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My Vision of the Future Guitar Amp

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  • #16
    Cm9,

    The issue of constant upgrades is certainly a valid one, but I guess we're being conditioned to accept that. One of the things that Fractal is doing "right", from all accounts, is responding to user feedback & making changes & updates to their software on a regular basis. I don't think they are charging for this. Of course, eventually they will need to upgrade the hardware to go to the next level.

    I'm not sure it's that much different than needing more power or more features from a classic amp. You don't upgrade, you buy another one. And then another. We all make decisions on whether we can live with what we have or whether we need more gear. Isn't GAS the big problem with guitar guys?

    All the new modelling amps in the world won't affect your ability to keep building & using the old gear that you love.

    I do think that the black magic & mojo mythology that has infiltrated the vintage analog gear world (like it did to the audiophile world before it) has created a tremendous amount of misinformation & outright cons. There's no magic to the physics of the world we live in. Tubes/transformers/speakers may create complex waveforms in response to an input signal, but it's still a finite number of possibilities. I believe that the modelling engineers will be able to get close enough to satisfy 90% of the market.
    ST in Phoenix

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Gollum View Post
      Manufacturing on the other hand though, is moving more and more towards low voltage parts, and the need for our high voltage parts goes down every year.
      This is a huge factor for me in this discussion. Even solid state parts from the 70's & 80's are gone now. It's hard to maintain/repair a lot of SS analog stompboxes & amps from the glory days.

      The upside for collectors is that prices will continue to rise as working vintage stuff gets more scarce, but I think it will become another contributing factor for the average buyer to move to digital models.

      It will be interesting to see if any small outfits will spring up to manufacture parts for vintage gear. I don't know if the market is big enough to make it worth anyone's while.
      ST in Phoenix

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      • #18
        This discussion reminds me of a Rush tune from 1980

        All this machinery making modern music
        Can still be open-hearted
        Not so coldly charted, it's really just a question
        Of your honesty, yeah, your honesty


        Speaking of which, haven't keyboard players been using customized computers for 30 years now?
        ST in Phoenix

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        • #19
          One problem with touch screens is cost. A bunch of synths have them. I get the occasional Korg Triton in with a dead or busted screen. The repair bill is about $300. My dealer cost on the part is about $130, and i am not so sure it is sturdy enough for guitar amp use. Synth tops are usually treated with more respect. And a whole panel width screen would cost even more.
          Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Phostenix View Post
            I believe that the modelling engineers will be able to get close enough to satisfy 90% of the market.
            I agree, but I bet less than 10% of the market actually makes any money, let alone makes a living playing guitar. Most true gigging musicians will probably still opt for a real tube amp. Last real metal show I went to had well over 10 metal bands that probably aren't breaking even on tour, and not a single one had a solid state or modeling amp. Marhsalls, Mesas, Diezels, Bogners, one band even had a Framus amp. These guys know the tone they like, and need TUBES for them. :-D

            Originally posted by Phostenix View Post
            It will be interesting to see if any small outfits will spring up to manufacture parts for vintage gear. I don't know if the market is big enough to make it worth anyone's while.
            I keep wondering when the DIY market will kickup for component making. It's not too big of a deal to rewire a transformer, but I've never heard of anyone making their own capacitors or resistors yet. I'm betting as the costs go up people will start to educate themselves.

            Originally posted by Enzo View Post
            One problem with touch screens is cost.
            Werd!! Those things are pricey. On the durability though - just wait until touch screen OLED screens hit the market. As long as glass isn't used as the protector they should be indestructible. You can nearly fold them back on themselves without issue.

            See Video: [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6mAgHO1_8c"]YouTube- Ground-breaking New SAMSUNG Flexible AM OLED Screen[/ame]

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            • #21
              I develop embedded instruments based on Windows CE in my day job. To cut a long story short, I come here to get away from all that computer crap.

