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Axe III via Studio Monitor v.s. Tube Combo at the Same Volume

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
Actually, yes, I do. Granted, I know Cliff only from the product and posts here. But, imho, he shows someone who is out to find modelling perfection, on it's own accord.
I agree. He started Fractal because he had a better idea how to do this stuff, he continually checks the way the algorithms work and finds ways to improve them, even when people are telling him they're already great. Cygnus is a good example since Ares 15.1 is a really good sound, but he found some things in the way it behaved that didn't seem right, and started recoding.
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
Hey @Mark Al did you mess with smoothing and proximity in the cab block for your test? I just spent a half hour (?) futzing with it from a copied preset, gonna a/b with fresh ears tomorrow. Definitely makes things feel a bit more "something".
 

Mark Al

Inspired
Hey @Mark Al did you mess with smoothing and proximity in the cab block for your test? I just spent a half hour (?) futzing with it from a copied preset, gonna a/b with fresh ears tomorrow. Definitely makes things feel a bit more "something".
Thanks man, yeah, I play with them sometimes to "fix" IRs, but IMHO those setting mainly affects the tone/EQ but not the feel.
 

Mark Al

Inspired
I agree that the power amp is the weak link in an Axe into Real Cab setup. I’ve tried repeatedly to use an SD 170 power amp at band rehearsal over the last few weeks and it just hasn’t pushed enough “grunt” into the cab. I would describe the sounds as not punchy at all. It’s not an EQ thing, but a speaker interaction thing.

So I got frustrated last night, unplugged the Axe and SD170 and switched to a small Mesa TA tube amp head and Boom! there was the sound. And at lower Dbs. No tweaking, no measuring resonant frequency, no deep editing, etc.

For my personal needs given I don’t play through a PA, I’m thinking about going back to tube amps for rehearsals.
This happened multiple times for me, I thought I was perfect happy with my modelers, as times pass by one day I was just not feeling it, take out my tube combo, bam, there it is!

There is definitely some magic physical synergy going on for a tube combo, with all the parts interacting each other, e.g tubes, speakers and cabs, as if it is alive and breathing... (not good description, I know...)
 

Smilzo

Power User
It also may be that you have more hours in on the AX8 than the more recent versions, so you're both better at getting what you want from it, and used to what you do get. Not saying that's all that's happening, but it's unavoidably part of it.
I use 3 main sound: cleanish, crunch, lead. In AX8 I use a bassman, feed by OD/comp/etc for crunchier sound.
In FM3 the model is different, I try every setting I could think of but the sound and feel is different! :)
So I switch to different amp and landed on a plexi for my crunch sound. I prefer the feel of my FM3 crunch over my AX8 crunch. Lead sound... I love the most AX8, is the "grain" and "feel" of the emulated OD/amp, it's a blend of metal/rock/modern/vintage sound I love. Same or similar setting in the FM3 sound different (in a way I don't like), and I (still) havn't found the amp I'v been lookin for. Clean sound sound similar, sometimes I prefer FM3...
I heard cygnus clip, I love how they sound, I will redo my patch when upgraded... still I think it's ok to love a sound or two of previous firmware, or old stompboxes.
 

Smilzo

Power User
Can't imagine why a $50 Class-D power amp in a shiny box doesn't sound good... :rolleyes:

My Axe-Fx III into a Matrix GFX800 into an Avatar 2x12 sounds as good or BETTER than the amps it is modeling.
If a sound is better, it means it is different. And better is subjective, one could love or need a boxy/bright/boomy sound... it depends.
When it comes to power amp, if you got to hear every nuance it has to be almost trasparent... :)
 

fractalz

Power User
It could be related to the acoustic coupling in the room.

do your genelec have 12" speakers moving air like the combo?
 

Mark Al

Inspired
It could be related to the acoustic coupling in the room.

do your genelec have 12" speakers moving air like the combo?
No they don't, but I did mentioned earlier that it's the same experience comparing my PC212 with tube combo, the PowerCab212 seriously move some air, and it beats all the FRFR I tried(Yamah, EV, Headrush) for AITR experience, but the difference between how tube power section responds with nuances and SS power amp remains true to me.

At this point, I don't need to second guess on this differences, as I performed such A/B tests so many times, with different FRFRs, PC212, studio monitors, Fender Tone Master amps and different tube combos. This difference is obvious to me and easily reproducible, though hard to describe in accurate technical terms, but my OP was an attempt to do so. (The difference of response between Fender Tone Master and their real tube amp is quite obvious though tonally they get really close, many people are happy with TMs, totally gigable for sure, but not as satisfying for folks like myself).

And I am far from being the only one who voice such opinions, though people who did this often get ridiculed around, e.g. see how John Meyer and Keith were ridiculed on TGP with long threads when they compared modelers with tube amps unfavorably...:oops:

Again, it's not a tonal/EQ thing, it's feel thing, and there is a time component, e.g. the dynamic response in time, which may all happen in ms ranges, just showing how amazing human brain is being able to perceiving/differentiating those nuances...

It also depends on your playing style, doing chug chug high gain stuff may have different experiences as I don't do that. I like clean to low gain, and take time to feel how notes responds, bloom and compress in time.

