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Title: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Patrick Campbell on August 21, 2015, 02:31:23 pm
Has anyone done a show with a guitar player using only a Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor ?

No amps on stage  - ?

How was the tone ?


Thanks gain
Patrick
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on August 21, 2015, 02:40:06 pm
I believe you're referring to the Fractal Audio box.  One of the better digital modelers out there.  Although all of them suffer from aliasing in the DAC when running heavy distortion.  Most DACs are not ready for the slew rates and overtones even in modeled distortion.

Even though there is a speaker emulator in there, low pass it a 5-7k to get rid of the fizz and grunge.

After that, it's a matter of how well the user has programmed their patches.  Highly overdriven patches tend to be highly compressed as well.  Switching to a cleaner patch often results in noticeably higher levels.  You may want to keep a finger on the fader in case.

No amps on stage bands can really muddy up monitors if they aren't on ears.  At least run side fills with instruments in them so you can clean up the front line vocal monitors.  That will also help with the hollow middle for anyone close to the stage.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Patrick Campbell on August 21, 2015, 02:45:12 pm
I believe you're referring to the Fractal Audio box.  One of the better digital modelers out there.  Although all of them suffer from aliasing in the DAC when running heavy distortion.  Most DACs are not ready for the slew rates and overtones even in modeled distortion.

Even though there is a speaker emulator in there, low pass it a 5-7k to get rid of the fizz and grunge.

After that, it's a matter of how well the user has programmed their patches.  Highly overdriven patches tend to be highly compressed as well.  Switching to a cleaner patch often results in noticeably higher levels.  You may want to keep a finger on the fader in case.

No amps on stage bands can really muddy up monitors if they aren't on ears.  At least run side fills with instruments in them so you can clean up the front line vocal monitors.  That will also help with the hollow middle for anyone close to the stage.

Good Points Stephen

I am thinking of getting one for myself as I play in my band and we are all in ears

I worked with a back that had one of these and the tone was sick

Patrick
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 21, 2015, 02:48:22 pm
Good Points Stephen

I am thinking of getting one for myself as I play in my band and we are all in ears

I worked with a back that had one of these and the tone was suck

Patrick


Fixed it for you.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Rich Grisier on August 21, 2015, 02:56:18 pm
I've been using one for several years.  My sound has never been better and is consistent everywhere we play.  As Stephen mentioned, it's a matter of how well the user has programmed it.  It's just a tool... like handing a brush and a paint pallet to someone.  The end result comes down to the artist.  You can throw a HPF on it, but ask the guitar player first.  I have a few presets that use synth sounds.  When we're not running sound ourselves I tell the FOH guy to give me an XLR line (or two if stereo) and treat it like a keyboard.

The AxeFX II has a built in loudness meter.  I use it to level out all my presets so there are no volume surprises when changing sounds.  I've compared the AxeFX VU levels using the Orban Loudness Meter (http://www.orban.com/meter/) and the levels are the same.  Hopefully the guitar player has leveled all his presets before the gig.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Patrick Campbell on August 21, 2015, 03:14:44 pm

Fixed it for you.

WOW 

thanks for the correction
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on August 21, 2015, 05:09:56 pm
Rich,  I wouldn't trust a VU meter.  One of the biggest issues (and this also applies to stomp boxes or amps with high gain front ends) is the dynamic response.  By it's nature, the more overdrive you have, the more compression you get.  Unless you throw a Klon Centaur in the mix.  So the different between comping and soloing levels with high gain isn't very much unless you program separate patches.  It pretty much doesn't matter what you do with the guitar, you get the same thing out of it.  Conversely, a clean patch or amp can be very responsive to the dynamics of the input signal.  If you balance the level with a medium attack on the instrument, the high gain sound will stay at that level while the clean sound can get much louder if you hit the strings harder than when you "balanced" the levels.

You can run a compressor on the clean sound as many country folks do.  Usually though you want the overdriven sounds to be a couple dB louder than the clean sounds to compensate.

Also, playing full chords with a high gain sound and then going to a single line solo often results in the bottom dropping out as the spectrum of sound narrows.

Someone may know in a cue that a solo is coming and push the fader up, but switching to a clean sound, with the adrenaline of a live gig, often causes a jump in the apparent volume of the guitar.  That's what I was referring to in optimizing the patch levels.

If you're going to play high gain comp parts, either use a volume pedal to drop them (folks like Jimmy Herring or Frank Gambale have a volume pedal in the amp's loop for the same reason)  or have a separate patch.  Which is one big advantage of these kinds of boxes over and old school NMV cranked Marshall.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on August 23, 2015, 01:15:00 pm

Fixed it for you.

If the tone sucked, then it's operator error.

The Axe FX2 is amazing and a godsend for engineers.
They require a bit more skill to dial in than just a guitar amp....so if the player doesn't know what they are doing, he/she can make it sound like garbage very easily.

If you dial the Axe FX in on a quality reference monitor, then it will translate extremely well on any decent PA system.

I own a bunch of high quality tube guitar amps and some of them I'll never part with.
But for gigging, the Axe FX is the only way to go (for me).
Exact same tone, every night.
And if I'm not running the FOH myself, and I'm playing a room with in house sound....the engineer just has to flatten the eq and slide the fader up.
I get nothing but compliments on my tone.

If anyone is curious, head over the Fractal Audio Forum and listen to some of the Recordings.  (oh, and take a look at their Artist page)
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 03:22:05 pm
Your preaching to the choir. I understand your enthusiasm, and I wish you well with your modeler, but after more than 50 years of playing guitar, and working with or listening to, modelers and amplifiers in the hands of professionals, including myself, you'll not be able to bullshit me into believing even the best modeling amplifier can replicate the sound and feel of the real amp. No way can the complexity of the tone or touch of a good amplifier be "replicated" through a modeler, and I say this with conviction and with experience through actual use.
 
 
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 03:23:46 pm
2
 
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 03:24:56 pm
3
 
Title: Re: Fractal Axe-Fx Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on August 23, 2015, 03:44:45 pm
It's kinda like starting an argument about records vs CDs. Which is better cannot be resolved, but we can agree that they sound different and each will choose what works for them.
There's as many different tools for guitar players as there are guitars and players. Each has their pros and cons.
As someone who has mixed many bands that use the Axe-FX, I can say that they can sound incredible. I also know that most guitar players don't take to them right away, and need an expert to help them dial in their tones. It can do so much, that the controls are endless as are the sounds, but so is the complexity. The same way that a person that's only used an analog mixer would need help working a digital mixer, a guitar player that uses regular amps will need help and/or time if they are to use an Axe-FX to it's fullest potential.

Many guitar players have embraced the flexibility and convenience of these modellers. Don't lump the Axe-FX in with other company's amp emulators, this is something special.

Some artists using the Axe-FX (http://www.fractalaudio.com/artists.php)
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Steve M Smith on August 23, 2015, 04:12:50 pm
Your preaching to the choir. I understand your enthusiasm, and I wish you well with your modeler, but after more than 50 years of playing guitar, and working with or listening to, modelers and amplifiers in the hands of professionals, including myself, you'll not be able to bullshit me into believing even the best modeling amplifier can replicate the sound and feel of the real amp. No way can the complexity of the tone or touch of a good amplifier be "replicated" through a modeler, and I say this with conviction and with experience through actual use.

Whilst I agree with all of that, I have recently been using one of the Fender Mustang modelling amps and they are very good.  Much better than I was expecting.

Not as good as the amps they are modelling but still very good.  And much better than the Line 6 Flextone I bought ten years ago (and half the weight!).


Steve.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 04:13:47 pm
Andy,
I agree that the Fractal units are indeed something special. You should know that I worked with one for about 2 weeks. I had no problem working through the settings, and I agree that the sound was outstanding in every way. Quality is high and the units are built very well. My problem was that as compared to my trusted Fenders, Mesa's and other amps there was something missing. The list of endorsements is eye opening and includes a couple of people I have worked with in the past. However, I won't say there is any bullshit here, but just keep in mind it would be a surprise if any of those folks have thrown away their trusted setup in favor of using the Fractal 100% of the time. Good stuff yes, but like everything else it has it's place. Hell, maybe if I had stayed with it I would an easier choice sizing my amp for the gig. I have way too many options to choose from. One last thing. No one has ever cloned a perfect duplicate of the grey Ross compressor.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 23, 2015, 04:38:33 pm
Modeling amps have been around for probably 2 decades or so...I recall seeing the first line 6 proto at a trade show in Frankfurt back last century when I was still working in the industry. Modeling as a technology has been around even longer than that, in our business first pursued for more accurate keyboard voices.

Even if someone could model a perfect stradavari it still isn't the real deal, and never will be. Modeling amps are very useful for session players who can't carry a half dozen guitar amps with them, for live use their flexibility and portability have merit too.

Don't worry Bob nobody is taking your stash of classic amps away, and they won't drop in value overnight because somebody thinks a modeling amp is more real.

Technology is to be embraced where it makes sense and ignored where it doesn't. As processors get cheaper and more powerful technologies based on them should get cheaper and better too.

JR 

[edit] it's not that we can't model a ross compressor (?), there is nothing magical about one (IMO) but not enough people care? [/edit}
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on August 23, 2015, 07:47:09 pm
The list of endorsements is eye opening and includes a couple of people I have worked with in the past. However, I won't say there is any bullshit here, but just keep in mind it would be a surprise if any of those folks have thrown away their trusted setup in favor of using the Fractal 100% of the time.
Some use the Axe-FX as a full modeler, including the Amp/Cab emulation, others use it as a programmable FX box into their favourite guitar amp, and even more (who won't tell you, but I know for certain) use the Amp/Cab emulation, but because of endorsement deals, still have their amps and cabs on stage, unused, just for show.
I don't know that any of these endorsers are not able to get what they want out of the Axe-FX alone, but sometimes there's just no need to go through that effort to recreate their favourite sound if they've already got that with an amp and cab that someone else sets up for them and maintains...
If you do know any of them, reach out and I'm sure they'll tell you.
A perfect example of what can be done with the Axe-FX is what Alex Lifeson is doing. He has recreated all his acoustic guitar sounds with the Axe-FX so he can play them on his piezo-equipped electric. He also can recreate his venerable guitar pedal effects and all the different amps he used throughout his years without having to have dozens of amps and pedals on stage.

