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  • Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

    I spent some time researching analog amp simulators for guitar. The process was kind of time consuming, partially because stores like Sweetwater and Musicians Friend don't seem to be organized to make finding them easy. They seem more oriented toward traditional guitar amps. It took a few rounds to find what I was after. I thought I'd share what I found, in case others might find it useful. So here goes.

    For starters, I'm a Rockman user, with both a Sustainor and Distortion Generator. They are both what are called "Rockmodules" that were produced by SR&D as rack mount gear that complemented the better known Rockman headphone amplifiers. The Sustainor and Distoration generator both act as amplifier replacements, providing amp and cabinet simulations. I've been trying to build something similar on the pedal board.

    When it comes to the amplifier/cabinet simulation, I wanted something that would fit on the regular pedal board. The idea was to keep the cabling for unbalanced audio as short as possible. I also wanted an analog solution, something akin to the Rockman gear. These are the products that I eventually found.

    The Radial JDX Direct-Drive provides a full amp cabinet simulation, along with balanced output to the board. It seems more sophisticated in that it has a polarity switch for the audio output along with a ground lift. It also has a selection of speaker types, along with microphone placement. What it doesn't have is an amp-like pre-amp for distortion. It seems like more of a clean machine, where upstream pedals are responsible for controlling the levels, and amount of distortion. It also has a pass-through for sending audio to another guitar amp, say one you have on stage as a personal monitor. It doesn't have a headphone out or auxiliary-in, limiting it's use as a tool for practice, unless it's combined with other equipment.

    The next one I'll mention seems to be the primary source for the others that follow. It's the Tech 21 SansAmp GT2. While it lacks balanced output for the board, it does provide an amp/cabinet simulation with switchable microphone placement. It also provides "Tweed", "British", and "California" amps which I take to be Fender, Marshall, and Mesa amps. It has clean, crunch and lead settings for each amp. It also has drive and output controls, along with bass and treble controls.

    The Behringer TM300, is functionally a knockoff of the SansAmp GT2. Its controls and input/output are identical. The form factor is smaller and the case is plastic like a number of the other Behringer pedals.

    The Palmer Pocket Amp MK 2 is mostly like the SansAmp GT2, but adds more input/output choices. It has an auxiliary-in, headphone jack and XLR out. It also adds a ground lift.

    Finally, there is the Behringer GDI21 V-Tone Guitar Driver DI Pedal. It seems to be a close copy of the Palmer Pocket Amp, minus the auxiliary-in and headphone out.

    So, I wound up buying the Palmer Pocket Amp, because of the headphone-out and aux-in. You can use it on stage or in the studio to go directly into the board, or to play quietly without a bunch of other gear. It's very flexible in that respect.

    I also bought the Behringer TM300, because I wanted to use its distortion with downstream modulation effects (Phaser, Flanger, and Chorus). I didn't need balanced output in that use case, because that would be downstream. It also has a form factor smaller than the SansAmp GT2, making it an easier fit with my pedals. I did give some thought to how sturdy the TM300 is, but I thought that it would experience pretty light duty with me. It's the kind of thing that just gets left on once set.

    Those are my thoughts. I hope they are helpful. I'm sure there is other gear out there that I didn't find. I'd be curious to hear about it.

  • #2
    Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

    AMT stuff, perhaps? Never tried them but they seem like they would fit the bill.

    SansAmp too...
    Lefty Lounge Lizard's Guitars & Amps Extravaganza



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    • #3
      Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

      I have the Joyo American and British
      Pedals
      They are the clones of the sans amp pedals

      They do well at pretending to be a Fender or a Marshall
      Through a PA

      The American is chimey and bright
      Raspy with Drive cranked

      The British is warm and dark grinds with the Drive cranked
      EHD
      Just here surfing Guitar Pron
      RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
      SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
      Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
      Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
      Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
      Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
      GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

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      • #4
        Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

        I've used Sansamp stuff for years, either a Trademark 10 or 60 direct, or a FlyRig 5, all of which are analog simulators. They always sounded wonderful at any volume, on stage and through the PA. I never got that consistency with amps onstage.
        Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan
        Gear pics and more on my Instagram.

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        • #5
          Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

          My Blackstar got two outputs, for recording-

          one analogue output, with choices of two!! different "cab simulations"; 1x12 and 4x12, with a little switch.

          And also, USB output, with "stereo reverb".

          Never tried any of those; I'm planning to mic it up, old school .

          -Erlend
          If somethings important- send a PM. I might be offline for long periods. Rock on!!!

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          • #6
            Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

            I'm a religious Tech21/Sansamp user, they were one of the first to effectively accomplish this.

            Love Radial products too.
            “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard

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            • #7
              Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

              Ethos & Iridium are the only one missing to be mentioned I guess. The Iridium has IRs for cab sims otherwise it's analop.

              The AMT & T21 get my vote for being affordable & kick-ass

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              • #8
                Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

                I have an Iridium too. It sounds great, is fun and super fast to dial sounds -made for gigging and quick work.
                “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard

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                • #9
                  Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

                  The Ampli-Fire Box is another great simulator I owned for awhile. It has quite a devoted following online, too.
                  Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan
                  Gear pics and more on my Instagram.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

                    Strymon Iridium +1! Very good!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

                      Thread title "Analog Amp Simulator DI Units"

                      The Tech 21 and AMT are pretty much as good as it gets for analog, and they are really, really good. Of course there are T21 knock offs, but if you can afford the real ones I would recommend them.

                      If you want a specific amp "re-creation" I would recommend the T21 character series, I've used the British and the Leeds and both are great. If you are into higher gain stuff, the AMT Legend 2 series sounds great, and has a great clean sound as well, I currently have a P2 that I'm building a small pedalboard around to back up my GT-1000, or could replace it, I'll see how it goes.

                      Special mention goes to the Fly Rigs, I'm not a huge fan of the silver standard one, but others are, but I love the RK5, nice cleans, although a little dark, and the OMG distortion is great. I wrote a comparison of the 2 on here somewhere.

                      The Iridium and Ampli-fire Box are great from what I hear (I have used the AFB, it does sound good with some dialing), but both are digital.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

                        I had managed not to really notice the AMT gear beyond their pre-amps. Thanks for highlighting them.
                        Last edited by rbc; 07-12-2020, 09:11 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

                          The AMT stuff is great, I just put my P2 with some other pedals and am running it direct and comparing it to my GT-1000. The GT-1K sounds good, but there is something about analog, it really sounds good, and the built in cab sim just works, can't see that it needs to run into some kind of IR box. And, if you want to run a power amp and cabinet, just use the preamp output without the cab sim.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Analog Amp Simulator DI Units

                            One I just noticed yesterday was the EHX Tortion by Electro-Harmonix. It has a XLR out with a passive 4x12 cab simulation. It has a couple of levels of gain (shared eq) that you can switch between, or you can bypass the gain. The XLR cab sim stays active when the effect is bypassed, providing a clean tone to the board. It can be used as a 3 channel amp replacement. They seem to market it more as a distortion pedal, than an amp simulator though.
                            Last edited by rbc; 07-22-2020, 06:12 AM.

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