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…