Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

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Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:04 am

Hey everyone, just looking to get some advice.

I'm pretty close to picking up a 40XL to use at home for direct recording. Reviews I've read online are positive, the price is cheap enough that I could get a 2nd one later on for stereo recording, most of my pedals are made by Boss anyway, and I don't really own a guitar amp at the moment (I have a Fender M-80 bass amp and a Peavey Rage that just crackles a lot).

I don't plan on using the amp's effects, but I do plan on using its modelling features as an alternative to buying a Pod, for amp/cab simulation (I've tried free sims on my PC, but I just hate working with VST's and the like).

Given that I don't like recording loud and would like to record late at night and let other people in the house sleep, does this seem like a reasonable compromise for me between volume and quality? Or is my cold that won't go away keeping me from missing something obvious here?
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:01 pm

Not a fan here. I've never tried that exact model but all the Cubes I've used have left me underwhelmed. Clean they sound ok but the effects are useless and the modelling doesn't really do much. I'd get a POD before that, and I hate POD's. Or get a control surface to give you some tactile response to your VST's. Makes mixing much easier as well.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:18 pm

I have/had a little baby Cube, a Cube 15, a Boss BR-8, a BossGT-10. I don't feel like I'm knocking these products when I tell you "the Cube 40XL is not what you want for your purposes", but maybe I am. I'm familiar with the COSM deal. Roland/Boss continues to "improve" it, but, well... Regarding high gain sounds, earlier generations of COSM didn't seem to have the responsiveness that they do now, but neither did they sound like there was a wah pedal constantly engaged.
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=gt-10+cocked+wah
Cleans are nice, but modelling an overdriven amp, I don't like so much.

Feel free to ignore the following paragraph, just as I ignored you saying that you weren't planning on using the effects and hate working with VSTs.
Very limited flexibility to the effects on the 40XL. You might be better off adding effects after the fact, and for that matter, taking a similar approach to dirt/"amp" sound, but I realize there are challenges with that approach. I can't imagine playing/recording a clean guitar and later making it all saturated and crunchy. Splitting the signal and recording two tracks, one clean/dry, one modelled/effected, allows you to hear the "appropriate guitar sound" while recording, but you can change stuff afterwards. Maybe Guitar Rig is something you should look into. I know nothing about it.

I really think you will be disappointed, sooner or later, with what this amp will do for you; recording direct or with a mic, playing in a "band" situation, in the garage or on stage.

I realize that you aren't exactly classic rock, blues, country, etc, but maybe you need to consider something that is going to give you a good, as Malcolm likes to say, "meat and potatoes" guitar sound. I see that not as something generic which limits you, but a solid foundation upon which you build. A respected tradition to manipulate/exploit/molest.
http://www.hughes-and-kettner.com/produ ... 018%20Head
Check that out; come back and discuss.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:15 pm

Tubemeister - I know it's wrong of me to judge things by appearances, but - this thing totally fits in with my home-studio aesthetic (that is, it matches my avatar here). :roll: And holy carp it's actually in-stock locally (!)

It's true, though, I do need a meat & potatoes guitar sound...I like to get imaginative with synths and spacey sounds, and having the ability to mess with those meat & potatoes is just gravy (Sorry! sorry.) but I need to start with a good 'classic' tone, as you say, a good foundation.

In terms of getting stereo with this H&K thing (a name I'm getting more and more impressed with lately), how unreasonable would it be to run eq and distortion into it, put the XLR from the built-in RedBox out backwards into my Radial Pro D2, and take the 1/4" 'output' from there into my stereo effects pedals? Signal wise I believe this should still sound ok, but do I run the risk of stupiding-up the signal by placing stereo delay, reverb etc. after the cab tone?

