Modeler/mfx AND midi controller under $500

josefvin

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Hi all, I'm sure there's been a thousand variations on this, and all the research I have done has been helpful to narrow down the list a bit. But I'm getting down to making a final decision on a unit, or a couple units for the following:

A) General multi effects unit that would be my primary amp/cab modeling, and effects, for jams, live use and home recording. I play a lot of styles, from high gain prog to ambient, classic rock, funk, jazz, etc.

B) Midi controller that could ...also be used to control primary amp/cab modeling, effects software for the same (via some other unit, or ipad/computer)

C) Under $500 w/ tax, shipping

I have a cheap PA and a solid state fender (deluxe 112) that have enough power, and I like the sound for basic cleans (fender has an fx loop as well so it can essentially be a power amp + cab for an mfx unit). Also have Bias and other apps on the ipad, but nothing really on the PC other than some freeware. I have an RP50, lol.

I've narrowed it down to:

1) POD HD500x Or even an HD500 (~$2-300 used) GASP! Yeah, they're old, but...
Pros:
- Seems to be pretty well proven. Lots of tips and tricks and good feedback out there over the years.
- Very capable as a midi controller on it's own, so plus for being all in one.
- Cheap, leaving room to add things to fill in gaps

Cons:
- Clearly weaker modeling/dsp by today's standards. But I know these can be made to sound good. I am not a tone snob, there is always a better unit in a couple years. And I have the option to use software as well (I have a bunch of ipad stuff, and would consider buying some more high end software). Plus, with leftover $$ pickup things like an IR loader pedal to run after, or simply a behringer GDI (hey, Ola proved it is badass), etc etc.
- Noticeable gap between presets with no trails. But I feel like I could potentially live with these
- Supposed to be hard to use. I have seen some videos with operating, and it seems a bit of a pain from the unit itself, but the software looks pretty good. I am a technical guy and can get over that hump though.

2) Behringer FCB1010 + Headrush MX5 ($150 + $399)
Pros:
- Probably considerably better sounding
- Love the gapless preset switching and delay/verb trails but I can probably live without that.
- Looks like it's nice and simple to operate
- Killer looper

Cons:
- Slightly out of budget, but I can make do with the Behringer + software for a while whilst saving
- Maybe fewer built in effects and amps, but I don't need tons, just a few solid ones. I do like having extra crazy stuff, but there's always software for that.
- HR is brand new (I guess the software has been around quite some time now, but the unit itself is relatively unproven)

For an all in 1 unit comparable to the Pod, most of them I have see don't do midi, or don't do it well (or they're very expensive). So 2 options, ranging from probably $250-600ish including tax and shipping. What would you choose? Or do you have another suggestion? Maybe I should get the POD and save up for like, a Helix LT over time, or something next gen whenever that is?
 
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budda

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500USD?

Does the Boss GT series do midi? Make a wtb fractal ax8 and see if anyone bites?
 

josefvin

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Yeah, USD. From what I have seen the GT-100 does a little bit of midi but not as well as the POD, and in other areas the POD seems better to me, but I'm happy to talk that out if you think I'm crazy.
 

josefvin

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The Hotone looks pretty cool. Definitely smaller, more modular than the Behringer. I like the bluetooth, but I've also seen people use BT midi adaptors with the Behringer! And I noticed the Hotone has a momentary switch extension, but the Behringer can do it also with the UNO chip I think. Something to consider though, thanks!
 

josefvin

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Thanks I would have never known this unit existed. I'm not looking for a rack mounted thing though.

Still kind of feeling like the HD500X is hard to fault, except maybe for absolute tone quality and some nice to have features compared to more expensive stuff (but I expect that). But the POD has a few of it's own (Variax integration) etc

The mod devices look cool but I have run some of that stuff on my linux laptop, there's a project for setting up a Mod Duo emulator which runs on a raspberry pi https://blokas.io/modep/. Love this kind of stuff. Sure it won't have the same DSP as the Duo most likely, but the same sounds are in there. Could control it with an HD500X as well.

The last piece of the puzzle I'm trying to figure out is the amp. But I can experiment between my cheap PA, fender, and drum amp. Will probably pick up a bass amp at some point (I need a bigger one) and that might sound good with the POD too. Always the direct option at a show.
 
