A Tool of the Trade
The VM-202 is primarily a studio tool, so I decided to test it using a preamp and also an amplifier head. Figuring that more guitarists play through an amplifier, rather than a standalone preamp unit, I decided to start by attaching an amp head running a dummy speaker load into a line-level converter.
I unplugged the speaker from a Vox AC30CC2 combo and connected the amp to a THD Hot Plate running a dummy load box, and then ran the Line Out of the Hot Plate to a Rolls direct box to convert it to a line-level output with an XLR. Finally, I connected the direct box to one of VM-202’s two inputs. The 202’s software has an option to disable its internal power-amp emulation, so handily I was able to explore the unit’s mic and cabinet emulation only.
For starters, I decided to simulate a Shure SM57 close mic’ing an AC30 2x12 cabinet. Playing a Paul Reed Smith Studio, I found the resulting tones to be eerily similar to their real-world counterpart. Changing the angle of the microphone in tandem with adjusting its distance yielded some great tones that were quite life-like and without any harsh sonic artifacts.
During this process, I discovered the VM-202’s Compare button, which allows you to edit a preset and switch between its new and previously saved settings. This is one of the VM-202’s coolest features.
It was refreshing to access such modeling power without being overwhelmed by a massive amount of options and features.
Push & Pull
For the second test, I ran a 1/4" cable from the Preamp Out of a Peavey 6505+ into the Rolls converter box, then into the VM-202. With eight different options for power amp emulation, I was definitely excited to really hear what the VM-202 was capable of producing in terms of power-amp overdrive.
First, I selected emulated KT88 tubes in push-pull mode, a setting really intended for bassists using a bass preamp with the VM-202. KT88s typically have a huge amount of headroom and a very even tone. I wanted to see how the Peavey’s clean channel would fare in this setup, and if I could wrangle any possible sonic improvements. The result was some added sparkle, but not quite the expansive tone I was hoping for. With the emulated EL34 push-pull power-amp, however, the results were magnificent. The 6505+ has a reputation for producing razor-sharp highs that some players have been unsuccessful in smoothing out. The VM-202’s emulated EL34 power section really helped tame the amp’s blistering high end, evening out the overall tone and adding more of a midrange punch. The results were much more noticeable when I kept the amp’s gain control down. I found the more gain I piled on, the more indiscernible the VM-202’s power-amp emulation became.
Two Notes’ Torpedo VM-202 is a great studio tool. I particularly enjoyed how dead simple it was to set up a sound right out of the box, and how I only needed to refer to the manual when trying to configure more elaborate setups. Being primarily a tool for preamp users makes it something of a niche product, but it can be easily configured to work with amplifier heads too. (If that’s your fancy, Two Notes makes the VB-101, which is designed with amp heads in mind.)
Onstage, the VM-202 can also be used as a direct-guitar feed to a mixer, in case you’re not up for lugging your favorite, back-breaking 4x12 to the gig. The lack of USB recording ability limits the 202 to primarily a pro-studio crowd, but ultimately that’s who the Torpedo line was designed for anyway—the serious musician or engineer who’s intent on tracking great sounds in the most convenient possible way.
you own a preamp and are in need of an extraordinarily flexible power-amp, speaker, and mic simulator.
only mic’ing your trusty extension cabinet will do, or if you don’t own a preamp.