The quest for headphone-level cranked-tube-amp tone faces the major barrier: the difference between getting the guitar amp's speakers to sound great, vs. getting that great sound on the *other side of the mic*. Often I've read about "the hassles of miking a guitar speaker". People like processors that use a speaker simulator, because they just have one output: the line-level output; what you hear live from the unit is exactly what you'll hear during playback of a recording of your playing. When you go through a guitar speaker and mic, the mic is highly imperfect. You can put a dynamic mic against the speaker at an angle, with a $2000 condenser mic a few feet away. But this is no use with limited budget, limited tracks, limited space, and limited ability to get away with blasting a guitar speaker openly in the room. Often people don't understand why a conventional setup with 5-watt Champ tube amp is completely useless to me and others like me. "Why not just buy a Champ and turn it up? It's not too loud, and sounds great." But it doesn't sound great on the other side of the mic, it's way too loud, and its cabinet does not sound as good as it could. The real goal is to monitor the line-level, *finished* sound, and *not* hear the guitar speaker. That's right, you do *not* want to hear the guitar speaker directly, while you play. You only want to hear what the mic outputs, and even that, you don't want to hear, yet. First you want to eq and compress that signal, and add time effects -- only then, do you want to listen; only at *that* point in the chain. A guitar speaker blasting at the level of 5 tube watts (perhaps 15 watts peak) prevents you from hearing the post-processed signal that's going to the master recording and to the full-range monitors and headphones. So the concern of this site is *not* to simply get a great amp Tone, but to *control* that so much, that you can get a *huge* amp Tone, at *tiny* volume levels. Line-level, that's where the real action is at, for apartment recording studios a nd home jamming with the best tone.
This article explains the spirit of this site. Many people are used to playing loudly, through a simple tube amp, and don't clearly understand why a 5 watt Champ is really no solution at all, for top-notch cranked tube amp home jamming and home recording studios. Someone suggested I stop my tone research and just play through a Rockman, if I want headphone-level amp tone -- I felt completely alienated from that mentality. The thought of playing through a Rockman is nauseating -- it's total, extreme compromise of Tone. I hardly feel any better thinking of playing through conventional Direct Inject "preamp/processors", even the ones with "speaker simulation". I know what an actual cranked tube amp sounds like -- it's a sound I've been focusing on during years of critical listening to albums and years of experimenting with many guitar processors. I now have genuine, non-simulated cranked tube amp tone on tap, thanks to pre and post amp equalization combined with a speaker isolation cabinet and a 15-watt tube power amp. This sounds entirely different than any simple Rockman, and I'm astounded that there are people who can just wave aside the power-tube Tone and settle for a buzzy, 1-dimensional Rockman sound. There's one phrase that's blasphemy to my kind: "good enough tone for practicing". I recall Alan Watts: there is never "practice", only *playing*. You don't practice an instrument, you *play* an instrument. And when I play, I always want awesome Tone, even for scales. I would much sooner play my electric guitar unplugged, like EVH at home, than plug into an equalized distortion box. I have tried playing through units such as Rockman or the $1000 DigiTech 2001 high-end guitar processor, and the Roland VG-8 with COSM amp modelling. Those form an instrument/rig other than electric guitar. I play electric guitar, so it needs to sound like an electric guitar amplifier, not like merely a guitar distortion preamp with equalization. Ten thousand preamp tubes and eq stages are no solution, either. The po wer tube pushing a speaker into a microphone, that's where genuine Tone comes from; *that* is what "practice tone" is about: practice sounding awesome.
Amptone.com ultra gear-search page
Home (amp tone and effects placement)