The best scenarios for the Axe-FX are when you need to recreate a whole lot of amps and fx and it's not feasible to carry those all around with you.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 07:52:00 pm
Modeling amps have been around for probably 2 decades or so...I recall seeing the first line 6 proto at a trade show in Frankfurt back last century when I was still working in the industry. Modeling as a technology has been around even longer than that, in our business first pursued for more accurate keyboard voices.

Even if someone could model a perfect stradavari it still isn't the real deal, and never will be. Modeling amps are very useful for session players who can't carry a half dozen guitar amps with them, for live use their flexibility and portability have merit too.

Don't worry Bob nobody is taking your stash of classic amps away, and they won't drop in value overnight because somebody thinks a modeling amp is more real.

Technology is to be embraced where it makes sense and ignored where it doesn't. As processors get cheaper and more powerful technologies based on them should get cheaper and better too.

JR 

[edit] it's not that we can't model a ross compressor (?), there is nothing magical about one (IMO) but not enough people care? [/edit}

I've embraced modeling for other instruments whole heartedly since conception, much like embrace certain transistorized amplifier. Some times it works, sometimes it doesn't. What modeling does do without question, and does very well is replicate effects (except a Ross compressor). Another nice feature of modeling is the ability to replicate the clean sound of an amplifier.

The Ross compressor, for all of it's simplicity, has been cloned by many, many manufacturers. However, for one reason or another nobody get's it quite right. Perhaps it's the old bit bucket chip combined with old clown fish caps. Who knows, but I own a pair of them and selling them on Ebay for $350-500 would be a walk in the park. What I do know is that they don't change your tone, alter the feel, or change the sound of your guitar/amp in any way other than provide sustain when used properly. So, in the end people will use what's best for them and if they get good sound I'm all for it.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 08:02:00 pm
Some use the Axe-FX as a full modeler, including the Amp/Cab emulation, others use it as a programmable FX box into their favourite guitar amp, and even more (who won't tell you, but I know for certain) use the Amp/Cab emulation, but because of endorsement deals, still have their amps and cabs on stage, unused, just for show.
I don't know that any of these endorsers are not able to get what they want out of the Axe-FX alone, but sometimes there's just no need to go through that effort to recreate their favourite sound if they've already got that with an amp and cab that someone else sets up for them and maintains...
If you do know any of them, reach out and I'm sure they'll tell you.
A perfect example of what can be done with the Axe-FX is what Alex Lifeson is doing. He has recreated all his acoustic guitar sounds with the Axe-FX so he can play them on his piezo-equipped electric. He also can recreate his venerable guitar pedal effects and all the different amps he used throughout his years without having to have dozens of amps and pedals on stage.

The best scenarios for the Axe-FX are when you need to recreate a whole lot of amps and fx and it's not feasible to carry those all around with you.

I agree Andy, especially with acoustic emulation, one of the reasons I was very eager to try the box to begin with. I ended up buying a pair of Fishman Aura pedals. They work just fine and remove all but the tiniest bit of piezo quack. Great box for $300, and a great DI as well. I don't know of many if any "A" level players who don't process their electric acoustic in one way or another, or add some type of system to supplement or replace the piezo under the bridge. Me, I don't play a lot of acoustic so my Epiphone is just fine in that respect. My side man? He's a horse of a different color. He plays Martin D-28s and Gibson J-45s, and only the best system will do for him. But, it's his money, his guitars, and his sound. How can I complain about that.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 23, 2015, 08:34:14 pm


The Ross compressor, for all of it's simplicity, has been cloned by many, many manufacturers. However, for one reason or another nobody get's it quite right. Perhaps it's the old bit bucket chip combined with old clown fish caps. Who knows, but I own a pair of them and selling them on Ebay for $350-500 would be a walk in the park. What I do know is that they don't change your tone, alter the feel, or change the sound of your guitar/amp in any way other than provide sustain when used properly. So, in the end people will use what's best for them and if they get good sound I'm all for it.
OK you made me look... I found a schematic of the "Ross Compressor" and found nothing remarkable...  No bucket (?) chips (bucket brigade delay?), and I don't know what a clown fish cap is (please don't tell me).

From input it is a simple emitter follower with relatively high input impedance (470k). Good for lead guitar pick-ups. 

The gain element is relatively common ca3080 OTA (operational transconductance amp). While common this is a somewhat premium approach for a guitar compressor that more typically use a cheap JFET shunt design.   

The important thing about dynamics is the side chain. The Ross uses full wave rectification for faster reliable attack from either polarity signal. It is generally very fast attack (as fast as a transistor can discharge a 10uF cap) with a slower fixed release time.

The 3080 OTA is cleaner than a JFET shunt, but not as clean as a VCA. In that application the side chain manipulations will be more audible than than the OTA distortion, which isn't 0%, probably a few tenths percent THD.   

I don't see anything that couldn't be modeled with a little effort.

JR 

Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on August 23, 2015, 11:01:59 pm
Andrew,
All exactly the same points I would have made.  Interesting comment about some artists still using amps because of their endorsements.  I actually got a famous artist to admit that to me at namm this year.   :)


Bob,
You seem to be backing away from your original 'tone was suck' comment, so that's good to see.  As you have your pics of your vintage gear, I have a few of those same amps (and quite a few more) over 30 vintage guitars.  I love my tube amps as well...in my rehearsal studio.  But on the road, a 2 space rack can cover anything I've ever needed.  It you haven't already, explore the axe fx tone matching feature.  Can make piezo sound like a nicely mic'd acoustic.

I'm in no way trying to promote digital is better.....but back to the original post....the axe fx is an outstanding modeler, and sounds amazing in the right hands.

Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 11:29:59 pm
I'm in no way trying to promote digital is better.....but back to the original post....the axe fx is an outstanding modeler, and sounds amazing in the right hands.



I can agree to that. Most of my amps and guitars are asleep, so not in the picture, and there are others on the bench for customers. What you see are my working amps and a few of my favorite guitars, specifically the custom shop 60 LP historic reissue my wife gave me.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 23, 2015, 11:46:12 pm
OK you made me look... I found a schematic of the "Ross Compressor" and found nothing remarkable...  No bucket (?) chips (bucket brigade delay?), and I don't know what a clown fish cap is (please don't tell me).

From input it is a simple emitter follower with relatively high input impedance (470k). Good for lead guitar pick-ups. 

The gain element is relatively common ca3080 OTA (operational transconductance amp). While common this is a somewhat premium approach for a guitar compressor that more typically use a cheap JFET shunt design.   

The important thing about dynamics is the side chain. The Ross uses full wave rectification for faster reliable attack from either polarity signal. It is generally very fast attack (as fast as a transistor can discharge a 10uF cap) with a slower fixed release time.

The 3080 OTA is cleaner than a JFET shunt, but not as clean as a VCA. In that application the side chain manipulations will be more audible than than the OTA distortion, which isn't 0%, probably a few tenths percent THD.   

I don't see anything that couldn't be modeled with a little effort.

JR 



Sorry John, I was thinking of an Ibanez AD-9 delay I was working on just before the post. Many have tried but only a few have come close, and this I can't explain. Clown caps are those little square ceramics with the colored stripes on them. You don't see many anymore, but I have plenty to last until I'm gone. I would doubt they make a difference in all actuality, but once again it's the sum of the parts and not any one part in particular. Analog Man and Keeley have come very close, but both of them have modified the original circuit to "make it better".
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on August 24, 2015, 01:20:26 am
Clown caps are those little square ceramics with the colored stripes on them. You don't see many anymore, but I have plenty to last until I'm gone.
If they're the ones I'm picturing, they're actually metallized film capacitors, made by philips. I had piles of them when I was younger.

(http://www.bakersfieldads.net/Oildate-/Food-and-Foodservice-/Vintage-philips-metallized-film-capacitor-0-33UF-250V.jpg)
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 24, 2015, 08:18:55 am
Clown cap it is.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: David Buckley on August 24, 2015, 08:34:13 am
You gotta hear Bob, and his fuckton of amplifiers, and he's right, of course.  But there is an increasing body of people who will settle for 98% of the tone and 85% of the feel because that is what gets the job done.  People who are mostly younger than us, of course :)

Wasn't so long ago that a "serious" level guitar rig would be mostly valve.  There's lots now that all solid state, even if the 4x12s are still there, being driven by QSCs or whatever.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 24, 2015, 11:26:23 am
Sorry John, I was thinking of an Ibanez AD-9 delay I was working on just before the post. Many have tried but only a few have come close, and this I can't explain.

OK now your getting into my wheel house... back in the '70s I worked with the still experimental Bucket Brigade shift registers (invented by Phillips and later licensed to Matsushita, aka Panasonic). For some BBD trivia, they are light sensitive. We got a batch of test pieces from Phillips with open top cans, and the bench light would trash the audio flowing through the analog shift register... We didn't figure that one out right away.  ;D

The BBD (actually a subset of the larger CCD charge coupled devices) was a remarkable technology for back in the '70s. By the '80s digital delay that started out very crude and very expensive had pretty much eclipsed the analog delay market. I made some hay while that sun was shining. I designed consumer delay for Bozak (the speaker company) and professional studio delay/flanger for Loft, not to mention selling a kit delay/flanger through my kit company that was actually used on records back then.

I can think of several reasons that an analog delay based effect might be difficult to model.  The analog shift register has a modest operating range with different saturation effects at the top and the bottom of its voltage range. (So two units side by side might not sound alike if bias trims are set differently).  Further the optimum operating point (bias voltage) can change with clock frequency. Since you vary the delay time by changing the clock frequency the path would need to modeled slightly differently vs delay. The noise floor changes with clock frequency, at lower clocks and longer delay the path is noisier and that noise is not simple Gaussian. When going for deeper delay effects a common technique, is to recirculate a fraction of the output signal back to the input. The result from this is very affected by frequency response of the the recirculation path, and even the polarity (that affects where comb filter bumps and notches land), Finally since the delay is a sampled system, it will also suffer from Nyquist criteria. The inputs will require anti-aliasing filters and output will require reconstruction (smoothing ) filters. At best you will get extra roll-offs from marginal sampling rates, for extreme (long delay) low clock frequency you can experience aliasing artifacts as the HF audio folds down into the passband .

I believe this all is possible to be modeled, but there are a lot of moving parts that will interact requiring a complex model and lots of computation. There are still people using that old studio flanger I designed back in the '70s for the unique sound. If I was smart i'd design a plug-in for it (that actually sounds like it). But that would be a whole new programing environment  to learn... nah.   

