Hello guitar people,
after just doing Youtube videos for some time, I thought it might be helpful to also share my experiences with guitar gear in a blog. Just because… well, there are still some guys out there who actually like to read about stuff, instead of just watching videos or listening to the manufacturer’s Soundcloud playlist.
MESA BOOGIE CAB CLONE
Speaker simulators and load boxes have been around for quite some time. While most of them worked fine in terms of protecting the amp from possible damage, the provided cabinet simulation always disappointed me. Then a couple of years ago, small companies like Koch, Two Notes or Radial started to take this thing to the next level and invented versatile load boxes/speaker simulators that would not only sound decent, but also react in a way guitar players would expect it to.
But let’s go into detail with the Mesa Boogie CabClone! The first thing I found to be awesome is its weight. With a little over 1 kilogram and very compact dimensions, it would be super easy to transport the CabClone even in your guitar bag when playing shows or entering a studio session. And on top of that, it can handle up to 150 watts of power amp force (which you will most likely never reach).
Easy as pie! The input jack on the backpanel connects with the loudspeaker jack of your amplifier and then gets forwarded to a mixing console, an audio interface or something alike via XLR (w/speaker simulation) or 6,35mm mono jack (raw power amp signal). If you would like to send the signal to your regular cabinet, you can do so with the built-in “Thru” jack. The only downside, in my opinion, is that you cannot change the impedance to match different amps. The CabClone is available with a fixed impedance of 4, 8 or 16 ohms.
The CabClone’s front panel allows you to match the level of the outgoing signal to its destination, mic level for using a good quality preamp, instrument level (-10dB) or line level (+4dB). Then it’s time to choose the matching speaker simulation for the sound you’re seeking for. The CabClone offers three voicings, Closed Back, Open Back and Vintage Cabinet. “Closed Back” is based on a modern Mesa Boogie 4×12″ and will most likely end up being your rock/metal-type rhythm setting. The midrange is scooped a little, while the high end sounds open and airy. The low end response is tight, even if you’re playing in a lower tuning. “Open Back” will take out the tightness a little and sounds a bit roomy in fact. Perfect for clean or crunch tones that need clear harmonics to really ring and cut through in the mix. “Vintage Cabinet” completes the package with a more compressed and darker voicing, that works well for round sounding rhythms and lead playing.
Thanks to a phase switch on the front panel, you won’t get in trouble when blending the CabClone’s signal with other sources, such a your mic’d cabinet or something similar. The “Ground/Lift” switch allows you to lift the XLR’s pin 1 from the circuit to avoid ground loops (hum!) from grounded devices.
AND THERE’S MORE!
I really like the built-in speaker simulation of the CabClone. It sounds very alive, reacts like a cabinet would do and with a simple switch you can choose between the built-in voicings, like if you had three mic’d up cabinets in the room next to you. Most people will be happy with results coming out of the XLR jack, but if you’re more the tweaker type… the 6,35mm jack providing the unprocessed sound of your amplifier’s speaker output is your best friend.
By sending that signal to your DAW and treating it with an impulse response plugin such as Two Notes Torpedo WoS or LePou LeCab, you will be able to shape the sound to your desire with literally no limits. Kinda like reamping or more like “recabineting”!
Last, but not least… one of the CabClone’s coolest features is the headphone jack, which allows you to continue playing with your 100 watts tube amp while everybody else is sleeping. However, the sound coming through your headphones will be affected by the model you’re using and its impedance.
If you look at all the great features the CabClone has to offer and you are searching for a portable and lightweight device that can handle your tube amp for home recording, studio sessions or live applications, I think it deserves a closer look. The only reason not to buy it would be if you don’t like the sound of those built-in cabinet voicings.
You like what I do and you’re also interested in purchasing a Mesa Boogie CabClone? You can support me by purchasing it through the provided links below:
If you wanna see and hear the CabClone in action, here’s the Youtube video:
Mesa Boogie CabClone Features:
- passive loadbox & speaker simulator
- power handling: 150 watts rms
- controls: D.I. level, phase, lift/ground, cabinet voicing
- connections: amp input, thru, balanced direct out, line out (unprocessed), headphones
- dimensions: 170 x 162 x 58 mm (w x d x h)
- weight: 1,09 kg
Find all info about the CabClone @ Mesa Boogie