tube amps vs amp sims

Tube Amps vs Amp Sims

Musicians aim for high-quality sound production. However, with current technology, there are many ways to do that. One example is real and simulation amps. Both provide good quality sounds, but each option has pros and cons.

Amp simulators produce tones similar to those of a real amp with additional sound options, convenience, and a more budget-friendly price range. This makes them ideal for recording. However, live amps are preferable for live concerts, as they are more expensive and less convenient, but provide more quality sound.

While this provides some basic information about real and simulation amps, there are also many other factors to consider. Read on to see whether a tube amp or an amp simulator would suit your style and fulfill your needs.

Everything You Should Know About Tube Amps

Even the best amp simulators don’t produce a sound as high-quality as a tube amp can provide its users. This is why tube amps are considered high-quality but come at a high price regarding time and actual cost.

Recordings vs Live Concerts

To record with a tube amp, there are a lot of things that you need to do to prepare a room or space to record in. This process involves a long and tedious process of adjusting small things to reach a point where the room’s acoustics can properly capture the guitar’s true sound.

Tube amps enhance the sound of a guitar extremely well. Many people notice the difference between the sound played through a tube amp and an amp simulator. Because of how clear the sound a tube amp produces is, they are ideal for live concerts and shows.

The amp needs to be plugged in before you play the guitar! You won’t need to change many settings to make your guitar sound wonderful. This saves performers and stage crews a lot of time. These amps are superior to amp simulators in terms of sound production.

Quality of Sound

Guitar amps have long been considered one of the best tools for strong and professional guitar performance. It wasn’t until the most recent versions of amp simulators were released that there was much competition for real amps on the market.

Tube amps use tubes to produce a strong and clear sound, which even the best amp sims struggle to simulate or replicate. Tube amps also produce the best sound at higher volumes, which is important when playing for a crowd. Professionals and amateurs alike will agree that tube amps produce a pure and next-level sound, making them the ideal choice for sound quality in a guitar amp.


Remember that tube amps can be very loud and are less than ideal when used in shared living spaces or quiet neighborhoods. They will likely harm your relationship with your roommates and neighbors if not used tactfully. This being said, it is another indication of why real amps are ideal for live performances, as they project the sound of guitars to a large crowd and maintain a high quality of sound.

