Thoughts on Modeling- IF you use it, what are the pros/cons?

regularslinky

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In my experience, and for my needs, modeling amps are not practical for live use. I play in a band and use analog stomp boxes on a pedalboard, because I like having the ability to bring effects in or out individually, and I like how they sound. I'm too old/stuck in my ways to create patches for every different sound I want to have available.

I have used modeling amps in the past (Roland Cubes and a Rocktron Replitone) as a clean pedal platform, and they are fine most of the time. Problem was that the modelers didn't respond well to the stomp boxes at times, and produced a shrill high end. I moved to a solid state amp (Quilter Mach 3) and the problem is solved.
 

4pickupguy

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In my limited experience modeling works when I need to record certain sounds. Cleans and some distorted sounds seem to make the leap ok. Once I need a believable Hendrixian Fuzz Face tone, or plexi thump I find my amp is much better.
The modelers I have used are:
1. Bias Amp software (good but hard to dial in)
2. Amplitube software (probably best digital results)
3. Ethos O/D Preamp & cab sim. (Analog sim, most authentic but only A few sounds availabl)
4. Garageband (meh)
5. I Jam software (poop)

This is all Amplitube direct:

This is the Ethos analog sim direct:

This is my live rig mic’d:
 
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cyclopean

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Pros: They sound good, they are flexible, you have infinite programmability, you can synch all of your modulation and delays to a midi clock if you play with a click. I am a tube amp guy, but I play with a lot of folks who use the Axe FX and Neural, etc. etc. and I admit that they sound really good. We have come a long way since the days of the kidney bean POD. :) I would say that my decision to choose to use an amp is more due to personal preference than objective superiority. This was not the case 20 years ago.

Cons: On the fly adjustment can be tough. I see a lot of modeler players who tweak their sounds in the bedroom, and then on the gig have way too much low end, way too much reverb, etc. etc. It's easy with a conventional rig to reach down and spin a knob without calling NASA to reprogram your rig.

Eventual obsolescence: As soon as somebody comes out with a better mousetrap, you have a very expensive paperweight. This is a pro and a con as the technology keeps improving. I've seen guys pour hours into programming their Line 6 gear, then throw that out and spends hours programming their Kemper, then throw that out and spend hours programming their Neural Cortex... and eventually something will come out that is better than that and they'll start all over again.

All that said, even though I don't personally like modelers, I'll admit that they have come a long way and that they really do sound outstanding now. I think the decision is more about interface and tweakability than it is tone at this point.
If the modeler still works, why throw it out?
 

Big Twang Theory

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well,
everytime i've ever recorded in a professional studio (at least 4 times) i wasn't in the room where the cab was, i was in the studio, listening to my rig miced up in a booth,
so i was not pushing any more air than i was getting back from the studio monitors.

so, playing thru my iridium and monitoring loudly with my jbl's,
is really no different.
Yeah, for sure. I'm not saying one way is better than the other. Having done quite a bit of recording myself, I've done it both ways, both isolated from the amp and in the same room. I was speaking more towards live gigs than recording. And I do realize many folks do play that way, with minimal stage volume. I do that myself when I have duo gigs at resorts or restaurants. But when it's a full band, I gotta have the symbiotic relationship between the guitar and amp. It's just a completely different instrument when used that way. And like I said, not better or worse, just different.
 

tfarny

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I am a really recent switcher and haven't sold any of my traditional gear (like you I have some stuff I'm very fond of).

I think the pros are dependent on your use case. Ease of gear hauling is certainly a plus but there are others. You have access to more tones than you would with a normal rig, that might make a difference to you or not, and you can make sounds you wouldn't be able to make with any normal rig.

I was sold when I realized I could haul a really small pedalboard and 35lb powered monitor and have credible, ready to gig electric sounds, acoustic resonator sounds, and even a bass amp if needed all as one piece of kit. Right now I play 50/50 electric and acoustic, and going all-modeling really does add convenience.

