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Considering trying Fractal again - FM9

sl33py

Member
Hi All,

TL/DR: how many of you are finding you can just choose an amp, a cab, turn the Bass/Miss/High knobs a bit as you would a real amp, and just PLAY and be happy with the sound... without page diving and fiddling?

Long version:

Several years ago i had an Axe FX 2 MK2. Like many, I spent a lot of time noodling with patches to get sounds I liked. I read all the information I could get my hands on, including yeks guide and even watching YouTube videos about the original amps being modelled, to understand how they are typically set to sound good. I got a lot of sounds I liked.

But I also wrestled a LOT with many sounds that just didn't seem right. I remember that for each general family of amps (Fender, Marshall, Mesa, Vox etc) there would be several tricks that had to be done on various page of the amp block to make them sound best, or at least like their real life counterpart. It meant choosing an amp type, then having to 'prepare' it for use/realism, before even getting to the stage where you're 'sitting in front of the amp, ready to play'...

Now, I don't have the Axe anymore, and it's been a long time, so these examples will be COMPLETELY wrong, but it was stuff like:

  • Fender amps needed their input gain dropped to sound as clean as the real deal (either across the board, or certain models because the modelled amp was some hot rodded version)
  • Mesa amps need X, Y and Z adjusted in the power amp section so that they react the way they do in real life
  • Marshalls all needed A, B and C done to them in the amp speaker page, but ONLY if they were non master volume models, otherwise it should be left alone

There were many more examples, I had written notes about all the stuff I had to do when creating a patch using each major type of amp.

Eventually I got sick of having to remember all these little gotchas that need to be done, and instead of just loading up an amp model from scratch and playing, it meant having to create a template for each amp, so that all those little tweaks were already applied and I could start paying quicker.

I also didn't like that if I wanted to keep an amp model authentic sounding, I needed to look up what controls it did and didn't have in real life, to make sure I didn't adjust anything that didn't exist for real, and end up in weird town sound wise.

Now please don't flame me, as I did love the sounds I got, but eventually I got jack of the effort and the gotchas, and on many occasions wondering why stuff sounded weird, only to discover I'd forgotten one of these tweaks. So I went back to a real amp and pedals again and was happier... although limited in sounds.

So I'm now looking at the FM3, and reading about updates like the "Authentic" page, which I can imagine may be the only amp page I'db ever use. But I'd like to ask a few questions. Hopefully you guys and gals can give your perspective/know the answers:

1) Do the gotchas I mentioned above still exist for each amp type? I just want to select an amp, select a corresponding cab (or better yet, have the FM3 select a suitable cab for me by default!), And PLAY, without having to bother with making all the little tweaks depending on what kind of amp I've picked.

2) I read in the latest yek guide that depending on the range of the real amp knobs (rg. 0-10, 0-11, 1-10 etc), then that range will be in different places on the dial on the FM9. This would be another of those gotchas to have to remember..... Does the FM9 map the range of the knobs on Authentic page to the full range of the real amp? Or is it still possible on that page to dial in sounds that don't exist on the real amp, because the real amp knob range is a subset of the FM9s range?

While I know the Axe stuff is capable of awesome sounds, and I think the FM9 would suit my needs, I'm very wary of jumping back in, only to find that I spend as much time on all the above, instead of just playing, like I did with the Axe FX 2!

Thanks heaps for any help in advance
 

Brett336

Inspired
I feel you pain because I have been there as well. I have been using Fractal products since the Ultra days. I was always doing a deep dive and tweaking things because while the sound was good, something always seemed a little off. I currently have an FM3, FM9 and Axe-III. Still have a bunch of my old Marshall amps too.

For me, all the tweaking stopped when the IR technically/resolution advanced. Things started sounding right to me at the UltraRes IR introduction. I never go beyond the basic tone and gain controls these days.

Then you have the new generation FW Cygnus and the solution seems complete - and I have not even tried the new FullRes IRs.

Jump in, you will not be disappointed!
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
1) Do the gotchas I mentioned above still exist for each amp type? I just want to select an amp, select a corresponding cab (or better yet, have the FM3 select a suitable cab for me by default!), And PLAY, without having to bother with making all the little tweaks depending on what kind of amp I've picked.
Fractal's factory presets are tuned well, but still reflect the taste of the person who made that preset. Odds are really good you're going to have to adjust something, just like you would if you bought a regular amp. The same is true of the actual blocks; They reflect the taste of the guy writing the model.

2) I read in the latest yek guide that depending on the range of the real amp knobs (rg. 0-10, 0-11, 1-10 etc), then that range will be in different places on the dial on the FM9. This would be another of those gotchas to have to remember..... Does the FM9 map the range of the knobs on Authentic page to the full range of the real amp? Or is it still possible on that page to dial in sounds that don't exist on the real amp, because the real amp knob range is a subset of the FM9s range?
No, there's nothing to remember, except to turn the knob until it sounds good to you. On a regular amp, do you really care what the numbers are, or what direction the dial points?

https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/ears-not-eyes.125212/

That the knobs have different number ranges from the "real amp" is inconsequential. Off is still off, fully on or dimed is still at the maximum setting, noon is still at half… except that the manufacturer's specs for the pots might have meant they used lousy quality parts as Cliff said in this link: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/no-two-amps-sound-the-same-fact-or-fallacy.109537/

The upside of things is that the AMP models now have an "Authentic" page which reflects the number of knobs on the front of a particular amp. They still won't use the same numbering range necessarily, but your choices of knobs are reduced.
 

Stratman68

Axe-Master
I have no issues NOT doing a deep dive. I have been playing for over 4 decades and find tones I like very easily, using regular amp settings. I also have been here since the Standard\Ultra days.
 
