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Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by looney77, Oct 15, 2011.
I know the vibro xd has a external speaker out. Does the superchamp?
For super low volume without a pair of headphones, I'd go with a modeling preamp through a power speaker.
I really loved the Pod and Floor Pods for variety and low volume. They got me through many years of playing happily before I decided to splurge on my tube rigs. At times I miss the old kidney bean quite a lot.
Yes, it does.
The master volume in the SCXD/VCXD lets you turn down and play at low volume, but I found some of the lovely tubey goodness on the clean channel went away with it. It sounded best at volume settings above 6 on the clean channel. Unfortunately, it was way, way, way too loud to use inside the house at that setting.
Enter the L-pad modification. It's simple, inexpensive, and quick. And you can set the volume knob to 7 to push the tubes a little for the best tube sound, then dial down the L-pad so the actual sound from the loudspeaker is no louder than normal TV listening. I can even play guitar through my SCXD late at night - with the L-pad set low, my guitar can be so quiet my wife can barely hear it in the next room, and my neighbours can't hear it at all.
Here are Jeober's posts about the L-pad mod on the SCXD thread:
I gave away my Pod 2.0 to a friend, along with a Line 6 FBV Express floor pedal.
I couldn't ever make myself really like any of the sounds from the Pod. It always sounded somewhat thin, harsh, and nasal to me no matter what I did with it. Once I heard how good a real tube amp could sound, that was it - I couldn't even stand to listen to the Pod after that.
But my friend liked the little kidney bean, so I gave it to him. He was quite pleased to have it, and tells me he enjoys it. So it all turned out for the best.
Yeah, no argument here. They are certainly not for everyone and they don't compare to my 6V6 class A tube of course. Where I really liked them though is the versatility they gave me while I was figuring out my ideal tone. Those modelers really pointed me in the right direction towards the tone I wanted. Plus as far as quiet practice or direct to PC recording they are hard to beat for an amateur musician on a budget
Small, quiet or loud. Great tube tone, IMO.
I did some mods to mine and bumped it from 15 watts to around 19-20 watts.
I can use it at home and it can keep up with a band in small venues.
I like the super champ xd as a faily cheap route but really if 5 watts is too loud, then you need headphones or an acoustic.
Pignose 7-100. Great clean tone, and just turn up for an excellent OD. Use a delay pedal with it, and they're heaven. Still can be pretty loud, but doesn't push enough air to rattle the walls ;o)
I have one, but usually use a Frontman II 25R now at home, which also sounds great at lower volumes, and has a really nice spring reverb. Only $99 these days, just a bit more than the Pignose, and have a headphone jack and RCA inputs.
I have owned a few of the smaller amps you are looking at or referencing.
VOX VT15 and VT30
Roland Micro Cube
Jet City 2112RC
Blues Junior III
VOX ToneLab ST
Line 6 Spider III, IV
Valve King 112
Delta Labs Effects Processor
I have played the Epi Valve Junior and was really impressed with the warmth and drive. But, I know the feeling of wanting to try something else.
With that said, I think if you get a modeling amp, you might regret it after having a tube amp. I love the concept of modeling, but tube amps are what they model and thus tubes are still king.
This is just my own opinion based on my experience... most of the modeling amps I've tried have not impressed me:
The Vox VT15/30 overdrive is nice at low volumes, but louder (like band practice) it begins to sound little ear-piercing and thin. In general it's a better amp for home in a more quiet setting. There are little bugs that creep out, such as volume spikes when changing channels, limited assignment of effects, footswitch limitation. The new line of VTs are basically the ToneLab ST with an amplifier. That was an improvement since the previous line didn't even have a tuner! The VTs don't take pedals well and it makes sense that they dont. There is no true 'clean'. The clean is a model and the circuity path includes pedals and pre-gain effects already.
The VOX AC15 overdrive on the other hand is nice loud. It takes pedals well, very well. I played it for several years and never left my house. It was perfect! It's the one amp I regret selling.
The AC4 is a cute amp. With a cabinet, I did a show and it sounded great. Albeit, it was completely distorted. Playing islands in the sun with an amp that's overloaded is not a good representation. If you are playing at home or recording, it's a fun one, but you'd likely get bored if you're bored with the Epi.
