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Thread: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

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    Member Semetery's Avatar
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    Default Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    Hi there! I am looking for something a little different than usual (for me) and am VERY confused. I'm after something that can be moved around fairly easily for smaller shows (does it rule out the twin?) and has great cleans. I have a good attenuator so volume isn't a concern. I will be using it to play mostly clean with some grit and would use other amps (aside from maybe the Archon, which could cover everything) if I were to play full band/larger shows.

    I have read a little that the Archon 50 combo is great for cleans but I couldn't say first hand. I didn't expect to even be looking at this amp for cleans but I had read a few posts that said it was SUPER clean and had a lot of headroom, which is something I'd like. Another perk is being able to also use it as a rock/metal amp, it's hand wired to some extent, is made in the USA and has Ruby tubes. Found a good deal on one locally for less than half of the new price.

    I love the idea of the suitcase style of the Supro Dual Tone though. It's more mobile than the anything else I have and I found it for a fair price as well. I could somewhat overlook the lack of headroom if the tone really is there. Any experience with it? Different enough from a Vox AC15 to own both?

    Last, the Twin Reverb. A 65 RI for $700. I know there are smaller ones but I love the headroom they have. I wouldn't be opposed to a deluxe or super reverb but I'd really like to keep suggestions to a minimum and see if I can find any experience with any 2 or, even better, 3 of these in particular. Feel free to chime in and help me out here, nothing earth-shattering but there are literally no Archon's for me to try around here in store.

    I'm leaning towards the Archon or the Supro so far, but like all gear obsessed people, I keep going back and forth. I know tone is subjective but I'm not 'in a box' where I am after an absolute sound on these. I want a good clean sound that will serve me well for local shows, mostly just me and a guitar, as I build a band with others over time. I don't need it to be loud enough for Wimbley or to also do metal. Seriously, the clean channel, with character, a fair amount of headroom for a solo artist. So just looking for opinions, if you'd please! Thanks!

  2. #2
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    The guy a JHS pedals had a super clean pedal platform made for him
    I think he said Sweetwater had a few of them

    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...x12-tube-combo
    Last edited by ehdwuld; 08-31-2019 at 01:23 PM.
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    Mojo's Minions Ascension's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    I LOVE the Archon! Own a PRS MT 15 head now want an Archon head. Will tell you this the cleans on my little MT 15 are absolutely glorious and boy does it have headroom!! Plus the crunch side is just BRUTAL and very dynamic. That is the 15 watt import PRS so--. Oh BTW it will stand toe to toe with my 50 watt Boogie DC 5 on the same cab in volume and it runs a pair of 6L6's not small bottle tubes. The US built Archon is even better!
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    That's a pile of very different amps. I am not familiar with that particular Supro, but the Supro model I have played (Valco Supro S6616) is a lot of fun. Jimmy Page used a Supro a lot in the studio on early Zep with a tele, not the LP+Marshall a lot of people think he used because that's what he was seen with in later concerts. I haven't heard a Supro that sounds much like a Vox, they have a very different grit when pushed hard, and tend to have more lower mid growl. Definitely lots of character.

    I've only played a model of the Archon, but it's supposed to be very accurate. Has a great clean sound, and a monster distortion channel. I haven't really tried abusing the lower gain ranges of the Archon dirt channel modeled on Helix. I did like it better than the SLO100 lead channel model for heavy gain, though. The power amp feels less stiff, yet still very punchy.

    I love the Archon's cleans, prefer it to the Twin model in the Helix. Obviously, a 50W amp isn't going to hang with a Twin for headroom and volume. I wouldn't want a blackface Twin, they're just too crazy loud for me! And yeah, Twin is a fairly bulky combo. I haven't heard of anybody wanting to deal with a Twin at small gigs, particularly listeners or soundmen!

    And yes, that's modeler experience, but I have heard the actual amps played by others and had little trouble getting similar sounds (excepting the Twin, but that's probably my bad choice of mic in the cab model... having to be your own studio engineer is one annoying quirk of Helix cab/mic modelling, I need to just find a good Jensen P12N IR, or maybe C12K).

