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Fractal Audio AMP models: Recto1 and Recto2 (Mesa Dual Rectifier, 2-ch and 3-ch)

yek

Moderator
Moderator
* EDIT: Up-to-date information is available in Yek's Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models *



MESA is a very famous amp manufacturer, founded by Randall Smith in ‘71 in California. Smith started off with the “snakeskin” Mark amp which made Santana famous. More.

In the 90s MESA released its Rectifier ("Recto") line of amps. This amp's crushing tones define an era of rock music, especially Nu metal. Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Incubus, Korn, Metallica all played Rectifiers at one time. Now they are not as popular as back then, but bands like Foo Fighters still use them.

Cliff:
"Real Rectos are bassy/fizzy beasts but that tone works great for certain genres."​

“Dual” refers to the possibility to choose between 2 forms of electrical rectification (conversion of power from AC to DC): silicon diodes or vacuum tubes.

(The abundance of features on MESA amps can make them a little difficult to dial in for those who suffer from Option Anxiety, Parameter Paralysis or Agony of Choice.)

“SILICON DIODE: (Hi Power) calls up the silicone diode rectifiers offering more punch, a tighter attack with added brightness and substantially more headroom. This would be the preferred position for loud clean playing or tight rhythmic playing with a high front end Volume setting (high gain.)​

VACUUM TUBE: (Normal) position takes a power section walk down memory lane, paying tribute to those vintage gems of yesteryear. In those early days of amplification, the only rectifiers available were tubes. Unbeknownst to their creators, these sweet sounding amplifiers would someday become relics as the demand for higher volumes and more power per package led to the abandonment of the tube rectifier in favor of the five cent silicone diode's greater efficiency. With this decision went much of the sweetness and soul, and by the mid 70's, many amps were bold, loud, and efficient, and unfortunately...sometimes lacking some of that earlier soul.

The Vacuum Tube position gives you a sweetness of sound and a liquid feel that simply cannot be duplicated in any other way. This position shines for single note lead work in either channel and delivers a warm, breathing clean sound in the Rhythm channel that was previously unavailable in all but the best vintage amps. If you are like most of the players we know, you'll probably end up leaving your RECTIFIER Solo Head, DUAL or TRIPLE set to the Vacuum Tube position all the time.”​

There’s also a “Triple Rectifier”, which is identical to the Dual, just louder (150 watts). The origin of the name of this model is unclear. It may indicate the number of channels on this amp, but while the original Dual Rectifier had 2 channels, later Dual Rectos also feature 3 channels. Confusing...
  • RECTO1 models: based on MESA “2-channel” Dual Rectifier
  • RECTO2 models: based on MESA “3-channel” Dual Rectifier
The Recto1 model is based on an early 2-channel Dual Recto, revision F, with 6L6 tubes (100 watts).
The Recto2 model is based on a 3-channel Recto, with 6L6 tubes (100 watts). It’s not clear if the original amp is an early 3-channel Recto or the current Multi-Watt Dual Rectifier.

Cliff:
“The Recto1 models are based on our Rev. F (IIRC, whatever the desirable ones are). The Recto2 models are based on the latest version."​

Many guitar players seem to prefer the older 2-channel model to the newer 3-channel one.

We have 3 models of the 2-channel Recto.
  • RECTO1 ORANGE NORMAL: based on the Orange Vintage channel, set to Variable high gain.
  • RECTO1 ORANGE MODERN: based on the Orange channel, with Channel Cloning / Channel Style Select set to Modern.
  • RECTO1 RED MODERN: based on the Red channel, in its regular Modern mode.
On the original amp channel 1 is the Orange Vintage channel, which is softer and sweeter than the other channel. It’s switchable between two gain modes: Clean Rhythm (not modeled) and Variable High Gain. It also has an alternate voicing: Modern, which copies (or clones) the Red channel’s “modern” voicing. The 2nd channel is the Red Modern channel. It also has an alternate voicing: Vintage (or “Blues”), based on the Orange Vintage channel. This “mode/cloning” business is explained in an extremely confusing way in MESA’s manual, with inconsistent terminology and conflicting diagrams.

MESA added a new channel 1 to the 3-channel Recto, designed for rhythm tones, from clean to rock. This channel has not been modeled. MESA also added a low-gain “Raw” mode to the Orange and Red channels in the 3-channel Recto, so these channels now have three modes: Vintage, Modern and Raw. The Raw mode has not been modeled. Basically channels 2 and 3 are identical, but the controls on them work differently.