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jljesse

Inspired
1) I don't think those gotcha's exist in the current FAS lineup.

2) I think this is still in play

I just upgraded from my trusty Axe-Fx II MkII to an Axe-Fx III the other week and the #1 thing I'm digging is how little adjustment it takes to make things sound good. So far I haven't had a reason to leave the Authentic controls for each amp.
 

TSJMajesty

Power User
Hi All,

TL/DR: how many of you are finding you can just choose an amp, a cab, turn the Bass/Miss/High knobs a bit as you would a real amp, and just PLAY and be happy with the sound... without page diving and fiddling?
That would describe me, once the FW was updated to Cygnus. But I came straight from a Mesa Stereo rig with only Boss pedals for effects, straight to the modelling world, jumping completely over lots of other gear, to arguably the top guitar processor made (Axe III), so it probably didn't take all of this tech to make me happy.
 

DUC

New Member
I bought the Ax standard 11 years ago. Used it live a couple of times then relegated to recording and my originals band that were just jams.
Went with the FM3 and now using it for all gigs. Things have come a long way. I don't see myself ever going back to amps and pedals again.
Don't be afraid your ears and back will thank you.
 

bdrepko

Fractal Fanatic
I find that as the products and firmware advance, I tweak less and less. With the AXE3 and Cygnus (and even prior firmware) I choose a preset that I like and just make minor changes. Mostly BMTP (just like a real amp), maybe adjust the sag a little, and then choose a speaker impedance curve I like.

Pretty simple compared to previous generations of Fractal, as well as other brands.
 

Deadpool_25

Power User
Unlike with my old AxeFX II XL+, I don’t feel the need to tweak much at all. In fairness to the II I didn’t really use it the way I’m using my FM9 (and the FM3 before it).

With the FMs I’ve been running through amp FX loops mostly, so tube power sections. With the II I tried through a Matrix GT1000FX. That was realllly good but just wasn’t quite right. Honestly it could’ve been a lot of things including me just feeling almost obligated to try out all the tweaks I read about here.

I think I’m in a better headspace about it now. I don’t care to or feel the need to try various tweaks—I just dial up a quick tone and go. In many cases the factory presets are usable out of the box. You can find a tone you like and save the applicable blocks to the block library for easy recall into your own user presets.

And Cygnus is legitimately awesome. I don’t need to tweak much at all these days.

Note: I’m also using real cabs which takes the sometimes-time-consuming task of finding and dialing in an IR out of the equation.
 
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jlpete87

Member
I came from the AX8 as well, pretty late into its life too. I was also a bit frustrated with having to do the deep dives to find the sounds I was looking for, and editing on the device itself was more of a pain as well.

I briefly had the FM3, and recently had an FM9 delivered last week. I can say that all the complaints I had with the previous generation hardware are non-existent on the FM9. I use the authentic controls exclusively along with York Audio IRs. I also find on-device editing a breeze. I don't own any amps anymore, but the one I had that I enjoyed the most was the Orange Rockerverb 50 MK II. Connecting the FM9 to my SD Powerstage 170 and running it through an Orange 1x12, the Rockerverb 50 MK II model in the FM9 sounds exactly as I remember. If I had them both next to each other, I could probably dial them in so it's indistinguishable. Also, I will say that for me, the form factor of the FM9 is absolutely perfect. I don't find that there's anything missing for my use case, and it will probably take me 10 years to explore every possible feature/model.
 

RevDrucifer

Power User
After Cygnus I’m tweaking FAR less than I used to and now I pretty much just stick to the Authentic menu for any adjustments. I haven’t gone into the deeper parameters in a few months now and I used to live there.

I’ll keep repeating this until my fingers no longer move, but starting off with the amp knobs all at noon and finding an IR that gets you 90% there without touching anything is the way to go. That last 10% can be found very quickly by just dialing it in like a normal amp.

The only deep diving I’m doing now is trying to dial in Gilmour tones, but for my own tones, I haven’t spent longer than 10 minutes on dialing something in since Cygnus.
 

sl33py

Member
Thanks VERY MUCH everyone :) All this feedback has given me the confidence to try an FM9 or maybe an FM3 again. Now to just flog off all the pedals needed to fund it!
 

zerolight

Inspired
I think the fact that you can tweak so much means there's always a temptation to try to make it sound better. Maybe that new IR will get there. I find there's always a temptation to tweak. Sometimes our ears just aren't feeling it - with a real amp you just come back later, the the Axe the temptation to spend a couple of mins tweaking, which turns into an hour, it's always there. Not Fractals fault.

I'm never completely happy with my tone. I miss the days of a nice valve amp in the room. But I don't think there's anything better than the Fractal for using at home. I'd like a Kemper again for a different flavour, with a Kabinet, for when I want a Pseudo amp in the room. But next step will be to upgrade FM3 to Axe3.
 

Brett336

Inspired
Back when I cycling through tube amps I recall that I would constantly be tweaking my Mess MkIV to find that great tone just to come back to it the next day to discover my excellent tones from the night before sounded like compressed a$$ to me the next day. So it not just a modeler thing...
 
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whitestrat13

New Member
I had to do some deep diving with the AX8. Now with Cygnus, it is just BMT and selecting the right cab.
Selecting the right cab is the hard part, at least for me. Start with a single IR in ultraRes, maybe add an EQ after it if you want the studio sweetness.

The authentic page usually gets me 90% there. I will sometimes on boutique stuff that only have one or two controls go to the advanced page and tweak the midrange to my guitars. But that’s about it.
 
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