The Roland Cubes cover all the bases of todays modeling. But, they don't cover them as extensively as the VOX, Fender or Line 6. However, I liked the tones they deliver! The clean is outstanding, great as a platform for Jazz and pedals.
The Blues Junior is a sweet amp. Great for pedals. It's not very thick and beefy, like the AC15. It's more boxy and doesn't seem as loud. It hums more than the VOX ever did. But, it has a nitch and fills it well. I would buy one again if I had money to burn.
Fender Mustangs are gimmicky to me. I had the 40 mind you... Fun toy but that's it. The software is lame, I'm sorry. The cabinet is boomy and thin. It sounds horrible when played loud and feeds back easily. However the classic clean setting is sweet and if that's all you play, you'd hardly notice all the other junk. It doesn't take pedals well AT ALL. The Fuse software no match to Line 6's software.
Line 6 amps have the most features and the software is the best out there, unlike the VOX Tonelab and Fender Fuse. However, people complain about sound being 'digital'. I think it's fine for having fun at home and even jamming with a band. I would be embarrassed to use one live, but I have heard bands use them and it sounded perfectly fine. I would take the Spider IV 75 over the equivalent VT or Mustangs anytime. It sounds better loud and has the most usable features for live performance.
I heard Greg Koch do a presentation on his Strat using a Blackstar Club 40 and it was really nice sounding. I don't know much about Blackstar but I like what I hear.
I love my Jet City 2112RC. It's got plenty of clean headroom for home and light band, or mic'd venue. The overdrive is bada$$. I wouldn't rule out Jet City. The new JCA22H is a two channel 20 watt head that could give you clean/crunch and balls out at an affordable price.
The POD2 is a nice unit! I sold it but just because I needed money. It sounds great, can be used with headphones or whatever. BUT, unless they have updated it, it doesn't sync with a computer with complexity and the software for the computer sucks. The larger pods are way better for software and features.
Another option, the Line 6 UX1 with Pod Farm. Pod Farm allows you to model all sorts of amps with quality software all through your computer. I use it for recording or jamming at night.
The VOX ToneLab ST is fun. I did a show with it on my VOX AC15. It's overkill for a quality tube amp. The software is lame. The pedal is really small on your feet. You have to press two buttons at the same time to turn on the tuner. Not easy to do without falling over! It's inspiring tonally and VOX was smart to make it the engine for the new VT line.
But, it's miles better than the Delta Labs unit. It suffices but is not inspiring tonally.
I just bought a Ignater Tweaker 40 and for me, it satisfies. Perhaps a smaller Tweaker (like a 15) would make you happy?
A good rule of thumb is, If you're looking for lots of different styles of music on a budget, modeling is the way to go. If you're looking for one good sound on a budget, tube amps just make the experience more enjoyable. But, be honest with yourself during your quest. Take notes and write down what it is you want from your amp. What can you live without. What CANT you live without. The last thing I'd want you to do is go and buy a modeling amp and realize you really enjoy the quality of a single tone with pedals more than the availability of "many tones and features".
Best of luck
**I might get flamed for my biased reviews!
I'm just gonna have to go out of town and play everything I can get my hands on. Andrewpmast, I gotta thank you for that great info. I really appreciate you guys trying to help. The local shop has Vox, Fender and Jet City. The others that I don't have experience with I'll have to track down.
I wish you could get Fender cleans and Marshall crunch in an affordable, low volume package. I would be happy with that. Maybe it's out there? I'm really curious about the Blackstar stuff for that reason.
Keep it comin', it is appreciated.
Take a listen to some of Don Anderson's You Tube demo videos of the Fender Super Champ XD and see if it meets your needs for available tones. It's a modelling amp, but thanks to the real all-tube power section, the clean channel is pure gorgeous Fender Blackface tone.
The "dirty" channel is where the modelling does its thing, and it does not sound as good as a real all-tube amp, but it may be good enough for what you want.
And I'll mention one more time, if you like the tones, the volume isn't a problem - do that L-pad mod and you can dial it down to a whisper if you like. If you don't like doing your own mods, any decent amp tech should have no trouble following the info in those L-pad links I posted earlier in this thread.
If you don't like the SCXD and go with some other tube amp, you may still need the L-pad mod to get it quiet enough. There aren't many super low wattage tube amps out there. And because guitar speakers are usually very efficient, even a 1 W tube amp can crank out 90 dB three feet from the speaker.