Anyway, I'll study up on this tonight; thanks for the thoughtful reply, Scott, and for the honesty, Andrew.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:30 pm

Of course, you can put pedals (EQ,distortion) in front of this thing. I don't know what would work best with your delay/reverb. If you are cranking the master (which is what I was doing when I used this amp), then there will likely be some compressing going on in the power stage, which is after the effects return. I think that is going to effect the balance of the effects, meaning it may change the perceived level of the reverb/delay in comparison to the guitar. I'm not doing a very good job at expaining this. It will sound "wetter". My understanding is that the Redbox/DI out is post power stage, therefore eliminating any of the previously mentioned concerns. Whether or not your effects are going to be happy with the signal from the DI out of the amp, I don't know. Are they stompboxes, designed to see a guitar signal? They might sound fine. I don't know about using your Radial DI. Might work. Might not be necessary. An XLR to TS/TRS might do the job.
Assuming that you have more than 2 ins on your recorder, another option is to plug the effects send of the amp into your stereo effects, the output of those into your recorder, and the DI out of the amp into another channel on the recorder. Bing bing, your effects are on a separate track and can be treated independent of the main guitar track. This can really open up some possibilities because the effects send is pre power stage, pre speaker/speaker simulator. If you are driving the power stage of the amp to generate some dirt, but keeping the gain low, then the effects are fed by a cleaner, less compressed sound. If you are cranking the gain or using a distortion pedal, then your effects are going to be fed by a very direct/raw/fuzzy sound. Might sound like hell, but some people like the sounds of hell.
You need to check it out and see if you like the amp, either in the store or take advantage of L&M's 30 day return policy. I tried it through a Vox 1x12, it had a Greenback in it, a G12-M, I believe. I liked it on the 5watt setting, master up all the way, gain at 9 o'clock. Wonderful. BUT, it doesn't have a bunch of different voices like a modelling product does, so you need to be happy with what it can do. There were a couple of little things I didn't like about it. The springy, push-button switches for the channel select and boost. I hate those things. But, with the footswitch, you really don't need to ever touch them. Also, the boost on the lead channel is not adjustable, and fixed at higher level than what works for me, but then again I don't really play "leads". Little things.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Malcolm Boyce » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:03 pm

Scott DeVarenne wrote:Maybe Guitar Rig is something you should look into. I know nothing about it.


Christian LeBlanc wrote: (I've tried free sims on my PC, but I just hate working with VST's and the like).

So... Definitely no.
"Once again, it is NEVER the gear that makes a good record.
It just fills Forum pages..." --compasspnt

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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:35 am

Scott DeVarenne wrote:Feel free to ignore the following paragraph, just as I ignored you saying that you weren't planning on using the effects and hate working with VSTs.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:21 am

Well, he's got a point, I should be checking it out regardless.

Some things I'm liking about the Tubemeister, though:

- tube amp
- pretty lights
- sims and emulators go 'out of date' fairly quick; even if the RedBox on this thing gets left in the dust, there's nothing keeping me from running the head through a cab and micing it up.
- the lack of options compared to a modelling amp is a plus for me; I don't like to overwhelm myself into paralysis.
- small size

And there was just something 'off' about all the positive reviews I was reading about the Cubes; most of the people discussing using it to record direct were also asking about 1/4" to 1/8" adapters to get into their soundcards with :P

When I get enough free time, I think I might try that 30-day deal. Scott, do I understand that you had this for a little while but then returned it? Any major reason, or was it just that it wasn't quite right for you?
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:50 pm

I just read up on the Tubemeister and spent half an hour with it at the music store, where it sounded great, in the room, through a decent speaker known for adding it's own bit of stank when pushed. I didn't record it, which I find crucial to determine how I really feel about an amp/sound. I didn't try to see if I could get a few different usable sounds or put any pedals in front of it. But I did find I was easily able to get it to a spot where it was very responsive and dynamic, delicious dirt when played hard yet cleans up with a lighter touch. It seems like a nice mix of features and simplicity. It allows for direct/silent use. Add a cab and you've got a real guitar rig that can sound good at a moderate volume or rattle every window in your house. But really, my mentioning the Tubemeister needs to viewed as a suggestion and not a recommendation.
This is what I have for an amp
http://www.egnateramps.com/Products/Twe ... rHead.html
It does offer a variety of voices, but I don't think it's right for you.

Have you looked into this?
http://www.rogerlinndesign.com/adrenalinn-iii.html
I heard online audio clips, allegedly from this unit. The dirty guitar sounds were WOW.

