But don’t feel limited to these options, try pairing any two amps you like and find your unique sound!
What is phase and why does it matter?
As previously alluded, provided that a chosen solid-state amp can match a valve amp for headroom, they can work perfectly well together in a stereo setup, but you can run into issues combining a solid state or valve amp with a digital amp. This is because digital amps experience an almost imperceptible amount of latency as your signal is converted from digital to analogue, which when paired with an all-analogue amp, would put the two signals out of phase with one another.
If two amps are out of phase, the sound you hear will be very thin and quite shrill – not a very pleasant sound. So remember, pair analogue with analogue, or digital with digital – don’t mix and match.
Dual Mono is perhaps the simplest Stereo setup, as you’re sending all of your effects to both amps, so the splitter goes right at the end of your chain. This option is easy to set up whilst adding extra width and tonal blending. The main consideration is to roughly match volume and gain so that adding gain pedals won’t result in uneven jumps in volume.
Wet/Dry is a little more complicated than Dual Mono, but is an excellent option for fans of ambient textures, that still want to deliver a clear, direct sound. The great advantage to this setup is that you can heavily layer wet effects without your core sound getting washy or mushy, which can often be an issue when layering reverbs and delays. The concept of Wet/Dry is that you send all of your “wet” effects such as reverb, delay and modulation to one amp, while the other amp receives your “dry” signal, which remains dynamic and punchy. This combination adds tonnes of width and depth to your sound!
Furthermore, if you use a wet/dry rig in a live or studio situation and mic both amps, the mix engineer can blend the wet and dry signals to taste. As a rule of thumb, if one amp has more headroom than the other, try that as the wet amp, as it will keep your wet effects cleaner. However, there are no rules, so try both ways round. You may also have one amp with an effects loop and one without so you may choose your effects loop to run your wet effects.
Many modern effects pedals have stereo options, designed to send slightly different effects to each side, adding width which fills out your sound. In terms of dialling in your amps, the same guidelines apply. If you already have any stereo pedals, it is very simple to set up. Simply place a stereo pedal at the end of your signal chain and send the 2 outputs to your two amps, and enjoy creating a sea of ambient texture!
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