The old BBDs that I used back then are long since obsolete. Rather than component development making better and better BBDs, it looks like somebody in China knocked off the old Matsushita parts (that they licensed from Phillips). So there is apparently still a market for BBD chips in guitar efx...   
Quote

Clown caps are those little square ceramics with the colored stripes on them. You don't see many anymore, but I have plenty to last until I'm gone. I would doubt they make a difference in all actuality, but once again it's the sum of the parts and not any one part in particular. Analog Man and Keeley have come very close, but both of them have modified the original circuit to "make it better".
Didn't I say I didn't want to know about clown caps...  8)

JR
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 24, 2015, 12:35:08 pm
I guess these are the things I'm talking about John. You can get close, but certain things just can't be modeled and sound like the original. I hate it when the Chinese take a chip and replicate it, and I hate it when the tolerances for older chips are "tightened". It takes away the character of the original much in the way a 1% resistor doesn't react the same as a 10% old school carbon comp. It's all these unknown variables that add to the character of older hardware.

I didn't know you were that involved with BBD, I'm impressed, especially since I never really got deep into the world of IC. The link below will take you to a good schematic of the AD-9. Can we make it better?

http://www.dirk-hendrik.com/Ibanez_ad9_analog_delay.pdf
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on August 24, 2015, 01:49:20 pm
The main complaint that guitar players have against modelers (even as good as the AxeFX) is the same reason that soundpeople and studio engineers love them.  The feel, dynamic and timbral response is homogenized.  A good musician can create a lot of subtle nuances in their playing.  But for the same reason that engineers put compression on everything to "normalize" it and keep it in a consistent place in the mix, all that expressiveness of a Dumble or whatever good amplifier makes notes sound different.  Which is their reason for being.  But outside of the Baked Potato or other small jazz club, makes it harder for the engineer to "control".
I know people who play very responsive amplifiers live, but have done innumerable sessions using fairly cheesy modelers.  Not as much fun to play though, but makes the engineers job easier and makes the producer happy.  These guys get the session work because they know how to give the producer what they want.  Then they'll pull out the vintage or high end amp for a local gig and play for themselves.
So back to the OP's question.  From a soundperson's perspective, the modeler will make your job easier if the levels are worked out well.  Once in a patch, the sound won't change as much as if they were playing a /13.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on August 24, 2015, 01:58:21 pm
The main complaint that guitar players have against modelers (even as good as the AxeFX) is the same reason that soundpeople and studio engineers love them.  The feel, dynamic and timbral response is homogenized.  A good musician can create a lot of subtle nuances in their playing.
That may have been true in the past, but not so with the Axe-FX. It can be as dynamic and expressive as you like, but to get it to match a regular amp takes some tweaking.
It comes down to whether the convenience of having an infinite number of amps and fx in a 2u rackspace is worth the (possible) fiddling required to get the tone you're looking for. If you typically use 1 amp and a pedalboard for all your songs and don't mind dragging it around, then there'd be no reason at all to buy an Axe-FX. Just like the guy mixing just one band on an analog board with an outboard FX rack. If he doesn't need the size and flexibility advantages of a digital console, then why buy it?
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on August 24, 2015, 03:01:25 pm
I have been playing guitar for about 23+ years and prefer high gain amps. I like them because I can get a lot of gain, or a little, with the twist of a volume knob and go from full compressed saturation to a more dynamic bluesy growl. I do not like pedals, I repeat, I DO NOT LIKE PEDALS............. I use a static FX unit in the amps loop for verb and delay if i feel the need for it, but otherwise the signal is dry. I have cloned a ZVEX Superhard On, and even built an AMZ mosfet clean booster as well. I like the BS170 designs, what can I say. I don't really even care for clean boosters though. So what does this have to do with modelers?

I have a neighbor friend who has a nice AXE FX II XL ( not the latest plus version ) and he even suited it well with the Atomic CLR powered speaker! To say the least, it is one killer ( and very expensive ) rig. I have owned a L6 POD HD unit and ended up selling it. I have had and still own a ZOOM 2020 that I got about 20 years ago. I re-acquired it in an interesting way. I sold it to a guitar shop, It went through about three hands before I go into a studio to do a session. I see it sitting there and tell the owner about it. He gave it back to me. It was out of my hands for about 5 years and it still works! It sounds like absolute ass though; I can't believe I used that thing in live shows...... In either case I just can't totally embrace the modelers yet. I have had my fair use of them, but to no avail. I even owned a Digitech GNX 3 for a while, it just couldn't do it.

So here are my thoughts on them. The FX and the cool spatial and otherworldly things you can do are far and beyond amazing! The modeling of the amps themselves are really amazing too, but they still have not gotten the touch thing figured out. They can do all they want with input impedance or whatever they do to try and make it react like a real amp, but they just haven't yet. It is one thing to have a stellar sounding model, but it's the touch. I use the volume knob a lot and want the amp to clean up a little and growl instead of scream and the modelers just have not got that figured out yet. They are not touch responsive in the way a tube amp is and they do not clean up and react like a tube amp does when you roll the volume back on the guitar.

Another thing the modelers have not gotten yet is the noise floor. I'm sorry, but a high gain amp does not necessarily have hiss and noise. I have a Peavey 6505+, A Peavey XXX and a Jet City JCA50H and none of them have noise when set for realistic gain settings. The fractal, and other modelers always seem to model in too much noise when set for even modest gain settings. I don't like high gain amps because they have super saturation, I like them because when set for modest levels of gain, they are ( most of them anyway ) quiet with more than enough gain on tap. Other high gain amps I have owned exhibited the same thing. If you crank the gain, yes there is hiss and noise, that is a given. The amps modelers just have too much noise for any given setting and I don't think I should have to use a gate to clean it up.

I think if running the modelers more like conventional tube amps, you could get a more in touch feel from them? It still won't be a tube amp and may be better in a lot more ways, but it is not a practical and cheap answer at that point. Lets imagine a $3.5k modeler ( the basic retail price of the Axe FX II XL+ ), an amp which could set you back another $600+ and a speaker cab which for a decent one is yet another $600+. This puts you almost $5k in the hole to come even with a real tube amp. I just assume get a Diezel VH4 at that point. To me running a modeler in a conventional way is a pure waste of the technology. The idea is to get away from having to mic a guitar cab and simply send the signal to the PA ready to go. I have not had a chance to try the newest Fractal unit or the Kemper Profiling amp, so perhaps it has been figured out? Mark DV also has a neat unit that follows a more conventional route.

I have had three instances where a modeler was used and the signal sent to me was only from it. In one case the band was more rock and the other two were metal. The metal groups of course had no problems and sounded very good. The rock group sounded fine as well, but he did mostly distorted sounds and did not roll the volume back much. In either case I found I had to do very little to get an acceptable sound and honestly I was hard pressed to tell the difference once the band was up and running. I think the hardest thing is as a guitarist to embrace the technology and simply trust it. Obviously some styles of music require less touch response and are more suited to the higher level of production capable in the modeler. I think that hard rock, metal and experimental music best suits the current modelers ability. County and blues require something that the modelers can't quite do yet very well. Those are two genre's where modelers have not taken much hold yet incidentally. My bet is that within 5 years it will be figured out, cheap enough and superior to current tube amp design to have no excuse to not use a modeler.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 24, 2015, 05:33:03 pm
I guess these are the things I'm talking about John. You can get close, but certain things just can't be modeled and sound like the original. I hate it when the Chinese take a chip and replicate it,
Perhaps better than these chips being completely unobtanium.
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and I hate it when the tolerances for older chips are "tightened".
Don't see how that is bad.
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It takes away the character of the original much in the way a 1% resistor doesn't react the same as a 10% old school carbon comp. It's all these unknown variables that add to the character of older hardware.
There is thread right now on a tweaker forum about resistors. Some cheap low quality resistors have a voltage coefficient that causes the resistance to change with voltage . Generally not noticeable for modest voltage levels, but for large voltage swings like feedback for a high power amp, or perhaps inside a tube amp with lots of signal swing it can cause measurable distortion.
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I didn't know you were that involved with BBD, I'm impressed, especially since I never really got deep into the world of IC. The link below will take you to a good schematic of the AD-9. Can we make it better?

http://www.dirk-hendrik.com/Ibanez_ad9_analog_delay.pdf
Let me count the ways...  ;D

I'd have to charge consulting rates to give a rigorous review but quickly in passing.

#1 U1A looks like a simple pre-emphasis circuit. Like FM broadcast it boosts the high frequency going into the delay path, then rolls them off after the delay, to effectively scrub some HF energy out of the noise floor (I've done this too). The de-emphasis is applied in U1B.

#2 U2a is the compressor half of a companding NR so input signal is compressed 2:1 before the delay, then expanded 1:2 by U2B after the delay. In an ideal world this expands the noise floor down 1:2 and doubles head room by compressing the input.  The Ne571 is actually the cheaper version of ne570 with relaxed specs, so just dropping a ne570 in there would be better.

The primary time constants for the compressor/expander is  set by C17 (C30). It looks like 22uF which seems very slow to me (I'd probably use 1/10 that value but they may keep it slow to introduce some transient distortion and perhaps mask tracking errors that would be more noticeable if faster.)

I notice that they short the gain element input to the side chain input . Pins 2 and 3. I would typically add a low pass filter to the side chain input to reduce errors from clock leakage and high frequency response errors in the expander decoding. The encode and decode side chain want to see the exact same side chain signal, but that compressor is not only seeing a wide band signal, but wide band plus pre-emphasis  so a very hot signal. The decode side chain has input and output filters changing the frequency response not to mention some output clock leakage. Putting a similar LPF in series with both of these side chains, will reduce errors caused by different HF response. As connected frequency response errors in the delay path from all those LP filters get expanded 1:2.  ::)

There are many more tricks available to companding NR but this is the cheap tour.

#3 the MN3205 is an old Matshusita chip, with it's dedicated companion clock driver  MN3102. I used a smaller matshusita BBD in my old kit article, but used better IMO Recticon parts in my studio and consumer delay lines. (Good luck finding Reticon parts today).

You can adjust R27 (input DC bias) for symmetrical clipping.

You can adjust R17 for minimum clock noise. The BBD only passes one sample per half clock, so the output has a one stage sample and hold source follower to repeat each sample, for the second half clock, so there is a continuous output. These two mosfet source followers have different Vgs, so the trim balances them out to reduce a clock component from any DC error between them.  This clock noise is generally harmless but can cause tracking errors in the expander, or be audible if clock frequency is low enough.

