I think we’re at a good time in the cycle of many product concepts. So many instruments and other assorted pieces of gear that we buy are, in essence, music creation tools that you could have purchased decades ago. But with half a lifetime’s worth of competition in the marketplace, if a manufacturer can’t make a major jump in aural fidelity then the alternative is to innovate with functionality. Either way, you have to stand out.
That’s a roundabout way of saying that the engineering on Mesa/Boogie’s new CabClone guitar cabinet simulator is clever. Like, a pack of velociraptors hunting in Jurassic Park clever. That’s not to say it doesn’t sound great. From the clips I’m pretty impressed, but Mesa isn’t taking chances and wants to wow you with usability atop of great tone. Even the handle at the bottom doubles as a means of raising the chassis over an amplifier’s handle. This passive, as in no electricity needed, unit can handle your amplifier’s output load, up to 100 wats. That means that you can record silently with no cab connected- usually a fast route to blowing your output transformer. However, there is a speaker thru jack if you want the best of both worlds, which will be useful if you plan to use the CabClone in a live setting.
There’s a phase invert switch, a crucial feature that any kind of signal splitter should be mandated to have by law. It will be especially useful if you’re not just using the balanced D.I. into a recorder or live sound board, but also using the line out into a power amp and/or effects unit. For example, maybe you want a wet/dry setup for delay but your power amp flips your waveforms 180 degrees. Hit that phase switch and your problem is solved. Rounding out the features are a ground lift and a closed/open/vintage voicing selector.
Mesa/Boogie uploaded an overview video as well as separate low, mid, and high gain clips, all which I’ve embedded below. There’s no word on a definite release date, but the first batch goes into construction at the company’s Petaluma, CA plant on July 14th. The Mesa Hollywood online store lists the price as $299. The demo video also has some lively Q&A with a company rep, so for once I’m going to recommend that you actually read the comments on YouTube. This may be a sign of the end times.