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What Is The Best Option For A Big And Full “amp In The Room” Feel At Home Volumes With Pod Hd500 (frfr, Keyboard Amp, Pe60, Dt25, Etc.)?

pod hd500frfrkeyboard amp sound at low volume bedroom volume roland kc 350 alto ts112 dt25 tech 21 power engine 60

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#1 zgerla1

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 02:11 PM

The general question I have is what option is going to provide the biggest, most full, dynamic, amp in the room feel and sound at lower bedroom volumes (FRFR, keyboard amp, PE60, DT25, etc.) when paired with a HD500 while not requiring you to need a separate patch when using headphones? Based on the information I have read from other posts, my preference in order of priority would be (1) Roland KC 350 keyboard amp, (2) Alto TS112, (3) DT25 (4) Tech 21 Power Engine 60, but I am looking for additional input from those with firsthand experience at lower volumes. There is more to it below, but this is it in a nutshell for those who don’t want to read all of the specifics below but might still have a quick opinion.

 

I am finally upgrading from my old POD XT Live to a POD HD500, which is on its way as I write this, after getting back into playing after taking a couple of years off. I am looking for suggestions on the best speaker setup to get the desired sound that I describe below. I know each of these items has been discussed previously, but I have done a lot of reading and am not convinced that I have found the right answer for my particular situation.

 

I am only an avid guitar hobbyist, and I am not concerned about playing live or doing any serious home recording. Additionally, I am a couple of months away from having my first kiddo, so my playing will pretty much be restricted to moderate bedroom volumes at best and headphones.

 

I have seen a lot of comments that FRFR PA type speakers are the best way to go for getting a nice uncolored and dynamic sound out of digital modelers, but it seems like all of these responses were in the context of people who were playing live. Are these still the best way to go for jamming out at home at bedroom volumes (kind of loud at times, but nothing that is going to damage your hearing after a couple of hours), and for lower volume situations when I don’t want to disturb others on the next floor in my townhouse?

 

To complicate things some more, I am obsessed with trying to get the biggest, fullest, and most dynamic sound with a good bottom end that I can in these conditions (I am into hard rock, grunge, and alternative which can involve some heavy rifs and downtuning; some examples are Chevelle, Bush, Foo Fighters, Tool, STP, AIC, Soundgarden, Rage, Incubus, etc.), and a full dynamic sound just seems requisite for me to feel inspired when playing this kind of stuff. Also, a fair majority of my playing usually involves using backing tracks from my laptop (mp3 w/ guitar tab via Go PlayAlong, just mp3, and recently Rocksmith w/ the in game guitar tone off and using the modeler instead – I am using a y splitter from my guitar for this), so something that is full range to also run the backing tracks through is huge plus. I can work around this though if the full range options were compromising to the big full sound at lower volumes that I am after (for music, I have an old Denon receiver and some bookshelf speakers as well as a Kicker iKick iK501 boombox kind of thing).

 

With all of this said, I noticed that most of the recommended FRFR options cost more than I am thinking of spending on sound (thinking ~US$500 is my max budget here; got the HD500 for $260 off of ebay), but the Alto TS112 seems like a viable option that I could even afford two of for a stereo sound. Again, these big high wattage speakers seems like overkill for someone looking for only bedroom volumes though, but please tell me if they would still be the best option even at these lower volumes.

 

Another possible full range option that I have noticed is a keyboard amp like a Roland KC 350. I have read that these are not as uncolored as FRFR options which can be problematic with patches sounding different when running direct out to a PA. I won’t have the PA issue, but I am curious if I might have a similar issue with going back and forth between headphones and the keyboard amp. A big consideration here is this might be a dual purpose solution as the Roland has a headphone out which seems like it could serve as a good workaround for the high headphone impedance issue with the POD HDs, so I would not have to buy another set of headphones when I already have a great set of Beyerdynamic DT 770 (80 ohm) and Sure SE530 which I am absolutely content with. I would think that the sound coming out of the Roland headphone out would be close enough to the speakers themselves that there would not be any issues with patches sounding different, but I am curious if anyone has experience with this. Also, could you run two of these in stereo from both the HD500 and for the backing tracks?

