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Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 7th, 2008, 11:49 am
by neopardypond
Hallo, can anyone advise me on the merits or possiblities of using Active Speakers/Monitors instead of using a conventional guitar amp?
I have purchased a pair of Biamped Studio Monitors, offering 75W and 25 w per speaker, (2), and I am awaiting the delivery of a Lexicon Reverb Multi Effects processor .
What else do I need? It has been suggested to me that a mixer would benefit the set up, or a pre-amp of some sort. I used a simple Zoom 505 through a pair of poor , but powerful active speakers a few years back, and was very suprised at the excellent overall sound, if a bit scratchy because of the duff speakers. The results reminded me of the 60's Spotnicks sound, a bit toppy, but with a lot of clarity and excellent spacey presence.
I want to try and recreate the same sort of sound, but with a bit of depth and more versatility.
Any advice would be very welcome, I am leaping into the dark here....
Many thanks.

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 7th, 2008, 4:29 pm
by Dagwood

I have a pair of Active monitors that I run my Boss GT-8 through.


Well I want to use the units amp models/patches etc, but I don't necessarily want any 'coloration' from a guitar amp.

As you may know, different amps have their own 'color', if you will.

A Marshall sounds very different from a Fender, from a Vox, from a HiWatt, from a Riveria, Mesa Boogie...etc.
Even at the 'given' amps settings there's still a difference, at least to the discerning ear, due to differences in speaker types, configuration, box/cabinet design. Also the circuitry is distinct amongst the brands and even types of the same brand, not to mention different tube configuration etc etc etc.

So what monitors offer is a balanced, full range, flat response to the processed sound of one's MultiEfx/Amp sim unit.
Essentially the mechanics of the sound (ie moving of air) will be equal across the different amp models being processed.

I'll say this and prolly get flogged for it, but not all guitar amps work very well if you plug a MEfx unit into them, especially if you have amp modelling capabilities.

Theres an excellent article here:

He explains it quite a bit better than I can.

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 8th, 2008, 12:12 am
by neopardypond
Many thanks Dagwood-
So you are using JUST the Boss multi effects and the Active Speakers? This is what I hoped to hear, I am receiving conflicting advice as to how a mixer would be beneficial, but the advisor wanted to sell me something.....and I do not want to connect up to a PC, this is simply for playing.

I appreciate your time and trouble, regards, arthur.

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 8th, 2008, 3:51 am
by slejhamer
Dagwood wrote: I'll say this and prolly get flogged for it, but not all guitar amps work very well if you plug a MEfx unit into them, especially if you have amp modelling capabilities.
That's very true. Some multi-fx units like the Boss ME50 or ME20 do not have amp modeling and cab sims, and are essentially just a bunch of pedals in one convenient package, so they seem to do better with guitar amps. But the Boss GTs, the Line 6 PODs, the Digitech workstations, and some of the Zoom packages should all do well with full-range, flat response systems like powered monitors, or keyboard amps. That being said, there are tube power amps like the Atomic Reactors designed specifically for multi-effects units and supposedly they sound great; the multi-fx boxes serve as the preamps to the Reactors' power amps. Best of both worlds, possibly.

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 8th, 2008, 7:17 am
by Dagwood
What Slej said. This only works if you have a unit that is an AMP sim unit... actually its a "Pre-Amp" sim and usually a cabinet/speaker sim as well. Like the one's he listed. The Boss GT Series, Line 6 POD Series, V-Amp, Digitech RP and GNX Series will work with FRFR Systems.

Gear that is 'only' M-Efx won't.... like the Boss ME series. They are as Slej pointed out a purely m-efx unit, they don't sim any amps.

You say you have the Zoom 505? I believe it has amp models so this will work too... :)
neopardypond wrote:Many thanks Dagwood-
So you are using JUST the Boss multi effects and the Active Speakers?
Actually... no. I did at first.

If you wanna read here's my experience, Hope you can use some of my 'learned' wisdom :)
If you DON'T wanna read, there's a picture at the bottom :)

When I first got it.
tech note:
This thing has essentially three audio outs, not counting the S/PDIF thing. a L/Mono, a R out (for stereo into two amps or pair of speakers, and PHONES/LINE out (stereo).

