“Yeah yeah yeah, that’s great and all, but why do I need a Radar?”
To me, it provides solutions two major problems: silent recording and consistent live sound reinforcement. But how do you get sound from your rig to the recording desk or live sound PA? Here are the best options I’ve come up with:
1. Using a load box/attenuator between your amp and speaker with a line out. I use a Weber Mini Mass, which has a line-out, but there are other load boxes and attenuators out there. The cheapest I’ve found is the Bugera PS-1 power soak. The main thing is to always make sure you have a load on your tube amps, so be careful with this method. But if you use this method, you can turn the Power Amp Simulation off. This allows you to have your actual amp as you would use it, but with the speaker and mic consistent.
2. If you’re not using your effects loop on your amp for effects, you can use the effects send jack on the amp and send it to the Radar. This essentially is using your amp for a preamp and using the Radar for power amp, cab, and mic simulation. Major caveat here: if you still want to hear your amp’s speaker, you have to have a parallel effects loop so an unaffected signal still goes from your preamp to your poweramp. If you want to silence your amp’s speaker for silent recording, then a series effects loop will do that trick. Or, the preamp on some amps will still work when the amp is on standby mode, so you can simply just leave your amp in standby mode and achieve silent recording that way.
This is how I recorded this video:
3. Running the headphone out of your amp into the Radar. I’ll caveat this with it all depends on how well the headphone out sounds. A lot of manufacturers will say the headphone out has “speaker emulation,” which is really just an EQ filter applied to the sound and it still sounds like a can of bees. This is especially true on older amps. If you want to just jam through headphones or use your amp to record silently, this is a way to make the headphone out from your amp sounds pretty darn good. Or some amps have a dedicated XLR of an “emulated out,” in which case you would have to use a XLR to 1/4″ adapter to plug it into the Radar. Caveat on this method: most amps will silent the speaker when something is plugged into the headphone out, so it may not work if you still want to hear your amp’s speaker. Also, a headphone jack will have a hotter output than an instrument line signal, so it can overdrive the input of the Radar. You can get away with turning the power amp simulation off for this setup.
This is how I recorded this video:
4. Alot of amps have just a “line out.” My Mesa Boogie .22 Studio+ (and a lot of Boogies) have a direct out on the back of the amp that is post-power amp, and also has it’s own level control. My cheapo little Marshall Valvestate 8020 and Peavey Studio Pro also have line out jacks, which are post power-amp. These are good audio sources to send to the Radar for live sound reinforcement, but usually do not allow for silent recording unless you have a load box on your amp. That is how I recorded this video with my Marshall Valvestate 8020:
5. Or, you can put it at the end of your pedalboard and run your pedals straight into the Radar. Using a combination of the EQ and the Power Amp simulation, you can get a pretty darn good tone that really lets your pedals do the work. This is a good way to practice using the headphone out. If you want to use this method for live performance, you’ll need to either have your guitar come through a full range monitor on stage or have a stereo effect pedal at the end of your pedalboard. A stereo effect, such as a chorus, will have two outputs, even if you don’t have the pedal engaged, send one signal to the Radar (which can go to the PA) and the other signal to an amp on stage. Plugging pedals directly into the Radar is how I recorded this video:
(full disclosure, that’s an affiliate link, if you buy one through that link, you help support this blog and it doesn’t cost you an extra penny!)