 

The non-full range options that I have read about are the Tech 21 Power Engine 60 and of course the DT25. I read that the DT25 is overkill for just bedroom use, and it is more than I am “wanting” to spend (again ~$500). However, if it is going to get me the biggest and most dynamic sound at lower volumes then I might just have think hard about ponying up for it. The PE60 seems like it would be a great option for the sound I am looking for, but I think it would be a problem with using headphones a lot of the time as I understand you do not want to use it with cab and mic simulations on which means duplicate patches for each scenario. I assume this issue would apply to using any guitar amp / cab except for the DT25. Also, these kind of options would obviously not be ideal for running backing tracks through them, and I would prefer to not have to find space for a second sound source or figure out how to deal with imaging issues.

 

Final thoughts; I never liked my existing receiver and bookshelf speakers with my POD XT Live as they were too fatiguing with the way I am forced to set them up (on top of a dresser right next to where I have room for my HD500, so ear level 2-3 feet away right into my face). I would expect powered monitors to sound good and not be as fatiguing with this setup, but I am 90% sure they would not give me the big and full sound I am after as they are designed to be flat without the bottom end that I like in my music.

 

I would really appreciate whatever thoughts and recommendations you guys might have. Thanks for reading…


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#2 gunpointmetal

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 02:22 PM

At bedroom volumes nothing sounds full aside from headphones. For your situation a small pair of bass-accentuated bookshelf speakers or a small 2.1 system would probably get you the "beef" while still being apartment friendly. Volume usually accounts for a lot of that chunk....


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#3 radatats

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 03:44 PM

gunpoint is probably right.  Based on everything you said and the fact that you don't intend to play out, take a look at some quality studio monitors rather than the generic powered speakers or amps.  These will easily handle your guitar and your backing tracks and give you the full sound you are looking for.  Look for something with at least 6" speakers to comfortably handle what you are playing.

 

Here are four good choices all very similar specs, 8" kevlar speakers, bi-amped and under $500 a pair...

 

http://www.sweetwate...|ErisE8|B3031A)


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#4 zgerla1

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 04:11 PM

gunpoint is probably right.  Based on everything you said and the fact that you don't intend to play out, take a look at some quality studio monitors rather than the generic powered speakers or amps.  These will easily handle your guitar and your backing tracks and give you the full sound you are looking for.  Look for something with at least 6" speakers to comfortably handle what you are playing.

 

Here are four good choices all very similar specs, 8" kevlar speakers, bi-amped and under $500 a pair...

 

http://www.sweetwate...|ErisE8|B3031A)

 

Thanks for the input. I have not actually used studio monitors before, but I am curious how a pair with a sub would compare to running two smaller keyboard amps like the Roland KC 60 in stereo (40 watt each with a 10 in driver) with a sub in a bedroom context.

 

I had forgotten to mention that I also like to play half the time sitting on a crappy drum stool that I have which can pose imaging problems with speakers on top of my dresser which has 6 vertical drawers (puts speakers at ear level when standing). It seems like keyboard amps which sit on the ground and image up could be better for this reason unless I could think up a reasonable way to rig up the monitors on the floor and angle them up like a keyboard amp. On the other hand, I am not sure if it would be possible to run to KC 60s in stereo with a sub.

 

I am asking about the keyboard amp route despite your helpful initial comments directing me otherwise because I noticed a guitar center ~1 hour from me has a used Roland KC 60 for a good price, so I would have 30 days to return it if I am not totally happy with it. I don’t want to waste a lot of time though messing around with this idea if it would not be likely to provide a fuller, richer, beefier sound at bedroom volumes than studio monitors (or bookshelf speakers) which could be cheaper and have a wider range of possible uses in the first place.


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#5 aggravation

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 05:14 PM

The keyboard amp might be a good choice *if* it sounds good at truly low volume.
Generally studio type monitors with 6" or larger sized drivers (to give you the full bottom sound) are the best for low volume
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#6 radatats

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 05:22 PM

with any of those monitor choices you won't need a sub in your setup...  it would just get too muddy... EQ will get you where you want to be... and they don't have to be pointed up at you.  get or make some speaker stands,  I made an awesome pair from 4" PVC, some flanges, plywood and sand for weight.  under 20 bucks... google it...