#4 T3 and T4 are each two pole LPF to anti-image (smooth) the sampled waveform.

I don't see a discernible method to the filter alignments, but I'm not going to do the math.  Looks light on anti-alias input filters and heavy (normal) on output side. But feed from a guitar pick-up may not go very HF. 

The very slow companding time constants may be to conceal tracking errors that I expect to be present because expander side chain gets more filtering than compressor side chain.     

So in conclusion I see several things I would do differently but that doesn't mean you would prefer my more accurate version.. it's a guitar pedal after all so they probably designed a bunch of it by ear.

Back in the '70s I actually wrote my own computer program to help me design complex mutli-stage filters for BBD delay lines. Since this was the early days for computer aided design, i used the tab function on my dot matrix printer to make crude response plots.

I could write a short story about filter alignment tricks but I won't waste the bandwidth, for an audience that probably did even follow along this far.  8)

JR   
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 24, 2015, 06:18:44 pm
I'll trade you a box of clown caps for an overhaul.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on August 24, 2015, 07:39:41 pm
That may have been true in the past, but not so with the Axe-FX. It can be as dynamic and expressive as you like, but to get it to match a regular amp takes some tweaking.
It comes down to whether the convenience of having an infinite number of amps and fx in a 2u rackspace is worth the (possible) fiddling required to get the tone you're looking for. If you typically use 1 amp and a pedalboard for all your songs and don't mind dragging it around, then there'd be no reason at all to buy an Axe-FX. Just like the guy mixing just one band on an analog board with an outboard FX rack. If he doesn't need the size and flexibility advantages of a digital console, then why buy it?
I'd agree that the current stuff is far beyond Line 6 kidney beans.  I'm curious as to what tweaking can be done to make them feel like a good conventional amp.  Typically when confronted with one, I turn down or off all the effects and turn down the gain from the laser shred presets.  But while there is a noticeable dynamic response and you can get more or less distortion with the pick attack, I still can't hear my fingers the way I can with a good conventional amp.  I do know a fair number of folks who believe that the tone is in the gear and/or that they can buy tone.  Maybe I was fortunate to grow up playing really garbage stuff.  If I was going to get any sort of sound similar to my heros, I was going to have to fight to force it out of the gear.  So when I got to the point of playing though good gear and getting stuff of my own, I had pretty expressive fingers.  As a sidebar, the guy who used to run GC's west coast guitar division once ordered up a $5000 custom Two Rock largely on my ability to make a demo unit sound like Robben Ford was playing through it.  He couldn't get that sound, but figured if I could, it must be a good amp.  Conversely, I've also played though Robben's Dumble and the feel was entirely different.  And you would have to play it completely differently to try to make it sound like him (which I definitely wasn't going to do in front of him ;) )
Arthritis kind of put a damper on regular gigging but I still play from time to time.  And I still have folks stick a guitar into my hands asking me to make it sound like this or that person.  To the degree that a rig gives me a big pallet, is how I judge it's responsiveness.  Something that just isn't there with the modelers.  You can tweak knobs to get something more like this or that, but you can't just go from one to the other with your hands.
If you've ever been to a Greg Koch clinic, that kind of variation of tone is what I'm talking about.  I could never play like Greg, or get such a range of tones from the pedestrian gear he uses (which is why Fender hires him to walk into a store grab a Tele or Strat off the rack, plug it into any old Hot Rod something, and make all of us consider bonfires) but it's something to aspire to.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on August 24, 2015, 08:24:53 pm

I . Lets imagine a $3.5k modeler ( the basic retail price of the Axe FX II XL+ ), an amp which could set you back another $600+ and a speaker cab which for a decent one is yet another $600+.


The Axe FX 2 costs $2500 new.  Less than 2k used, and mint.  Just want to make sure we're working off of facts.

I own the Axe FX (as well as a PILE of tube amps...yes, I'm a junkie) and I can say (and almost every Axe owner says the same thing), that it is hands down one of the best gear purchase I've ever made.
The price is scary when compared to other modelers, which is why lots of folks are skeptical.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on August 24, 2015, 10:02:49 pm
It appears they are having a 10% sale right now on it and that the price is listed as 2.5k for the modeler only. The controller that is specifically for the Axe FX is about $800. I saw another site earlier that was charging 3.5k and listed the retail price as being 4k. I have not seen any used XL+ versions yet. Reverb.com seems to be ripping people off with the prices they are showing.........

Don't get me wrong the Axe FX is a great unit. I would also put it down as being the best purchase ever, not because it is the bee's knee's, but because the tech is probably only limited by what I can do to it and because my pocket book says I better love it.

Ask a person who has shelled out the coin for a Soldano SLO-100 if it is the best purchase they ever made? The answer by those that truly love that sound will say hell yeah, some will say I like it, but wish I didn't have to spend 3.5k to get it and the rest will say that they sold it because it was not their flavor. Why is that? It's considered by many to be one of the best high gain amps you can get and it does pretty much what you buy it for as good as it can be done. I think it's because it is pretty much a one trick pony and a user can ask for more sounds than it is truly able to produce. In other words, it is not able to out tech the user. If the amp could produce more sounds than the user could create, it would be the best amp ever.

Contrast that to an Axe FX and you have two different beasts. The model of the SLO-100 in the Axe FX will likely not sound better in all reality than an actual SLO-100, but you can make the model sound pretty much any way you want it too. The amp will still have the basic SLO-100 signature sound, but you can use any cab, mic position and effects along with pre and post EQ at your disposal. You can even change the input impedance to change the sonic character a little too. What the Axe FX won't do is have the same touch and feel as the real deal. I have heard stories of people selling their Axe FX not because it didn't sound good, but because they found that they spent more time fiddling with the presets than playing, or because they found that all they ended up using was the FX because the amp models were un-inspiring.

To test by what is meant by touch and feel simply take your favorite amp and get a sound you like. Turn your guitar volume down with the volume knob. The sound should clean up a bit and also round out a little too ( should get more of a buxom tone ), but not loose definition and feel. It should not sound sterile and choked and should actually sound more dynamic and lively. I find the sound to get more ploinky ( if that's a word ) and the notes should almost bounce off the fretboard and through the amp. I have not found a modeler to react that way. The gain may decrease and the tone may round out a little, but the dynamics, touch and the way the note bounces off is not the same when the guitars volume is turned down with a modeler. The tail of the note also doesn't sing the same as with a real amp. I think this is mostly down to modelers and their heavy use of noise reduction and the higher noise floor?

I know that if I went out and spent 2.5-3k on a two space rack, my wife would choke me if I said it was not the best purchase I could have made. She understands that if you want a Dumble tone, you buy a Dumble amp, if you want an SLO-100 sound, you buy an SLO-100. It doesn't matter what the cost. $2.5K is not chump change and you can get many an amp that all sound amazing for that price. The down side is that the $2.5K only gets you in the door....... You still need a controller to change patches and banks while on a stage. A complete system for the Axe FX runs about $3.5k and that does not include the speaker. I suppose you could get the controller done for less, but it is also more of a hassle. You could also probably bypass the cost of a speaker if you already have one? If you were starting from scratch and going all in you will spend at least $4K on a full Axe FX rig with controller and speaker, new prices of course; used may save you a little coin.

I'm not sure people are skeptical about spending the money as much as they are worried about spending that kind of money for something that doesn't perform like they expect it too. It would have to equal the performance of an amp for me to be happy, the FX are just a plus. I have $3k+ in guitar amps ( after thinning the herd ) and they all sound pretty darn good. Each one does something the other can't and I would love to have it all in a two space rack if I could. That two space rack has to equal the performance of a real tube amp for me to be happy with it. Otherwise it's just and expensive two space rack. If it did, I would spend $10K to get it if each and every amp model was that good. You would have to be crazy to not want 100 amplifiers that all perform exactly like the real deal for that price. That is not where the tech is currently at though. It is so very close, but just not quite there. I will snatch one up though one day. Like I said, in the three instances where I had one through my PA, I couldn't tell if it was a real amp or not, but I wasn't playing it. If I play it, it is going to have to sound and play like a real amp to me.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on August 24, 2015, 10:05:50 pm
I have been playing guitar for about 23+ years and prefer high gain amps.
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. (snip)
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My bet is that within 5 years it will be figured out, cheap enough and superior to current tube amp design to have no excuse to not use a modeler.
I gave the analogy of the LP and CD, I'll give you another, more relevant one to live. Wedges vs. In-Ears.
In-Ears allow a performer to hear what they want and the FOH mix to be cleaned up (if you further eliminate the amps on stage), but many don't like what they hear in their ears. They don't like the "closed-in" feeling and want the freedom to adjust their mix by moving around on stage, and for other various reasons.
Typically with a good monitor engineer and good gear, and if the performer has some studio experience, it can all work out well for using in-ears. Even if it's not as pleasurable for him as using wedges, it allows for a better show, where others on stage aren't being blasted, the out front mix can be cleaner, and the audience can enjoy better sound. It depends on whether the performer cares most about the show or himself.
Everyone has agreed that out front the sound of the Axe-FX is great. If there's an issue, it's only the guitar player himself that isn't happy. Interestingly, I've found it's always hardest to get guitar players on in-ears too.
Is the show for the guitar player or for the audience?

Comparing a guitar amp to a modeler when playing it in your room or with a small band in a bar is not the right comparison. Keep your amp in those situations.
Instead, compare the modeler to amps in isolation boxes behind the stage where the player is on a 40' stage and is listening to his amps via an in-ear mix. Even if the amp is on stage, the guitar player is going to mic it up and put it through his monitor, he's not going to be able to get that small-room 1-amp tone.
Certainly there's no reason in that case to not replace that setup with a modeler, and that is why you are seeing more and more pro bands switch over. That and the other reasons I gave earlier.
Check out the list of endorsees. Are there any players that you respect in that list? If so, do you think they would use it if it wasn't working well for them? They can use anything they want. Fractal Audio doesn't give product away or pay the players to use their stuff. They have to be doing something right.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on August 24, 2015, 10:28:07 pm
@luke - you absolutely do not need the fractal controller.  Any midi controller will work.  I have a rjm mastermind that cost me $250.  It can perform the same functions as the fractal controller.