              I have one of the Line6 Tonecore DDKs, but wussed out on it when I realised that I needed to learn yet another assembly language to use it effectively. Not that 56k DSP assembler wouldn't look good on my resume, but I just couldn't be bothered. I have DSP boards kicking around that can be programmed in C, which makes life a lot easier.

              The thing that pisses me off about modelling amps, patch-based digital synths, and fancy digital effects in general, is that I feel like I'm playing someone else's music. The sound designer put so much time and effort into making it sound just the way he wanted it, and somehow that stops me from making it sound how I want it. With an old tube circuit there's only so far the "sound designer" can mangle the tone.
              "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

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              • #22
                Screen costs should inevitably come down as modelling improves. That's why I gave it 5 years or so.
                ST in Phoenix

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Steve Conner View Post

                  The thing that pisses me off about modelling amps, patch-based digital synths, and fancy digital effects in general, is that I feel like I'm playing someone else's music.
                  That's an interesting reaction. I've had the opposite reaction. I love that I've got sounds available to me that I can't get out of my "real" amps. I'm becoming more creative now. I'm more excited than ever about playing & learning new things.
                  ST in Phoenix

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                  • #24
                    I'm with Steve on this - that exactly why I won't go for it. The mojo in the tube happens in the responsiveness of the tube under different voltages, temperatures etc and this makes a tube amp alive as an instrument. It responds and reacts to the way you play the strings as much as anything. Its attraction as a sound generator is in this semi-predictable and variable nature. Pre-sampled mono-dimensional sounds from modelling amps don't give you this, and they just ain't my bag.
                    Building a better world (one tube amp at a time)

                    "I have never had to invoke a formula to fight oscillation in a guitar amp."- Enzo

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                    • #25
                      I just thought of an analogy I never have before. Playing a tube amp is like playing a violin, while playing a modeling amp is like playing a keyboard.

                      And I have yet to hear a keyboard that can REALLY fool me regarding grand piano sounds, but that doesn't mean they can't do some pretty neat things.

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                      • #26
                        A couple of points:

                        First, regarding embedded OS's: Tek scopes use Windows now. They boot up. Some need a mouse to operate. People put them on the network and they try to autoupdate. This can be a problem. Despite their capabilities I occasionally get frustrated with one and will reach for an analog scope. I can usually see exactly what I want in about five seconds. Rather than an open OS, I'd suggest something open but with a standard plug-in capability.

                        Second, concerning the OP's premise about modeling amps. The modeling amp concept will work for some people and for some it never will. The ones that don't like it will say "It has no personality of its own." The ones that do like it will say, "but it can have any personality."

                        Why does this matter?

                        For a performing musican to feel he is "being creative" there is a certain psychological connection between what he hears and what he is attempting to do to create that sound. If you think the tube brand matters, then it matters. It can affect your performance and while the audience may not be able to hear the difference between an KT66 and a 6L6, it *can* tell the difference between an inspired performance and an uninspired one.

                        Here's an example. There are several Hammond organ clones out there now. They duplicate the fractional math pitch synthesis model of the original Hammond tone generator. They introduce tone generator crosstalk to simulate age. They have variable key click. They have the appropriate taper. They often sound better than many real B3 examples I have heard. Yet despite their similarity to the real thing, I know of no organ player that wouldn't rather sit behind the console of a lesser sounding real one. (They seldom want to carry one however.) There is a visceral experience while playing a real B3 that no clone can give. The organists think they play better and have more musical involvement. It's more fun.

                        I think it is the same with a modeling amp. Some people won't care. They can play just as well regardless of the gear. Or if you do a lot of studio work a modeling amp might be a great solution. For others it will never do. We all know players (might even be those players), that use the same amp and guitar for twenty-five years. They will be a tough sell.

                        -- rb

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                        • #27
                          a large part of the reason people reject modellers is because they sound bad...

                          but they sound bad because too many of them are owned by people who dont know how to tweak tone, and get carried away by the overly adjustable nature of them. for example, you can scoop much more of the mids on a moddelling amp then you can on the standard analogue amp, and for some reason an alarming number of people think this is a good thing.

