I know this is one of those things that could go in 1000 different directions. I know how to sound great in the studio. But I've recently started a sort of thrash/metalcore band, and I'm realizing that great live sound is a completely different animal. My old Pod 2.0 sounds like crap to me anymore, and my Peavey Bandit is too limited. I've used them live in the past, but these days I'm really going for a bigger, more professional tone.
I don't have room for a 4x12. I've seen plenty of bands live who just direct line or use a much smaller cab, and they made it sound great.
I looked into getting a pedalboard together, with EQ, gate, overdrive and distortion. I almost went this route until I saw the Zoom G5 and the Line 6 HD500.
Those two devices seem like they would be the easiest way to duplicate something close to my studio tone and they have good reviews.
Btw, not a tube purest, nor am I against them in any way. I just know that I have seen legit musicians of whom I am a fan using the devices I've been researching. And I figure if it's good enough for them.....
My budget right now is about $500. I could always add on later as needed (after I take care of some lame adult stuff). I'm into Demon Hunter, Fear Factory and Slayer tones (God Hates Us All, specifically). I wish I could just take my studio tone with me, but it's software-based.
Sorry this is long-winded. I've been researching this for weeks. Any ideas or thoughts are greatly appreciated.