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Ampeg B15N vs Helix Tuck'n Go


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I have a couple of B15N's.  I have been meaning to run this experiment for a while but I needed to get more familiar with the Helix to be fair about it.


So here's my setup..


Helix > QSC 100 amp > Genz Benz 2 x 12 Flat Response Guitar Cab


and in the other corner....


A recently refurbished 60's B15N Fliptop.


I have an A/B switch so I just went into the Helix with side A and the Ampeg off of side B.


For guitar, I was using my trusty Ovation UltraGS H-S-S with Kahler Pro.   While the B15N is primarily a Bass amp, it makes a very nice guitar amp as well and it has inputs for "Guitar, Bass" and "Instrument."



Initial Result:

After noodling around, switching between the two rigs, and tweaking EQ or tone as applicable on both units here and there, it sounds and feels like the same amp using two different cabinets.   Maybe I could get them identical with a full FRFR setup, and maybe even with my current setup, but honestly, there wasn't a better.... there was just a difference between the two.


Then I put on the headphones attached to the Helix on and as they say "I got it." While it was a bit awkward sliding the headphones on and off, there was little if any difference between what was coming out of the headphones and what the actual B15N sounded like in the room.


My next test is to use a microphone (probably an SM57) on the Ampeg speaker and compare the "mic'd" speaker to the output of the Helix with the same selected mic.   It's just a hunch, but I'd be willing to bet that if I don't make note of which signal I'm listening to, I won't be able to tell the difference.  I will try to put some decent audio together to post.... but...


My point of this arguably premature post is that when "comparing" there are a LOT of factors involved especially when trying to achieve that "in the room" feel.   No matter how much EQ'ing or IR magic I can perform, two 12" speakers, and I dare say even an FRFR setup, is not going to provide the same "feel" as a single 15", and while that "may" matter in a room by myself, on stage, it becomes a mute point.


Bottom line is that I'm VERY impressed with the Helix's ability to capture this amp's sound and feel.  I'll plug in a bass later and see what that sounds like in comparison, but really...  I hear people talk about <insert competition modeler here> is "better" and I really have to wonder what that's based on.  I have full confidence in saying that a recorded Helix Tuck"nGO patch is likely indistinguishable from an actual B15N (recorded with the same microphone as the model) as you can get, and I honestly can't imagine getting closer because it's obvious the audible "differences" have to do with Microphone and placement, room and tone/EQ settings.  Tonality is the same.


Of course, I now need to make an actual recording to back that up...  but I'm pretty confident.












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Well I made the first recording and WOW...   I'll try to post something later, but if anything the Helix set up as a B15N with a D12 mic at 1" sounds better than an actual B15N with an actual D12 mic at 1`"


I can eq the tracks to sound the same.  I'll post the results later to soundcloud.

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Not sure anyone cares, but I sure do.


Here is a link to a SoundCloud file.



The Helix is hard panned one way, the actual B15N Hard Panned the other.   I used a D12E at 1" on axis half-way on the cone.


First Part of Clip = Guitar: Neal Moser custom Genesis with humbucker pickups.

Send Part of Clip = Bass:  Ovation Magnum II, both pickups on.


I did have to adjust the tone on the B15N when I plugged the bass in, and surprisingly did NOT have to adjust anything on the Helix.


Recording was done by splitting the input signal and feeding the Helix with one side and the B12N with the other.


I also used the Helix as the recording interface by bringing the D12E microphone into the mic input and panning hard on one path and the Tuck'nGo patch was on the other path hard panned the other way.    I was going to use a separate audio interface and take the line or XLR out of the Helix into one channel and the microphone into another, but adding all of the extra layers and variables seemed silly and pointless.


I'll giveya's a hint.  The Helix track sounds more like a recorded B15N with an actual microphone.  I didn't do any post production (nor did I practice or tune apparently) but if I have the need to "record" and want a vintage amp sound...  I'm going to dial it up on the Helix even if the Vintage amp is in the room.   At most, I might even track the Helix AND the vintage amp if available because what the two channels sound like to me is how I normally record or mix.... as in... I have a DI on the output of the amp to one channel and also a Mic on the Speaker with this exact mic into another channel.   Then mix to taste.


Why would I do that?  There are just tooo many variables to get the sound right.   Yes, I "could" use the real amp, but why bother.  Mic placement is so critical, tone settings on the amp are so critical, the room itself is so critical...   And lets no forget the condition of the mic being used.  After this I'm wondering if my mint condition D12E is still mint.    Maybe if I had an ISO Booth optimized around the frequencies of the instruments I was recording I would bother... but seriously... why bother with all that.  The Helix sounds AMAZING !!!! and some engineers, with likely better gear and more experience, did the work already.


I am going to assume all of the amp models are as close as this one.



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