NAD? Considering to move from Valvetronix to Katana

Discussion in 'Amps & Cabs' started by Worblehat, Feb 28, 2019.

  1. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to share my amp story here as writing it all up might actually help me to finally make a decision and take an end to all the pondering.

    So when I started to play guitar two years ago I first bought a tiny Blackstar Fly 3. Seven month later I wanted more and looked into versatile modelling amps suited for bedroom practice. I went for the Vox VT20X over the Yamaha THR10, because it has an optional foot switch, better looks, lower price and more features accessible without plugging it to a computer. From time to time I like to record a song that I learned, with backing track, just for my self to keep track of my progress and for motivational purposes. As the Vox does not have a built-in USB interface I got a used Focusrite Scarlett Solo for this.

    So far so good. I have had the Vox for 15 month now and I really like it. Tonewise it has all I ever need. And it works great at really low volumes which is very important to me.

    Beyond some minor annoyances (like the somehow buggy Vox ToneRoom Software that I never really used) one thing really bugged me lately: I cannot get a reasonable good tone when recording the amp through my audio interface. I actually don't know if this is me, doing something wrong, or if the emulated headphone out of the amp is just not good for this purpose.

    Anyway...a bit of unreasonable GAS striked and I looked into other amps, that would fulfill my needs (low volume, tonal flexibility, foot-switchable etc). A big plus would be a built-in USB interface so I could get rid of the Focusrite interface (which always means more to setup and more cables) and an external effects loop for use with my looper pedal.

    No matter which forums you read or what Youtube channels you watch...all people seem to recommend the Boss Katana series for at home playing (and beyond). Apart from that, at some point I came to the conclusion that the Boss Katana 100 is the only amp that probably does everything I ever wanted. But even though some members on this forum claim that this amp is suited for really low volume I was very skeptical about that point (100W, 12'' speaker). So I finally just ordered one to try it out myself!

    I still don't really wanted to let go of my Vox VT20X and I thought I will probably return the Katana because it will be too big, too loud and not a great improvement tone wise...

    I have had it for two days now, only played about an hour or two but I must admit: Wow! I like it! Event at whisper quiet volumes (0,5W mode, Master on 1) it works and sounds great to me. It's noteworthy that it is hard to get a bad tone from it. You just set everything to 12, plug in and play and it sounds very good.

    There are only a few points I like more about the Vox:
    • The control panel is more complex but also more powerful when you don't want to connect the computer to do the configuration (which I hate to do). There are LEDs and corresponding labels that tell you exactly which of the 12 effects are enabled and there are two knobs instead of just one to adjust the effects parameters.
    • The price. Especially when you count in the tremendous expensive foot switch of the Katana.
    • The Vox already had more power than I needed but the Katana is even way more overkill. I will never use the 50 or 100 Watt mode and will always keep the master volume at a minimum.
    • My girlfriend likes the look of the Vox more because of the golden lettering.
    Another point where I don't really know which amp wins for me is the number of different amp channels. The Katana has few, "generic" and distinct channels which I like for the sake of simplicity. On the other hand the Vox models countless real life amps which is great for a beginner like me in order to get to know the sound of those different classic amps without actually playing them.

    Now contrary to my expectations I lean towards keeping the Katana and sell the Vox. I would still feel bad for the Vox though because, as I said, I like it very much and I always though the Valvetronix series does not get the attention it deserves. And I would certainly miss its awesome Orange Rockerverb model which was my go-to channel for clean and crunch.

    On the weekend I will try to record with the Katana and see if its an improvement. Then I will make a final decision.

    Sorry for this frivolous, overly long post. I wrote this more to organize my own thoughts than anything else but I am still interested in your input and recommendations on this topic!

    [​IMG]
     

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  2. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    If possible I would keep them both and spend more time trying to solve your issues.

    You might be able to change any emulation coming from the recording output of the Vox using the unfortunately dodgy software. You may find that you can dial in a decent version of the Rockerverb sound you like on the Katana.

    Or maybe there's another amp out there that will give you everything you want in one package.
     
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  3. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    I love the Katana 100, I really do. Especially if you're going to gig (it will peel the paint off the walls and yes, it is every bit as loud as my 40-watt Marshall tube combo).

    But... If you want a Rockerverb sound, then mister @Worblehat, I have the solution for you: Find a used Fender Mustang III or IV V.2 (it must be a V.2 model. The V1's have a carbon fiber-style tolex and the V2's have a traditional style, so you know what to look for). Then find and use the "British Colour" amp model. It does a better Orange than even some of the smaller Orange amps.

    This is an old video of mine, but...


    I think the tone speaks for itself. I should have never gotten rid of that amp.
     
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  4. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    You know what ? I'm thinking of going back to a Valvetronix of some kind over my Katana100. Yes really !

    I remember the multiple Valvetronix I owned, sounding way fuller than anything I can get out of the Katana. Mind you, I don't gig either and I like an amp with good bottom (ex bassist), which the Katana doesn't provide. I now play it through a 2X12" cab to try to get there, but ...

