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Tube amp with line-out, or something similar?
Old 18th January 2013
  #1
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Tube amp with line-out, or something similar?

Hey guys,

I've spent the last few months trying various amps and pissing the music store off by returning them in the hope of finding a better replacement. Unfortunately there are no stores near me that stock some of the amps in question so I've had to rely on web orders.

What I want is some kind of tube head or preamp or something that I can run my guitar through and into my audio interface. I've become accustomed to using tube amps live, and can't get any kind of DI sound to come close to what I want. I've got Revalver and Guitar Rig, but I'd ideally like to go into them with a bit of tube warmth.

I initially bought the Fender Greta, which wasn't all that great. Looks cool, sounds crap through the built-in speaker, reasonable through an external cab.

I returned that in favour of the Orange Micro Terror and matching cab. That sounded much better through the cab, but really really terrible through the line-out. There was no headroom whatsoever and any kind of volume resulted in major signal clipping.

So, returned that, and just received the Vox Lil Night Train. It's terrible. I must admit I don't have much experience with Vox amps, other than an old AC30 at the studio I rehearse at but this one sounds really, really bad. Again, zero headroom, and even with the slightest bit of volume, there's no warm breakup, it's just fizz. In fact I don't actually know how they managed it, but they've managed to make an all tube amp, sound like a portable transistor amp.

So now I'm back to square one. I know it's probably an odd request since most people just mic their cab and that's fine, but I want the option to record at low/no volume. I've got a Blues Junior which I love, and sounds great mic'd up, but I can't really use that late at night, or with my laptop on the couch. Also, I'd only be able to add (or at least hear) the Revalver/GR stuff after the fact, whereas it'd be nice to hear them as I'm recording.

So, does anyone have any other suggestions? Doesn't necessarily need to be another mini head, just some kind of DI solution that will give me some analogue warmth and plenty of clean headroom before I go into the interface.

Thanks
Old 18th January 2013
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
chaosgow's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Line outs are usually simulated power amp line outs or attenuated signals. For years now I've used a THD Hot Plate to record direct. I usually end up using it as a guide track, but I'd be happy using that signal if I had to. I would recommend a good cab sim like ReCabinet to get the sound more natural.

There are some great units out there that do the job. Two Notes make a few amazing boxes. Palmer make the PDI03 which I've also used. All to great effect. Just check to see if has Cab Simulation on board before you buy any ITB effects.
Old 18th January 2013
  #3
Gear Addict
 
musicgen's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Blackstar amps have the best recording out/simulates out I've ever heard. Check them out
Old 18th January 2013
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Ok thanks guys.

Musicgen - I'm kinda glad you said that, the Blackstar HT1RH was my next choice, but I thought I'd better ask around before I bought another desktop low-watt head. I must admit, I'd never heard of the brand so I was unsure.

An alternative is to remove the capacitor on the bright circuit of the LNT, which according to a few posts on the web thickens the sound up. But I'm not sure I want to risk that without knowing how much difference it makes.
Old 18th January 2013
  #5
Gear Addict
 
musicgen's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Blackstar are ex Marshall employees that left after he died. The amps are fantastic for the money. Well designed and well made (Korea). I have the ht club 40. Basically a 4 channel amp that does fender to Marshall sounds. From what I understand is the line out is the same on all the amps. Obviously with the ht1 just less channel options
Old 18th January 2013
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
chaosgow's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Lots of people seem very happy with Blackstar. I tried a S1 200 and wasn't a huge fan, but I can see the appeal. They're very articulate
Old 18th January 2013
  #7
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
The Egnater Rebel 30 has this feature, you could try that one.
Old 18th January 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
There is something called a Slave Out, at least on some Mesa Boogies, which I believe is the tone of the preamp and power amp sent out at line level. Its used to drive another amp but also to record. My Roadster has it but I think you are looking for something practical.
Old 18th January 2013
  #9
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Yeah the Egnaters/Boogie's is in a different class though. I'm not really looking for that level of gear, I use my Fender if I want 'real' tone, and I use someone elses gear when I'm doing 'proper' recording

This is just a kinda jam-session, 'on my desk' solution, so I wanna keep it under $200 if possible, but still retain some natural tube sound (or as much as is possible at that price-point/size).

