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The best speaker simulator !

Guitar Player Magazine Cab-Tone Review

It's hard to beat the sound of a Shure SM-57 microphone on a vintage Marshall 4x12, but for most home demoing, this classic rig is as about as practical as a deep fryer on the Space Shuttle. While numerous "speaker emulation" systems (a term coined by Groove Tubes' Aspen Pittman, who developed the technology) have made it possible to squeeze the output of a raging tube amp down to mixer-level, Digital Music Corp's Cab-Tone ($149) offers impressive performance at a most-affordable price.

Designed to emulate the response of a miked open-back 2x12 or a closed-back 4x12, the Cab-Tone features line-level and speaker-level inputs, plus balanced XLR and unbalanced 1/4" outs. Four push buttons allow you to bypass the emulation circuitry (for use as a direct box), select cabinet types, invert signal polarity (to correct phase cancellation), and lift the ground to reduce hum and noise. A battery-eliminator jack is provided, though the steel-housed Cab-Tone will run for approximately 300 hours on a single 9-volt battery.

For recording or other direct applications, simply connect the output of your pedals, rack effects or amplifier speaker output to the appropriate Cab-Tone input. Note that unlike some speaker simulators, the Cab-Tone isn't a load box–you'll still have to run speakers (or appropriate resistive load) via the unit's speaker-thru jack.

Comparing the Cab-Tone's line-input and "open cabinet" sound with a miked Twin Reverb (both units fed a signal from a strat hitting an old Ibanez SD-9 Sonic Distortion), the Cab-Tone displayed warm high-end qualities but couldn't quite match the Fender's top-end complexity. Mixed with other tracks, however, it was tough to hear the difference.

The Cab-Tone's closed-back mode accurately replicated the low-end thump of a real 4x12. This worked great for heavy, chunky rhythms. In fact, the bottom end sounded so massive that I had to roll off some bass at the mixer! Using the Cab-Tone's speaker input yielded the best miked-amp response. Some differences in top-end richness were still noticeable, but the device nailed the amp's vibe surprisingly well. Mixing the two signals together produced even more depth and richness than the miked cab alone could deliver.

For most recording situations, the Cab-Tone could be your new best friend. It probably won't replace that '65 Twin, but it sure fits in your gig bag a lot easier.

~James Santiago


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