    I'll try to explain my point of view ...
    You don't want/need the same EQ playing with other musicians as playing by yourself. In a band, you need to cut through all kinds of different frequencies, you have to find your niche. Solo, I feel I need to fill all niches.

    You have a USB out on your VT20X. Why don't you use it ?

    I say keep the Vox, return the Katana before it's too late.
     
  5. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    That is possibly the best advice I can get. In the end no one can tell me what to do but my self. So I just have to spend some time with both amps. I tend to rush decisions like that because new gear is always exciting and therefore seems to be better than what you have at first...

    I probably read the specs of every solid-state and modelling amp currently on the market. There are many good ones available. I chose the Katana because its the only one that is almost perfect feature-wise in my opinion.

    I would also like to try the Yamaha THR10. Its "old" compared to the Katana, but people say great things about it. It's just a let-down that it costs the same as the Katana 100 and does not even have a footswitch option or an effects loop.

    Another amp that I can't get out of my mind is the inexpensive Marshall MG15GFX (or maybe MG30GFX). On paper it seems to be perfect to me because it has enough flexibility with 4 channels, some basic effects and footswitch and is on the other hand very minimalistic compared to a Katana or Vox VT20X. I like that idea very much! In fact I usually don't use effects apart from some reverb (and sometimes chorus), so I don't necessarily need the 50+ effects of the Katana. People on the internet just tend to hate the Marshall MG line and always recommend to get a Katana instead. I don't know if this is only due to the older MG models being not so good. Reviews of the current MG gold series seem to be quite positive. Anyone has actual experience with them? I think I will try one out!

    Wow, I really like that tone. Nice Playing! I looked into the new Mustang GT-40, but the reviews are a bit mixed.
    By the way, that white Epiphone SG is fabulous. I hope you did not get rid of it, too....
     
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  6. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    I hoped you would reply to this thread because I know you owned Valvetronix amps before the Katana and you are a at-home-player, too. So I am very interested in your input. The difference is, you probably play much louder than I usually can. I mean you have a shed in the woods without neighbours if I remember correctly :D

    So thanks for you honest advice! It got me even more confused and undecisive in my head for now...but that might be a good thing.

    You mean for recording? It is not a recording output, but just for configuration via the software.
     
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  7. 83 Blazer

    83 Blazer Well-Known Member

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    I reckon your point about filling the sonic space is a really good one and for those who don’t play with other people playing different instruments it is worth considering when weighing up the purchase.

    My Katana 50 does exactly what I need it to do. I certainly don’t step on the sonic toes of any of the band members I play with but for the solo bedroom player the tone may not have the ‘fullness’ they want to fill the space. I was surprised how much bottom end it had for the size of the enclosure but that may not be enough for others. Their motto is Cut Through, after all...

    We really are spoilt for choice these days. Was a time where if you wanted to sit in your room and sound like you had 10 different amps you’d have to own...10 different amps.

    Thanks technology.
     
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  8. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    I have one and it is a great little amp, you should try one. I got mine second-hand so it was quite reasonable. The way I use it I don't miss a footswitch.

    Both Vox and Boss have their own versions of the small desktop amp, they might be worth a look too.
     
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  9. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    ... right ... small shed. The thing is, my wife was the drummer's girlfriend, so she copes real well with my noise. She says it's like having a teenager in the house. I like that, terminal adolescence ...

    13-10-03-.jpg

    Ah, didn't know that.

    I like using the Focusrite and a mic. I find it more organic and I like the challenge of getting my tone the same out of the speaker and on the track. Playing with headphones on is not for me.
     
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  10. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    I think the MG hate is probably more a result of its reputation of being the amp that kids plugged into at Guitar Center to play poorly executed versions of "Smoke on the Water" and "Iron Man" rather than it actually being a bad amplifier in any way. I haven't played one in years, so I couldn't tell you how good they actually are, but I doubt they're much better or worse than the Vox or Katana, really.

    Thanks! I did sell it, eventually, but only because I have my Gibson SG and it's the only guitar I ever *want* to play. That Epi was a good one, though.
     
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  11. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

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    I really love my new katana artist 100 its like 3 weeks old and sits in the basement. Its really loud at 1/2 watt cranked up yikes. Having the 50 watt and 100 option for playing out its a contender.

    The katana air is upstairs for practice .

    I dunno i am still gassing for a big marshall i think eventually that will also happen.

    Yeah the blackstar fly 3 doesnt ever get used.
     
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  12. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    I certainly want to try one soon to get my own opinion of it!

    This is stunning! I am jealous...this place looks perfect.

    You know what I like about the artists? The knobs are on the front! So much better!!! I don't get why most combos have the knobs on the top. Maybe I am the only one having the amp sitting on the desk (I want to listen with my ears, not my feet!). In this position its cumbersome to adjust the knobs on the top.
     
  13. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

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    Well sure yes but the speaker upgrade to waza is also significant.

    I forget exactly the control differences but I think artist has a couple more tweak able things than straight up 100 of course if costs a fair amount more.
     