This?
http://www.fender.com/en-CA/products/se ... 2223000000
Definetly has potential for recording, lots of voices, USB.
I used this amp once, at a loud jam. Sound-wise, I don't know, I quickly dailed-up something that worked. Power-wise, it was seriously lacking- it just couldn't keep up. I had it on ten and could barely hear myself.

Also, I have a V-amp Pro that you could borrow with option to buy.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:16 am

I'm trying to just view it as an objective suggestion among many alternatives, but I'm rather stuck on it at the moment. I need to let some time go by to see if the GAS subsides, but I'm really liking the fact that it's a RedBox and a guitar head, so it gives me more options down the road instead of less. The worst comment I've read about its sound is that it doesn't sound all that great through 4x12's, which...I'm fine with that. The only x-factor I see is how it'll work with stereo effects, but I could always put one through its paces in 30 days or less.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Alain Benoit » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:09 am

I may have access to the Lynn stuff.
I hear it was the unit to beat until the Fractal came out.

I may be picking up the H&K Tonemeister for trials this weekend if ya wanna hook up.

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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:13 pm

That might be kind of fun, actually! I just sent you an email so you'll have my info handy. Thanks!
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:44 pm

So, did a Tubemeister get worked over this weekend? If yes then do tell all about it.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:19 am

I tried it out last night run into a 4x12 cab, but my lack of experience with heads and cabs leaves me unqualified to say much beyond "...derrrp, I liked it." I forgot to even try the power soak. For my price range and needs/wants, I can't imagine anything much better for me. I'd love to spend a month at home with it in...June at the earliest :( Just to make sure it does what I want it to do in terms of home-recording with my stereo effects. Maybe I can get up to speed enough with sims by then so I'll be able to make some comparisons. Alain, your impressions?
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Alain Benoit » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:36 pm

Tried it out last Friday.
First limitation is the low power.
Second limitation is the inability to articulate notes enough to translate a tight chugging metal rhythm pattern do to limitation number one.

Aside from that, it is a value loaded piece of kit.
Two channels, lead boost on second channel, very usable EQ, not too bright on either clean or rhythm channels, 3 power settings, power soak, silent operation with post PA cab simulated DI out, German built, 16 or 8 ohms w/o the need for switching, very responsive to input level, wide usable gain range on both channels, unmistakably behaves and sounds like an all tube amp.

My only real gripe which is really a limitation of the design architecture is that it's a little too loose for hard rock and way too loose for metal.

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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:12 pm

I'm not surprised to hear your evaluation regarding the amp's inappropriateness for metal, as I've read similar things online regarding low powered amps (in particular those with EL84s). Slow, inability to track, mushy are other words I've heard trying desribe an amp that is inadequate for metal/rock's fast riffing, especially lower stuff. I have to admit that I don't understand what it is that's happening or not happening. Are you able to expain it in laymen's terms (if that's even possible) or direct me to any source's online that do.
The back of the amp says "Designed and Engineered in Germany". I'm going to read between the lines and interpret that to mean made in China.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Alain Benoit » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:37 pm

You're right Scott, they are made in PRC, which as the years go by mean less and less although at this point it's still not a desirable trait.
There was a time when made in Japan was a negative connotation.

As far as low powered amplifier's ability to 'track' as you aptly put, it boils down to slew rate, damping factor and just the lack of power needed also to control large cone drivers.

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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:18 pm

Screw drivers also don't make good hammers. I have no problem with low power amps and I imagine that will be an advantage for Christian, not a limitation. Like Scott said it's kind of off to even try an amp like that in a metal context because it so obviously won't be ideal for that. Same reason you don't try a Ferrari in a quarry pit. Just because it can't climb a pile doesn't mean it's a piece of crap, and I certainly wouldn't call that a limitation. :-P
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:30 pm

Getting a bit off-topic, but - anyone have an opinion on the Mesa Boogie Rectifier Recording Preamp? It's come up a lot in searches with the keywords "parallel effects loop with stereo returns," "direct recording" and "stereo output."

