Sansamp GT2 Guitar Amp Simulator
From the user's point of view, the SansAmp concept is delightfully simple, in that it allows a realistic, miked up guitar amp sound to be DI'd straight to tape Tech 21, the makers of the SansAmp, claim that the GT2, which is significantly cheaper than the original SansAmp, doesn't replace it but rather offers a simpler product with marginally less flexibility. Because the miniature DIP switch bank of the original has gone, I found the newer GT2 far easier to use and capable of producing a very wide range of very attractive sounds.
Physically, the GT2 resembles a fuzz box, with four knobs and a mechanical stomp switch. Closer inspection reveals three further three-way slide switches, and though the unit does operates from the ubiquitous 9V battery, it can be run from a mains adaptor. Controls are simple — Level, High and Low EQ and Drive, very much like an overdrive pedal or fuzz box. However, the additional switches are the key to the unit's versatility, as they enable the user to design a 'virtual' guitar amp and miking system to suit any instrument or playing style. The switch labelled Amp may be set to California, British or Tweed which roughly equates to Boogie, Marshall or Fender. The Mod switch then allows this amp to be used Clean, Hi Gain or Hot Wired (a sort of 'high gain' High Gain!) Finally, the Mic switch determines how the speaker simulator section will process the sound, with choices of Centre or Off Axis close miking, or Classic distance miking. The final control is the footswitch, which functions as a Bypass, a red LED showing when the GT2 is-active.
SansAmp's circuitry is based on a FET implementation of both preamp and power amp stages, including a push-pull output stage, though the actual power output is very small. The output from this miniature power stage is then fed though a speaker simulator which is, in effect, an electronic filter designed to emulate the mechanical characteristics of a typical guitar speaker cab. Tested with both single coil and humbucking pickups, the SansAmp GT2 sounds superb. The heavily overdriven sounds have plenty of second harmonic content to make them sing and sustain, yet they also cut through aggressively without sounding thin or raspy. Power chords sound loud and solid while the overall responsiveness invites the kind of pyrotechnic playing normally associated with a valve amp on full overdrive and a speaker on the edge of destruction. Lesser overdriven sounds are convincing too, a weak area for many of SansAmp's competitors, and there's even a reasonable range of clean sounds to be had.
The different amp types do sound quite distinct from each other and are good first approximations to the amplifiers they purport to emulate. Similarly, the Mod and Mic placement switch settings have a profound influence on the overall sound, the Classic Mic setting being the most penetrating and the off-axis being the most mellow.
This is an excellent, electrically quiet unit which I would have no hesitation in recommending for serious recording. Its forte is overdriven sounds rather than clean ones, but is is flexible, easy to use and far more approachable than the original model. I already own at least three different types of valve and solid state recording guitar preamps, some costing well in excess of this one, but the GT2 stands comparison with any of them.
Sansamp GT2 £142 including VAT.
Klondyke Ltd, (Contact Details).
Review by Paul White
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