You can also do stuff with the new gear that are just about impossible with older stuff. For instance - assign any control of any effect or amp knob (or multiple) to the expression pedal. My simple use for that is tremolo intensity with added gain to go along with the higher intensity (they both move up together), to have that on an expression pedal really changes how I can sound within a song, like I can get super swampy for one extended chord and then back to something manageable, or whatever. I've got simple needs but if I didn't, it's hard to argue against all that flexibility and I'm just mentioning one possible example.

The biggest con is surely the hours spent watching insanely boring, slow paced youtube vids - there are almost NO usable instruction guides in modeling world, it is all talky, over long videos. You've also got to hunt down and learn how to use things like "Ownhammer IRs" and understand the difference between a patch and a snapshot, and on and on and on. It's a whole new hobby for better or worse.

You will also be looked down upon by many a traditionalist who will no longer see you as a peer but as some kind of turncoat. That part is bonkers.

Finally - you might not like your tone quite, 100% as much. You might still think "something is missing" or you might not.
 

D_Malone

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I haven’t read the entire thread, sorry, but I have been through quite a few modelers.

Long story short, I’m fine with digital effects, but digital amp modeling and distortion sounds/feels sub-par IMO.

I’ll be first in line when it gets there. I do appreciate the benefits of digital. Until then, I’ll get my dirt from tube amps and analog pedals.
 

loopfinding

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I use the iridium, because it generates the drive in the analog input section, and compensates for those characteristics in the model. I can just plug my pedalboard with clean boosts and fuzzes into it and it responds like a real amp to goosing. I don’t care about its accuracy or “simplicity,” I just like that it more or less responds in a spongey way.

I still keep a tube amp for quieter or mic’ed gigs, but it has been a godsend for recording and home playing. I keep my low watt tweed IRs on the fender setting, and my high watt tweed IRs on the Marshall setting. For loud unmic’ed gigs (which I haven’t played since like 2016?), I’d probably just run it into a power amp and 4x10 or 4x12.
 
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codamedia

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So I've recently dipped my toe in the modeling world when I purchased the Line 6 HX Effects. So I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it. What do you like or dislike? And like the title suggests, I really want to hear from those of you that use it.

Virtually unlimited chains, flexible routing, everything gets saved, no buttons & knobs getting moved in transit, no daisy chains, no small cables going bad, etc... etc...

There is nothing to dislike, unless you are easily overloaded with options and have trouble focusing.

Approach it like any pedal board... build the same chain you normally would, with the same type of effects you normally would. When you decide to get adventurous... you don't have to run to the music store to drop more money, that music store is already loaded in your HX Effects.

The nice thing about the HX Effects is it's just effects. You still plug into an amp so half of the modeling debate is missing from the equation... and the part missing is the real contentious one ;)
 

burntfrijoles

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i use 'modeling' for recording.

it is perfect (PERFECT) for that.

For recording, modeling can't be beaten
Amen.
I have an Iridium so it only "models" three amps but who really needs more than a Fender, Vox or Marshall?
I also use my pedalboard into the Iridium and I get just about any sound I want.
I am not tied to endless tweaking. I know what settings work for each model and can quickly change.
I don't gig but I use the Iridium regularly in recording. I have only turned on my tube amp once in the last 6-8 weeks.
 

gonzo

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I have an Iridium so it only "models" three amps but who really needs more than a Fender, Vox or Marshall?
yes, well, for me, it's a great 'pedal platform'...
with something like a REVV G3, using a marshall as a base, is perfect for dialing in a high gain sound that is more unique (IMHO) than just turning on a 5150 model...

all depends on how you use it
 

ASATKat

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I've decided that solid state amps truly sound better than modeling amps. Case in point is my Katana Mk2 100, solid state with modeling used in the effects. It's a hybrid and a killer sounding amp. Yes there are modeled "sneaky" amps, but I am truly happy with what I get with just the front panel and no deep editing.

I never really wanted an endless supply of modeled amp sounds, I really gave Line6 a chance. The concept sounded great and I bought the 1st AxSys 212 in Northern California, by an accident, that being they sold it one week before it was scheduled to go on sale. Not only that they priced it $200 too low, by accident. I evolved with L6 till I got the Pro Live floorboard. It was all close but not truly believable reproductions.