That's loud inside a house, loud enough so that not many families and spouses will be happy with it.
If you go with a 15 W tube amp (like the Blues Jr. or SCXD), that will put out about 12 dB more than the hypothetical 1 W amp - so you could get 102 dB out of it with that 90 dB/W guitar speaker. 102 dB is horribly loud in any sane persons book!
Good luck in your search!
You know, you (and this thread) is making me think there is a definite market out there for a tiny all-tube headphone amp that can give you real tube amp sounds (or at least something better than digitally modelled sounds) without using a loudspeaker, and without disturbing other occupants of the house.
I'm not aware of much out there in this category, but I wonder if the Fryette Boostassio or S.A.S pedals would do the job? They're both based around a pentode tube, and the few sound clips I found on the 'Web are interesting. If these pedals won't drive headphones directly, they might still work along with a small headphone amp, perhaps something like the Behringer MA400.
Here's a link to a little information about these pedals:
And a review:
The little Blackstar amps do a pretty good job of doing just that.
Sounds like modeling amp is a good choice here. Just get one with a 12" speaker and a decent size cabinet so that you can get more full sound dynamics for clean tones. The ones with 8" speakers sound like boxes and no matter what model of amp you chose it will sound like a little box. The different models with master volume will get you all the variations of "crunch" you desire, and then some. Plus you will get a lot of other on board fx like delay, chorus, reverb, and stuff to enhance the clean sounds.
Another option would be a multi-fx pedal like the digitech rp-150 or 250. They are good for lower volume tweeking.
One great option for lowervolume than a 5 watt amp is; Acoustic guitar. Go unplugged and broaden your guitar skills. And you can get the best clear, clean sound with a good acoustic guitar.
Guys I really appreciate all the info. I'm going tomorrow to play a SCXD, Vox lil nt and a bunch of ss amps. Sorry, that's all I can try locally.
Oh yeah, I've got a couple of acoustics. Thanks though.
Let us know what you come up with.
I just remembered an unusual option - the Kustom Defender 5H. Basically an all tube Champ in a box, for an unbelievably low $99 price. There are some reviews and sound clips on You Tube and elsewhere on the 'Net. Link: http://www.amazon.com/Kustom-Defender-5H-Class-Guitar/dp/B0036B8A20
Plug an 8-ohm L-pad into this head, run that to whatever speaker cab you already have, and you have real tube tone and complete control of speaker volume. No true Marshall tones, though, just whatever sounds a Champ can do.
If you're considering budget SS amps, I just got a Guitar Center flyer saying they're selling red Fender Frontman 25 amps (Frontman 25R) for $79 from Oct 20th to 31st this (they call the event Rocktober). The GC website still shows $99 for the red Frontman 25, but perhaps they'll honor the $79 price if you ask for it and mention the Rocktober flyer.
Personally I really can't stand the sound of any of the SS Frontman amps. They literally make me want to stick my fingers in my ears and run away to stop the pain from the harsh treble. But I know some people like them, and $80 is a pretty good price if you can tolerate the sound of this amp. The $80 price gets you 3-band bass/mid/treble tone controls, built-in reverb, and a headphone socket for quiet jamming.
Heck, for that price, I'm somewhat tempted to get one, throw away all the solid-state electronics, and build a low-powered DIY tube amp into the case. I'm pretty sure I couldn't beat that $80 price for a DIY particle board cabinet, covering Tolex, 10" speaker, grille/speaker cloth, front panel, knobs, and assorted other cabinet hardware. Even if I chucked the harsh-sounding electronics guts I'd be ahead.
The Blackstar 1 watt head & matching cabinet are definitely fun stuff. The newer, if you can find it, Marshall Class 5 w one watt switch is also an option. I have heard you can also switch the older Class 5 to 1 watt by a 1/2 cable into headphone jack- haven't tried it.
I am a Roland fan as well, and really like the Cubes 60 and lower, JC's, the Bluescube-
the black panel setting on the cubes is nice.
I love my Lil Night Train. It's perfect for gain at low volumes and you can also get decent cleans too. If you want to crank it and i'm sure you will, i'd recommend a better cabinet than the 1x10 it comes with. At low volumes, it's fine, but you notice the cab's shortcomings when turned up loud.
The below vid has it going through the 1x12.