Digital modelling is an increasingly hot topic in today’s market, partially because digital modelling of tube amplifier circuits is becoming so good. For years there was many nuanced imperfections that a digital re-modelled sound simply couldn’t re-produce, and it was those little overdriven, distorted, transformers and diode-based issues that made us love tube amplifiers. What’s more - the processing power required to recreate these subtle changes required a lot of processing power that quickly became very expensive.
Where the Tone Master really pushes digital modelling in leaps and bounds is its quad core processing. Ever checked how many cores your computer or smartphone has? The Tone Masters are powerful. One core is used solely to model the amp itself, meticulously profiled EQ and pre-amp gain, even as it begins to distort and clip, while two cores are dedicated solely to re-creating the reverb that makes these amps so famous, via convolution reverbs that recreate the sound of that reverb tank so perfectly. The final core is allocated to the cab sim that's accessed via an XLR.
Convolution reverbs offer the most accurate recreation of a space, or in this case - a reverb tank. Because of the mind boggling 12-second reverb available on some Fender amps, an entire core of processing power simply wasn’t enough to recreate it as faithfully as Fender needed to. Convolution reverbs differ from other digital reverbs in that instead of a time-based or delay based sound, they process it with an actual acoustic space based on recordings of the space, using impulse responses. Because of the complex nature of the sound and processing, they take a lot of power - something that was previously unavailable. The amp emulator and direct out are also based on impulse responses.
An impulse response is effectively a full-range recording of a space, or source, and is used to measure the effect that certain equipment (speaker cabinets or rooms etc.) has on an audio signal. Fender has meticulously recreated the sound of their own amps and speakers to ensure that the record out is the closest thing you can get to a microphone on a Fender cabinet or speaker. This allows the user to record direct with a real amp sound in any acoustic environment, or at any volume. How convenient!
What’s more - upkeep of tube amps can be an expensive, especially when you’re lugging a 30kg amp to gigs, it’ll eventually cop a bump or two! The Tone Master are much lighter as well as requiring less upkeep because there’s no tubes to replace, blow or fix!