Axe fx 2, axe fx 2xl, axe fx 2xl plus all have the same modeling capabilities.  The xl versions just have more memory.  The first generation axe fx 2 still holds 500+ presets and more user cab files than I could ever use.  You can get one used for 1800 any day of the week...add a used atomic CLR for 800 and you have a crushing, super versatile rig....for 2800.  Not cheap, but it's not 5k.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 24, 2015, 11:02:30 pm
Actually $2800 isn't the issue to me, it's paying for 500+ pre-sets that I won't use. Many years ago I opted for a Digitech 2120. I really liked that box and for the multiple genre I was playing at the time it worked out just fine, but when it came to real tone with depth for classic rock and blues I would unplug the Digitech, which by the way cost $1600 with the pedal at the time. It was very convenient to be able and step on a button and have "the" tone for the song regardless of genre. I used that box to push the front end of a 1964 Fender Twin Reverb, and that's where the real tone came from.

That was some 15-20 years ago, and I'm not saying the technology was equal to todays technology, that would be silly. But, for better than $3K the technology would be wasted for my use.

Keith, you refer to the endorsements for the product and I'll agree that's a pretty good list of people using the product, and as a matter of fact I've worked with a few of them. Masters of their craft each and every one of them. The question is this though. Do they use the box exclusively? Probably not, but even using the box at that level speaks volumes.

Like any tool the craftsman will dictate it's use, determine it's need, and determine the circumstances under which that tool will work best. To me it's one hell of a Swiss army knife, But me? I'll stay with the Craftsman socket set passed down by my grandfather knowing it will work for what I do. And speaking of socket sets, I'll sell the 1964 Deluxe Reverb on the left in my picture for $3200. If you buy it, I'll buy the Fractal.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on August 25, 2015, 12:26:55 am

Is the show for the guitar player or for the audience?

Comparing a guitar amp to a modeler when playing it in your room or with a small band in a bar is not the right comparison. Keep your amp in those situations.
Instead, compare the modeler to amps in isolation boxes behind the stage where the player is on a 40' stage and is listening to his amps via an in-ear mix. Even if the amp is on stage, the guitar player is going to mic it up and put it through his monitor, he's not going to be able to get that small-room 1-amp tone.
Certainly there's no reason in that case to not replace that setup with a modeler, and that is why you are seeing more and more pro bands switch over. That and the other reasons I gave earlier.
Put me down as one of those guitarists who abhors in ears.  As you said, if someone does a lot of studio work and is used to that disconnected in the cans thing, then being similarly disconnected on stage is less of a deal.  Although I do note that a fair number of folks who are on ears still have amps on stage and sometimes at pretty significant stage volumes that blow past the 25-30dB attenuation of in ears.  John Mayer comes to mind.  And probably countless rockers who have one or two of the 4-12s hooked up and playing at them.  Or special wedges with guitar speakers in them.

I grew up playing live.  Played on TV in 1968 in SF (although it was pretty terrible Silvertone equipment at the time).  I have a hard time doing the playing in the control room hearing myself buried in the mix on NS10s thing.  I want to be in the room with my amp and K240s or even my Grados.  Which I find to be better than the one ear off thing many folks do.  Otherwise it's playing by braille. 

In a corporate band, on ears, such a thing is probably just the ticket.  I tried it for awhile with a Vox Tonelab which was the best sounding and feeling thing at the time IMHO.  I eventually took one ear out (replacing it with an ER9 plug so the levels were even) and went back to my Fuchs ODS and pedalboard.

A buddy of mine played on the original Guitar Hero tracks.  He used a Roland modeler for most of it.  It gave that already produced sound and he was able to closely match the original highly produced sounds.  Being able to clone the original records (and read down shred guitar parts) was why he got the sessions (although at the time he told me he didn't know why a game company wanted such exact reproductions compared to the usual chugga chugga he did for them).  The modeler was perfect for that.  Live he uses that pedal only for effects and as a master volume controller in the loop of a VHT or Marshall amp.

It really comes down to your approach to tone production.  Having had the experience of playing together with Robben Ford and watching his hands unconsciously feel around the fingerboard for the tone while I was trying to shove some sort of decent tone up the wire into his 2nd Dumble, I'm solidly in the "tone is in the hands" camp.

I remember once hearing a Korg M1 at a store with these great sax samples that blew my mind.  I was telling a friend about it who played both keys and sax.  "It sounds just like a sax."  To which he responded "Who?"  That just about sums up my experience of modelers.  It sounds just like X amp but not as played by anybody in particular. 
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on August 25, 2015, 03:13:08 pm
But if you mix match things it won't be as cool........... I was only pointing out that as a full " rig " it's pretty pricey even if you can get the used prices down to the sub 3k mark. I can get a pretty nice Hughes & Kettner rig for that price and have a very versatile setup. Shoot I can even get an Engl Powerball 2 and cab for right around the 3k mark. 4 channels from clean to mean, noise gate and midi switching if desired.

I have been looking around and researching some more and it seems that the companies are starting to hone in on the decay and low volume input from the guitar. The Line 6 Helix is the newest kid on the block and that seems to be what they are claiming is nailed. I have not yet heard the XL+ supposedly the older versions can support the newer G3 modeling? The lower noise floor of the XL+ interests me the most. If they can truly get that touch part nailed it's game on. while I believe they have it to convincing levels now, I will a bet that it's still not quite there. They seem to keep focusing on what an amp will do at x setting and forgetting about what it will do at X setting when the guitar is doing this. The noise floor and gating interfere with the performance. I could care less if the tone stack is perfectly modeled. Does the sweep of the EQ encoders give me the sound that the amp would have?  The modeling of the core sound of the amps is there, they have it. It's just the touch and feel part they have to get.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Frederik Rosenkjśr on August 26, 2015, 03:32:09 am
As an engineer (and thereby the audience' representative) in small and medium sized venues I much prefer a modelled guitar tone that's OK and under control to a really great sounding amp that's disproportionally loud and messing up everything for everyone...which is quite often the case.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Steve M Smith on August 26, 2015, 04:09:50 am
But a small amp can give the tone and be controllable.

Even modelled, I still want the sound to come from a box with a speaker behind me.

A band with no onstage amplifiers and all in ear monitors is my idea of hell... especially if there's an electronic drum kit too.  Although I appreciate it works for others.


Steve.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Frederik Rosenkjśr on August 26, 2015, 05:31:19 am
But a small amp can give the tone and be controllable.

It sure can, so when it works it's great.


Even modelled, I still want the sound to come from a box with a speaker behind me.


I kind of see the whole idea of placing the amps behind the musicians pointing out into the crowd as a thing we do because that's what The Beatles did in 1963. IMO virtually every guitar amp sounds like crap at a distance on axis - and so we point that at...wait...what?....the audience!?  ::)

Often I feel like someone should ask themselves "Who are we playing for?"
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 26, 2015, 07:49:11 am
It sure can, so when it works it's great.

I kind of see the whole idea of placing the amps behind the musicians pointing out into the crowd as a thing we do because that's what The Beatles did in 1963. IMO virtually every guitar amp sounds like crap at a distance on axis - and so we point that at...wait...what?....the audience!?  ::)

Often I feel like someone should ask themselves "Who are we playing for?"


A good guitar player plays for both him/herself AND the crowd with full control over tone, dynamics and volume.


There are plenty of times and situations when facing the amplifier in a direction other than towards the audience may be applicable. A good guitarist will know this, and a good BE will recommend this before the guitarist can bring up the point. The main factor for not facing the amplifier towards the audience is usually the room size.

I can't respond to your Beatles statement without insulting your intelligence, so I won't respond.
 
http://www.myrareguitars.com/10-classic-guitar-amps (http://www.myrareguitars.com/10-classic-guitar-amps)
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on August 28, 2015, 11:16:43 pm
I don't mind in ears. I have had a couple shows where i got to use them and both were in an acoustic rock band situation. I was fortunate to have stereo mixes and it really helped a lot over conventional monitors.

I used to have a little 15 watt Egnater Tweaker. That was a really cool amp. It required a little work with the cabs I used it with, but when cranked it really screamed, the down side was that it was only just loud enough for the rock band I was in and it required a short 10' cord to get the sound I wanted with the guitar I typically used with it. Any longer a cord and it was just too dark when the volume was rolled back and adding highs in the tone stack made it sound brash and sizzley. I eventually broke down and used a clean boost on a different channel of the amp! While it really came to life it also lost a little level. It would start to really break up at the needed SPL. I just couldn't get the sound I wanted at the level I needed it at in an unsupported venue with VOX only in the PA. I went to a 50 watt JCA 50H with a 4x12 cab. While a lot bigger and now overkill, I could get the sound I wanted at the level I needed it at and I didn't have to use pedals!

I used two different modeling units about the same time in rehearsal situations. While the modeling offered endless sound options, dialing it in to sound natural was not easy and furthermore, when teh guitars volume was rolled back, the modeling fell apart and wouldn't work for me. It woul';t work to create another patch either as most all the song in the band were written around volume swells ( AKA dynamics :) ) After a few rehersals the band and myself were not convinced and I went back to amp and cabs. I still really want a modeler to work though. A lot of my favorite acts are using the AXE FX and they have found a way to make it work. I am not playing in any bands right now so justifying an AXE FX is going to be hard to slip past the wife....... Also, I am really waiting until I know they get the dynamics part worked out. The AXE FX seems pretty future proof, but it has gone through several renditions in the past couple years and it is beginning to seem like an I-PHONE to me. Every time you get the newest unit, 6 months later there is another new one.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on August 29, 2015, 08:38:29 am
Nothing is future proof....but the new axe fx models seem come out like every 5+ years or so....so a little different than iPhone  :)

The dynamics when rolling off volume is one of the things that the axe does really well.
I encourage everyone to check out the fractal forum and go to the recordings page....listen to some clips to see what great tones people get.
Preset exchange as well...lots of popular artists will share their presets.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 02, 2015, 01:47:32 pm
So, maybe the latest fw update (called "Quantum", released yesterday) will appeal to players that still aren't feeling the dynamics are right in the Axe-FX...
http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-discussion/103757-quantum-dynamics-post-your-thoughts.html
http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-discussion/103735-axe-fx-ii-quantum-rev-1-00-public-beta.html

I'd love to hear what a die-hard tube amp enthusiast thinks about this update.
I'm thinking that a proper comparison would be against a tube amp, mic'd up in isolation, played through monitors, PA or headphones.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on September 02, 2015, 02:21:56 pm
So, maybe the latest fw update (called "Quantum", released yesterday) will appeal to players that still aren't feeling the dynamics are right in the Axe-FX...
http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-discussion/103757-quantum-dynamics-post-your-thoughts.html
http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-discussion/103735-axe-fx-ii-quantum-rev-1-00-public-beta.html

I'd love to hear what a die-hard tube amp enthusiast thinks about this update.
I'm thinking that a proper comparison would be against a tube amp, mic'd up in isolation, played through monitors, PA or headphones.