We have 4 models of the 3-channel Recto.
  • RECTO2 ORANGE VINTAGE: based on Channel 2 Orange, mode: Vintage
  • RECTO2 ORANGE MODERN: based on Channel 2 Orange, mode: Modern.
  • RECTO2 RED MODERN: based on Channel 3 Red, mode: Modern.
  • RECTO2 RED VINTAGE: based Channel 3 Red, mode: Vintage.
Review of the 3-channel Dual Rectifier

Both amps have these gain and tone controls: Gain (model: Input Drive), Treble, Mid, Bass, Presence, Master. Some of the controls operate differently per channel, in particular Presence, which also applies to the models.

It’s worth the effort to read the tips in the manuals about these controls. There are also suggested settings in there, and entertaining explanations of diodes, triodes and pentodes (which indicate the number of elements within a vacuum tube: 2, 3 or 5), wiring speaker cabinets etc.
Cliff:
“"If you are using the Modern modes be very careful with the MV. If you turn it up too high it will flub out really quick. If in doubt reduce the MV. Compensate with the Level control."​

"The Modern mode in Rectos has no negative feedback so there's a huge bass boost from the speaker impedance. Fortunately you can reduce this by reducing the LF Resonance on the Spkr tab which is something you can't do with the real amp without trying different speakers or cabinet."​

"If you are using the Modern mode then it's all about the Spkr page. Since that mode has no negative feedback the speaker resonance has a tremendous effect on the sound. Adjust LF Res, Freq and Q to get desired response."​

"Depth works by varying the negative feedback at low frequencies. There is no NFB in the Modern Red mode so the Depth knob won't do anything. NFB is set to 0.01 just to fool the GUI into displaying Presence instead of HiCut below the left knob."​

"When you put a Recto into Modern Red mode it opens a relay which removes the NFB."​

"All passive tone controls interact and all the Axe-Fx tone stacks replicate this behavior. The unique thing about a Dual Recto tone stack is that the Presence control is part of the tone stack. So the Recto tone controls also interact with the presence control."​

"Another thing with the Modern modes is that the power amp distorts early (again since there is no negative feedback and, therefore, the power amp has a lot more gain). At 9:00 on the Master the power amp is distorting (it's probably a linear taper pot for the ol' "Wow, this amp is loud bro!"). The taper of the Axe-Fx Master Volume is not the same and you have to turn it up higher to get the same amount of virtual power amp distortion. Another thing is that if you put ANYTHING in the loop of a Recto it changes the tone significantly. Even just a short cable. All the models were made with the loop off. And another thing is that Rectos changed a lot. I have three of them and they all sound completely different. One of them has a different value Gain pot than the others. One of them has a different value bright cap than the one with the same Gain pot. Since the gain pot and bright cap interact this makes a HUGE difference. Experiment with the Bright Cap value.”​

Some players deal with the bass overload in the Modern modes by adding a Drive pedal before the amp, such as a TS. This has a similar effect as engaging the Cut switch or increasing Low Cut on the Adv page.

Other amp switches: Rectifier Select, Channel Style Select/Channel Cloning, Bias Select, Power: Spongy or Bold.

Alternatives to the Recto tones: try the SLO model. Also, the FAS Modern III is similar to a Recto but with tighter bass and a cathode-biased power amp.​

The Rectifier cabinets have MESA V30 speakers, which have a tone of their own. Search the stock cabs for 4x12 Recto cabs.

Clips of the 3-ch. Multi-Watt Dual Recto:





 
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yek

Moderator
Moderator
MESA (about Presence in the 2-channel Dual Recto):l

“These are controls that work in the power section to reduce attack and brightness. They work on a different frequency than the TREBLE Control, and depending on the Mode chosen, and the amount of Gain dialed up, can sound higher or lower than the Treble frequency.

In distortion or high gain sounds in the Orange Channels Variable High Gain Mode, you will find it very helpful in darkening and compressing the sound for single note work. Set the Presence low and this compression will also focus the notes and omit any unwanted buzzy frequencies. For high gain chording try higher settings of the PRESENCE Control to bring out the harmonic haze.

In the Red Channel the Presence circuitry is quite advanced because it switches from one type of Presence located in one part of the power section, to a different Presence circuit located earlier in the pre-amp section. This switching makes the complete transformation possible and is responsible for achieving the Modern High Gains absolute over the top status!

