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Practice amp recommendations?

bikertrash

Inspired
The new gen Katana is only $230+tax new. I've seen first gens for $150-ish on CL and FB. Very light for a 12" 50 watter as well. I also got a Mustang IV 2X12 for $200 off CL. The Mustang III has a 12" and the full display (I think) so you aren't tied to a computer for editing.
 

acwild

Experienced
PG Spark is the best practice amp I've used. I shouldnt have sold mine. I didn't like the sound of the Katana.

I didn’t want to mention the Spark because opinions on it are all over the spectrum. It does check all of the OPs boxes though and I’ve found the amp to be a lot of fun (and the sounds are pretty good as long as you keep the amp elevated). On the floor, the bass is overwhelming, but elevated, it sounds nice.
 

Griff_NZ

Inspired
I didn’t want to mention the Spark because opinions on it are all over the spectrum. It does check all of the OPs boxes though and I’ve found the amp to be a lot of fun (and the sounds are pretty good as long as you keep the amp elevated). On the floor, the bass is overwhelming, but elevated, it sounds nice.
Agree. Through headphones it sounds really good though. There's also a mod where you can block the bass port to cut a lot of the bass.
Hopefully in future updates they add in a graphic or para eq for the user to refine the sound more to what they like.
 

giantslayer

Inspired
I’m gonna go with the Yamaha THR-30. I had to talk myself into spending more than I originally intended, but this amp will do quite a bit more than I originally thought. The wireless thing could be pretty nice and I don’t have any portable speakers so it has additional utility.

Too bad these things are back ordered....
 

giantslayer

Inspired
A little follow-up… took forever because those Yamahas were on back order.

Got the Yamaha THR-30II. It’s a well thought out amp that looks great and has great features, but in terms of the sound… the modeling is so-so. Low-mid gain stuff was pretty decent. Honestly, I found a lot of the amps not having as much gain on tap as I expected based on my experience with the Axe Fx. Being a fractal user, my expectations should have been lower overall.

The main issue, however, is it really sounds like it is coming out of 3.5” speakers. Again, it was unrealistic to expect otherwise, but I mistakenly thought maybe cabinet emulation and EQ would creare the illusion of a bigger sound at low volumes. Honestly, I vastly prefer the sound of my old Crate GT15 with an analog circuit and 1x8 speaker. I understand it can’t outperform my Axe FX 3, but it was apparently too much to ask for it to equal or beat my old, cheapo Crate amp.


I then bought the Vox VX15, my runner-up. It is more of a traditional amp without a lot of bells and whistles. It has a tuner, but it only tunes to the pitch of E, which is better than nothing but really not what I expected. In terms of sound, it is a lot better than the Yamaha. That is mostly due to the larger speaker and cabinet construction. It also handles volume much better, which again, I shouldn’t be surprised at given the basic physics. The tone is good enough that I won’t miss my crappy Crate GT15. 😂

I’m returning the Yamaha and decided to order the Vox VX50, which, to my surprise, is the exact same size as the VX15 but has more wattage, an 8” speaker instead of 6.5”, and the “nu-tube” technology. For a “50 watt” model, I was expecting a 10 or 12 inch speaker, but I guess I’m a little out of touch. If nothing else, the larger speaker should make it even better, and I am curious if that nu-tube makes a noticeable difference. I’ll post my findings later.
 

giantslayer

Inspired
Vox VX15 vs VX50

I’ve got both of these amps next to me and compared them at the same settings.

As expected, the VX50 is a lot louder, or at least louder at lower on the volume knob. Having flashbacks to the days of making micro adjustments between 1.5 and 1.6 on amps lol. The VX15 has a much wider usable volume knob range.

What surprised me was the sound difference. I expected the VX50 to have more lows because of the bigger speaker. Instead, I found the VX15 had more lows, but they were boomy and not well balanced, much like a typical pair of consumer headphones. The VX50’s lows were more subdued, balanced, and better IMO. The VX50 also had a lot more upper mids and treble, with an overall much more present tone.

In terms of the overdrive character and the effect of the “nutube,” I found it yielded a more pleasant character at low-mid gain, in a way that is hard to describe. At high gains (the Brit VM model), the VX15 exhibited a fizziness in the distortion that the VX50 didn’t.

In the end, I’m gonna keep the VX50 as my new practice amp.
 
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