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boroboy41

Head & Cab or Combo?

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boroboy41    1

I'm looking to buy myself a proper amp to practice with as the tiny thing I got as part of a starter pack just isn't cutting it any more. I use a Line 6 Pocket Pod to get a range of tones at the moment but the difference in sound between the little amp and a decent pair of headphones is staggering. Anyway, I'd like to be able to dispense with the Pocket Pod mainly and have decent amp to give me decent distorted metal sounds and a nice clear tone when I need that.

I'm looking at the Blackstar HT-5R and Marshall Class 5 valve amps but when I've finally made a choice between the 2 amps I still can't decide whether to buy a head & cab or a combo.

What are the pro's and con's of the two options?

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shonie777    3

If you are looking to save some room in your home I would say a combo. If space is no issue and you want the paint to peel off the walls and disrupt your neighbors 2 blocks away, get a head and 4x12 cab. LOL

I've got a few amps and I have to say that I use my combo amps far more than my head/cab amps in my home. My wife gets a lil bit angry when I plug into my head/cab amps because the entire house shakes and all the dogs in the neighborhood start to sing along (howl). But when she's not home....oh boy!!!

Also with a cab with multiple speakers say like a 4x12 cab, you can combine different types of speakers for a unique sound (tone), unlike a some combos that have only 1 speaker. There are many combo units that can hold more than one speaker and you can combine different types of speakers as well. Just like guitars, you can modify as much as you like. Personally, I play around with different types of vintage tubes on my tube amps. It's amazing how much they change.

I only have one solid state amp and it's my Line 6 Spider 3 2x10 combo. I really like this amp and can get some really awesome sonds out of it, but it just does not compare to my tube amps when it comes to the over all tone.

As far as your choice in amps, I've never tried out the Blackstar HT-5R, so I can not comment on it. I do however own a Marshall Class 5 and I love it. Brand new out of the box it's a really nice amp. I bought some vintage Telefunken tubes and popped those babies in it and ...WOW!!! What a difference!

Unfortunately, if you are looking for a nice clean and clear tone, the Class 5 isn't going to give you much of that. Mine only puts out "somewhat" clear tone at very low levels. If I want clear clean tone I plug into either my Fender Dual Showman or Blues Deluxe amps.

It all comes down to personal preference. Try out as many amps as you can that are in your price range and make your choice from there.

Shonie

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boroboy41    1

If space is no issue and you want the paint to peel off the walls and disrupt your neighbors 2 blocks away, get a head and 4x12 cab. LOL

Haha, I wish I had the room for a full Marshall stack and a face melting amp!!! Unfortunately I've got a 7ft square study/office/practice room with desk, chair, book shelves and a set of drawers in.

I am planning to go and try each one out unfortunately one local shop stocks Marshall and another stocks Blackstar, wish there was somewhere that had both so its easier to compare.

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fly135    5

The difference is mainly price (head and cab usually costs more) and space. In some cases a separate head eliminates tube rattle (the Peavey Classic 30 suffers from this). But soundwise it doesn't mean much, unless you count the opportunity to swap cabs. And a 4x12 will disperse the sound better than a 1x12.

The Marshall will need to be cranked to get distortion because it has no preamp gain control. Most amps for metal get their distortion from the preamp so you are looking in the wrong place with the Marshall. The Blackstar is better suited to metal. And even then you may need to add some pedals. Of course you can always use pedals with the Marshall to get metal tones. So I wouldn't toss the Pocket Pod yet.

Personally I would do a pass on both of those because of the cost to performance ratio and do a demo at Guitar Center on this....

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Jet-City-Amplification-JCA2112RC-20W-Tube-Guitar-Combo-Amp-583601-i2275450.gc

In addition I would plan on augmenting the tone from the amp with a selection of pedals or even a multifx.

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micky mac    14

i was reading this a minute ago because im in the proceess of buying a new amp too and remembered your thread and thought id post it doesnt answer your questiion but you might like to read it.

The Bottom Line The future of modeling amps will be two-fold: the first will appeal to "tube-purists" and will include a tube-power-amp-section, while the second will appeal to the more "modern" guitarist.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve played many guitar amps, hundreds upon hundreds and perhaps even thousands when you factor in all the multiple models of the exact same guitar amp that I’ve had the pleasure of toying with. In the late 70's and early 80's, there was no question or debate surrounding tube amps and solid state amps. The tube amp was simply the guitarist preferred gigging tool. What a difference 25 years can make?