When the Modern High Gain Mode is called up, the Presence makes the move to a new place in the circuit and gets revoiced to work on a lower frequency. Just right for adding attack and urgency, this Presence is the aggression control. It is normal for high settings of this control to make Modern Red seem extremely loud in comparison to the other Modes. This is a result of unclamping what worked as the Presence in the other two Modes and letting the DUAL or TRIPLE RECTIFIERS ponies run free. It is in fact, the loudest setting on the amplifier. Use this Presence with discretion as it can make for some ear damaging, almost harsh sounds if set too high."
MESA (about the 3-ch. Recto):

“The PRESENCE Control is a high frequency attentuator that is placed at the end of each channels pre-amp stage and affects frequencies higher than those of the TREBLE Control. It acts independently of the other rotary tone controls and is crucial in voicing the Channel. It is a powerful global tone control. Lower PRESENCE Control settings darken and, in fact compress the signal which works well to fatten single note solo sounds, giving them girth and focus. Some of the best lead sounds in your Recto will find the PRESENCE Control in its lower regions, where a balanced, vocal response is achieved.

Higher settings unleash the mighty roar of your Recto and this can be great for sparkling clean sounds in Channel 1 and more aggressive crunch rhythm sounds in the high gain modes. Be sure to taunt the beast that lurks in Channel 3 MODERN as the PRESENCE is truly amazing in this most agro mode."​


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yek

Moderator
Moderator
MESA (about the 3-channel Recto):

CHANNEL 2 is optimized for the original Recto VINTAGE mode with a milder PRESENCE range and a blend of top end harmonics more suited to soloing. This helps RAW sound more vintage and warm as well. This PRESENCE has a slower taper and therefore a more gradual response. This means you have finer resolution for the upper harmonic frequencies which is great for achieving the warmest, fattest single note soloing sounds.

The trade off is that for the MODERN mode the PRESENCE peaks out before it reaches true mayhem and there is not the insane amount of top end available. But, fear not...that is the reason behind the difference in PRESENCE Controls.

CHANNEL 3 is optimized for the legendary MODERN mode with a range of PRESENCE far exceeding that of CHANNEL 2. This channels’ PRESENCE picks up where CHANNEL 2 leaves off and allows top end harmonics that are downright dangerous. The trade off here is that for VINTAGE and RAW the PRESENCE is hyperactive and must be dialed with care to achieve the more warm and round sounds. You can think of it like this...a Presence setting equivalent to CHANNEL 2’s PRESENCE Control set to 5:30 (maximum), is found in CHANNEL 3 at approximately 10:00 on CHANNEL 3’s PRESENCE Control. This means that the whole range is compressed for these more vocal sounds and the resolution for brighter sounds is expanded.

VINTAGE: This high gain mode is the famous liquid Recto voice and it can be found in its original state in CHANNEL 2. Its lush harmonic content and fat creamy feel has found its way onto so many recordings, it is now a staple for anyone headed to the studio for an album project. Combining this super juicy, expressive preamp with the Rectos’ black magic, tube-rectified power section creates colors in gain that most players find truly addictive. Single note solo work is effortless as the strings become easy to play with VINTAGE modes musical and natural tube compression. Spend time learning the lower regions of the VINTAGE mode as the overlap between RAW and VINTAGE is a place where many beautiful sounds lie. These two modes are similar enough when VINTAGE is set in its lower range and RAW is set in its medium to higher range and yet, each posses a character that is unique and identifiable. Remember that you can swap channels to achieve different voicings of the VINTAGE sound and no matter which you settle upon, you will likely find your trademark lead sound lurking somewhere in this sea of liquid gain.

MODERN: Aggressive.This is the word that best describes the menacing power of the Rectos’ most rebellious of all modes and appears in its original form in CHANNEL 3. A take no prisoners, crushing assault of top end cut and lightning fast response creates a sound of unparalleled aggression that has set a new standard for hard core sounds. The added tightness of the low end response combined with the radically more present top end keeps the MODERN mode tracking accurately even at extreme gain settings. Keep in mind that when using MODERN in CHANNEL 2 you will have to run the PRESENCE Control almost all the way up to approach the lower range of the PRESENCE Control in CHANNEL 3. This lack of extreme top end can be a benefit when searching for single note solo sounds in the MODERN mode as the more compressed nature of this tamer presence range in CHANNEL 2 tends to warm things up."
 
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yek

Moderator
Moderator
Pffffff ..... I knew I was going to hate writing about the Mesa amps ... Too much features and gimmicks, confusing manuals etc.

Anyway, all you Mesa experts, share your knowledge.
 