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josefvin

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For MIDI controller consider the new Hotone Ampero Control MIDI Foot Controller, $119 on Amazon and looks packed, even has Bluetooth and Dedicated Mobile App..

https://www.hotoneaudio.com/products/controlers/Ampero Control

So, I ended up buying the Hotone! Why? The price is right, and it has midi over DIN, usb and bluetooth so it should be compatible with all my things, a bit cheaper than the behringer (especially with a bluetooth midi adapter for ipad and an uno chip) and expandable. Looks easier to use. I am setting up a raspberry pi I have with MODEP so it should be functional as an effects unit and a halfway decent amp sim. Otherwise, I'll use my ipad, laptop or my old digitech RP. None of this cost too much so I'll simply save up for a more expensive unit like a Headrush or Helix, if I need it.

Thanks for the advice.
 

josefvin

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Mini review: I got the ampero control in the mail yesterday. And I got MODEP set up on my raspberry pi.

AMPERO CONTROL:

Assigning midi to work with the ipad was slightly more work than I expected, but it seems to work well. So far I haven't been able to get midi over bluetooth working, at least in Bias FX, despite that the ipad is paired via BT to the controller to configure it with the app. But no big deal. The Ampero has several presets/templates for midi settings for various things like Kemper, Helix, and Bias.

The unit is solidly built. It can do a lot seemingly, sending out midi over BT, midi-DIN and USB separately if desired. So one could dream up a scenario where you have different midi messages going to 3 different things, up to 16 messages with 1 stomp. Pretty cool! Going to take some time to figure out all the mappings I like, but that's unavoidable I guess!

---

MODEP:

I got this working on my raspberry pi 3B. Highly recommend anyone try it out! The Pi 4 (latest one) is pretty cheap and actually is superior to the original mod device, the Mod Duo (the Duo X is the newer one) - which costs about 10x more (before considering a case, midi controller etc, so more like ~5 times being generous). Then there is the mod dwarf which is somewhere in between.

It is also roughly comparable to the Duo X spec wise, with some pros and cons for each. Technical comparison here: https://forum.moddevices.com/t/how-does-the-mod-duo-x-compare-to-the-raspberry-pi-4/4623. I can simply plug a rocksmith cable into the pi, and headphone out to an amp or pa, or headphones of course. Pretty nice for free software running on a cheap box I've had sitting around for a few years. A real audio interface would be better than the rocksmith cable of course.

The amp sounds are not the absolute best around, but there is some very nice stuff to be had here. The coolest part of MOD/MODEP is the great list of high quality effects, routable any way you want with the only limit being the hardware of the machine you choose to run it on. Not to mention it's capabilities as a very solid synth, or essentially vst (lv2) host. I have not yet connected the Ampero to the pi, but that's planned soon. Running into the front or loop of an amp, you have a very nice selection of tones for a very small cost.

Between the Ampero, Ipad, MODEP, laptop, and the few dedicated effects and amps I have, I think I have the bases pretty much covered for some time to come.
 
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GustavoGP

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Great you got the ampero control and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will buy it in the near future for a pedalboard with some pedals connected to a MIDI Loop Switch controlled by a Disaster Area DMC.micro and a Zoom G6 Multi-FX. Yeah, the Disaster Area DMC.micro is a midi controller, but with the hotone i'm planning to leave the pedalboard and G6 on the desk/sofa/bed for tweaking and only the hotone on the floor going to the DMC.micro via USB sending all the midi needed to control everything, also because the Zoom G6 needs to receive a CC message every four presets for bank change and with the DMC.micro is kind of tricky to do that.
 

josefvin

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MODEP has a very nice and easy midi connection as well. Maybe it was because I already set things up for Bias mobile, but I just plugged into the pi and midi learn worked right away. Super easy to assign midi controls to any parameter of anything pretty much. The harmonizers/pitch shifters are really good.
 

hvdh

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The new Hotone Ampero 2 Stomp will be under 500 dollares.
Here some "leaked" specs
Schermafbeelding 2021-09-13 om 15.41.03.png
 

josefvin

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The new Hotone Ampero 2 Stomp will be under 500 dollares.
Here some "leaked" specs
View attachment 97653

Thats cool, I'm happy with the ampero Control though. Can take it and use it for any PC software, or any other midi-capable floor unit that lacks buttons.

Anybody on a budget who isn't looking for the absolute latest and greatest in AMP sims ought to be looking at MODEP or Mod Devices. I call out amp sims, because that's where the proprietary stuff offers the most value IMO. But with modeling tech, we're at a point of seriously diminishing returns. Mod's amp's are good, not the strongest out there, but neither are Hotone's. Or Mooer's, or Zoom's, or ... They mostly all sound good with IRs or through real cabs. The effects and routing capabilities of the Mod stuff is excellent, better than most things at any price point. The price point is the best value out there IMO, if you are willing to put a small amount of effort into the setup.