I must also admit that in 1997 and 1998, there was still a definite audible difference between tube amplifiers and solid state ones, especially when a tube amp was pushed hard and being played by a blues guitarist. Many electronic engineers who conducted double-blind sound tests comparing tube amps with solid state ones all concluded that same basic thing. The soft clipping overdrive “tone” of a tube amp was most noticeable with a blues guitar players’ particular style of playing. It was next to impossible to differentiate the clean setting of a tube amp (with no overdrive) over a solid state one, or the high gain setting of a tube amp with that of a solid state one.

Isn’t it amazing what 5 years of electronic technological advancements can do for guitar amplifiers? A couple of weeks ago, my buddy said to me that he can still tell the difference between a tube amp and a modeling (solid state) amp. I challenged him to a blind sound test! For the test, the studio owner made the following selections that nobody was allowed to know before hand: my Line 6 DuoVerb, a Vox Valvetronix AD120VT, a Yamaha DG80-112 and the Fender Stage 100 DSP-112. And for the tube amps: my pals Marshall JCM2000-TSL602, a Fender Deluxe Reverb II, a Traynor Custom Valve YCV20-WR and a Vox AC30.

Since we all agreed that it was impossible to differentiate between a tube and a modeler on the cleaner and higher gain sounds, we concentrated the exercise on the “soft clipping sound” of those tube amps when pushed into overdrive. We agreed on a young talented musician, who in turn took notes and tips from each amp owner regarding ideal settings for their amps and the different guitars and pick-ups he was to use. Every amp - 20 we’re brought into the studio but only 8 we’re selected - each was set-up in my buddy’s basement studio and our featured guitarist got to fool around with all of them before we arrived for a bonafide sound test experiment that would hopefully end the tube vs solid state debate once and for all.

The musician was out of sight and nobody was allowed to view the “setup”! 11 musicians and guitar amp owners with an additional 7 non musicians participated in the exercise as “judges”...

We all had to answer one simple question: “Tube Amp” or “Solid State Amp”? Each amp was played in random order, 3 separate times at slightly different settings and with different guitars. So what were the results?

First, some astonishing facts:

- every single tube amp was mistaken for a solid state amp, and

- every modeling amp was mistaken for a tube amp.

Our analyses of the results:

- we all agreed that many had chosen “solid state” simply because all of the sound samples could not be from tube amps alone!

- there was no correlation between tube amp owners, modeling amp owners and non musicians when it came to distinguishing between a tube or a solid state amp.

And the big winner was...

“Tube Amps” continue to rule when it comes to its’ mild overdrive soft clipping sound and tone!

Close to 90% of our listening audience could tell they we’re listening to a real tube amp when it was set to a soft clip overdrive tone. The big winner in the modeling samples on hand was the DuoVerb, 70% had mistaken it for a tube amp on both the Fender and Vox settings. While the Vox Valvetronix faired just as well as the DV on its Vox settings it did very poorly on other settings for an average of 35% overall, the lowest percentage of all modeling amps on hand which still managed to fool some who had mistaking it for a tube amp. The Fender Stage 100 did really good, considering 55% had mistaken it for a tube amp. The other surprise was the Yamaha DG80-112. It came as a complete surprise to many when it was announced that close to 60% of the audience had mistaken it for a tube amp.

What can we conclude from this little sound test?

One of the biggest realizations was that those supposedly “subtle things” like “tube feel” that “tube purists” say they can hear on their tube amps, well they also appeared to be present on “Modeling Amps” as well. :)

Obviously, with every new generation of modeling amps, the accuracy of modeling technology is only getting better and better. With each new improvement, modeling amps are getting closer and closer to mimicking those “subtle things” and will eventually equal the tone generated by the tube amps they model. Consider the fact that manufacturers continue to expand on their modeling amps capabilities and overall flexibility, that future modeling amps will not only faithfully model a tube amp, but it will go far beyond the limited capabilities of the original tube amp it modeled. Most already do!

Now that we have “modeling” technology being introduced in “tube” amps such as the all new Atomic Amp - check it out at www.atomicamps.com - it is only a matter of time before “tube purists” see the light. Professionals have already been using their modeling pre-amps with a tube power amp for a “sound” that is exactly the same as using an all-tube amp. Use a modeling unit to drive an all tube power amp with suitable speakers and adequate equalization and that folks is really what “sound and tone” is all about! Whether you are looking at it from a “tube purist” or a “modeling” point of view, the advantages of combining both technologies are obvious and astonishing!