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  14. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    Since you like the Orange sound I was going to recommend one of their little amps like the Rocker 15, but it doesn't look like any of their stuff has any sort of recording output. :io:
     
  15. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    The Rocker 15 has actually been on my wishlist for some time now. Haven't tried it in person yet. At the moment I don't want spend that much money and also don't want to own more than one amp, so this one needs to do everything I need. I also don't see a tube amp being suitable for my late night practice. I know the Rocker 15 has a power scaling feature but I tried a DSL1hr on 0,5W mode lately and even that was pretty loud!

    But at some point in the future I might be able to justify a second amp and then I'll take a closer look on the Rocker 15!
     
  16. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    First conclusion after a couple of days with both amps:
    I really like the Katana...probably going to keep it despite @DrBGood's warning. You are right that the Vox has more bottom end than the Katana and I can see why you like it more when you are playing on your own. But I actually like the sound of the Katana more. The Vox is sometimes a bit boomy (note that I have the 8'' version) and I often find the high frequencies unpleasant. I don't have that with the Katana. I am very pleased about the tone I get from the 12'' speaker at low volumes. I also get a lot less noise.

    I experimented a bit with the Boss ToneStudio and had a lot of fun with it. I like its clean, modern user interface more than the one of the Vox ToneRoom software and might actually use it from time to time (I never used the Vox software).

    Sure I am still missing the variety of amp models of the Vox a bit. They are just so convinient. But less might actually be more here and I just have to learn how to dial in the sounds I want with the Katana.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
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  17. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    I have a hard time finding different tones without going full distortion on the Katana. They all seem to sound the same. I'ts a one trick pony with tons of different distortions available. OK OK, I inflate my deception, but compared to my SCXD through the 2X10 cab, I find it sounds empty, cold, no warmth. Maybe a tad better (less worst) with the 2X12 plugged into it.
     
  18. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I am a user and enjoyer of a Vox VT-30. (an earlier version Valvetronix).
    I don't own a Katana, but have read lots of posts by colleagues on this and other fora which praise this amp. I absolutely love my Vox.
    Vox VT-30@100.jpeg
    I say +1 on the idea of keeping both. Because I believe they do different
    things. After reading over your posts, I believe that you are up against the
    limitations of your idea that one amp can do everything you need or want. Maybe there is no one perfect amp...

    Shed that preconception, and embrace the idea that having more than one
    amp will be fun. Because that's what I have when I plug into my VT-30.
    The Valvetronix series of modeling amps are sold worldwide, to players of every type and stripe. So of course there are models on mine that I will never use. But that doesn't mean I won't have fun with them.

    That's what I often do... I just have fun with it. Every time I turn it on
    I can find a new sound I never played before. It's just fun. So I practice
    more, and having fun has really helped my music to make some
    quantum leaps.

    I do play gigs, and times I took the Vox to a gig, I'd likely use one of two
    presets I've saved onboard. Those presets are my tone when I'm performing. But when I'm not, I like to have fun with the music, and the
    Vox is great for that. Get it up off the floor and be amazed. Stuff some
    old T shirts inside the cab, and be amazed again.

    The Katana is a seriously great amp, from all I've read and listened to.
    If you like the tone, you should keep it, and use it for what it can do.
    And I'll bet you'll have a lot of musical fun exploring all of what this
    amp can sound like.

    Anyway, best wishes in your quest. We haven't even gotten started on
    Black heart amps yet. Or the Roland Cube...
    music room 08@100.jpg
     
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  19. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    So far I mostly stayed on the crunch channel and I feel like I can get almost everything I need from it by experimenting with the gain knob, the guitar's volume and maybe some booster effect.
    Might well be that I just not have as high expectations as you. Keep in mind that my guitar skill are still very basic and my sense of hearing is probably not as developed as yours.
    I know what you mean by lack of warmth though. I can hear that.

    I often practice songs or improvisation with a backing track and that's where the Katana really stands out against the Valvetronix. It really cuts through (as that's what it is apparently designed to do) and blends in really well at the same time. The Vox often sounded a little weird in combination with backing tracks.

    Thanks for the advice Colonel! I get your point and even my girlfriend suggested to keep both amps (isn't that great? :lol:).

    Space is limited in my apartment and I always like to have as few stuff standing around as possible. Apart from that I am pretty sure I won't actually use two amps. They are still to similar for that and I would just use the one I like more all the time. Its the same with my two electric guitars. Since I got my SG I haven't touched my Yamaha.

    Oh...and in the end I am still a beginner and should concentrate more on practicing than thinking about tone and fiddling with amps :rolleyes:
     
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  20. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    Another feature that I like about the Katana:
    You can change which effects you can access via the buttons of the control panel and even better, for every effect type you can configure which parameter is changed by the effects knob. This way you can setup your controls to fit your needs once and from then on don't need to use the software anymore. If I remember correctly the Valvetronix has 12 effects assigned to the control panel buttons while the rest of the effects can only be accessed via software.
     
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