Passive speaker-load boxes let you run your amp into a PA or recording input without miking a cabinet. They’re a great way to capture analog amp sounds without hassle—or broken eardrums.
Mesa Boogie’s new CabClone is a particularly nice load box/compensated D.I. at an equally nice price. It’s solidly built in a tabletop format. You can use it with or without a speaker connected to your amp. A wide-ranging level control provides appropriate output for most recording and PA gear. There are phase and ground-lift toggles, and both XLR and 1/4" output jacks. A specialized EQ stage with three voicing options mimics closed-back, open-back, and vintage-style cabinets. There’s also a headphone out for silent practicing or monitoring.
As with many products in this category, CabClone’s cabinet simulations are more like paintings than hi-res photos. They don’t convey the idiosyncratic resonant peaks and phase-cancelled dips of various miked speakers the way that, say, a good set of speaker impulse responses can. But CabClone’s solid, full-frequency tones work well in many contexts, and they respond well to downstream EQ.
CabClone requires no external power. It comes in 4-, 8-, and 16-ohm models, so be sure to get the one that matches your amp’s speaker-out specs.
Test Gear: ’63 Fender Stratocaster, “parts” guitar with P-90s, Ceriatone blackface Champ clone.