 

by the way, consider unpowered speakers and a small stereo power amp.  I got really nice Yamaha 8" reference monitors off eBay for $75 and a small 40 watt power amp for under $100 running from my computer for mixing and playback and they are fantastic...  

 

No matter what you do you won't have Volbeat live in your bedroom at the levels you want but you can definitely get a great sound.  Be creative.


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#7 RIblues

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 06:19 PM

zgerla1, I went down the road you are traveling not too long ago. I had the opportunity to test small tube amps, powered PA speakers and studio monitors of different driver size. I chose 6 inch Rokit's and I have them on the floor on each side of my Pod. 

 

They put out more bottom than the Kardashian's. Thankfully, there are adjustments that allow you tweak LF and HF as well as volume.

 

With respect to how they sound, phenomenal. I play at low volumes when everyone is home, and quite loud when I have the house to myself. As mentioned by others, studio monitors do not color the sound. What you create on the Pod, you will hear through the monitors. There is no guessing, create your patches and play. Dynamic, full, plenty of bottom, everything your looking for.


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#8 zgerla1

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 06:44 PM

Thanks all for the good advice. I am going to look into the 8 in studio monitor route without a sub.

 

I am going to dig around and see if passive monitors might be a good value option for me since I have an old but capable (50 watts per channel) Denon receiver that could serve as an amp. I would expect the AV receiver to color the sound some, but I am not sure if it would be to a degree that would be a problem. Actually come to think of it, coloring to a degree might not be a problem at all if it is also equally present in the headphone output on the front of the Denon, which would mean that I would just have to tweak my patches once to get everything to sound the same though headphones or monitors. If it works, this could also serve as a convenient work around for the headphone impedance issue with the HD500.

 

Final question on this particular topic, in the context of downloading HD500 patches and tweaking them to sound the way I want, would you say that I would need to spend the same amount of time and effort getting things to sound right using a set of flat powered monitors compared to passive ones with some coloring from an AV receiver? If the answer is, the flatter monitors will be noticeably easier, then I might just spend the extra money for the powered ones.


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#9 zgerla1

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 06:58 PM

zgerla1, I went down the road you are traveling not too long ago. I had the opportunity to test small tube amps, powered PA speakers and studio monitors of different driver size. I chose 6 inch Rokit's and I have them on the floor on each side of my Pod. 

 

They put out more bottom than the Kardashian's. Thankfully, there are adjustments that allow you tweak LF and HF as well as volume.

 

With respect to how they sound, phenomenal. I play at low volumes when everyone is home, and quite loud when I have the house to myself. As mentioned by others, studio monitors do not color the sound. What you create on the Pod, you will hear through the monitors. There is no guessing, create your patches and play. Dynamic, full, plenty of bottom, everything your looking for.

 

After some really quick research on the Rokit’s I see that they get some good reviews on the bass response, so they are going on my list.

 

Any other recommendations for specific monitor options under $500 that are particularly good in the lower frequency department for high gain and downtuned hard rock guitar tones and associated backing tracks would be appreciated. Most likely including 8 inch kevlar cones like radatats recommend.


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#10 gckelloch

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:48 PM

You should never put monitor directly on the floor or a larger flat surface.  The bass response and early reflections will completely alter the sound -- bad if you are trying to set up presets for FOH pa systems, or any well calibrated audio system for that matter.  You best bet is too actually stick with a close-field 2-3ft. monitoring situation, because your room resonances and reflections will not significantly color the sound, and you get better results when tweaking sounds. 

 

The thing regarding powered monitors is that there is no loudness compensation like on a typical Hi-Fi amp/receiver, so the bass and treble would not be as loud as the mids when the volume is down lower.  For that matter, a home audio receiver with variable loudness compensation and some fairly flat sounding low ear-fatigue (usually with a silk-dome tweeter) bookshelf speakers might be better for you?  I had recommended Warfdale speakers for that scenario, but there are probably some other great options for that purpose -- preferably of a coaxial design with time/phase-aligned Xovers.  The single driver Avantone MixCubes are actually a poplar option -- probably great for guitar.  Otherwise, powered monitors of such design and a quality preamp with a variable loudness knob wired before them might work better. 