Sorry to be all over the place, but the more research I do into this, the more nuances I learn about. I really like the funcionality and routing options this provides, although I'm truly disappointed that it doesn't glow in blue :|

I have a gut feeling that the Tubemeister is better for me than the Rectifier, I just don't want to overlook anything.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:14 pm

That Mesa pre-amp looks pretty cool. I would love to try it. I have never played a Rectifier. This is the only Mesa amp I have ever tried.
http://www.mesaboogie.com/Product_Info/ ... TA-15.html
It sounded beautiful (and it glowed blue). The one I tried had a noticable lag when switching channels. That, no effects loop and the price tag made me decide against it.
The text on that page (for the Rectifier Recording Preamp) is pretty funny/lame. I imagine it being read by the guy who does the Ford truck commercials.
Last edited by Scott DeVarenne on Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Alain Benoit » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:29 pm

macrae11 wrote:Screw drivers also don't make good hammers. I have no problem with low power amps and I imagine that will be an advantage for Christian, not a limitation. Like Scott said it's kind of off to even try an amp like that in a metal context because it so obviously won't be ideal for that. Same reason you don't try a Ferrari in a quarry pit. Just because it can't climb a pile doesn't mean it's a piece of crap, and I certainly wouldn't call that a limitation. :-P



Of course i am well aware of this and my expectations were fully met.
I was merely trying to answer Scott's question and explain to Christian at the same time the shortcomings if you will of that particular topology.

To further those statements, that tightness required for the style is as you all now all in the low end, the lower end of the spectrum is of course as most know where all the energy is, that energy has to be reproduced by the output section, it just ain't there.

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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Alain Benoit » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:32 pm

Mesa Boogie stuff is good gear, usually well designed.
Difficult to repair based on the componentry density and the assembly design.

I prefer the older Boogie stuff by far, like the MkII and MkIII stuff.

Lag on channel switching is conversely bad design.

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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Scott DeVarenne » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:06 pm

macrae11 wrote:Like Scott said it's kind of off to even try an amp like that in a metal context

What?! That's not what I was saying. Are you trying to get me beat up or something? :-P
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:23 am

Alain Benoit wrote:I was merely trying to...explain to Christian at the same time the shortcomings if you will of that particular topology.

To further those statements, that tightness required for the style is as you all now all in the low end, the lower end of the spectrum is of course as most know where all the energy is, that energy has to be reproduced by the output section, it just ain't there.

A.

And it's appreciated! I couldn't sleep last night, so I was poring over a thread at gearslutz where one guy kept going on about how low-wattage amps can't even convey clean guitar properly, because they physically don't have enough power to carry those necessary lower frequencies...why you'll never see a 5 watt bass amp, for example. Would I be missing something fundamental if I went with the H&K? If I were to buy a 7-string guitar to chug away on some electronic doom metal, would the H&K be, let's say, less than ideal? I guess my muddled impression of it right now is of a 3-band eq missing the bass control...a neopolitan ice cream missing that sweet dark chocolate. But I sure didn't notice anything missing when I tried it Sunday night, cranking the gain and scooping the eq. So if I can't even notice it, is it worth worrying about? Or is it the type of thing I'd notice in an amp shoot-out, testing one against the other, or when it came time to do a mix of one of my songs?

On the other hand, wouldn't mixing be a little easier, since there wouldn't be those lower frequencies fighting with the bass? The guitar is a mid-range instrument, after all. Maybe if I absolutely have to get a low-sounding crunch, I can put a mic in front of my bass amp and run my guitar into that; the other 99% of the time when I'm recording a song that has bass, guitar, and 2 or 3 synth melodies, I don't think the missing low-end of the H&K would bother me, would it?

My other question: I love fussing around with effects pedals. Would I not get some of those lower frequencies back by using eq? Or would I just be boosting something that was never there in the first place? If I have a distortion pedal that boosts lower frequencies really well, will it just sound thinner through a lower-wattage amp?
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Re: Roland Cube 40XL for home recording?

Postby macrae11 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:42 pm

Scott DeVarenne wrote:
macrae11 wrote:Like Scott said it's kind of off to even try an amp like that in a metal context

What?! That's not what I was saying. Are you trying to get me beat up or something? :-P


I actually am trying to get you beat up! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!!

No just trying to point out what Al's calling a limitation I actually see as a feature. Different strokes.
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