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Author Topic: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone  (Read 4696 times)

Offline Nefarius

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Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« on: April 23, 2015, 10:26:17 AM »
The Mesa Boogie Cab Clone is a cabinet simulator available in 4, 8, and 16 ohms variants. I could have posted this in the sound clips section but I think it's more a simple demo of an amp tool, so I decided to put it here. I've been interested in the Cab Clone since its introduction a few months ago. There were a lot of very positive reviews but also several very negative ones, so that didn't help. They weren't available at any store close to me so I couldn't test them either. But I felt it was time for a new toy so I just ordered one and it arrived today.

I've just spent my first hour playing it and of course I did some test recordings. I didn't change any settings on my amp, a Mesa Boogie Mark V, everything is the same as playing through my cab. I only adjusted the channel volumes a bit. Of course I've been using my Parker DF845 NX-01 Custom.

Having not gone into any tweaking or adapting I was pretty much blown away by the excellent recording quality. And it can only get better with time to optimize the settings. Sorry for using the same licks and riffs as I did in other demos before. ;)

No post production. Careful, the last one is pretty loud!

Clip #1: Clean

Clip #2: Dirty

Clip #3: Hard

Clip #4: Solo

It should be obvious why I'm pretty happy with my new toy

Greetings...
Nef
« Last Edit: April 23, 2015, 10:30:33 AM by Nefarius »

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline danjazzny

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2015, 11:20:57 AM »
Especially like the clean!  8)
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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Patzag

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2015, 12:18:38 PM »
Very cool.  Plus a little Queen is always a plus!
Teal Fly Classic 1998 / White Deluxe Hard Tail 1994 /Axe FX II

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline lucgravely

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2015, 12:32:31 PM »
Do you feel like it compresses the signal and attenuates the high end? I have one of the old H&K Red Box and the Cab Clone seems to do a similar thing to the sound but do a much better job.
Luc Gravely
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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2015, 02:45:36 AM »
@danjazzny
The cleans are nice but they were pretty easy to record with a microphone. I never managed to capture the more saturated tones right which is much easier now.

@Patzag
Queen really got me into music in general and made me pick up a guitar and start singing. Can't think of a much bigger plus than that.

@lucgravely
It's a fixed load in contrast to the dynamic load of a speaker. A speaker connected to the thru jack defeats the internal load resistor thus changing the recorded tone. There's three speaker settings: "Closed" is based on a Rectifier cabinet and feels pretty authentic to me. "Open" has a little more volume and highs. "Vintage" sounds darker and more compressed. The recording signal has a certain level of compression but I can't really comment on it with only an hour of playing time.

With time to tweak and play some more I plan on posting more clips.

Greetings...
Nef

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2015, 01:11:41 PM »
Here's a comparison of the speaker voicings with clean and dirty tones. The order for both clips is closed back - open back - vintage.
No post production other than balancing the volume differences so the types are easier to compare.

Clip #5: Cab Types Clean

Clip #6: Cab Types Dirty

Greetings...
Nef

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Patzag

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2015, 04:17:47 PM »
Can you bypass the speaker simulation and just go straight into a DAW using the Clone as a DI? 

If so, I would recommend getting, as soon as it is released to the masses, a plug in call CabLab from Fractal Audio.  It will allow you to load speaker impulse responses that will emulate pretty much any cab, including some awesome Mesa cabinets that are sold for pennies.
Cablab will also allow you to mix up to 8 IRs to taste and allows multiple instances of the plugin so you could have one for each guitar track, each with up to 8 IRs, each one delayed as you see fit to create some monster mix.  (Or you can just load one and jam).
Teal Fly Classic 1998 / White Deluxe Hard Tail 1994 /Axe FX II

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2015, 02:38:02 AM »
The cabinet simulator is always on with the balanced XLR out (adjustable from -30dB to +4dB) and the headphone jack, however the load is bypassed when using the Cab Clone between the head and a real speaker. There's also a +4dB line out with the untreated amp signal.

The Cab Lab sounds like the perfect addition to the Axe FX world. Experimenting with a few nice speakers must be a lot of fun, especially if they are as authentic as I would expect them to be with Fractal Audio. However juggling eight cabinet simulations might push it a little but I'm sure there are those who are absolutely sure that "adding 2% of a Blue Bulldog cab stuffed with towels in an early 18th century cupboard from Peru at slot 6 of 8 phase inverted" might just turn their tone from exceptional to otherworldly. :P

I could try adding my Palmer PGA-04 (an older loadbox with recording output) to the chain. I've never been too happy with it so far and thus hardly ever used it, but as an extra channel for tweaking it might be interesting. And then put my speaker cabinet at the end of the chain with a microphone for three different flavors of guitar tone to mix. Just give me some vacation time and I might actually try it.

