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Little black box full of tones - NUX MG-400 pedalboard modeling amp

Started by joecool85, October 21, 2022, 04:39:49 PM

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NUX has released the MG-400 modelling amp and interface.  It can also function as a looper, drum machine, and custom display.  If you're interested in software amps, this may well be the least expensive way to get in over your head with options.

MSRP of EUR 239 (about $235 USD)

Life is what you make it.
Still rockin' the Dean Markley K-20X


I checked the link,,  Humm???
well Except for one, all the video demos are about metal sounds which of course is fine for the younger gens,, oh sure I'm getting old but there are still some of us who actually play live and play tunes,songs and melodies. NOT just scales.

Without Melody music is just Noise. (Rant below)

My old fart brain is leading to this observation;

Yes there is a place for this stuff,, sure in a studio or in your room it's great to experiment and I urge folks to do that but it's only one part of a very complex
You can spend hours tweaking all the parameters at home thinking you have dialed in tone nirvana only to find on stage it becomes a mind numbing blur of noise.
Sadly most of them you can't instantly tweak on the fly in the middle of your well practiced lead break. :-X

I've watched this disaster unfold many times on stage to players who use all in one pedal boards. What sounded fantastic at home often sounds crap on stage.

Which is why I have learned to use basic pedals into flat response Amps.
My rig is bandwidth limited to remove all the Hi Freq hash which is nearly always present, especially in digital gear.
Players having heard me singing/playing on stage, (often younger ones) ask me why they can't dial a decent tone like mine?

Simple answer; You have Way too Much Bandwidth.

I have here an old RP200 all in one digital pedal unit that I scoured for a few dollars.
I spent a few days trying to coax something useful but nothing was gleaned from all my tweaking. I have repaired many of these types of pedals so I know what to expect.
Interestingly I ran it through my Phabbtone and Analog cab sim box and it did improve the result. So even with all the digi fancy pants amp/cabsims there was way to much hash. (read below, rant on guitar bandwidth)

Sadly that RP200 unit is all about distortion and very little chance of pulling a touch sensitive response from that unit.
Of course the RP stuff is old tech now and there is much improved gear now.
But still I've not seen/heard the newer stuff pull of the touch sensitive trick that well. I'm sure the Kemper and like are vastly better but I'll never have the money for that. ::)

So for me I only need about 3 or 4 sounds which I can access on the fly.
The occasional tap tempo on the echo and a tweak to the tone is all that is needed
I use 3 OD pedals so one on gives a little triode rattle, 2 on gives a driven sound ,3 on gives the fat distortion. The Gain knobs on all 3 OD's are only dialed at around 9,10 O'clock. This gives a far better transition from clean to full Distortion.
I've found that using one Dirt pedal to "Do I All" has never worked well for me, you need to build it with a few units.

Rant on Bandwidth;
Learn to understand your instrument.
the low E string is around 82Hz, top open E is 328Hz, top E 12th fret is 656Hz,
If you have 24Frets then the highest note that can be played is 1,312Hz.
So ~95% of every sound produced is below 1,000Hz (1kHz)
So double that for some harmonic content you have 2,524Hz,, and again for sibilance you have around 5kHz, which is the outer limit and hardly useful for 90% of the time.

Now if all you want to do is strum a few chords through a super clean Amp then 20/20 bandwidth might sound half decent. But the moment you want OD/Distortion then the game DRAMATICALLY changes. Even with light OD  all that excess harmonic content is just full of crud/Hash that will destroy any hope of note definition and clarity.

I have found with a lot of Amps/Gear when you turn up the treble, you also get a lot of hifreq boost way above the 1,2 an 3kHz. which defeats the goal.
This is why I depend on my analog Cab circuit, anything above 4kHz is dramatically suppressed. So now when I turn up my treble pot it is only boosting that 1kHz to 3Khz and everything above that is effectively not heard.
Tweaking the "Whole System Tone" in this manner goes a long way to resolving what for the Average player with little TRUE understanding of tone shaping becomes a never ending search, often emptying there bank account and still not finding meaningful results. 

In the older Valve amps, (Note I said older) the circuits "By Design" rolled off a lot of hifreq crud so when they distorted they were not so harsh on the ears.

As I have come to understand this can be done with SS gear,, in my case relatively cheaply.

       You can learn every scale until your fingers melt but without Melody it's just notes that become a blur of noise. and annoys Mum. >:(
Tiss good if you learn scales but don't ever loose sight of the Melody
Chaps like Joe Satriani are examples,, a true master of how to use those scales to enhance the song but they always lead back to the main melody. Listen to "Always With Me, Always With You" and "Surfing with the Alien" as example.

**A simple FACT;
Melody, is how we remember Songs,, Few will be able to remember all the fancy scales you spent years learning,, but they will instantly remember a tune, even years later.**

Well that's enough from me today,, hope it helps someone out there in this over tecked up industry that often does not deliver.


I've been curious recently, how important is it to trim low end freq vs high end?  My guess is that low end typically isn't the issue, but high end "hash" as you call it.  I'm also curious how this Nux unit does.  I have a Positive Grid Spark Mini that I've been enjoying.  Some of the models are pretty amazing, and others are...well, available.
Life is what you make it.
Still rockin' the Dean Markley K-20X


Hi Joe,
Yes, trimming the hi Freq is critical to getting a good sound and it's more than one might assume.

If it helps, "mictester" (Member on FSB) posted a circuit called "Really Smooth Overdrive" (RSO) which I breadboard tested which pretty much kills anything above 1kHz,, (IIRC).

With big fat humbuckers you will instantly recognize the signature sound of guys like Santana.

You should be able to read this without being a member if not I'll ask Mic if I can repost it here.

Only down side, it was a bit noisy due to the 3 series 100k resistors (I think) but that was on the open BBoard so maybe in a box it might be better.
You will most likely need a tone stack Pre or post the circuit to get the best out of it.

With regards to low end cut,,, well if you have an Amp with a lot of headroom then likely you will have little problems but with small low wattage practice amps or anything that has a less than ideal power supply then you have the issue of the bass farting out at higher volumes due to the simple reality that bass frequencies require a lot of power/ current to stay clean.

The first vid on that MG400 link by "Sophie Burrel' You can hear the hi freq crud spitting in and out on some of the notes in some of the riffs (Especially the first one).  This is the whole reason why I hate those kind of pedals.
The spitting is very similar to grid blocking distortion in Valve rigs where the sound actually cuts off for a few Millie seconds.
I honestly can't understand how one could possibly enjoy trying to play screaming riffs with that happening.

I understand metal players seem to like that edgy stuff but to my ears you loose note definition and hence clarity it just becomes a blur of buzzy annoying sound.
that pedal would be ok if you wipe off the hifreq and fix the that cutting out issue then I'd think about trying one out.

My rig (which I just posted a video about) can do heavy metal if I wanted to do so and it does not spit or splutter,, each note holds and sustains perfectly with Really Smooth Distortion. Hey I might even try to do another short demo with it on full,, but life is full up for the next few weeks.

I have an old Digiteck RP200 and I spent many hours trying to dial in anything worth using and found some of the modulations were useful but most of the cabs/Amps sims where just totally annoying buzz saws.
I did send the output into my PhAbbTone and analog cab sim and it did kill off the extreme HiFreq Hash. my cab sim setup kills the hi at around 3.5kHz.
IMExperience A lot of those cheaper modeling pedals go way past 5kHz.