Best Selling Tube Amps

SaleBestseller No. 2
Monoprice 5-Watt Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier (611705)
  • As the title indicates, this guitar amplifier features a 5-watt tube power amplifier and a Celestion brand speaker.
  • It uses a ECC83/12AX7 preamplification tube and a 6V6GT power tube for the amplifier section, plus a Celestion Super 8 GBA-15 speaker.
  • The amplifier handles frequencies between 80Hz and 10kHz, with hum and noise -75dB below the rated power and 0.5% total harmonic distortion.
  • It includes a Low input and a High input, with the former attenuating the signal by approximately 50% and the latter being easier to overdrive.
  • While tone is always debatable, the increased dynamic range and even-order harmonic distortion of tubes produces the better sound.
Bestseller No. 3
Douk Audio ST-01 PRO 200W Bluetooth Amplifier, 2 Channel Vacuum Tube Power Amp with USB DAC/Coaxial Optical Inputs/VU Meter/Treble Bass Control for Home Theater/Stereo Speakers (Upgrade Version)
  • Full Upgraded Version of ST-01: 1. Supports U-disk input to play lossless formats music. 2. Add sensitivity adjustment of VU meter on its bottom, easy to set and match better with different input signals. 3. Add three decorative golden circles around tubes and VU meter, looks more exquisite and luxury.
  • Unique and amazing combination: With VU meter into whole in such a mini size, the pointer dancing in the warm light with strong vintage feelings when enjoy HiFi music, dynamically decorates the audio system space.
  • HiFi clear sound with tone control: resonable circuit and concise wiring, adopts vacuum tubes to soften the sound and filter out the digital feelings, sounds warm and sweet without noise. Also with treble and bass knobs to adjust one’s own preferable sound styles, presents HiFi music with rousing highs and deep lows.
  • Strong output power and special AUX output: use TI’s classic power amp IC, each channel can output 100W(4Ω) and easily to drive all 3-8Ω passive speakers, adds 3.5mm AUX output easy to connect another amplifier or active speaker / subwoofer to build multiple channel system and enjoy wonderful home theater experience.
  • With multiple digital audio inputs: Bluetooth 5.0 / USB / Coaxial / Optical / stereo RCA, compatible with most audio device such as phones, computers, tablets, TVs, TV, CD players etc. The perfect combination of DAC and amplifier, very suitale for audiophiles who have various audio devices.
Bestseller No. 4
MUZISHARE X7 KT88 x4 Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier Push-Pull Power Amp MM Phono Tube Amplifier Balanced XLR 2022 Remote
  • MUZISHARE X7 Upgraded version. Upgraded the internal coupling capacitor, is the designer to debug the custom-made silver film capacitor, relative to the classic version of the extension, control, density is better.
  • MUZISHARE X7 is an integrated Amplifier. This is also a Power Amplifier (there is a group pre-amp input), a Headphone amplifier and this is a amplifier for Phono player too, direct link your phono player to this amplifier to output to speakers.
  • Pure Handmade,point to point hand welding using two high-quality wide-frequency high-quality Japanese EI output transformer using a high-power Z11 core toroidal power transformer dedicated designed for the machine , voltage amplification and promote are used tube 5AR4 for rectifier power supply.
  • Use 12AX7 and 12AU7 vacuum tube for voltage amplification and phase inversion,use KT88 vacuum tube to do AB1 push-pull power amplification; Mute delay function when turn on the amp(about 30 seconds) ;the choice of Japanese ALPS motor potentiometer
  • Provide Triode and Ultralinear selection function: Triode work mode. soft. pure and sleek. suitable for enjoying vocals. strings Music and other types of music; Ultralinear work. the sound of open. unrestrained. the momentum is good. for large scenes. large dynamic type of music. Peripheral power tube current adjustment knob and current display meter. With pure power amplifier features. can be linked the pre-amp signal input. with the phono function. can be connected to the Phono player
Bestseller No. 5
Willsenton R8 KT88/EL34 x4 Tube Amplifier Integrated AMP Power Amplifier Headphone Replaceable Basic Meter (Black)
  • The model currently on sale is the New Model upgraded in December 2023.
  • One amplifier can used wiht tube EL34, KT88 or 6550, so, you can get 3 kinds of sound from different models tubes. The default matching tubes of this machine is KT88. If you need another 2 new sets of tube, please purchase in addition. There is a Red selection button on the Back of the amp to switch.
  • Can be used as an Integrated amplifier, power amplifier or Headphone amplifier. Pure hand-made, the whole machine is welded with scaffolding.
  • Triode and ultra-linear selection are available, which can be switched by the button on the amplifier. With a remote control,Vacuum tube protective cover,Fuse and an English manual.
  • We recommend that you spend 100-300 hours to RUN-IN this amplifier to get a better sound. Generally, you could get a better and stable sound after 100 hours, and you could get the best sound after accumulating more than 300 hours.

Are Amp Simulators Good Substitutes For Tube Amplifiers?

It may seem like real and tube amps are so good that there may be no point in purchasing an amp simulator. That is where you are wrong. While it is true that the sound quality of an amp sim is not as clear and precise as that of a real or tube amp. There are many things amp simulators have to offer, many of which are benefits not found when you use a tube amp.

Sound Quality

Amp simulators were not very high-quality products when they were first released. It was painfully apparent that the amp in use was a simulator simply by the quality alone. However, the sound produced by the newest amp sim models on the market shows that the quality is nearly comparable to that of a true or real tube amplifier.

In some cases, many people won’t even be able to recognize the difference between a recording made with a real amplifier and one recorded with an amp simulator. However, skilled guitarists and professionals who are extremely familiar with the sound of each amplifier can still distinguish between the two rather well. At lower volumes, especially when other instruments are being played in a recording, it will be much more difficult to tell when an amp sim is being used than a tube amp.

Product Gain for Price

Amp simulators come at various prices ranging from as little as $50 to several thousand dollars. This is convenient for buyers, as it allows those with a large or small budget to afford an amplifier that can do the job for them, even if these amps perform at a different level than tube amps.

