Help a Tube Amp Junkie go Digital.

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by TheThickness, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. TheThickness

    TheThickness Member

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    I openly admit I haven't paid much attention to amp modeling in the past few years.

    Instead I've steadily collected an awesome stable of tube amps that I love. Among the ones that see the most use are my Two Rock Bi-Onyx, Dr z. M12, Bogner Goldfinger, Bogner Duende, and Mesa Electra Dyne. I have a two pedaltrains loaded with a bunch of great pedals. Overall I'm really happy with my tone and my rig.

    So what's the problem right?

    Well the artist I play for has been booking lots of "one off" fly dates and I'm getting sick of using rented backline. Most of the amps I own and play backline companies don't carry. Normally I can approximate my tone in almost any amp but I just feel like I need to find some consistency from show to show somehow........

    Enter the ELEVEN RACK with Voodoo Labs Ground Control. My sound guy let me borrow his Eleven Rack this week to mess around with and see if it could fill the need for me. I was expecting to hate it.... I don't hate it but it's still no better than sticking my pedal board in front of a backlined deluxe reverb and having at it tone wise. Overall, It definitely opened my eyes to how far amp modeling has come but it still isn't convincing enough for me to say that it's THE solution for me. The "In between" tones on the Eleven Rack are pretty good and satisfied me overall. But the Cleans were kind of anemic and lifeless. Also, the higher gain tones were way too digital sounding for me.

    The next obvious solutions are Axe Fx, Two Notes, and Kemper Products.. The problem is I don't really have access to try any of these products. A torpedo live would still require me to fly with one of my amp heads so while that's an obvious solution to maintain consistent tone it's not really viable. Perhaps a torpedo cab and a tube preamp pedal? Or just get a Kemper and profile my amps?

    Anyone else here a through and through tube amp addict that has used any of these solutions with great results?? Do Axe Fx and Kemper Profilers sound THAT much better than the Eleven Rack?
     
  2. barhrecords

    barhrecords Member

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    I think the Fractal sounds and feels better playing than the 11 rack.

    But you might consider just adding the Torpedo Cab to the 11 rack rig and turning off the 11 rack speaker sims.

    Improvements in IR's have really raised the bar and the Torpedo would let you get into the IR game.

    But if you have the $$, the Fractal or the Kemper would be a big step up tonewise and performance wise. I've gigged a ton with the Fractal but only played with the Kemper occasionally in a studio.
     
  3. JPenn

    JPenn Member

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    i don't own either the kemper or axe, but i do use a zoom g3 and a couple of od pedals for live playing. the first time i tried it, it was kind of strange for about a set and a half, then i just kinda forgot i was running a modeller thru a powered monitor and just played. i play all blues/rock stuff, so those 80's-type la clean sounds aren't something i really need, nor is the really heavy gain sounds. i set the zoom up on the bluesbreaker model kinda crunchy, then hit it with a bad monkey and a clean boost for varying degrees of sustain.

    the kemper is probably the easiest of the 2 high end units to try, as you can get them thru the big box stores with a 30 day return. i'm not sure what the return time is for axe.
     
  4. TheThickness

    TheThickness Member

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    Thanks Barhrecords! Great Advice... I didnt even consider adding a torpedo cab to the eleven rack. I didn't realize it would be that much of a perceivable difference. $$$ isn't really a problem. Id rather invest once and get it right. Even if it means selling off one of my amps.
     
  5. veus55

    veus55 Silver Supporting Member

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    I have owned both the Axe Fx and the Kemper. In my opinion, both are stellar.

    Some considerations:

    1) Ease of use: The Kemper is easier to use for someone with no previous experience with modelers. With the Kemper it is easy to dial great tones and it is easy to either model your own amps or find good profiles online. I found the Axe more difficult to dial but at the end both sound great.
    2) Effects: If you use effect heavy tones, the Axe Fx offers more flexibility, better effects (IMO). Both can be controlled using a MIDI controller or using the Axe controller or the soon to be released Kemper foot controller.
    3) Amp in the room feel. Neither one will provide this for someone used to tube amps. If you monitor using IEM, then I think that there will be no difference with the modeler compared to tube amps.
    4) Use of pedals: I have no experience using pedals in front or in the effects loop of either unit.