When you take into account that, with each new generation of improved gear, the value and afford-ability of the product is no longer becoming an issue, it won’t be long before we see a $500 modeling amp going head to head with a $2500 all tube amp, and no one being the wiser. Still think you will be capable of telling the difference in a couple of years? I doubt it! All participants in our sound test agreed that modeling amps have come a long way.

Our featured guitarist who owns several tube amps said he was very impressed with the modeling gear on hand. He would have liked to have had more time with them all, confident that he could have fooled more into believing they were all tube amps. Though, he was even more impressed with the very affordable Traynor Custom Valve YCV20-WR and the Fender Deluxe Reverb II.

When I showed everybody a printout of the Atomic Reactor 112 Tube Amp which was designed to take a PODxt or other similar modeling unit, all were very much in agreement that “modeling” technology is definitely here to stay and will forever revolutionize a musicians gigging setup.

Bottom line, go with whatever you can afford and with the gear that ultimately meets your needs. Modeling amps can only mean good things for musicians all over the world. Especially those musicians on a budget who will have access to more affordable gear, more flexible than ever with a wider variety of options not available to them 5 years ago?

Which will you choose?

hope this helps.

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shonie777    3

Shonie any chance you could post to ireland :beer:

If you got a Fender Stage solid state amp, I'll trade you either my '76 Dual Showman or USA Fender Blues Deluxe tube amp fair and square.

After all a solid state amp is better and you can't even tell the difference. :hammers:

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boroboy41    1

Hi Micky

Interesting post. I've got enough amp modelling already in my PocketPod to keep me happy so just the tube amp is required to power it!!!

I really think I'm going to end up with the Blackstar as I've been stalking it on the internet for ages now, I just need to haul my gear into town one day and give it a whirl. If it rocks, I'm buying :winkthumb:

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micky mac    14

Hi Micky

Interesting post. I've got enough amp modelling already in my PocketPod to keep me happy so just the tube amp is required to power it!!!

I really think I'm going to end up with the Blackstar as I've been stalking it on the internet for ages now, I just need to haul my gear into town one day and give it a whirl. If it rocks, I'm buying :winkthumb:

I know what you mean its the same for me.I tried the vibro champ yesterday for about an hour its a real nice amp was going to try the blackstar but the wife was in the car so i did'nt push it but i'll try it in the next few days ive been stalking them myself for a while too i like its simplicty just turn it on and play no effects to distract me.

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pHGTRSpider    32

Hey there Boro Boy,

Headphones are just so perfectly positioned on your ears they're hard to beat, especially late at night. Maybe you should try a larger combo tube amp with a 'master' volume so you can play with a natural tube sound. I really enjoy putting my modelling effects through my overdriven marshall and fender tube combo amps. My advice, hit the shops, pick a guitar similar to yours and play as many different amps at different volumes that are within your budget. Take your time and enjoy the experience. cheers

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boroboy41    1

Well I finally managed to get my rear and gear to the shops to try these babies out.

First call was the Blackstar stockist. They had the HT5 Combo and the HT5 head (but not the matching 1x12 cabs) so I tried the combo. WOW!!! That thing ROCKS!!! The dIfference between the clean and OD channels is great. Game On!

Went to the Marshall stockist who said "For rock and metal forget the Class 5. Here try these" *points at a bunch of Egnater amps* He set up a Tweaker w/ 1x12 cab and ran me through the switches and tones and then left me to play around in the soundproof room. OMFG!!! Killer metal and rock tones and decent cleans. He came back with a Rebel20 and did the same. Goddamit those amps sound amazing.

However good those Egnater's sounded I think its gonna be the Blackstar...great sounds, full of features and cheaper. If I already had a decent amp and was looking to expand my collection I'd be hard pushed to find a better sounding amp than the Tweaker for 400 sheets. How many days till Christmas is it? :winkthumb:

Ali

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boroboy41    1

Well I told the missus not to get me much for Xmas gone or my birthday (last week) as I was gonna buy a proper amp as a joint present. Managed to get a price match on a Blackstar HT-5R head + HT-112 cab but going to have to wait a bit for the gear to come in stock. Figured I'd waited this long that a couple more weeks won't hurt.

Combo's were going for £349, Mini stacks (head plus two 1x12's) were £449, I got a half stack for £389 (saved £30 from buying as separates £289+£129).

#uberexcited

Will definitely post photos once its here

Ali

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