Mod stuff can match pretty much all of the Hotone specs (not sure the total number of amps and effects, but it is a lot) with no restrictions on number of simultaneous effects, and easily able to do more than 2 effects chains using as many splitters as your cpu can handle. And it functions as a very capable set of synths, sequencers and more. For ... literally $50 - fifty dollars, if you wanna be cheap (or less if you look around).

Okay, it's $50 plus an interface, and you probably want at least a ~$10 case, but there is no other deal comparable nonetheless (Maybe the Zoom modeler pedals, but those don't have foot controls, and are comparatively crippled in the routing department, etc). You may (probably) want foot switches. Many people already have an audio interface, midi foot controller or both. In that case, under $100 gets you into a really solid system then.

I'm going to pimp mine out and spend about $200 on a stronger raspberry pi 4 + pisound and a specialized case:
https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-4-model-b/ ($50 for the cheapest one which is fine, or up to $90 for the strongest model, plus power adapter)
https://blokas.io/pisound (purpose built audio interface + a case that wraps the pi and pisound)
plus the ampero control I already bought for $120.
Expression pedal ~$50
Total: under $400

Alternatively, a used mod Duo or mod Dwarf (all 3 options have essentially the same software in different physical forms) for maybe a bit more money, but a more put-together product.

Unless you are allergic to basic software configuration in which case you probably shouldn't be using a modeler in the first place, or if you need the latest and greatest.

Just one guy's opinion. Probably nobody listening though ;)
 
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ElRay

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@josefvin How's the MODEP stuff working for you? I have a spare 8G Pi4 and this sounds like a cool way to go for an "effects only stereo effects loop". I can use either my existing PreSonous, or get the PiSound board.

In your digging around, have you come across anything on using an Argon40 NANOSOUND case?
 

josefvin

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@josefvin How's the MODEP stuff working for you? I have a spare 8G Pi4 and this sounds like a cool way to go for an "effects only stereo effects loop". I can use either my existing PreSonous, or get the PiSound board.

In your digging around, have you come across anything on using an Argon40 NANOSOUND case?
I have no experience with the nanosound. It looks like it might work, depends on if JACK picks it up as an audio interface or not (at least when it comes to seamlessly working with MODEP)

I can report I really like the pisound case as a solution, it works really nicely and does what I want. Continually impressed with the routing options and power this thing has, like very accurate polyphonic pitch shifting which by itself in pedal form costs at least as much as this whole pisound solution.

Give it a try!
 

josefvin

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My only gripe with the pisound is both trs jacks are on the same side so it tends to tilt over since the unit weighs so little. You could weigh it down or Velcro it though.
 

bostjan

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I kicked around the idea of getting the PiSound a couple years ago, but, at the time, I wasn't aware of any sort of killer ap for it.

I haven't been able to get my hands on a Pi4, since they are essentially unobtainium here in the USA. I have a couple Pi3's, an A+, and a ton of different Zeros. If they ever do release an amp sim, though, I bet it'll be a bit much for the Pi3. If some supergenius programmer in the guitar community decides to integrate amp sims directly into the operating system, a la RetroPi, then I'll be all over this, but I don't have the technological knowhow nor the time to even attempt starting that sort of project.
 

budda

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If you just want effects and midi, fractal fx8?
 

josefvin

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I kicked around the idea of getting the PiSound a couple years ago, but, at the time, I wasn't aware of any sort of killer ap for it.

I haven't been able to get my hands on a Pi4, since they are essentially unobtainium here in the USA. I have a couple Pi3's, an A+, and a ton of different Zeros. If they ever do release an amp sim, though, I bet it'll be a bit much for the Pi3. If some supergenius programmer in the guitar community decides to integrate amp sims directly into the operating system, a la RetroPi, then I'll be all over this, but I don't have the technological knowhow nor the time to even attempt starting that sort of project.

That is exactly what patchbox is/modep is, pretty much RetroPie but for amp sims and pedalboards (plus other stuff like synths.

I run mine on a pi3 currently, it can absolutely do an amp sim and several effects. Some effects take more power than others (like pitch shifting) so it does run out at some point but it is very doable.

If you would like any clarification or assistance I'd be happy to walk you through setting it up. You do need an audio interface, pisound happens to be made for this purpose but almost any will do. I used a Rocksmith cable successfully before this but it only recognized it as an input and I had to do some technical stuff to get it to route output correctly (since the Rocksmith cable is input only).
 


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