    Once you dial your sounds with either unit, you will have a consistent rig that can go straight to the FOH and sound great every night.
     
  6. jerryratpack

    jerryratpack Gold Supporting Member

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    You might head over to both the fractal forum and kemper forum. Both have very knowlegdable user base and might give you some things to think about regarding how you are using it.

    I owned both, and both are fantastic products, so I don't think you will go wrong tone wise, of course you will only be able to say for sure, but it may be more of a workflow preference
    . Fractal had 14 day return policy and of course the big stores for kemper have up to 30 days ( here in the states )

    But I never owned an 11r so can't comment on the comparison.
     
  7. TheThickness

    TheThickness Member

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    Thanks for the advice! Yes we use IEMs playing to a metronome and backing tracks on all songs. I'm definitely not looking to replicate that amp in the room feel. Just great tube amp tone.
     
  8. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    I think the Kemper sounds and feels way better than my 11rack did. Don't have any experience with the Axe or Amplifire..
    But, if I was doing fly gigs I would absolutely buy an Amplifire, a pedaltrain jr, throw on my tuner and vol pedal and be done with it...much less stuff to deal with... If i wanted to run through a guitar cab, which I would, then I'd add a Quilter Power Block to the board....
    Another alternative would be to just get the Power Block, ad some od and reverb pedals and that would work as well... Actually I would try that first......the Power Block sounds and feels closer to a tube amp than any modeler I have tried . But I'm very picky
     
  9. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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    I second the idea of trying an 11R with a Torpedo Cab. The cabinet block in the 11R is its weakest point by far. When I record with mine, I turn off that block and use IRs in the DAW.

    I am scratching my head on one comment you made. I find the cleans in the 11R to be STELLAR if tweaked correctly.
     
  10. crunchman

    crunchman Member

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    There is no substitute for a tube amp, period.
     
  11. TheThickness

    TheThickness Member

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    I'll look into these options. I like the idea of just throwing something on my board at the end of my chain and using my various OD and boost pedals. Did you find that the power block at the end of your pedal chain sounded and felt better than the Kemper?
     
  12. Mexicanbreed

    Mexicanbreed Member

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    How is this in anyway a helpful suggestion or comment to the thread at hand?
     
  13. TheThickness

    TheThickness Member

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    I'm defintiely open to this. As far as the cleans go I spent a few hours tweaking and just couldn't get something that sounded great to me. If you want to point me in the right direction or give some suggestions for clean settings in the 11R it would be much appreciated. I primarily play teles and strats (single coins).
     
  14. tvegas99

    tvegas99 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've owned an 11r, an Axe 2 and Ultra and a Kemper, the Kemper is my choice, the Powerhead and an fcb1010

    I run a 2x12 onstage and enjoy the feel and sound of the "amp in the room" sound onstage, we also use IEM's

    FOH gets the frfr signal and it sounds great out front, I love the Kemper, I prefer its UI to Fractal, these companies have such great try and buy scenarios I highly recommend trying them both



    Are you into FRFR?
     
  15. crunchman

    crunchman Member

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    A "tube amp junkie" will never be satisfied with digital modelers, I and many others have tried this, it's futile. They can work for recording situations and with high gain stuff.
     
  16. randombastage

    randombastage Member

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    I use an 11rack into a tube power amp and guitar speaker cabinet and into a Torpedo CAB straight to the mixer.

    Both ways it sounds good.

    I like the 11rack through real guitar cabs and tube power amp a little bit more so I'd say run it into the effects return of some commonly found amp like a Fender HotRod Deluxe so where ever you fly you can have one rented and when you plug in your 11rack it will be consistant with your sound at home. Trying to go from good tube amp sound to a modeler into FRFR is not likely to make you happy. Not at first anyway.