 

If choosing the latter option, some of the afore mentioned monitors seem good, but close-monitoring really requires the drivers to be very closely spaced, or ideally coaxially mounted for a signal point source.  I've recommended the ~$400 Equator D5's in other threads.  They are a coaxial silk-dome tweeter monitor with other features like time/phase-alignment, and DSP driver frequency correction for the accuracy crucial for getting the critical upper-mids in your guitar presets right.  They have a -3dB point at 53Hz, which means the lowest note on the guitar will be accurately represented.  The next model up is the D8's with a -3dB point at 45Hz, which is a little better for full range music.  They are $750 though. 

http://www.equatoraudio.com/

 

If not specified, the bass cutoff point for many speakers is somewhat deceptively given for the -6dB point.  Kevlar does not necessarily create a less resonant structure than mineral-filled poly.  Kevlar is just a stronger material.  It will not create a completely rigid structure, so some resonance will occur.  The resonance, while being slightly lower in level, would be higher in frequency -- possibly muddying the crucial vocal midrange.  Low frequency resonances are much less intrusive to overall clarity.  Mineral-filling is really more effective in reducing resonance, as well as lowering the bass cut-off point for a given speaker-size due to the increased mass.  All factors in design must be considered for a certain result.  If any one factor is substandard, those intended results will be compromised.  FI, the cabs and ports of the Beringer 3031A's are known to produce audible resonances up close, thereby nulling any supposed advantage of a Kevlar woofer.

 

It's common marketing practice to highlight one "feature" as being superior for unrelated reasons, or to present very common "features" as being unique or innovative.  Vagueness is often used to imply things that aren't really correct, or to create confusion in hopes that potential customers will simply "give up" and "give in" to emotionally-based hype -- all manipulative tactics we can thank consulting "sell-out" psychologists for on Madison Avenue. 


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#11 RIblues

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 03:43 AM

gckelloch; the op, myself and one other poster on this forum have stated that we have no interest in recording or "critical" listening, we just wanted what we felt was the best option for amplifying our Pod's. I have mentioned several times that most would frown with me stating that I have my Rokit's on the floor, however they work great for me and I have found no issues whatsoever. I have put the monitors on stands at the correct height, spacing and angle as recommended by the manufacturer and I have also tried a large desk as most people use and it was a "no go" for me. My monitors are on Auralex pads, angling upwards toward me on each side of my Marshall amp with my Pod in front. I can use the pod alone with the monitors or into the front of the Marshall and I am happy, happy, happy. I am considering an a/b switch of some sort so that I can switch easily between the two. The thing is, we all (most) put our amps on the floor and they resonate and interact with the room, the monitors do the same. The same if you purchase a keyboard amp, wedge, powered speaker etc. The biggest thing that I like to stress is that the monitors interact with my room the same as my amps, warts and all. People look for that "amp in the room" sound and feel, I have it.

 

I don't understand your comment about loudness compensation, the monitors can adjust from -30 to +6 and they also have HF and LF adjustment which works very well. My setup is awesome at low volumes and like everything else guitar related, the grin gets wider as it gets louder. All good and better monitors will have these adjustments.

 

I took advantage of the Equator trial period because they were suggested to me and I kept the Rokit's vs. the D5's. The Rokit's were clearly better in my opinion, in my room for my setup. The Rokit's have a freq. response of 38-35 which even the Equator D8's can't touch and the Rokit's don't favor a specific spectrum as the Equator's seemed to favor the midrange. That's great if that's what you want, but I want to be able to switch between amp models and have some distinction between them which is what I get with the Rokit's. I don't want to hear the monitors, I want to hear pod.

 

With respect to components and marketing hype, I agree, but that is not the case with this discussion. The Equator's build was average and components are good, but the Rokit's cabinet is designed quite different for a reason. The front port and baffle design alone could be a lengthy discussion and there is a reason for it and it's not hype. I will add that I had no interest in the Rokit's originally because of the common "they exaggerate low frequency's" that is stated through out the internet. Maybe that was the case with generation 2 but not with the generation 3.