When I first got by GT-8, I experimented with different setup configurations.
- into my Fender Amp using the "L/MONO" out. I also experimented with a "4CM" or four cable method into the LOOP on my amp. (works fine, but really loud for bedroom use)
- used my headphones only, using the PHONE out (works great, but I'm attached to two chords now, 1 guitar and 1 headphone)

Then I figured something out... I wanted to "JAM" with some CD's and Play-Along books and other lesson books I had. In my office/studio I have my computer and it has an awesome 5.1 surround system hooked up (for Gaming).

My problem wasn't the ability to do that. I'd play the CDs/music from the computer through the 5.1 system and play along with my GT-8/Amp combo. My problem came with levels. Getting the music/backing track etc at a loud enough level to compete with the amp, or loud enough to hear with headphones on..... make sense?

So I have the CD/Backing track at one end of the room.. and me on my guitar at the other end. Trying to fiddle with the volume levels to make it all work and sound half way decent. This became too much work and not enough playing.

Anyhoo I decided to try something. I hooked up a cable from the phones out on my unit... sent it to the PC "LINE IN" sound card and 'wah-lah' It worked, though it was in MONO, not stereo. But I still had a problem....

My unit (GT-8) has the ability to push two different amps in stereo at the same time... so out the left I can have a Clean Fender amp and out the right a slightly crunched Vox or Marshall...etc. Very cool. So I found a long Headphone (STEREO) extension cable and hooked it up as mentioned before.. PHONE OUT to LINE IN. Even better... :)

I ran this rig for over a year and I was very satisfied with it. Essentially I ran my unit through my PC out the 5.1 gaming speakers. I could cue up my CD's/MP3's/Backing Tracks and Jam to my heart's content. I could also record straight into my computer with this into audacity or (name your recording software) anything else. No mics, no ambient room noise etc...

I still record this way.

Then another problem. I wanted to pump up the volume.. more. As I got louder on my PC, I'd hear back ground noise, coming from it. Remember, we have all kinds of electronic bits in there and they all make some noise... fans, hard drives, water pumps, lights, etc.... its a busy circuit inside a computer. Not necessarily 'outside noise' but electronic signal noise is what I'd hear and it drove me nuts.

Try it.. turn up your PC Speakers really loud, with nothing hooked up to it.. both the speakers and the windows/mac mixer on your PC and listen... its that pulsing/fizzle noise. :)

Still with me? Told you it'd be a long read... Sorry, its the 'teacher' in me :)

Anyhoo... I did some looking around and found the FRFR Speakers discussions on that link I posted.

My store here is a Behringer dealer and one day I went in and asked if I could hook up a GT-8 to the Behringer Truth monitors. You should've seen the guy's face. I light went on and he said, "I bet that would sound awesome!!"

Needless to say he was right. We both rocked out in the store for about a half hour. Those babies are plenty loud and within my price range....So I got a pair.

Now the hook up: (so I can end this story :) )

Part 1:

Boss GT-8 (L/R out) to each monitor, respectively. Two cables Out and I'm done. I had to balance the speakers settings for my room etc. But it works perfectly.

And I can still record into the PC with the PHONE OUT to LINE IN on PC.

+++PROBLEM+++ I'm right back where I started... I still want to jam with my music on the PC at respectively balanced levels.

Part 2: I went back to the store, talked about what I was doing and he showed me a good little, albiet cheap mixer. We talked about the hook up and .............


OK I'm done.. I hope that helps and sorry for my long windedness :)

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 9th, 2008, 9:49 pm
by neopardypond
That was very helpful.
I have taken the plunge and ordered a Line 6 POD XT. This seems to get almost universal acclamation on Harmony Central, and it has a lot more 'voices' than I will ever need. Essentially I want a good reverb and delay/Echo. I am using a strat with new pickups,(new for me), S/Duncan 5 for 2's. These, hooked up in series and parallel ,offer some of the best tones I have heard from a strat., although Fender SCN's, with suitable wiring,(essential with these pickups, as they can sound the pits, or simply breathtaking, depending on the pots and capacitors), are also very airy with a big sound.
I want to use the stereo facilities of the Active Monitors, so I will have to look at the best set up.
But thankyou again,to all who advised me, I will briefly report back and let you know how it all sounds.
Best wishes, arthur.