The Blackstar looks spot-on, I'll go with that I reckon.
Old 19th January 2013
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
chaosgow's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
FENDER GRETTA! Amazingly fun little box
Old 19th January 2013
  #11
Gear Head
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
You don't say what type of music you play, but having owned the Blackstar HT-1RH, I would not recommend it. The tubes died a year after I bought it, very little clean headroom and doesn't take pedals very well if that's your thing. The ISF control is a neat feature but I think it does Marshall tones better than Fender tones.

I just picked up a VHT Special 12/20 head which has a line out, although it is not speaker simulated like the Blackstar so you will have to use a cabinet sim to get it sounding good. I have even used the stock Logic amp sim to get a half-decent sound! You could also check out the VHT Special 6 Ultra, which is essentially a half-size version of the 12/20 which includes the Depth and Texture controls which make a world of difference to change the low and high frequency content of the signal.
Old 19th January 2013
  #12
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Yeah sorry probably should've mentioned my playing style. It's mainly crunchy blues/rock stuff.

Clean headroom and a nice breakup is kinda the main things I want. Although I love the Fender tone, my stage amp is a JCM9 so if the Blackstar is anything in the same genre then I'll be satisfied.

That's not good about the dead tubes though, are they know for reliability issues?
Old 19th January 2013
  #13
Lives for gear
 
BOWIE's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Check out the Reason Bambino (standard version). I don't own one the standard one but I have a friend who loves his. It's a small amp with quality tone and has a DI out. Their selling point is that they do modern and classic/blues tones very well. It's a pretty smart circuit design.
Old 19th January 2013
  #14
col
Gear Addict
 
col's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Check out the AMT Legend preamp boxes. Solid state (analog) but very tubey in feel, and they don't break your bank. Then just place cab impulses in your daw on the track.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN_tRpV_Waw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=MHKywWcVzyA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S02Y_jVamY4
Old 19th January 2013
  #15
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
Well, I fixed it. I did the capacitor mod and it sounds a LOT better. Instantly gets rid of a bunch of the fizziness and thickens it up a bit.

I just snipped the capacitor for now but from what I've read, swapping the tubes out yields equally good results so I'll take it to my local tech and get a switch put in on the cap and swap the tubes.

There goes the warranty though
Old 19th January 2013 | Show parent
  #16
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicgen ➑️
Blackstar are ex Marshall employees that left after he died.
Blackstar existed for years before Jim Marshall passed away, so that can't be it...
Old 19th January 2013
  #17
Gear Addict
 
musicgen's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat ➑️
Blackstar existed for years before Jim Marshall passed away, so that can't be it...
From Wikipedia:

Blackstar Amplification is a UK-based manufacturer of guitar amplifiers and effects, largely made up of ex-Marshall employees.[1] Their products include the hand-wired, boutique "Artisan" series, the Series One series, and a range of pedals and amplifiers in the HT line.[2] In 2009 they began operations in the United States.[3]

They apparently left when Marshall's daughter was taking over
Old 19th January 2013
  #18
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicgen ➑️
From Wikipedia:

Blackstar Amplification is a UK-based manufacturer of guitar amplifiers and effects, largely made up of ex-Marshall employees.[1] Their products include the hand-wired, boutique "Artisan" series, the Series One series, and a range of pedals and amplifiers in the HT line.[2] In 2009 they began operations in the United States.[3]

They apparently left when Marshall's daughter was taking over
Right - but you implied originally they started it up after he died, which was only last year (at least that's how I read it). Might just be a communication issue. Just want to be clear.