I don't have issue in compression, where dynamic goes from strong to weak, but the other direction is hard to get it right, e.g. getting from weak to strong, the response curve in time feels very different between tube amps and modelers with SS power amps (whereas modelers into tube power section is much much closer).
 
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Mark Al

Inspired
The discussion suddenly reminds me about claims made by Quilter folks, who claims to captures certain magic of the power amp speaker synergy, I tends to think those as mostly marketing talk, unfortunately, I have not got a chance to really play one yet, e.g.
https://www.quilterlabs.com/index.php/aboutus/our-history

Any one here spent some quality time with them?

Funny isn't it? Now well over half a century later, it remains a huge challenge to surpass some of those magic created with old school tubes by Leo back, using with modern technology...
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
No they don't, but I did mentioned earlier that it's the same experience comparing my PC212 with tube combo, the PowerCab212 seriously move some air, and it beats all the FRFR I tried(Yamah, EV, Headrush) for AITR experience, but the difference between how tube power section responds with nuances and SS power amp remains true to me.

At this point, I don't need to second guess on this differences, as I performed such A/B tests so many times, with different FRFRs, PC212, studio monitors, Fender Tone Master amps and different tube combos. This difference is obvious to me and easily reproducible, though hard to describe in accurate technical terms, but my OP was an attempt to do so. (The difference of response between Fender Tone Master and their real tube amp is quite obvious though tonally they get really close, many people are happy with TMs, totally gigable for sure, but not as satisfying for folks like myself).

And I am far from being the only one who voice such opinions, though people who did this often get ridiculed around, e.g. see how John Meyer and Keith were ridiculed on TGP with long threads when they compared modelers with tube amps unfavorably...:oops:

Again, it's not a tonal/EQ thing, it's feel thing, and there is a time component, e.g. the dynamic response in time, which may all happen in ms ranges, just showing how amazing human brain is being able to perceiving/differentiating those nuances...

It also depends on your playing style, doing chug chug high gain stuff may have different experiences as I don't do that. I like clean to low gain, and take time to feel how notes responds, bloom and compress in time.

I don't have issue in compression, where dynamic goes from strong to weak, but the other direction is hard to get it right, e.g. getting from weak to strong, the response curve in time feels very different between tube amps and modelers with SS power amps (whereas modelers into tube power section is much much closer).
Turn the Power Tube Bias down. That controls the shape of the response. Fenders are notoriously biased cold whereas the models are biased warm). Then read my thread on Why Your Amp Doesn't Sound Like Our Amp.

You'll never get the same experience using FRFR compared to AITR. It's physics. It's not a bunch of internet myth and pseudo-science about "mojo" and "tube magic".

I routinely A/B my tube amps against an Axe-Fx into a SS power amp into a standard guitar cab and I can ALWAYS make the Axe-Fx sound as good or better. This isn't subjective. It's objective because the Axe-Fx doesn't hum and crackle and do all the other annoying things the tube amps do.
 

cybermgk

Inspired
More food for thought:

Who do you think masters their craft first?

A chef who is the only person that tastes the food they prepare?

Or the chef who weighs the feedback of their patrons?

(seewhatididthere😜)
The Chef that has a great pallate and training, and relies on their own palette and training, to start with, and not catering to a myriad of palettes, thus creating a muddled mediocre product
 

cybermgk

Inspired
Can't imagine why a $50 Class-D power amp in a shiny box doesn't sound good... :rolleyes:

My Axe-Fx III into a Matrix GFX800 into an Avatar 2x12 sounds as good or BETTER than the amps it is modeling.
I can attest to this from personal experience.

When I first got into Modelling and Profiling, with top level gear, I first tried using a Behringer iNUKE power amp. Yea it worked. But, the results were anything but great. In fact, I stuck to Studio Monitors.

That is until I replaced it (and it was fast) with a Matrix gt800fx and gt1000fx.
 

alexjplant

New Member
I really wish Matrix would fold their 1U GT-series in half and turn it into a small head a la the PowerStage 700... that way I could chuck it in my backpack and be on my way without spending additional $$$ on a rack case that I have to lug around too.
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
Does anyone know a better alternative to the SD Power Stage thats avaiable in europe?

"better" is subjective. What don't you like about the SD? What's your budget? What's available?

I'd start a thread in amps and cabs over hijacking this one.
 

Chris Hurley

Experienced
Can't imagine why a $50 Class-D power amp in a shiny box doesn't sound good... :rolleyes:

My Axe-Fx III into a Matrix GFX800 into an Avatar 2x12 sounds as good or BETTER than the amps it is modeling.

I've had mine (with GT1000) on an amp switcher comparing to the tube amp and I can get them close but not exact. Not exactly "better" but not exactly "worse" either. I close my eyes and cycle through so that I don't know which one I'm on.

This is one of those areas where a little extra forbearance from the masters could be helpful and pay endless dividends of enjoyment to people who still love a guitar cab.

I'll reread that document...
 

∞Fractals

Fractal Fanatic
GT1000fx here ... drives a pair of 2x12s. Turn it up to 2:30 on the attenuators. I also run powered FRFR monitors as mentioned previously.
I keep the traditional cabinets just because I like 4 12” cones moving air.
 
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