Modeling Technology Comes to Speakers: Do You Need an Active Speaker Cabinet in Your Arsenal?

Amplifiers originally used tubes before they went to circuits with solid-state amps. Many vintage amp enthusiasts and old school die-hard musicians will always gravitate to tube amps. But one of the most palpable benefits of solid-state amps is that you don’t have to worry about vacuum tubes blowing out and needing to replace them if you’re too hard on the amp. This has made musicians of all types flock to solid-state amps but they’re especially preferable for live performance of metal, punk, dirge, and other heavy music since the circuitry relies on the electrical current in your guitar to produce sound. Having additional electronics designed for heavy sound like EMG afterburners makes reliance on current preferable to the likelihood of breaking tubes.

Modeling amps then took solid-state capability to a whole new level. Musicians who play all types of music have come to prefer modeling amps, not just artists in heavy genres, because the digital processors in this type of amp do more than simply rely on an electric guitar’s current and hardware. Their versatility creates different sounds and effects without a pedal and independent of the hardware that your guitar is equipped with.

And if you’re going with a modeling amp, you need to have the right speaker cabinet designed specifically for use with them. Here’s what you need to consider if you’re thinking of getting one for your arsenal.

Do you want to keep the amount of gear you’re hauling to a minimum?

Whether your storage space is lacking or you just don’t want to take around several pieces of equipment like multiple amps and pedal boards, a modeling amp can help you cut down on space. The same is true of active speaker cabinets: you don’t need to sacrifice a venue-filling sound by going smaller.

Modeling amps run on chips and hardware that makes the older solid-state amps and speakers obsolete. Most modeling amps weigh less than 35 pounds, smaller models even less than 20 pounds. The Powercab 112 weighs 35 pounds and doesn’t even need to fight your bandmates for space in the van like the speaker cabinets of olde have.

Is connecting to USB devices a priority?

There’s so many different peripherals and apps today that musicians can use when recording, rehearsing, and performing. Some modeling amps have Bluetooth and WiFi hookups that enable them to receive hardware updates automatically and can be controlled by an audio technician without them having to come onstage to manually make adjustments. This also reduces latency and extraneous noise levels because it’s all digital to digital– no digital to analog conversions necessary.

Active speaker cabinets also have USB audio interfaces since they’re designed for use with modern modeling amps while older speaker cabinets require going analog to digital.

Have the backlines at various venues been missing a PA and it’s always a gamble on whether other bands have one?

Not all venues are going to have a PA on hand and if you’re playing with other bands and musicians, you don’t always know who’s going to have one hand. But if you’re in the market for a modeling amp and were considering also getting a PA speaker to go with it, you’ll definitely want to look into the new Powercab series from Line 6.

Line 6’s New Powercab 112 delivers 250 watts plus the sound of 6 classic speakers

The Powercab 112 and 112 Plus have enough velocity to eliminate the need for PA which makes it a lifesaver for musicians who often run into this problem. Both models have the same capabilities as a PA as far as range and clarity are concerned. They combine a 250-watt amp with a custom hybrid coaxial speaker that can fill the room with 128dB SPL max volume which is capable of producing booming sound in a small-medium sized venue without needing to bring an entire cabinet set. They offer the same power handling as a PA but also the rapid transient response of a standard guitar speaker.

In addition, owning a Powercab is like having 7 speakers in one. With the push of a button you can switch from flat response to models of six classic speakers that take your sound from hard and crunchy to swampy funk. The Powercab 112 Plus also provides L6 Link AES/EBU connection to any Line6 Helix guitar processor, USB, and MIDI input and output (stereo output for USB devices) with impulse response support. Both models feature 70Hz-20kHz netural frequency response while in flat mode and 128 different presets.

Tube amps may produce a great sound but require a lot of patience and maintenance, plus the tube corrosion over time can completely change the sound you were going for. Solid-state has been the go-to for years as a result, particularly for musicians on a budget or those who put more wear and tear on their instruments and gear. But modelers are the future and the Powercab brings the future to us.

No matter your rehearsal or gigging needs, Full Compass carries the latest top-of-the-line guitar tech from frontline brands. Visit our website to find the best amp for your performance and practice needs at the guaranteed lowest price at!

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