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 12th, 2008, 9:02 am
by neopardypond
Hi Dagwood, Isaid I would let you know how How I got on with the new system.
I hooked up my studio monitors to the right and left output channels,(POD XT) powered up the system and all I get is a very low volume, fairly muddy,sound. Turning up the speakers volume offers a lot of power hum, but no real inc in volume. I am using standard 1/4" RCA jacks, and good quality cables, but its unlistenable to almost, with no volume levels.
I have read of numerous users of POD XT's simply running them through Studio Monitors, and having to turn them down for room usage. Any idea what I am doing wrong?
Regards, arthur.

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 12th, 2008, 10:27 am
by Dagwood
I'm not familiar with the particulars of the line6 of products ie the POD Family so someone else may be able to pinpoint what's wrong.

On the Boss GT8 there are options for 'output types'. Those types being, Combo Amp, Stack Amp, Combo Return, Stack Return, LINE/Phone out etc. Its recommended to use the Line/Phone out when using monitors.

Also there's a master volume/trim knob on the back side of the unit which is different than the main 'level' setting on top of the device.

I'll do some homework and see I can bring and/or point you to some insights. :)

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: June 12th, 2008, 10:51 am
by Dagwood
Congrats on your new toy by the way :)

OK, I just d/l'd the manual. ... nglish.pdf

There's the section about Getting Setup (Section 3-1 in the Manual):

You'll want to read all of your're now the owner of a very complex piece of equipment.
Even if alot doesn't make sense now it will later.
The companies are designing these units to be as versatile as possible to the users intended application.

It will be different if you plug into an amp, rack mount system, Power Monitors, PA, etc. So read up on connecting it properly for the best sound.

I experienced almost the same thing, it sounded like a bunch of bee's at first....then (DUH) I read the manual :)

I also just came across this thread on another board that sounds familiar....hope it helps?

Keep us posted :)

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: September 25th, 2011, 9:57 pm
by neopardypond
A final word - after a few years.....!

I have a brilliant little system - Stratocaster into an EMU audio-interface/pre-amp
Then from Emu to 2 x Samson resolve 65A's powered monitors. (200 watt total).
Emu VHQ USB2 link to computer.
Computer runs 'Reaper' sFX into speakers.

Simply superb-
-no hum, incredibly well defined guitar tones, power a plenty .
shame about the playing......

Re: Using Active speakers as the main amp.

Posted: April 6th, 2016, 4:46 am
by tuato
I know this is an old post but i'd like to share my experience with you. Long time ago i bought a POD XT, also i have a 100 wat marshall valvestate head and cabinet, the first time i plugged the pod xt into the marshall was one of the worst sounds i ever heard, after that, i tried through the fx loop of the amps head, but it didn't sound much better.... i was frustrated. Trying to get the best tone of my POD XT, one day i found the answer on the web. The FRFR systems, didn't know what it was or if it was for guitar, but a friend of mine has a couple of active monitors (jbl), i went to his pub and i plugged the guitar to the pod xt and to the monitors......... oh my god!!!! that was amazing!!! the pure tone of the POD XT from the first note, loud, and clear.

The reason is very simple, (now that i know it) the guitar amplifiers, PRODUCE sound, but the FRFR systems REPRODUCE, sound, so the pod xt has it's own sound, the celestion speakers have only 7Khz range, while the FRFR speakers have 20Khz or more, that's the main difference between that two systems of amplfication. i needed something to REPRODUCE that sound and the active monitors were the perfect choice. Someone could say...bah they are not look like a guitar amp, yes maybe, but the most important thing here is the SOUND, if it sounds good, it works.