I'm excited to download this tonight and see how what improvements have been made!
Fractal keeps closing the gap....which is why I love the unit.  All firmware upgrades/updates....free of charge.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on September 02, 2015, 02:34:23 pm
I'd love to hear what a die-hard tube amp enthusiast thinks about this update.
I'm thinking that a proper comparison would be against a tube amp, mic'd up in isolation, played through monitors, PA or headphones.
At this point, you may as well use a sampler.  What folks don't seem to understand is that an electric guitar/amplifier combination is an acoustic instrument.  There may be some physical separation between the part the player touches and where the sound comes out, but it is the same as a piano or trumpet in that a good player is constantly listening to the sound produced and altering what they are doing to make a sound that fits that moment in the music.  And because the sound from the speaker causes vibrations in the generating part of the instrument there is a whole gestalt to how it works as a system.

Now in highly produced pop music, much sound we associate with acoustic instruments has been highly processed and altered to create a sound effect within the mix that suits the production people creating it for the audience.  The actual musicians are like sample players feeding a signal into the effects chain that will become part of a reproduction of a highly processed recording or "live" presentation.  I have friends in Vegas who have been reduced to sample players for years.  They yearn for those small gigs where they can play next to their amp and form notes with musical intent.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 02, 2015, 04:20:11 pm
Ok, Devil's advocate here...
Do you feel that anyone in the audience would be able to tell the difference, or is the "playing next to the amp" only for the performer's benefit?
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on September 02, 2015, 04:52:06 pm
Ok, Devil's advocate here...
Do you feel that anyone in the audience would be able to tell the difference, or is the "playing next to the amp" only for the performer's benefit?
It depends on if the audience is hearing only the PA or the venue is small enough that they hear the stage wash (like in a small bar).

Sound samples are like 2-D while standing next to a guitar amp is like 3-D. If you mic the guitar amp (or take a direct out) you converted it from 3-D to 2-D just like the sample, so depending on the quality of the sample, indistinguishable (is it live or memorex  ;D)  after it comes out of the PA.

In fact this phenomenon is not just running instruments through a PA...   A classic marketing demonstration was to put a loudspeaker and a small chamber music group on stage in a large concert hall. By the time the sound reaches the audience it has been so smeared by room reflections and reverberation that the speaker sounds just like the real instruments, even if using crappy memorex tape... (or AR loud speakers in Symphony Hall).  8)

JR

 
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Steve M Smith on September 02, 2015, 04:55:01 pm
Ok, Devil's advocate here...
Do you feel that anyone in the audience would be able to tell the difference, or is the "playing next to the amp" only for the performer's benefit?

For myself, I like to be close to the amplifier so I can have it just slightly below the point of feeding back as I find that gives a nice feel.  I play 1950s rockabilly with a hollow body Gretsch and this is achieved quite easily with a small amp at not too high a volume.

I am now equally happy using my 17 watt valve/tube WEM amp or one of Fender's little Mustang modelling amps. No, the modelling amp is probably quite a bit different from the amps it is trying to model - however, I can get it to make a sound I like and it feels right playing through it so I don't think I can ask much more of it.

I suspect the rock players will have similar views but with solid body guitars and bigger amps at higher volumes.


Steve.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: David Buckley on September 02, 2015, 05:10:50 pm
And because the sound from the speaker causes vibrations in the generating part of the instrument there is a whole gestalt to how it works as a system.
Yeah, which is why I like rocking through my Marshall stack.  Whatdayamean, turn it down?  It doesn't do quiet, it has one setting, loud.

(The Marshall stack (100w, 50w, and 3 4x12s) got sold in the 1980s.  Been using a GX700 for years.  yes, its a compromise)
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on September 02, 2015, 05:22:21 pm
There are a few different aspects of that.  If the performer benefits in being able to play better, does that then benefit the audience?  Example: I did a showcase for a local artist where he had this idea for a kind of JB/I Got You part on the guitar.  Standing next to my amp at a great local jazz venue (Kuumbwa if you've heard of it) I was able to milk sustaining notes sliding a chord back and forth over one fret.  He liked how it came out and called me in when he got a budget to do proper recordings of his tunes.  That engineer put my amp in the room and expected me to play in the control room listening to a mix on NS-10s.  I managed enough of them that they were able to computer edit into the ones that didn't come out.  But what a pain!  Had the guy let me be in the same room with my amp and able to hear it, I could have pulled the part off just as I had done live.  Maybe even better.

That story leads into the discussion of musical genres.  That was essentially jazz with a funky twist.  Acoustic piano, horn section, split between acoustic and electric bass, electric guitar and drums.  Subtlety of tone production and dynamics are much more important there than something like death metal, or even the rockish guitar parts in modern country.  In those genres with denser arrangements and layers of sound, a more uniform and controlled sound is an asset.

I have a buddy who plays in Vegas.  While playing for a certain brother/sister act, they asked him to re-record some background guitar parts that were on tracks.  For that, he used a Pod kidney bean.  Recorded well and blended together in the production that was the "show".  Conversely while working for a Vegas legend singer/pianist who was also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and often featured his band my friend brought out his prized blackface Twin and engaged with the other musicians in actual "live" performances ranging from jazz to older pop.

I've seen Maroon 5 a couple of times.  Valentine has a pile of high end amps behind him to get sounds he likes and I suppose inspire his playing.  Levine has a handful of things hiding behind a fake Marshall backline that he only hears in the IEMs.  Both are good players, but I hear much more expressiveness in Valentine's playing.

I missed most of the '80s and the giant racks of doom as I stopped playing out and mostly listened to classical and acoustic jazz at home.  That Lukather super processed sound never has appealed to me.  There is a live album called No Substitutions that features both Luke and Larry Carlton.  As amazing as Lukather's technical and theoretical prowess is, it tends to go in one ear and out the other until I hear Larry kick in.  When I go hear Larry stand next to his Dumble at Kuumbwa or Yoshi's, I hear complete musical statements with every aspect of each note formed with artistic intent.

It's probably just my prejudices but I can't tell the difference between a wound up Rectum Fryer and a Kemper so that may be appropriate to those genres.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on September 02, 2015, 05:55:06 pm
To be honest most of the high gain amp models probably sound better than their modeled counterpart when ran full bore, but that's where it ends. I like high gain amps not so much because of the gain, but because of the ability to go from somewhat clean to mean. If you take a gain banger like the Peavey 6505+ ( which is not exactly known for being a blues or clean amp ) and turn the guitars volume down, you can get some really nice bluesy break up. It does not sound like a pushed Fender Twin, but it sounds bubbly and organic.  It does not sound sterile or lifeless as one might think. This is where the difference between the modelers and the real thing show. When you turn down the volume or let the note ring out, the modeler starts to fall apart and it's noise gate, and decay algorithm start to choke the sound and it's starts to sound fake and the dynamics go away.

I have no idea how the models of amps are made? What I think they need to do is nail down what an amp sounds like at X setting with the full sweep of the guitars volume and tone knobs. Repeat this step for each of the X settings on the amp and you may get there?
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 02, 2015, 06:10:54 pm
I've seen Maroon 5 a couple of times.  Valentine has a pile of high end amps behind him to get sounds he likes and I suppose inspire his playing.  Levine has a handful of things hiding behind a fake Marshall backline that he only hears in the IEMs.  Both are good players, but I hear much more expressiveness in Valentine's playing.
Interestingly, Valentine uses an Axe-FX for some of his effects. Hasn't given up his amps yet, but why should he? He likes the way they sound and he doesn't have to haul them around or set them up! ;-)
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on September 02, 2015, 06:27:52 pm
Some years ago at a party I met the CTO of a company that made specialized processors for running audio plugins including modelers.  He was actually a pretty fair guitarist in his own right and was also playing at that party.  Using his companies products of course.  He was the one who explained to me the difficultly of converting digitally modeled distortion and the aliasing artifacts you get.  I think the Fractal people either knew him or had played with his products as the AxeFX was the first dedicated guitar modeler I heard that didn't reek of those artifacts, although they were still there.

I told him about the internet craze over Dumble amplifiers (back when they were running $30K instead of the $100+ or whatever Mayer paid for his) and he was interested.  He'd heard my Dumble derived Fuchs at the party and was impressed.  I'd told him that if he could nail that, he would have a goldmine.  His response was to ask about schematics.  He said they approached modeling by adding together the behavior of each component and the interactions the computer could derive.  This was supposed to be better than the convolution models folks like Roland were using.  I sent him some schematics that were on the net with the caveat that Dumble tweaked each amp for the session player he made it for so the reverse engineered schematics on the net were only a snapshot of those particular amps.  Never heard back how it went but I never saw any claims on TGP or elsewhere about someone nailing the Dumble.  There's only one guy who's been successful at cloning one of them as a physical amp in spite of all the people who've tried.

WRT JR's comment about 2D and 3D, there is also the effect of the speaker cabinet radiating in all directions.  And how all those overtones mix together in the live sound you hear from an amp.  Similar to micing a drum, micing a guitar amp is an art in compromise to try and approximate the complete sound in space of the instrument.

Like the reproduction of any acoustic instruments, your tolerance for approximations depends on your familiarity with the natural sound.  It's like the inverse of people trying to get acoustic drums to sound like things they've enjoyed on recordings.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on September 02, 2015, 07:19:13 pm
LT Spice is a program that when a schematic is entered into it, will provide the probable waveform of the results. I have heard a few results from members on a homebrew amp forum called AX84.com. This is a great site for information on guitar amp related circuits. I was going to build one and then they closed the Doberman store. I have since moved beyond the basic structure of the AX84 core project amps and am ready now to instead build a SLO-100 replica. In either case I get the feeling a program like LT Spice is only the very beginning of how the model is created. There is then cab, mic and environment modeling not to mention the fine tuning of the amp model itself.