    I'd be very tempted by a Supro because they are fun, but I like roaring, growly low wattage amp tones. For more headroom and more modern tones, with tighter and hotter gain, Archon is superb. Not an easy choice.

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    Tone Member jpage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    Owned 2 Archons and several Twins. Completely different amps. Clean channel on the Archon is great but not the amp I’d go to for ‘bit of grit’ sounds—not it’s thing. Twin takes pedals better.

    The new Supros just don’t seem to be worth the money they are asking, haven’t spent any time with one. They have as much to do with the Led Zep Supro as I do lol

    You say portability is a concern then the Archon head should be on the list—combos are big and bulky. You’ll know what I mean if you get a Twin lol.
    Last edited by jpage; 09-06-2019 at 05:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    I think the Twin loses out here, as it isn't easily moved. I hear the new modeling Twin is a lot lighter and has an exceptional clean sound, but I haven't tried it.
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    As far as whether Supros are good bang per buck, that depends on what sort of amp you like. If it's high headroom high output power sections... You are looking at the wrong brand. If you want an off the beaten path classic tone, though...

    The Supro models share a similar character in general, though it's at least as varied as Fender (compare tweeds, brownface and blackfaces... and that's just in one amp line!). Steve Stevens does a nice demo of the Supro Dual Tone on youtube, it has more clean headroom than I expected, and the dirt certainly has that classic Supro vibe. Saying it has nothing to do with Led Zeppelin, when Page used more than 1 model at different times (though mostly one modified with a larger replacement speaker, IIRC), is oddly dismissive. Is it the exact same amp? Probably not, especially since at the very least he had the speaker replaced for his modded studio Supro. But then, a Marshall is a totally different beast, and not what he used in the studio until MUCH later, and yet that is what people most use when they are purportedly chasing Zep tones...

    I just tried Archetype (Archon model on Helix) with drive 0 and master below 7 and it's ridiculously clean, no crunch on chords. I don't tend to mess around with high gainers with drive bottomed out, I'll have to poke at that more, because it's ridiculous in a couple of the more dynamic high gainers (Revv Generator 120 Red doesn't get this clean, it's more in the Plexi at volume, ride your guitar volume for cleans range, but that's still rather unexpected from a metal amp's highest gain channel). I doubt the real amp is worse at that, especially with an attenuator to let you play with pushing power section independently of volume... Archetype does start into edge of breakup when you turn the master up to 10 and/or as you turn the drive up to 0.5. This is with medium output humbuckers.

    I don't know that the physical model has quite the same range at the same settings, that'll depend on component variances, particularly taper and variance from nominal on gain & volume potentiometers. But I'd be surprised if it is far off, it's usually values outside extremes that don't match up because Line 6 didn't try to duplicate the taper.

    Archon's clean channel is very high headroom, but it's a very much a tube high headroom clean. It's not a Fender clean, but it isn't bland or generic sounding, either. Great pedal platform on that channel. I've stumbled across a few discussions of Archon users replacing the last 12AX7 with a 12AY7 or 12AT7 to give more headroom, similar to turning gain down a few o'clock (except dropping it below the lowest range normally possible). Great idea if your tastes tend more to classic rock than metal gain.

    I think for small gigs, I'd go with the Supro, but there are a few caveats. You need an AB box and extra cables if you want channel switching. It uses some pretty obscure power tubes, so availability of replacements wont be as good as the more common models. It excels at Stones/Zep/ZZ Top/George Thoroughgood/John Lee Hooker tones. The Archon is a great modern tone, though...
    Last edited by Despair; 09-06-2019 at 12:02 PM. Reason: Supro channel switching

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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    Now through Oct 3rd, Sweetwater has the Supro Saturn on sale for $799, that's $600 off normal price. 25W 1×12 with reverb and tremolo, and uses 6V6 tubes instead of the much less common 6973 tubes in the Dual Tone.