A quality amp will generally cost around $100-$1000. One large upside to purchasing an amp sim is that amp simulators produce an incredibly large variety of sounds in addition and have the same effects as an average simulator. This means you are paying this price for a simulator and receiving dozens of other sound options!

Transportation and Compactness

Another upside to having an amp simulator is that they take up considerably less space and are much easier to move and transport than tube amps. It is much more reasonable to bring a laptop and an audio interface from place to place for performances and practice than to haul around a tube amp. This means anyone who plays many shows, has limited rehearsal space or moves their equipment around regularly would likely appreciate an amp simulator more than a tube amp.

Best Selling Amp Simulators

Bestseller No. 1
Skar Audio RP-1200.1D Monoblock Class D MOSFET Amplifier with Remote Subwoofer Level Control, 1200W
  • Class D MOSFET Monoblock Power Amplifier
  • Peak Power at 1 Ohm: 1,600 Watts | RMS Power at 1 Ohm: 1,200 Watts
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 250Hz, On-board Bass EQ Switch with +6 or +12dB boost at 45Hz
  • Featuring 4-Way Protection Circuitry and 4 Gauge Power & Ground Input Terminals for Maximum Current Flow. Damping Factor – 150<
  • Stable at 1 ohm | Remote Subwoofer Level Control Included
Bestseller No. 2
JOYO American Sound Amp Simulator Pedal of Fd 57 Deluxe Amplifier from Clean to Overdrive Sound for Electric Guitar Effect – Bypass (JF-14)
  • JOYO American Sound guitar effect pedal reproduces the sound of Fd 57 Deluxe amp, performs great sound from clean to driven and everywhere in between which can simulate lots of amplifiers.
  • Level and Drive controls add incredible range, with it’s full 3 band EQ and voice knob you can easily dial in any tone you can think of. Adjust for shaping EQ and overdrive response, it can simulate many kinds of Amps.
  • The sound you hear on the 60’s surf classics, as well as the country and rockabilly hits from the 50’s is the classic fenders clean sound. whole aluminium-alloy housing classic stoving varnish finish, stable and strong.
  • JOYO is over decade of brand reputation, with the most popular budget pedals, amplifiers, wireless systems, controllers, metronomes, tuners winning the love of global guitarists and inspiring people’s music dreams.
  • Before playing, please make sure the guitar is fully connected with the pedal. in order to make JOYO pedals work properly and avoiding unexpected noise, we recommend you to purchase an extra JOYO original power adapter and audio cable, or choose the other reliable brands and make sure it meets the working current requirement of single pedal.
Bestseller No. 3
Boss IR-200 Amp and IR Cabinet Pedal
  • Guitar Amplifier Simulat Impulse Response Loader Pedal
SaleBestseller No. 4
JOYO Cabinet Modeling and Power Amp Simulator Effect Pedal Supports Third Party IRs Loading for Electric Guitar & Bass (Cab-Box R-08)
  • JOYO CAB BOX is a cabinet modeling pedal, with IR loading supported. It has 4 tube power amp simulations, 20 cabinet models and 11 classic microphone models.
  • It has more interface, much bigger screen with more buttons compared with rival’s similar products, it’s quite user-friendly, regarding the IR, apart from 20 preset loading locations, it also supports storing 10 third party IRs.
  • Ability connect to the PC through the USB, and use the matching software to edit tones and update firmware, load or delete third party IRs, supports both Windows/Mac OS. 128 tone store positions, supporting MIDI controlled devices changing tone real time. It can connect to amp’s FX LOOP or other devices for stereo output.
  • JOYO is over decade of brand reputation, provide worry-free after-sale service. with the most popular budget pedals, amplifiers, wireless systems, controllers, metronomes, tuners winning the love of global guitarists and inspiring people’s music dreams.
  • Before playing, please make sure the guitar is fully connected with the pedal. in order to make JOYO pedals work properly and avoiding unexpected noise, we recommend you to purchase an extra JOYO original power adapter, or choose the other reliable brands and make sure it meets the working current requirement of single pedal.
Bestseller No. 5
Two Notes Opus Amp Simulator and DynIR Engine Pedal
  • Guitar Multi-effects Pedal with Power Amp Modeling
  • Preamp Modeling
  • DynIR Engine
  • 99 Presets
  • Bluetooth

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