I remember the first modeling amp that I can recall that boasted component level modeling; the Fender Cyber Twin. It claimed to recreate the physical signal path of the amps it modeled by switching in and out the needed analog components and or digitally creating it ( reverb, tremelo, Timbre shaping etc. ). This was in 2001. It was a cool amp and sounded pretty dang good. But it still wasn't what it was modeled to be. I currently have a Mustang 1 practice amp. While it is far from the real deal, it sounds pretty dang good and I would play a gig with it just to be a brat. It has some models that you can tell they spent a better deal of time on.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: David Buckley on September 02, 2015, 07:30:17 pm
...there is also the effect of the speaker cabinet radiating in all directions.  And how all those overtones mix together in the live sound you hear from an amp.  Similar to micing a drum, micing a guitar amp is an art in compromise to try and approximate the complete sound in space of the instrument.
I'm actually not that fond of the actual sound that comes out of a guitar amp's speaker(s), or indeed, out of most drum kits.  Once there is a well-placed mic in front of the source, and a bit of appropriate EQ, I find that a far more present listen.

About the only "electronic" source I like natively is a Leslie, and of course they are a nightmare to capture decently for live use.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on September 02, 2015, 08:22:52 pm
I'm actually not that fond of the actual sound that comes out of a guitar amp's speaker(s), or indeed, out of most drum kits.  Once there is a well-placed mic in front of the source, and a bit of appropriate EQ, I find that a far more present listen.

About the only "electronic" source I like natively is a Leslie, and of course they are a nightmare to capture decently for live use.
When you are shoe horning a 3-D instrument like a drum or guitar amp down to 2-D to run though a PA there is some skill and art involved in making it sound good. Note: i did not say making it sound like the actual instrument, just making it sound good through the PA a different task. Of course you will always get the performance.

JR
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Scott Bolt on September 02, 2015, 09:13:16 pm
Great thread guys.

My background .....

While I don't have Bob's plethora of fender tube amps (actually don't own any tube amps any more), my previous amps were a Fender HRD, Fender twin reverb, and a VHT Pitbull.

I currently gig through a Kemper profiling amp, and the entire band has stereo IEM feeds with individual mix capability.

For years, I have been asked why someone of my background (I am an electrical engineer) would carry around such a heavy tube rig (both head and cabs) when digital would be so much lighter.  My reply for over 35 years (you got me there too Bob) has been that "don't you think I would be using it if someone made a light, versatile digital device that I could get this tone out of?".

So ..... Last year I did some research after a particularly grueling week of gigging that left my back explaining loudly to me that I am no longer 18 ;)

There are really 2 serious digital guitar processors out there.  Axe II FX and Kemper.  The general consensus in the never ending debate between these two solutions is that the Kemper better captures the feel and tone of a real tube amp while the Axe II FX has better efx capability.  The Kemper is a bit less expensive than the Axe II Fx.

So ... here is what I have learned gigging with the Kemper now for a little over a year.

Does it sound exactly like a tube amp if you listen to it through a good full range powered speaker?

Very close, but not quite.  The reason for this is that the unit is truly a profiler.  The profile captures the amp, amp settings, any pedals you are using, that cab, and the microphone used as well as its placement.  The latest firmware can separate the cab from the amp so you can better mix and match amps and cabs.

This is NOT exactly the same sound as your ears will hear from an amp when you play .... especially if the amp is blowing air at the back of your knees on stage.

Does it sound the same as a miced tube amp through the PA?

Yes.  Not only yes, but it is more consistently good sounding.  You never have to worry about the tubes changing, being cold/hot, or the mic getting bumped out of that sweet spot.

Furthermore, having the ability to tweak your profiles to your own taste, then A/B the changes results in you getting consistently better sound as time goes on.

The ability to download free (and paid for) profiles is wonderful.  Most of my rigs are free.  I have a great rectifier, Fender Tone King, Bogner, Vox 15, Two Rock, and Marshal JTM 50.

I have played on the Axe II Fx.  It is my opinion that it is has lots of good sounds in it.  I thought it lacked the nuance of the pushed soft breakup sounds that are very hard to get out of a non-tube amp while the Kemper excelled here.  Either of these devices will get you great tone if you do a little work on it.

You will never get me to say bad things about a good tube amp.  Setup well, miced well, and used to its potential, tube amps are fantastic.  I played on nothing but tube amps for over 35 years before going digital.

Here is the thing though.  Most bands DON'T have the tube amp setup, played at a low stage volume, and properly miced and eq'd at the channel strip..... so they produce tons of stage noise that bleeds into the vocal microphones, they are beamy and blast one side of the audience while they are not clear to the other side of the audience.

Don't get me wrong, the kemper and Axe need a monitor speaker to play lead with.  You need the air interaction with the strings.  The separate PEQ for the monitor output is very good for getting your monitor sound tweaked for your playing pleasure as well as getting good string interaction ...... all while not effecting your FOH sound (that the FOH engineer mixes for you).

Oh, and my Kemper weighs 11 lbs ;)  My setup time is insanely low now!
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor (Ross Comp)
Post by: Deric Craig on September 03, 2015, 01:41:29 am
I've embraced modeling for other instruments whole heartedly since conception, much like embrace certain transistorized amplifier. Some times it works, sometimes it doesn't. What modeling does do without question, and does very well is replicate effects (except a Ross compressor). Another nice feature of modeling is the ability to replicate the clean sound of an amplifier.

The Ross compressor, for all of it's simplicity, has been cloned by many, many manufacturers. However, for one reason or another nobody get's it quite right. Perhaps it's the old bit bucket chip combined with old clown fish caps. Who knows, but I own a pair of them and selling them on Ebay for $350-500 would be a walk in the park. What I do know is that they don't change your tone, alter the feel, or change the sound of your guitar/amp in any way other than provide sustain when used properly. So, in the end people will use what's best for them and if they get good sound I'm all for it.

Hi Bob

When I seen the pedal board photo I saw an old friend on there. I too have the grey Ross and bought it new in 1980. I agree that nothing works quite like the Ross for me. How you described it is bang on. I have it for sustain basically plus a line drive buffer from corded guitar to the rest of my set up. Yes, I had looked at a few ads for that comp and was floored at the asking prices. If I ever lost mine I would have to have another one. I had to repair mine 3 times in 35 years. Not too bad a track record.

This modeling discussion caught my eye initially. In the early 2000s, I was performing with a very busy regional modern country act. They acquired me for my stage sound and rock background. I was using (and still do) an older valve Marshall, a 4-12 with Greenbacks, Les Pauls and a unique collection of analog processing. I did use respectable stage volume.

In Spring of 2003, I was forced by the front man/boss to drop the stage rig amp and everyone process direct at that time (to prepare for fly dates). The others used Pods and I adapted my pedal board minus my rack of cool stuff. I will say I did not like the whole deal at all. My sound disappeared. The feel, the tone, and the "talk" between the axe and amp - all was lost.

Less than a year later, I became completely fed up with not enjoying the shows. I showed up with my regular rig and the lead vocalist came over to me and said Oh, I see you have your amp tonight. I just said, yes sir.

That night rocked. What a difference for me. The lead singer grudgingly said how good I sounded for the show.The group ended late 2004 and I still use that rig today in my 80's AOR cover group.

I very much respect the individuals who prefer and use modelers and can do it well. The times I mix FOH upon request by other groups, I have seen/heard too often the inability of a guitar player to dial in his modeler device or amp - like a Line 6 amp rig one night was horrid sounding... I couldn't wait to be done...

Carry on
Deric
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on September 03, 2015, 08:30:51 pm
My big hangup with the modelers aside from lack of touch dynamics was the difficulty ( at least for me ) in dialing in a sound that sounded like and amp in the room. The sounds created were great, but they sounded out of place an unrealistic. I think the big breakdown was that for 20 something years I had used an amp that was placed in the room. Now I'm trying a modeler that emulates the sound of an amp in a room and mic'd that is then replayed into the PA which is in a room. So the sound was pretty far from the norm in terms of what I and many others are USED too. I have always felt that a mic"d guitar amp supported through the PA always sounded better than the amp alone. So it should be easy to get a mic'd guitar sound in the modeler right? Well it is, but it's also the only think you hear and as a player making it fit an a sonic aesthetic was troubling.

My latest attempt was with Positive Grids Bias app! Talk about cool stuff. I have heard the desktop version will give Fractal a run for the money. The app ran from my Ipad was very nice and easy to get a desirable sound that sounded pretty realistic, but it still lacked touch dynamics. I use it now for silent practice. If you have not yet heard, or tried Positive Grid's Bias and Jam up, give it a shot, definitely a cool, cheap and awesome practice tool. 
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Bob Leonard on September 03, 2015, 09:33:10 pm
And 52 years later I still can't find anything that will come close to the sound of my Gibson/Maestro fuzz tone. I only use it for one song, but it's the only thing I've found that can give me any type of satisfaction.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on September 03, 2015, 09:59:55 pm
My big hangup with the modelers aside from lack of touch dynamics was the difficulty ( at least for me ) in dialing in a sound that sounded like and amp in the room. The sounds created were great, but they sounded out of place an unrealistic. I think the big breakdown was that for 20 something years I had used an amp that was placed in the room. Now I'm trying a modeler that emulates the sound of an amp in a room and mic'd that is then replayed into the PA which is in a room. So the sound was pretty far from the norm in terms of what I and many others are USED too. I have always felt that a mic"d guitar amp supported through the PA always sounded better than the amp alone. So it should be easy to get a mic'd guitar sound in the modeler right? Well it is, but it's also the only think you hear and as a player making it fit an a sonic aesthetic was troubling.

My latest attempt was with Positive Grids Bias app! Talk about cool stuff. I have heard the desktop version will give Fractal a run for the money. The app ran from my Ipad was very nice and easy to get a desirable sound that sounded pretty realistic, but it still lacked touch dynamics. I use it now for silent practice. If you have not yet heard, or tried Positive Grid's Bias and Jam up, give it a shot, definitely a cool, cheap and awesome practice tool.

I use positive grids bias....great for hotel room jamming.  Really fun app....love it.
Record it next to a fractal and it's not even close.  I wish it was, because I'd love to just take an ipad to a gig!  I would love it if the desktop app will compete...but I'm not holding my breath.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Scott Wagner on September 04, 2015, 10:08:58 am
A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Tim Tyler on September 04, 2015, 10:19:14 am
And 52 years later I still can't find anything that will come close to the sound of my Gibson/Maestro fuzz tone. I only use it for one song, but it's the only thing I've found that can give me any type of satisfaction.

I had a Maestro fuzz tone years ago, it got stolen.  Satisfaction became much more difficult to attain...

-Tim T
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: John L Nobile on September 04, 2015, 12:07:58 pm
A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.