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    Tone Member jpage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    Quote Originally Posted by Despair View Post
    As far as whether Supros are good bang per buck...
    I just tried Archetype (Archon model on Helix) with drive 0 and master below 7
    I think for small gigs, I'd go with the Supro,
    I gigged with an AXE for 2 years and I have a Helix right here that I use and enjoy. That being said, playing a modelers’ version of an amp does not mean you’ve played the amp. Modelers homogenize the experience—all the amps respond the same under your fingers. Sometimes that is an advantage—I don’t like Splawn amps IRL, love the modeled versions. Carol Ann amps are special in the way they interact with your fingers—modelers lose that in translation.

    I said that about the new Supro amps when I mistakenly thought they were built overseas. My apologies they are put together here in the US—I just have no experience with them, but I do have a Valco one here which is kinda cool.

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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    Quote Originally Posted by jpage View Post
    I gigged with an AXE for 2 years and I have a Helix right here that I use and enjoy. That being said, playing a modelers’ version of an amp does not mean you’ve played the amp. Modelers homogenize the experience—all the amps respond the same under your fingers. Sometimes that is an advantage—I don’t like Splawn amps IRL, love the modeled versions. Carol Ann amps are special in the way they interact with your fingers—modelers lose that in translation.

    I said that about the new Supro amps when I mistakenly thought they were built overseas. My apologies they are put together here in the US—I just have no experience with them, but I do have a Valco one here which is kinda cool.
    A Supro Dual Tone or Black Magic appears to be the closest you are likely to get to what Jimmy Page has used, outside of his limited edition Sundragon--which may or may not have had mods after the sessions... Supros are not an extreme high headroom clean on the classic models, they have a cool clean channel, but it may be warmer/darker than you want.

    Skippable debate on modelers & dynamics
    I don't find amps are homogenous in modern modelers. But not every model is equally good for all tastes. Kind of like actual individual amps that way... A lot of people feel the Archetype model of the Archon is dead on, who have used both. But models do fall apart at extremes sometimes, even if they are indistinguishable across much of the range, which is why I mentioned it's a model and that I don't have experience with playing the real amp, so don't know if Helix has a wider range on the gain control, or some other inaccuracy. In any case, it's got a great crunch to high gain range, even if the gain bottomed out doesn't behave identically!

    I'm bemused you ding the Carol-Ann model on dynamics, given the effort Cliff Chase put in working with the amp's designer, including creating models to prototype new Carol-Ann designs. All I've ever read are raves about the Fractal Carol-Ann models and how touch responsive they are. Back to something I have experience playing, the Revv Generator Red model feels very different than the Archon Lead model on Helix. And it's not just the gain range, even when set for similar degree of crunch, they vary in touch behavior.

  11. #11
    Tone Member jpage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    Quote Originally Posted by Despair View Post
    I don't find amps are homogenous in modern modelers.

    I'm bemused you ding the Carol-Ann model on dynamics, given the effort Cliff Chase put in working with the amp's designer, including creating models to prototype new Carol-Ann designs. All I've ever read are raves about the Fractal Carol-Ann models and how touch responsive they are. Back to something I have experience playing, the Revv Generator Red model feels very different than the Archon Lead model on Helix. And it's not just the gain range, even when set for similar degree of crunch, they vary in touch behavior.
    I’ve owned and gigged the real amps and then done the same with the modeled amps, that’s how I came to the conclusion I did. The Fractal versions of the CA amps don’t compare to the real thing IMO.

    I’m as big a fan of modeling tech as anyone, but I find it hard to believe anyone with experience would argue that the PLAYERS experience is the same as through the tube amps that are modeled. Not saying it is better or worse—as I pointed out it goes both ways. But it is definitely different.

    IMO the clean channel on the Archon is the game changer. The gain channel is pretty much the Fender EVH I thought. Which isn’t bad, just not revolutionary.

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    Mojo's Minions Ascension's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headroom and/or character: Archon, Supro or Fender?

    Might want to also add the little PRS MT 15 head to the list. It runs a pair of 6L6's and has a GREAT clean channel as well as the glorious high gain side. Will stand toe to toe with my old Mesa DC 5 50 watt head in volume on the same cab and has the better cleans. Shockingly good amps for the $!!
    Good demo here that shows both the crunch side and the cleans + he uses some pedals in the clean side.
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