I've been eying an HT-5 for a long time personally, but it's one of a long list!
Old 19th January 2013
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
chaosgow's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
I'd also point out that just because it's on wikipedia, doesn't mean it's true. One of the first things I learned at University. My tutor drilled it into me to never use it
Old 20th January 2013 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly ➑️
There is something called a Slave Out, at least on some Mesa Boogies, which I believe is the tone of the preamp and power amp sent out at line level. Its used to drive another amp but also to record. My Roadster has it but I think you are looking for something practical.
Yep, on Mesa amps the Slave Out is a line-level signal taken from a separate tap off of the output transformer, and is meant for driving an additional power amp and speaker cabinet. As such, though, it has no speaker compensation and will sound bad with any level of gain unless you use some form of cabinet/speaker emulator with it.
Old 20th January 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Colonel Blues's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
A REDDI preamp/DI could be a solution, though it's pricey…
Old 20th January 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by thezebralad ➑️
having owned the Blackstar HT-1RH, I would not recommend it. The tubes died a year after I bought it,
Tubes are expendable. How long they last depends on how many hours a day, week, year it's used and how hard it's driven. If I run my amp wide open for 10 hours a week the tubes will not last as long as if I were to play it half volume 1 hour a week.

Just saying when comparing amp brands X,Y, or Z that tube life is not really a fair assessment of quality.

I had a Jeep, a BMW, and a Harley, and they all sucked because
the tires kept wearing out!

Edit: I am not affiliated with any amplifier manufacturer and hold no stock in any such company.
Old 20th January 2013 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
chaosgow's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manfrensengensen ➑️
Tubes are expendable. How long they last depends on how many hours a day, week, year it's used and how hard it's driven. If I run my amp wide open for 10 hours a week the tubes will not last as long as if I were to play it half volume 1 hour a week.

Just saying when comparing amp brands X,Y, or Z that tube life is not really a fair assessment of quality.

I had a Jeep, a BMW, and a Harley, and they all sucked because
the tires kept wearing out!

Edit: I am not affiliated with any amplifier manufacturer and hold no stock in any such company.
I've left my Peavey 6505+ on for a long time at high volume and none of the tubes have gone. Thing is built like a tank and nothing ever goes wrong with it. It was about Β£300 cheaper new when I got it too. I've gone on a 2 week holiday only to come back to find I've left it turned on at 12 o clock. It's through an attenuator but the tubes are still getting pushed pretty hard

Tubes in some amps last longer than others and it is a sign of quality to some extent. But it isn't a make or break deal for me as tone ALWAYS comes first. If an amp doesn't inspire me to play, then what's the point? Same goes for guitars, pedals, ect...
Old 20th January 2013
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Class A, class B, or classA/B designs effect tube life as well.
Old 21st January 2013
  #25
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
There was a tube amp head which was specifically designed for your task, the Groove Tubes STPG-1 guitar preamp, has a speaker-compensated line output (the famous Groove Tubes speaker simulator is built in), and does NOT require to have a cabinet / load hooked up (though you can connect a 8 Ohm cab).
it's a full tube amp including 2 6V6 power tubes (NOT just a preamp).
Old 22nd January 2013
  #26
Paj
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Hughes & Keltner Redbox---been applied to this situation for over three decades.

Paj
Old 22nd January 2013 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paj ➑️
Hughes & Keltner Redbox---been applied to this situation for over three decades.
...and still sounds terrible, sorry to say. only usable for super-hi-gain sounds, for anything clean or slightly crunchy it's a nightmare imho
Old 22nd January 2013
  #28
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WinnyP's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Mesa did some rack mount pres, or see if the univalve is up your alley.
Old 22nd January 2013 | Show parent
  #29
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Bristol_Jonesey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicgen ➑️
Blackstar amps have the best recording out/simulates out I've ever heard. Check them out
Yep - I've got the Blackstar 5 and the simulator is pretty close to the sound the speaker makes

Also check out the H&K Tubemeister 5 - I've read good reports about that one.
Old 23rd January 2013 | Show parent
  #30
col
Gear Addict
 
col's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosgow ➑️
I've left my Peavey 6505+ on for a long time at high volume and none of the tubes have gone...

Tubes in some amps last longer than others and it is a sign of quality to some extent...
To be fair, the factory bias in those amps is so low that it makes the tubes last a lot longer. In mine they were set to something like 13 mA per tube, whereas the normal operating bias for 6L6's should be set somewhere between 30-40 mA. (Assuming plate voltage is around 450-500V which it usually is in modern amps).

But a lot of the 6505 "sound" comes from that cold bias.
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