But the original idea was to reduce and simplify everything with the Cab Clone. I was happy with the cleans and dirty tones right from the start. The really saturated and distorted stuff is still a little too barky and gnarly for my taste but I'm sure I'll be able to sort it out. It's already quite an improvement over my previous attempts at recording heavy riffs.

I will keep on experimenting and posting.

Greetings...
Nef
« Last Edit: April 25, 2015, 03:20:18 AM by Nefarius »

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Patzag

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2015, 10:18:02 AM »
LOL!  I'm so not a heavy tweaker!   That made me laugh.
I'm happy you're happy with your tone.  That's the essential part of the equation.  Less tweaking, more playing!
Teal Fly Classic 1998 / White Deluxe Hard Tail 1994 /Axe FX II

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2015, 11:14:27 AM »
Well I know people like that do exist and it's perfectly fine. It's fun to get lost in amp and effects settings, no matter what toys one is using. I don't know how many hours I've spent tweaking when I got my first multi FX floor unit.

With a little more playing time I can now react to lucgravely's question about compression and attenuation in greater detail. It feels like the Cab Clone is taking care of the basic signal treatment one would need with a miked guitar track. Just listen to this new clip. I used a simple backing and didn't have to do anything to the solo track but balance the volumes and it sits in the mix almost perfectly.

Clip #7: Solo in the mix

Can't get enough of that Mark I mode in channel 2. Just creamy!

Greetings...
Nef

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline jpleong

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2015, 12:32:03 PM »
I really like your clips, Nef!

I saw the Mark V 25 a few weeks ago and the built-in Cab Clone grabbed my attention. Now, I've got to really hold onto my wallet or I might find myself getting back into "real" amps!

JP
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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2015, 01:46:44 PM »
Thanks JP! The Mark V 25 sure looks and sounds awesome. I just wouldn't want to part with the Mark I (channel 2) and Tweed (channel 1) modes of its big brother. Also the built in Cab Clone doesn't have the open back setting which works extremely well with sparkling cleans and shimmering lower gain dirty tones.

The great thing right now is that there are awesome toys and technology doesn't matter anymore. With the digital world just as real in its own right and tube amps more versatile than ever it comes down to what works best for your individual needs and taste.

Greetings...
Nef

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline Nefarius

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2016, 05:37:48 AM »
Several months later:

The Cab Clone is easier to use than the Palmer PGA-04 and it can be useful for sparkly cleans or other low gain tones, especially with the open back setting. Those tones are rather easy to capture with almost any half way decent microphone though, even at moderate volumes, so it's not that much of a bonus, but still nice.

It's the sounds with more gain or saturation that are hard to record well. But as the gain increases on the amp a nasty, sharp, and barky spike in the mids increases with the Cab Clone, overwhelming the other frequencies. You can get a useable compromise tone with some amp tweaking but "usable" is still a long way away from "good". Also that compromise tone may be noticeably different than the one you originally intended to capture.

And then there's the hardwired compression you can't turn off. It can be pretty useful for cutting through the mix when recording a solo over a backing track but it makes the Cab Clone a problematic tool to use for anything beyond cleans and low gain as you will end up losing dynamics and transparency.

It's an interesting tool to use additionally to miking a cab as an extra ingredient to spice up your recording and used that way its response is hugely different too. But it's in no way strong enough to replace your speakers in any serious live or recording setting that goes beyond "just playing around". It doesn't exactly suck but its use is far too limited. Plus it's clearly too expensive for what it has to offer.

So it will have to go soon, and the Palmer too. But don't give up hope, there's much better stuff on the horizon!

Greetings...
Nef
« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 05:41:13 AM by Nefarius »

Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline billy

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2016, 12:23:51 PM »
A buddy was looking to buy one of these for his mark v.  This is great info, thx Nef
Billy

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone

Offline lucgravely

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Re: Mesa Boogie Cab Clone
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2016, 07:20:32 AM »
That makes me lean back towards the Suhr. I think theirs is dynamic load.
Luc Gravely
Parker Fly Mojo Singlecut
Parker NiteFly NV1
Mesa/Boogie Mark I
1966 Fender BandMaster
A few pedals...