"Amp in a box" direct to studio monitors/PA?

Yes, I had a couple of reasons for this purchase. We had a pre-covid plan for some backyard bashes. I was also playing at a venue with a PA system and wanted to work through some different rigs. Still a nice thing to have – and again I think a smarter purchase (for me) than a higher powered amp.

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I always looked at it like this… a guitar speaker is designed to “create the sound” where as a PA or monitors are designed to “reproduce a sound”.

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Interesting and informative as always.

It might not be for everyone, but it’s a great option for some.



Yes, but the idea is that a cab and speaker emulator can be used to create the sound of any cab and speaker (and amp) you want.

I practice, that tends to be “the recorded sound of any amp/can/speaker you want” which is different from an amp in the room with you.



The guys are right that the MXR 5150 will not sound well connected directly to a PA. It should be plugged into for example:

  • Real amp played through a guitar cabinet.
  • Pedal that simulates the amp, including cab/speaker/mic simulation, e.g.: UAFX Dream '65, Strymon Iridium, Walrus ACS1, Simplifier, etc. Played through a full-range speaker or headphones.
  • Virtual amp simulation on your computer, including cab/speaker/mic simulation, e.g.: NeuralDSP amp plugins. Played through a full-range speaker or headphones.

See it more as an overdrive pedal that gives you the sound of an EVH 5150.

Also, people often refer to cab/speaker/mic simulation as IR/Impulse Response. The cab/speaker/mic simulation has an extreme impact on the tone.

The pedals that simulate amps and cab/speaker/mics are often just pre-amps. So you need either the active (powered) speaker or a power amp and a passive speaker.


Well, the whole point of the 5150 is that it does do the preamp blue channel of a 5150 amp. You don’t need the amp for the tone at all which is why you use the clean channel with the 5150 pedal. The power section is not that important either because a 5150 “makes its tone” in the preamp anyway. The speaker will absolutely matter but then it stands to reason that just as it can be a better fit than studio monitors, so it can be worse than a flat response.

I did something similar to this the other day when I was looking for a very cutdown solution for open mics we go to where space and setup time is at a premium. I have an old Joyo American Sound pedal that emulates Fender tones (they are great pedals actually). I just plugged my guitar into the pedal and then took the output to my mixer which is attached to a couple of cheap creative studio monitors (which I use all the time for practice). It sounded pretty good actually despite not having any cab emulation.

However I sort of started to think the same as you…need a cab pedal, small reverb, perhaps a chorus and cheap distortion and before I knew I was creating another mini pedalboard (my normal setup by the way is Line 6 PodGo which is way better)…I already had a zoom MS50-G mfx pedal (again a great pedal for it’s time) so decided on that instead. Not good enough for proper gigs but a few songs in a pub fine.

I think the MXR 5150 into a mixer/interface will work fine but direct to studio monitors probably not. It needs some sort of amplification section. Similarly I suspect it will sound better with cab emulation as well. The manual itself as others have said suggests “output goes to the amp” so that implies it’s expecting at least a poweramp section.

It’s not a cheap pedal and suspect you wouldn’t get the best tone from just going through monitors but your mileage might vary.

But where does the clean tone come from? I don’t expect MXR 5150 overdrive pedal to sound good with a DI sound.

The chain you mentioned in the first post is:

  • A guitar → MXR 5150 overdrive pedal → PA (let’s assume powered PA speaker)

In my opinion, to get good results you need, for example:

  • A guitar → MXR 5150 overdrive pedal → amp in a pedal sim with cab/speaker/mic simulation to get a good clean or breakup tone (for example Strymon Iridium) → PA (let’s assume powered PA speaker).

You can also put a delay and other time-based effects after the amp in a pedal sim.

For more context why an amp matters, I recommend watching this:

4:11 Mistake 2 | Amps matter a lot with pedals

There might be useful lessons about this subject on Justin’s website too, see https://www.justinguitar.com/advanced_search?q=pedals

By the way, I use an amp-in-a-pedal setup, and I’m happy with it. In the place where I jam with people, I connect it to an active PA speaker. At home, I connect it to Yamaha THR in flat mode (FRFR). I imagine I could gig with it in places with a PA system. All I need to carry to play outside my home is a guitar and a lightweight pedalboard. The pedalboard also works with a real amp. I like this setup a lot. But it’s complex and took a lot of research. To people who are starting out, I’d still recommend something like a Boss Katana.


@Majik @MAS4R

Hi Majik, I have dipped in this thread, and I was wondering if I can contribute from my limited experience.

I have (as a mostly acoustic guitar player) gotten myself a pedal, its the NU-X Amp Academy, which is comparable to the Strymon Iridium (only a lot les expensive) to be able to explore tones with my Ibanez Hollow Body Guitar. I also have an excellent Schertler Acoustic Amp, that will take microphones and acoustic instruments of choice, and I do some recording with an AI.

The NU-X Amp academy does give me the Amp and Cab simulations for 6 clean amps and for 6 distorted amps, and is advertised for 3 purposes : (1) practicing with headphones, (2) recording with AI’s and (3) connecting up with the PA system in a venue. You can even in (3) simultaneously hook it up with the PA, and with your own amp, as it has separate XLR and 3.5 jack output. Does have an effect loop too, and you can control it as regards gain and master volume, and 3 way EQ. Why would I have this, well, my Schertler pretty much would be a PA system, but also where we have our Jam’s we use a PA system for the microphones. So I can hook it up with either the PA or the Schertler, as the occasion would require. No need to bring in a second amp (or potentially an amp at all, if I use a luxury DI box with equaliser and IR functionality for the acoustic guitar, but straight into the mixer with the XLR.

Now the challenge would be to get the settings right - which you can do with the PC app into infinite detail - and save them onto the Amp Academy, so you get the tone you want at the level of output you need - the default settings are way to loud for both the AI and the Schertler. The thing is comparable in price as one of the cheaper modeling amps (Say a VOX V20), which would however not be suitable for gigging.

Btw, after I restarted more significant practice (still same issues but they are neck, not hand related and they are not directly influenced by playing with good posture; I only play standing, etc)…

…and given the release of the 5150 Iconic 15w, I went ahead and I bought one.

I could not be happier. So any and all plans for modelers of amps have evaporated.

Modelers for effects, yes (though I have a Dunlop Echoplex Delay arriving tomorrow) but for amps and distortion, nope, I am all set there. If I do develop, I may add a small 5150 head and cabinet for a stereo rig or a wet-dry rig :slight_smile:

My first two amps misled me very badly. The 5150 Iconic is proof that one can have fantastic sound at home from an amp and a speaker. Since the 5150 makes its tone in the preamp section where it uses tube/SS blend, I think, it is extremely usable at 3 volume and can even be used at 2 (at least when at 1/4 power).

The 5150 also has a fantastic emulated out, which I can use with my studio monitors if I ever want to play to my family :slight_smile: The emulated out is the cheater option because it subdues noise tremendously.

But I practice using the speaker. I have my hands on the strings at all times (or the volume rolled to 0) or all heck breaks loose :slight_smile: But that is how I learn to truly control noise. The emulated out makes it all too easy to get away with half-assed palm muting :slight_smile:

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