Mesa Engineering: CabClone

By Molenda, Michael; Hunter, Dave | Guitar Player, January 2015 | Go to article overview

Mesa Engineering: CabClone


Molenda, Michael, Hunter, Dave, Guitar Player


Guitar Player

EDITORS' PICK

THE CHALLENGE OF RECORDING FERAL tube-amp tones without shaking the rafters of every abode within striking distance of my home studio was solved for me in the '90s with the PS Systems Power Tool and the Marshall SE100 Speaker Emulation System. These hardware speaker simulators/internal-load boxes let me audition raging guitar tones at quiet-as-a-mouse volume levels through my studio monitors and headphones. No mics. No blaring speakers. No pissed off neighbors.

So it was with a hint of nostalgia that I started testing the Mesa Engineering CabClone ($299 street), as it had been ages since I'd dragged tube combos up to my home studio. Software amp simulators had long been my weapons of choice for recording guitars without bothering the dogs (well, and my wife). Now, I could "silently" track my Vox AC30, Mesa/Boogie Stiletto, and Marshall JCM900 by routing their speaker outputs into the CabClone, and sending the signals to a Focus-rite interface and directly to Apple Logic. Then, I could choose one of three speaker emulations--Closed-Back, Open-Back, and Vintage--and listen to everything through my CAD MH510 Sessions headphones. No one was the wiser that a sonic apocalypse was going down just across the hall.

The CabClone is passive (you don't plug it in), handles amps rated up to 150 watts, and comes in 8-, 4-, and 16Q versions for proper impedance matching. A rotary D.I. knob lets you tailor signal levels to Mic (-30dB), Instrument (-10dB), Line (+4dB), or anywhere in between. A Phase Flip switch cures any signal phasing issues, but I often activate it when I want thin, out-of-phase guitar tones.

Obviously, Mesa Engineering made choices when voicing the CabClone's trio of speaker emulations, and their ideal sounds may not be yours. …

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