                          I personally think the future of amps is software and half decent soundcards on laptops which get plugged into a PA. similar to the way studio recording has gone.

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                          • #28
                            FYI, I am a EE and design analog integrated circuits

                            My take on all of this: we have today all kind of multi-effect pedals, modeling amps with tons of featiures and a whole bench of sofisticated stuff.

                            Let just assume for the sake of the argument that all the fancy digital/programmable stuff can sound just as good as your favorite tube amp .

                            Why is that most pros seem to prefer a tude amp and a pedal board with a bench of individual 'analog' stomp boxes to the fancy super-programmable do everything magic box?

                            For the same reason as I do (and I am very far from being a pro) - I much prefer a good analog box with a few knobs than having to hire a full-time software enginner to operate the darn thing.

                            With digital electronics and computers, we have the capability to make everything a lot more complicated than it needs to be (tried to operate a microwave oven lately?). Yes, we can create all kind of features and options, but should we????

                            I strongly believe in making everything as complicated as it HAS to be, and NOT MORE. (This is a regular conflict at work when facing the inevitable 'feature creep')

                            And... I do think my tube amp DOES sound better anyway...

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                            • #29
                              All opinion (and a little over view too) but Line 6 products do really well because they are versitile, not because they sound great. They do sound good though, and I hate that they do. As far as the majority of players letting go of the old tube amps in favor of digital technology, I absolutely believe it will happen. And I hate that too. It will happen for the same reason that your home hi fi system is now a "7 way" with a sub and all the speaker cabs are made of plastic. Do these "home theatres" sound better than the old console speaker systems made by Marantz and Pioneer? No F#$CK!NG WAY. But we buy them anyway because in the modern world of disposable product the cost of building old style tube home audio and speaker systems in wooden boxes makes them a luxury exclusive to the elite. We are still using tubes for guitar amps because when solid state guitar amps first started to appear they sounded really bad. Players learned that to sound good you had to get an older tube model amp. Only very recently has solid state (or actually digital) technology been made to sound "good enough" for most good players that can hear the difference. And the younger players can't hear the difference because they've been pre conditioned by listening to most of their music through little plastic "earphones". As music genres continue to become more generic and product like, and the newer generation of guitar players come of age, these two phenomenon will converge and the need for modern versitility combined with a lower expectation of fundamental "tone" will force tube amps into obsolescence. They will become the novel tool of old cranks, like those guy's that restore old Fisher 500C's and the like. No less to blame is information technologies. The most profitable and marketable products will be raised and all else ignored in favor of profit. Boutique amp builders everywhere will be crying in their beer talking to whoever will listen about the "real difference between..."

                              It's a very sad truth most of us will see come to be in short order. But I want to be clear that I don't agree with this direction, or even the direction of most pop and rock music. But the two are intertwined. Just as the musicianship and innovation of rock and roll has faded, so too will the sound quality of their equipement. It won't be about sound quality, it will be about function and interface compatability.

                              It reminds me of how I felt when I tried to get my young nephew to go outside to play, even offered to take him fishing, camping, dirtbike riding, etc. But all he wanted to do was stay in on the nicest days and play video games on the computer. Drove me crazy. No dirt and mud, no poking at frogs with a stick, jumping off homemade ramps on his bike or falling down and getting hurt a little. Just a "virtual" life. And that's all there will be soon. Virtual amps and virtual rock.

                              Chuck
                              "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                              "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                              "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                                Just a "virtual" life. And that's all there will be soon. Virtual amps and virtual rock.
                                Chuck
                                That is true, but it's also funny how a long of younger musicians are into old music, precisely because of what you describe. One can only handle so much simulacrum. The pendulum always swings back.

                                And there is a lot of really good music that is being made by guys on computers. It's possible for that to co-exist with more traditional forms of music. People still buy Count Basie and Duke Ellington records, even though some of this music is nearing 80 years old.
                                In the future I invented time travel.

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