Speaker Simulator Comparison Test
Test Setup & Execution
When I started to plan this comparison test I noticed a problem: taking into account the number of speaker simulators to test and the number of different settings for different sounds, I would have to record about 150 sound samples!
Even if I would have been crazy enough to play each riff a dozen times, the test results would not have been comparable at the end. People tend to change their playing style depending on what they hear from the speakers or headphones. If the sound has good dynamics, you play less dynamically. If the sound is flat, you play more dynamically. That means I would have adapted my playing style to each individual speaker simulator while listening to it. Not very clever...
Ok, I could have recorded the sound of the speaker simulators while listening to the same speaker cabinet each time, but there is still this issue with the 150 takes... ;-)
To make my life a bit easier I decided to record some sound samples right from the line out of my preamp into my PC. Using 24 bit resolution and a sampling rate of 96 kHz should preserve enough details.
During the real test execution and the recordings I simply fed the recorded preamp signal into the speaker simulators. All except one accept line level input signals as well as speaker level input signals. To record this one device (Tube Amp Doctor's F.A.N.T.A.) in comparison I made a second test execution with recordings via my power amp, a Hughes & Kettner CF-100.
Well, I know that some of you think that only true tube power amps sound good enough and that without one the sound is missing something really important. So what? I just offer some comparison recordings. You can be sure that each of these speaker simulators sound completely different in your setup. But here you can find out about tendencies, you can hear characteristics in sound. If one speaker simulator sounds more bassy than another, this is a general thing. Its sound will also emphasize the bass frequencies in your setup compared to the other simulator. That's the point of this test!
While recording the speaker simulator sounds I also used 24 bit and 96 kHz. Effects have been used neither in the line out signal of the preamp nor in the recorded speaker simulator signals. The only "effect" being used in conjunction with the Engl Preamp 530 is a Rocktron Hush. I wouldn't call this an effect in that sense as it does not audibly modify the sound. It just removes some noise in a very transparent fashion...
The recorded speaker simulator sounds have only been adjusted to the same audible loudness. This has nothing to do with normalization! I did that because otherwise people tend to rate the sound of the louder signal to be better. Therefore all recordings of the same basic sample should have the same level. At least I tried to get as close as possible... ;-)
One important thing about the sound samples you will be able to listen to or to download on the next pages: in addition to the speaker simulator recordings there is also the pure direct signal for each basic sample. It can give you an idea of the line out sound before going through the test devices. This also allows everybody to contribute to this comparison test. More about that on the last page.
There are always people around, who want to know every little detail about the complete equipment used. And here we go:
PC & Soundcard
- Intel P4 2 GHz, 1 GB RAM
- Terratec DMX6fire 24/96
Guitar Setup for "Engl Preamp 530" Samples
- Fernandes Vertigo
- "High Gain" sample: bridge humbucker
- "Overdrive" sample: neck humbucker (coil split mode)
- Engl Preamp 530
- "High Gain" sample: distortion channel with "high gain"
- "Overdrive" sample: distortion channel with "low gain"
- gain: 3 o'clock, bass & low mids: 12 o'clock (flat), high mids & treble: 1 o'clock
- Rocktron Hush II-CX
Guitar Setup for "ADA MP-1" Samples
- ADA MP-1 (rev 2.00 with T.A.D. tubes)
- Metal Sample: Charvel 375 DX with active pickups by Jackson (4 single coils)
- Rock Sample: Fender Highway Strat with 3 Häussel Big Mags
- Blues Sample: Tokai Flying V 67 with EMG 60 pickup
- Funk Sample: Charvel ST Custom with EMG Gilmours
- Country Sample: Fender Highway Strat with 3 Häussel Big Mags
- Hughes & Kettner CF-100
- Volume: 12 o'clock
- Character: 3 o'clock
©2006 by Frank Nitsch