    The 6L6 power section of a HotRod is good for letting the variety of amp models do their thing.
    Set the output to "Rig Out No Cab". That will globally bypass the speaker cab in the preset. Even though the cab is bypassed if you go to the second page of the Cab block you can set "Speaker Breakup" and I find a low setting there, between 1 and 4 can eliminate some of the unnatural artifacts that can find their way into the higher gain models.

    Also experiment with the "Output To a Amp" setting. I found all presets aren't going to be the same but I can get great full bodied natural amp sounds with that setting just above 0 db....probably average 4db. This is where I get the presets overall volume to be similar so switching from one amp to another doesn't have a big volume drop.

    I set the "Knob" control in the main menu global settings to control the left and right (1and2) outputs so if I want turn up the volume I can grab that big knob right there on the front. One or both of those outputs is where you will send your signal to the power amp. When you run into an amps effects return you are hitting that amps power section after the amps volume controls so it is wide open. So this assignment is important...this is your "volume".

    The 11rack has a amp model of either a TwinReverb or a Super Reverb I can't remember which it is but I created a SuperReverb preset out of it and it is a really great clean. Look into that one.
    Having the "Amp Output" up high enough to put out a strong signal is critical to getting that opposite-of-anemic sound.
     
  17. Droptopandy

    Droptopandy Supporting Member

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    If you're playing live with a band...........I can't convince you.
     
  18. ethomas1013

    ethomas1013 Supporting Member

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    I agree, there is no substitute for a tube amp, but not "period".

    There are cases where modeling is a better choice. I'm not going to try to convince you because you made it very clear that you don't think so. But for versatility, consistency, getting the right tones at any volume, and reliability I prefer to use modeling.

    For the OP's case - fly dates where he's sick of using backlinne amps - I think modeling is clearly definitely a viable option and one that he should investigate. Modeling has come a long way in the last year, particularly in the "feel" and "response" to playing nuances departments. Having the tones that you have specifically dialed in at your fingertips outweighs the benefits of a rented backline amp any day, at least in my estimation. But it still has drawbacks; You will be limited to the monitoring system at the gig and that could prove just as detrimental to getting the tones you desire as a backilne amp sorely in need of new tubes or other servicing.

    Personally, I'd take a close look at the Kemper and the AxeFX. Choose the one that best meets your needs. I have never owned a Kemper, but lots of people I trust speak highly of them. Good luck on your quest.

    For every one that has tried it, and it didn't work, there's another that uses modeling live with fantastic results. It is definitely possible for a tube amp junkie to be happy with today's modelers. I don't know how many vintage and boutique amps I have owned over the last 30 years.... and IMO today's modelers are fantastic for more than just high gain stuff. YMMV.
     
  19. veus55

    veus55 Silver Supporting Member

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    I love tube amps as much as the next guy, but the OP plays with IEM. There is not much of a difference between a mic'ed amp heard through IEM and a top modeler (Axe/Kemper).

    With either one (Axe/Kemper) you can get as many patches as you may want from different modeled amps at your fingertips.

    OP can't go wrong with either one and it will simplify his rig significantly
     
  20. TheThickness

    TheThickness Member

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    Wow thanks everyone for the great advice. Especially for the awesome advice in regards to the 11R. I'll try to tweak the 11R a bit more.

    We fly with our own IEM rig. An X32 rack, Sennhieser G3s, and a 32 channel Mic Split so it's seeming like a Kemper where I can profile my amp sounds I already use might be perfect. I'll give the 11R a bit more of a chance taking everyone's suggestions into account first.

    As far as never being satisfied with a modeler I don't think that is the case at all. at least I hope not. Like others have said if the sound of my amps miced can be even 85 percent approximated by modeling I think I'd be happy. Especially given the consistency id be able to achieve. Excuse any typo-s. I'm using my iPhone in the backseat on a bumpy road :)
     

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