I bought a wonderful but too expensive Kemper that I couldn't really afford. I then explored the Fender Supersonics 60 and 22, I stayed with the 22 till I hurt, compressed my lower back and gave it up. Around that time I was hearing about the new Katanas and got a Mk1 50w and totally fell in love with it. Now with the Mk2 100 I have zero desire for tubes or modeling. I would still love to have a Kemper and good cab again.
 

Blrfl

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I've decided that solid state amps truly sound better than modeling amps. Case in point is my Katana Mk2 100, solid state with modeling used in the effects. It's a hybrid and a killer sounding amp.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the PA sections in the Katana, Nextone and Blues Cube all run clean. Everything that gives those amps their tone is in software. Twisting the Kat's amp variation knob just tells it to run a different model.
 

ASATKat

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the PA sections in the Katana, Nextone and Blues Cube all run clean. Everything that gives those amps their tone is in software. Twisting the Kat's amp variation knob just tells it to run a different model.
That is not what Boss says in writing and on the phone.

Whatever, my main point was that it sounds great. Want to dispute that?
 

Blrfl

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That is not what Boss says in writing and on the phone.

They're feeding you the marketing material. I have the service manual for the Katana. The entire PA section is an off-the shelf ST Micro TDA7293, which is a general-purpose 100W class AB amp on a chip found in a large number of other products. The analog, solid-state parts aren't being used to make tone.

Whatever, my main point was that it sounds great. Want to dispute that?

Not at all. My Blues Cube sounds great.
 

ASATKat

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They're feeding you the marketing material. I have the service manual for the Katana. The entire PA section is an off-the shelf ST Micro TDA7293, which is a general-purpose 100W class AB amp on a chip found in a large number of other products. The analog, solid-state parts aren't being used to make tone.



Not at all. My Blues Cube sounds great.
So you're saying Boss is lying? I don't buy that.

"BOSS Katana Amp FAQs: Is Katana Good For Beginner Guitarists?" https://thevault.musicarts.com/boss-katana-amps-faqs/?amp=1
 

NoTeleBob

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So you're saying Boss is lying? I don't buy that.

"BOSS Katana Amp FAQs: Is Katana Good For Beginner Guitarists?" https://thevault.musicarts.com/boss-katana-amps-faqs/?amp=1

He is correct. It's DSP modeling into a clean analog PA (as it should be). Boss is notably silent about amp internals, but they definitely haven't built analog modeling for five different amps to then layer on the clean channel... and then have DSP modeling for all the other amp models (i.e. the "sneaky amps", etc).

In addition to the service manual @Blrfl references above, consider the fact that the Boss TS works with all their modeling pedals. Most of those are full DSP modelers - no analog suggested as no amp is included. There's no way that the TS software controls analog amp functionality - but the built-in amps are indeed controllable from it.

From the article you referenced: "BOSS Katana amps are solid state amps that feature digital sound effects. They’re the best of both worlds as far as analog construction and digital sound processing goes."

The PA section is the "analog" part, although it's not old-school analog with a bunch of individual transistors. It's IC's as has been standard since the early 80's.

As for Boss's marketing, read some of their statements on just what the amp is. They dance around terminology and weave a web of undecipherable BS. It's technobabble.

But, none of that matters if you like the sound.
 
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Blrfl

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@NoTeleBob beat me to the punch and everything he said is included by reference. :) But I'll add this:

The architecture for every Roland- or BOSS-branded digital amp is A-to-D --> DSP --> D-to-A --> Clean PA. I haven't seen a schematic for the ToneMasters, but detailed photos of the innards tell me they're doing the same thing. Line 6, Peavey and everybody else making modeling combo amps are likely doing it, too, because it doesn't make sense to do it any other way. You lose an awful lot of flexibility the minute you cast things in concrete by using analog circuitry to shape tone.

ST's data sheet says the Katana's PA doesn't get above 1% THD until it's dissipating about 80W. So, much like with tube amps, the PA itself isn't going to lend much of anything to the tone until you're just south of very loud.
 

ASATKat

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Thanks all, the only thing I know is I love it, it rocks, it's groovy, and it services me well.

Why would Boss emphasize solid state other than to scramble that simple chunk of fat in my head.
 




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