Similar price= Similar Tones?
Purpose of Experiment:
To compare the tones between a tube amp and a SS modeling amp of similar prices. I'll try to make this experiment as insightful, accurate, and fair as I can while keeping the boredom at a minimum. This is just something I did for myself when I had some time to kill and after reading over it I figured I'd share it with UG and see what you all thought.

Our Contenders:
Roland Cube 30X
Bought it new for $300, nowadays, they sell for $250

B52 AT-112
Bought it new for $312, was $360 but I got 15% knocked off.

Obvious Differences:
B52 is a little more expensive if you compare the 250 with the 360.
B52 has a 12" speaker, Cube's is 10".
B52 is 60 Watts and all tube, Cube is 30 Watt and a SS modeler.
To me it seems the B52 has the upper hand just looking at the basic facts.


Settings will be the same on both amps. Settings are numerical, not "...o'clock".
B- 6
M- 8
T- 5 and a half
Volume- 8 for B52 and 5 for Cube
Im using these settings simply because these are the settings I typically use for clean playing. The volume on the B52 will be 8 so as to let the tubes work to their full potential and so I don't have to hear how I biased the experiment against the tube amp by making them both 5. The volume on the Cube will be 5 because thats the volume Ive found it sounds best at when playing clean.

Clean Test 1, Bridge Pup

Cube seems dry, cold, lifeless, and harsh. It get useable if you soften up the attack by using your thumb instead of a pick. Decent sound if you take care to play as softly as you can, but overall very lacking and very digital.


For this test at least, the B52 is the polar opposite of the Cube, at will one can go from the softness of a ballad to the intensity of a wild man... and it all sounds like Im listening to an album, not playing at home. I hate to give out perfect grades because I feel nothing can ever be totally perfect, but this one comes so close.


Clean Test 2, Neck Pup

Cube's performance is much stronger here. Sound is very similar to the B52's bridge test. Warm, soft, very nice sounding. Overall much more fun to play than the B52 in this test. The cube still has some fight left. Just a teeny weeny bit too dry.


A disappointment. Output is weak and very bassy, still warm and nice, but to a much lesser degree. I don't like the incredibly weak output, comes very close to what I might call lifeless. Overall very Disappointing, you have to really hammer the strings to get any sort of sound that doesnt sound like a female mouse is gently tugging on the strings.


Dirty Test 1, Bridge Pup

In the name of fairness Im going to start off using the "Recto" setting on the cube since the B52 is a Mesa Rectifier clone. I did two trials, one with the settings all set at high noon, the second with them set at the clean settings above For simplicities sake. (Oh come on did you really expect me to try every single setting I could think of) Both volumes will be set at 8.

Cube comes out strong. The sound is tight. Not a totally faithful Rectifier copy but its certainly not bad either. Definitely a quality metal tone. Im a fan. Just a little dry. When I switched it to the "Metal" setting (which is supposed to model the Peavey XXX) the sound was phenomenal, particularly when you considered what this amp is. It couldnt beat the XXX, but it could sure try.

High Noon- 7.5/10
EQ'd- 8/10

A much more faithful reproduction of the rectifier tone. The sound hits like a freight train and it reminds me of what my freshman football coach would call a "powerhouse". Unfortunately it feels a little "Loosey Goosey Baby", If it could just "Tighten up the screws" itd be great. Good metal tone, however no matter how you EQ it, you wont ever get anything but a rectifier tone, the distortion is not very versatile at all. I liked it a little better when everything was set at high noon.

High Noon- 8.5/10
EQ'd- 7/10

So Ive done the tests, and if you add up the numbers...

Cube= 29.5/40
B52= 30.5/40

These are incredibly close. Far, far, closer than I was expecting when I started this experiment. So the question becomes, Which one is better?

Well theres no real solid, concrete answer. Tone is subjective. However, the B52 did a far better job of copying that rectifier tone that i myself used to strive for. However that and its cleans are basically all its good for. Its distortion is a bitch if you want to try and make it sound like anything other than a Rectifier. So if you're looking for a modern metal tone, this amp just might be a cheap choice for you.

The cube did a decent job with modern metal and a great job with more vintage metal, which I love about it. If your tastes fall outside of the B52's bubble, this might be an appropriate choice for you.

As I said above, I tried to be as fair as I could and keep the boredom to a minimum, Im just curious to see what UG thinks of the results.
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Tone is subjective

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