 

To the OP, you really have to try things if possible and don't hesitate to try something that is frowned upon. It might be what you were looking for, it was for me. I was in the same situation as you and tried almost everything and the monitors were the answer, no sub needed. Put them where ever you can (unless you are recording), move them around until they sound great and enjoy.


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#12 gckelloch

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 04:35 AM

Good points, RIblues.  I think between our postings, we illuminate more things for the OP to consider in his/her decision.  The Rokits may be more to the OP's liking...and they may well have more exaggerated bass, but not necessarily lower bass extension.  It's actually the case that sealed cabs generally have more accurate and more extended bass -- particularly in average-sized bedrooms.  There is certainly a case for matching your rig closer to average consumer listening rigs with typically hyped bass and highs. 

 

Well-balanced speakers with phase/time-aligned Xovers can seem to favor midrange because there is much less frequency waver in the Xover range, but the reality is they are just flatter/clearer in that Xover range and should be closer to the sound heard through headphones.  We aren't generally accustomed to hearing that in home speaker systems, but professional active Xover PA systems are now often time/phase aligned.  I think the answer to getting a consistent and full sound between patches while minimizing disturbance to neighbors is close-field monitoring.  You can't expect to get that physical kick in the pants bass without the rest of the house hearing/feeling it, but you can get that kick in the chest bass with close-field monitoring.

 

Regarding the variable loudness feature I alluded to: it was first offered in Nakamichi Receivers in the 80's to set the proper bass and treble loudness range boost in relation to the volume level.  It was connected with the volume knob, so it could be set by the user after factoring in the variables in a given listening environment.  All audio reproduction systems should really include such a feature to equalize the loudness curve regardless of the volume knob setting.


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#13 RIblues

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 04:59 AM

Nakamichi... now that brings back some memories and wonderful one's at that. Thanks! Do you remember Sansui?


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#14 gckelloch

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 05:28 AM

Sansui? Just vaguely.  I recall it being on the level of Nakamichi.  The OP mentions his Denon receiver -- great stuff as well.

 

In further investigation, the 'Rokit Cut Sheet" lists the FR specs at -10dB points -- just what I was getting at.  There are no FR graphs I could  find.  The Equator D5's initially gave FR graphs on the site, but I can't find them now.  I do recall the FR graphs being at -3dB point as listed in the specs.  Why they are no longer accessible seems suspect to me. The RokitG3's might be tuned to accentuate thump/punch at ~100Hz, so they may be more of what the OP is after in that sense.  No reason he couldn't save money and still make use of that great old Denon receiver with some decent passive time/phase aligned speakers.


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#15 RIblues

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 07:29 AM

They are flat down to 43 Hz in my room and are not down -10dB at their stated freq. response of 38-35. We don't know their testing procedure but credit is do to them for listing the specs. There are no "bumps" around 100Hz as was the case with their generation 2 version and the scoop in the mids is not there as some in other forums have criticized them for. Of course this is my in room response as tested with a Rives audio cd and a spl meter. Every room is quite different and the mileage will vary. The generation 3 Rokit's are a very big improvement over the generation 2 and I don't recommend the purchase of generation 2 to save money, I would say to save a little longer.

 

Here is a good honest review of the Rokit 6 Gen 3:

http://www.harmonyce...s/ba-p/36002965


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#16 gckelloch

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 09:09 AM

Speaker testing is normally done in an anechoic chamber.  Since they state -10db for the freq response in their data sheet, I think it's safe to assume it's at those top and bottom stated frequencies.  It's also much more in line with the standards for bass response of modern speakers of that size.  You may have a low frequency peak in your room where you measured the response.  It could be very different somewhere else in the room. There can be cancellations at node points on the order of -20dB in untreated rooms.  As you said, monitoring position is important to experiment with.

 

The other thing to consider when monitoring with headphones is the lack of speaker "cross-talk" to opposite ears that gives stereo speakers a particular sound stage.  The stereo image will normally be very different through either medium, but there are computer plug-ins and dedicated preamps that simulate a stereo speaker image.  That's all I can really suggest on this matter.  I hope the ideas presented offer you some guidance in choosing what works best for your needs.


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