way down etc etc. Happened to me once with the katana. This is one reason i don't like amps where i can't access everything from the amp itself. Also, even if thats NOT the case u may be able to get a lot more volume by enabling something with a level control and cranking it. Like if there is a EQ AFTER the amp model u could enable it and jack the level way up leaving the EQ settings flat. It could cause unwanted noise or distortion but there may be a point at which it sounds clean still and gives you a considerable clean volume boost.

    Personally i have had 3 modelers and for me at least i am NEVER real happy with them till i figure them out completely and learn what things make it sound it's best. Unfortunately that can take a LOT of time with modelers due to the crazy amount of settings. But the vox isn't near as bad as say the mustang GT. Just take your time and learn what you can do with the app if it has one.
     
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  12. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    you definitely ought to be able to bump the output of the presets
     
  13. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    On any amp, the gain sounds are going to be louder than the clean ones. The gain is achieved by boosting the guitar's signal a lot more before it hits the power amp. And, remember that on the Vox amps, there's the gain and master controls, both before the overall master, which Vox calls power level. And, the only things you can't tweak without a computer are the effects parameters. All the amp sounds are available for adjusting right on the amp, because gain, EQ, and volume are it, nothing more. Also, there are two user presets that you can program however you like, so you can set one for a clean sound and one for a dirty one, and equalize the levels bewtween them using the intermediate master control, because it's level is saved along with all the other amp and effects parameters. The only one that isn't and is global is the power level control. But, you could use an overdrive as a boost on the clean amop settings, either a virtual one in the amp, or an external one, with the gain low or off and the level cranked.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2020
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  14. Ted Witton

    Ted Witton Tele-Meister

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    I share your feelings on modelling amps and I think this probably comes down to our age. For the major part of his amp design career, Leo Fender was unsuccessfully (thank goodness) seeking pure clean tone. Neither Fender, Vox or Marshall ever achieved this with tube amps, but the advent of the early transistor amps got a lot closer than hitherto, and almost everyone hated them.

    Vox had come to the fore in the 60's with the Mersey sound. In UK, American amps were still hard to get hold of, and the Vox AC30initially stood way above most other British creations. Chimey but never clean, and embraced by the early Stones amongst others.

    Whether by good design or accident, the Pathfinder 15R introduced around 2000, somehow got very close to that original Vox sound and for what they were/are they are great little amps . I still have mine, somewhat underused because I prefer the Fender sound but I am unaware of any other Vox solid state amps that have got closer, irrespective of size.

    The first Vox modellers, the AD series of Valvetronics were introduced a couple of years after the Pathfinder, to loud and justifiable acclaim. Sadly, since then, Korg's modelling quest has seen many revisions with lighter, cheaper and yet more profitable models. (Read into that what you will). But not sounding any better, notwithstanding that modelling technology has since advanced in leaps and bounds, now offering considerable weight advantages, arguably greater reliability, and infinitely more flexibility of sound.

    I think the demand for overdrive/distortion etc arose by largely accident with the early British blues guys Clapton,Mayall, Stones etc trying to copy the sound of American electric bluesmen who were rarely flush with money, so were usually overdriving cheap smallish amps. The Marshall Bluesbreaker fitted that target sound rather well at decent volume levels . Along came Hendrix, to change the way we all thought, but even he was using cleanish amps , finding distortion via pedals, but his quest was more to find a guitar sound that got close to a snarling saxophone, admittedly at crunching volumes with the advent of the Marshall stacks. Not until metal hit the scene in the 80's did distortion become "de rigeuer".


    Turning to volume disparity between amp channels, I find it something of an oddity that on the Roland Cube series for instance, the Blackface Twin emulation is the quietest of all the various offerings, but that is surely because of the additional power requirements to satisfy the heavy stuff like Rectoverb model.

    I guess you and I of somewhat older vintage, playing mostly clean and for this we simply do not need the additional headroom being utilised to offer mega distortion channels. Ergo I have and do use modellers at home , but for most gigging purposes a DRRI or a Peavey Bandit will get the job done.. They give me sounds I know and can use with simplicity, irrespective of volume levels.
     
  15. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I appreciate all the comments and suggestions here thus far. And I want to follow up on them, both in discussion here and trying out the computer software to seek a solution for the amp's shortcomings for my purposes. But as I've said, I've got a gig tonight. If I tried to get issues resolved and get familiar enough with how to use the amp so that I could take it to the gig tonight, I wouldn't be as focused on the music I'm going to perform as the gear I'm using. So rather than spend the day fussing with my new amp that I obviously don't know how to use, I'm going to put this on the back burner until after tonight's gig. Which means it won't be until tomorrow that I get around to messing with the software. And then I may have more questions, and return to this thread to discuss things further. So again, thanks for all your help thus far, talk to ya later...
     
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  16. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    The Cambridge50 is going back. For several days I've been moving more that direction. Now some car trouble came up, a week to the day after picking up the amp at GC, and so it's a good time to have that $300 back.

    I haven't had the time that I'd like to use the software and try to sort out the volume level discrepancies I mentioned earlier. I've done five gigs since my last post (last Saturday morning), and no, I didn't take the Cambridge50 out on those gigs. I figured if I wound up returning this amp to GC, I didn't want there to be a mark on it.

    But truthfully, I wasn't thrilled with the amp models. The best were the AC30 & AC30TB models, but when I compared the Cambridge50 to my Pathfinder 15R, the latter sounded warmer and fuller, and even louder than the former. The Line "model" was good for acoustic/electric, but I didn't need the amp for that. The Deluxe CL and Boutique CL were both a disappointment. And honestly, I think those two amp models got switched at the factory. That's what it sounded like to me, anyway. But neither of them sounded like what I'd heard in demos. The Marshall 1959 was okay, but I wouldn't have used that very much, and the rest of the higher gain models were useless to me.

    Maybe all of these issues could have been sorted out, but again, an unexpected expense has brought my attempts to make it work for me to a halt.
     
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  17. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Demos are not reliable, especially over YouTube through cheap computer speakers.

    I think it's stupid that amp presets are generally crummy and need to be tweaked. Why can't they load them up with good stuff right out of the gate? I think maybe they focus on the really heavy metal, shred, and djent tones that the kids want and do not focus enough on providing good basic presets for clean, classic rock, country, and jazz tones....
     
  18. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Every demo vid on YouTube that I watched was on my big screen TV, with a Sony soundbar and sub-woofer. I was prepared for the possibility of the amp sounding different in the room, but I wasn't prepared for how much disparity there was between the two, given the quality of sound system.

    I think you're right about the focus being on the higher gain models, but I was after cleaner tones. And I too don't see why the presets have to tweaked. If they had gotten that right to begin with, they probably wouldn't be losing a sale now. (Although like I said, unexpected expense made the decision for me. I would have worked with it more otherwise, to see if I could make it work.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2020
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  19. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Well, just got home from returning it to GC. Their return policy is really quite generous. It was a painless, quick and easy return. I really don't like returning things to any store, I try my dead level best to be certain before I pull the trigger. But since I couldn't do the "try before you buy" thing in this case, I took a chance, and I'm glad they didn't even try to make me feel guilty about it.
     
  20. nick0

    nick0 Tele-Meister

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    On my vox vt100x there are hidden artist settings that can be saved to the amp also extra amps are in there. But I dunno about Cambridge. I still have my Mustang but I found tones straight out of the Vox to be superior and easier to dial in.
     
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