SPL Transducer Bear DE
New Castle, DE
BUILT BY RENOWNED GERMAN PRO AUDIO manufacturer Sound Performance Lab, the Transducer ($1,499 retail/$1,349 street) is an all-analog speaker simulator that essentially takes the place of your speaker cabinet and the microphone used to capture your amp’s sound when recording or performing live. You still play through both the preamp and power amp sections of your amplifier (each critical to tone), but instead of driving a speaker, your amp’s speaker output drives the Transducer, which lets you shape the sound in various ways before it is output as the line-level audio signals required to feed recorders and sound reinforcement systems. (There’s also a Speaker Thru output that allows you to use the Transducer and your speaker cabinet at the same time.)
Rather than providing specific speaker cabinet and microphone emulations, the Transducer’s three knobs and four switches let you control key variables in the signal chain. The Speaker Action control simulates speaker cone response to increased output level—from minimal (clean) to maximum (raspy)—while switches let you choose either Open or Closed cabinet, and Sparky (alnico) or Mellow (ceramic) magnet types. Similarly, the Miking Level control mimics the gain control on a mic preamp, while switches let you select either a Condenser or Dynamic microphone type, and Close or Ambient miking distance. The Output Gain control serves as a master volume in most applications.
I say “most” applications because the Transducer’s multiple output types and their associated controls provide lots of options other than simply plugging the unit into a mixer input. For example, the Pre Simulator Out signal is taken directly from the power soak at a fixed level, bypassing the speaker simulator, and may be used to feed another amp, effects processors, etc. And the Mic Level Output may be used to feed a microphone preamp at whatever level the Miking Level control is set to. You can also use the dual Line Outputs to feed front-of-house and stage-monitor mixes simultaneously.
I tested the Transducer using a Rivera Venus 6 combo and several guitars, including a PRS Custom 24, a 1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom, and a Gibson 1960 Les Paul Special reissue (with P-90s). Output was monitored on JBL LSR28P powered monitors and AKG K240 headphones via a MOTU 828mkII interface. I tested the Speaker Thru function using a Rivera 1x12 extension cab.
The Transducer’s controls are relatively straightforward, but they are also highly interactive, and you’ll need to experiment to get optimal performance out of the unit. (The manual includes 17 sample settings with names such as “2x12 Black Face” and “4x12 Plexi Greenback,” all of which make good starting points while learning your way around.)
I happen to really like the sound of my amp’s Celestion G12H speaker, so the first thing I did was to attempt to approximate it. The Venus 6’s clean channel possesses extraordinary highend presence and clarity, and no matter how I set the Transducer’s cont...