+1

Did that route with Leslie modelers. They're all landfill.
When I get home I'm going to give my 122RV a hug lol.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Stephen Kirby on September 04, 2015, 12:52:51 pm
A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.
I have three amps.  Kind of a Goldilocks thing.  A ZT Lunchbox for rehearsals and small jazz gigs, A 100W Fuchs ODS with a clone of Robben's 2-12, and a drip edge Deluxe Reverb I snagged off the Bay with a blown PT.  Replaced both trannys with Allen parts for an Accomplice (basically Vibroluxe parts with the OT wound for the output impedance of 6V6s) and rebuilt the guts with orange drops, blueprinted carbon film signal and metal film resistors in non-signal location (after long internet discussions with Allen, Aiken, Kimock and various others).  Puts out around 28W at clip.  Like Goldilocks, I find that the DR is "just right" for most bar gigs and recording.  Together with a 100W Parts Express L-pad, I can get it to do whatever I want at any decent volume.  The guy who turned me on to the L-pad bit, ex Miles guitarist Garth Webber, sells these made up in boxes with jacks but I imagine most folks here can put together their own.  Entirely different dynamic feel than the commercial power soak things.  There's more "chirp" and less of a squashed feel.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on September 06, 2015, 12:24:42 pm
A '64 Deluxe will get you through any gig with a smile on your face. I doubt any modeler can really do that for me. Spend your thousands of dollars on something worth owning. In 50 years, that amp will still be doing its thing (and probably be worth a giant pile of money), while that Fractal will be a distant memory - heck, you'd be hard pressed to get 10 years out of that thing before it's completely obsolete.

Trying not to stray too far off topic here, because the original ask was about how the Fractal sounds through a PA....and I can tell you it sounds awesome.
If I'm hanging in my studio, will I turn on one of my Marshalls/Fenders, just because I want to get the exact feel I love....yup, I will.
But on the road, the Axe FX is a god send.

Fractal being a distant memory in 10 years could not be further from the truth. 
Take 2 seconds to think about the technology revolutions over the past 10-15 years.  Digital is where everything is going.  Everything.
ProTools vs. Tape.  Digital Mixers vs. Analog.   Power Amps with DSP vs. Analog Xover.  Digital Effects vs. Tape Machine and Reverb Tank.  Cell Phone vs. Land Line. blah, blah, blah.
Now take a look at some of the converts over the past 2 years (U2, Metallica, Rush....).  Artists are realizing the reward of using the Fractal. 
When you can get 90% realism for 100's of amps out of a 2 space rack....well then, this is an easy decision when packing a trailer for a tour.

Better yet, head to NAMM this year and look at how many Guitar manufacture booths have a Fractals for demo purposes.  Why?  Because you have 100's of DIFFERENT tones that sound outstanding, in one 2 space rack.
I would love to bring a 64 Deluxe everywhere I go....but it's just not economical, especially since I need FX and 'other' amp tones than just a 64 Deluxe.  (for the record, I love the 64 Deluxe)

This past January at NAMM I ran into a very well known guitar player at a bar (not going to mention the name to secure his privacy).  It was early in the week, so the bar was empty.  Great opportunity to introduce myself to one of my heroes and talk some shop.
During the conversation I said - I know you use the Fractal just for FX, but still use your tube amps for tone.
He said - "yes, I do still use my tube amps as I still love them....but man the Axe FX is getting so close, it's getting hard to deny just using it for everything."
The part of the conversation that stuck with me was this - he stated, "I love my amps, and I can tote around big gear, so I do.  But I feel a bit like a dinosaur still lugging these big amps around.  Kids now a days would likely look at me like I'm crazy for lugging this stuff around.  They all are growing up on digital, and it's such a tiny package and the tone is getting so close, that tube amps are eventually going to be looked as stupid to carry around."

The point here is - as the younger generation keeps getting into the scene, and the tech keeps getting better...digital is going to just keep growing and growing.  Are tube amps ever going to go way, not a chance.  And they will likely become more expensive as a 64 Deluxe is going to be rarer than rare at some point.  (which is why we all hang on to them...haha).
But thinking that Fractal (who is at the top of the game, along with Kemper) will be gone in 10 years, is just not reality.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 06, 2015, 11:30:00 pm
The same arguments were had in the past and some are still going.
Records vs CD
CD vs MP3
Analog crossovers vs digital
analog mixers vs digital
Wedges vs inears
Etc etc
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Scott Bolt on September 07, 2015, 04:36:44 pm
My lead player has a Bogner .... and it is a good sounding tube amp.  When I first used my Kemper, he was ahead of me in the tone game.  I no longer feel that way. 

After a bit of time to tweak things in on a few profiles, the Kemper can go from a great sounding clean Fender, to a triple rectifier so thick you can almost swim through the notes ;)

I carry it in a rack with a self made patch bay on back for my foot pedal, stereo XLR outputs, monitor output, and MIDI foot pedal.  I can carry my entire rig in 1 trip, and set it up in under 5 minutes.  It has exactly the same beautiful sound every time I plug it in and I can switch from a fender clean to a VHT pittbul (my old amp) in around 100 mSec ;)

I think it will take some time for the industry to move this direction.  Currently, only the Axe II Fx and Kemper are serious tools for anyone who has any taste for good guitar tone, and both of these are pretty pricey for someone who is a tube amp purist to give serious thought to purchasing on a whim.

I would agree that the Line 6 stuff is pure, unadultrated garbage.  When I see some poor guy haul one of those amps up on stage, I just shake my head in dismay.  I usually can't stand to stick around too long since the sound is so awful.

I believe that the real barrier to entry for this market is price.  When someone makes a $500.00 digital device that can do what Fractal and Kemper are doing (at over 4 times that price today), I think you will see the tubes start to dry up pretty fast.

This is much like the analog mixer scene when digital desks started to be more affordable than an analog mixer and a rack full of outboard gear.

I figure another 5 years should do the trick.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Jay Marr on September 08, 2015, 11:00:18 am
My lead player has a Bogner .... and it is a good sounding tube amp.  When I first used my Kemper, he was ahead of me in the tone game.  I no longer feel that way. 

After a bit of time to tweak things in on a few profiles, the Kemper can go from a great sounding clean Fender, to a triple rectifier so thick you can almost swim through the notes ;)

I carry it in a rack with a self made patch bay on back for my foot pedal, stereo XLR outputs, monitor output, and MIDI foot pedal.  I can carry my entire rig in 1 trip, and set it up in under 5 minutes.  It has exactly the same beautiful sound every time I plug it in and I can switch from a fender clean to a VHT pittbul (my old amp) in around 100 mSec ;)

I think it will take some time for the industry to move this direction.  Currently, only the Axe II Fx and Kemper are serious tools for anyone who has any taste for good guitar tone, and both of these are pretty pricey for someone who is a tube amp purist to give serious thought to purchasing on a whim.

I would agree that the Line 6 stuff is pure, unadultrated garbage.  When I see some poor guy haul one of those amps up on stage, I just shake my head in dismay.  I usually can't stand to stick around too long since the sound is so awful.

I believe that the real barrier to entry for this market is price.  When someone makes a $500.00 digital device that can do what Fractal and Kemper are doing (at over 4 times that price today), I think you will see the tubes start to dry up pretty fast.

This is much like the analog mixer scene when digital desks started to be more affordable than an analog mixer and a rack full of outboard gear.

I figure another 5 years should do the trick.

Very much agree.

Fractal is about to launch their 'foot pedal' version of the Axe FX (with the same code base as the Axe 2, so sound quality will be the same).  If this has a lower price point, they may pull in more folks to try the great modeling that is available now a days.

The great thing with these units as well, is that when they continue to grow....they will eventually be available for rentals.  This way, you could do a fly date with just a USB stick in your pocket with your Presets on it.  Or of course, you can also take a 2 space rack as a carry-on item.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 09, 2015, 01:27:09 pm
try the great modeling that is available now a days.
Just to be clear, the FX8 is not an amp or speaker modeller, just effects.

Quote
Or of course, you can also take a 2 space rack as a carry-on item.
That's what we do. It's a life-saver.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 09, 2015, 01:47:08 pm
Whoops - I see now that there's an AX8 coming out which is a floor-version (with scaled down features) of the Axe-FX. Thought you were speaking of the FX8, which is a floor board FX only device.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 13, 2015, 09:45:10 pm
Here's what an Axe-FX player said recently when confronted with a player who didn't like the sound of the Axe compared to his amp. I thought it explained it very well, so I'll repeat it here (edited for clarity):
Quote
The best way to explain it is......

Put your rig in an isolation booth, close mic it with a really great mic or mics. run it through a high quality pre-amp. Then stand in the control room and play while listening through the monitors. This is really what your rig sounds like on a recording or in the audience at a large live show.

You and a couple of band mates are the only people in the entire room that experience what a guitar cab sounds like off axis, from 10 or 20 feet away. [Listening to your mic'd up amp through monitors or in the PA] is quite different, but in my opinion it's the truth.

For me, I need to hear what my audience is hearing. I couldn't imagine going back to the lie.

If you mic you cab live, that is what your rig sounds like in your monitors and to everyone else. [If you don't like it], no big deal, lots of people can't handle the truth......lol.........everybody is different.

Again it comes back to, are you playing for yourself or the audience?
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Andrew Broughton on September 14, 2015, 01:40:10 pm
I use the volume knob a lot and want the amp to clean up a little and growl instead of scream and the modelers just have not got that figured out yet. They are not touch responsive in the way a tube amp is and they do not clean up and react like a tube amp does when you roll the volume back on the guitar.
You might find this interesting... (https://soundcloud.com/clark-kent-job/mikkos-quantum-cameron)
He's just using just the volume knob on his guitar to go from clean to distorted and places in between.
http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-preset-exchange/103828-try-mikkos-quantum-cameron-preset.html (http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-preset-exchange/103828-try-mikkos-quantum-cameron-preset.html)
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: Luke Geis on September 14, 2015, 02:00:43 pm
The new quantum firmware does appear to be a step closer. I am still not convinced however.
Title: Re: Frackel Guitar Preamp/Processor
Post by: David Buckley on September 15, 2015, 09:42:22 pm
A playing technique that a lot of non-proper modellers fail on is a string bend against a string that doesn't bend, I have no idea what this technique is called.  But with some setups, you get a ring modulation effect of a low frequency beating as the strings come to unison, and its horrible.  Doesn't happen with a Plexi!