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Guitarjon

Power User
Great posts!
I absolutely LOVE the Recto amps.
They are my favorite models by far.
With my band I almost exclusively use the Recto's for rhythms because they just sound so huge.
This is a recent recording from my band with the Recto models:

Here are some more clips I made for my soundcloud recently featuring the Recto's:
 

Sleestak

Power User
Mesa Boogie amps are amazingly flexible and powerful machines. They can produce a nice array of tones, but it takes time to get to know them. I have owned a MkIII, a MkIV, Triaxis (with 2.90 amp), and a Lonestar. I've also owned several of their cabs, including a pair of Thiele-ported 1x12s, and a pair of 4x12s. The MkIII and MkIV amps were especially finicky. Each had several knobs, all of which can be pulled out to switch on a boost or some other feature, plus multichannel options, the aforementioned "clone" switching on the Lonestar, and so on.

When I got the MkIII, it took me a good year to be able to reliable dial in a great tone. During that time, I also dialed in a bewildering array of terrible tones :) I would sometimes plug back into my Twin, and that great Fender tone would just always happen. Of course, my Twin didn't have nearly as many options. it had one voice and that voice wasn't half bad. Once I got familiar enough the Boogie tone stack to find my sweet spots, I started to love those amps. The Triaxis was also very versatile and powerful, but ultimately I just wound up using two of the channel voices. When I got the Lonestar, it was almost like I'd gone back to using (a boutique version of) my trusty Twin again.

I use the Lonestar clean channel in the AxeFX in many of my patches, especially to add sparkle to darker drive tones, such as the Bogner Shiva lead.
 

deathbyguitar

Experienced
The Rectifier sound is what makes guitar worth playing IMO. We have 200+ models and I never once feel the need to reach for anything else. Unless of course I need clean. I wish we knew which 3-channel version the Recto 2 model emulates, like if it's the Multi-Watt version or not.

How high are you guys running the MV with this thing lately? I've been sticking with 1.5 lately with Recto 2 Modern, but I'm always curious to see what others are doing.
 
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Sleestak

Power User
Agreed on the Recto tones. I played a double stack at Guitar Center in Hollywood once, and it was like a full-body massage. Those things really bring the thunder. I don't always reach for such a big grind tone, but that amp is incredibly good.
 

Guitarjon

Power User
How high are you guys running the MV with this thing lately? I've been sticking with 1.5 lately with Recto 2 Modern, but I'm always curious to see what others are doing.
I've been leaving it a little higher recently.
With the newer firmwares it sounds better than before with slightly higher settings.
Around 2 is where I tend to have it now but even 2.5 kinda works.
I use emg's mostly so the right low end helps control the muddiness.
 

Mic

Member
I have to admit, I wasn't really lucky enough yet, to get a tone out of the recent FW Rectos, that really let me stay with them.
Mostly preferred the FAS Modern III, which really was/is more than just a great alternative for me.
 

mnemonic

Inspired
Big fan of the Recto1 models. They were my favorites and main amp models until very recently, when I switched to the CCV.

It seems the Vintage mode doesn't get a ton of love from recto users, but you can get a pretty tight metal tone out of it by eq'ing it totally different from how you would with the modern mode. Gotta turn the mids down as this mode has a ton of mids compared to modern, and the presence way up, since it lacks the high end of the modern mode.

Also really like adjusting the Variac to simulate the spongy mode. Adjusting poweramp hardness to simulate tube recto is cool too, but I really like spongy power.

Does anyone know if it's true that Dual Recs were based in part on the SLO's?
IIRC, the first ones (two channel) were basically SLO100's with some minor changes (including no negative feedback in modern mode, which significantly changes the sound).
 

yek

Moderator
Moderator
Big fan of the Recto1 models. They were my favorites and main amp models until very recently, when I switched to the CCV.

It seems the Vintage mode doesn't get a ton of love from recto users, but you can get a pretty tight metal tone out of it by eq'ing it totally different from how you would with the modern mode. Gotta turn the mids down as this mode has a ton of mids compared to modern, and the presence way up, since it lacks the high end of the modern mode.
Exactly. I've got Presence up to around 6 in the Orange Vintage model (around 1.75 in the Red Modern model), and Mids down to 3.

What also works well in the Modern modes, is engaging Boost.
 
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axifist

Experienced
“Dual” refers to the possibility to choose between 2 forms of electrical rectification (conversion of power from AC to DC): silicon diodes or vaccum tubes.
I'd say "Dual" refers to the two rectifier tubes in the amp, whereas the Triple Rectifier has three rectifier tubes.
 

deathbyguitar

Experienced
I'd say "Dual" refers to the two rectifier tubes in the amp, whereas the Triple Rectifier has three rectifier tubes.

The "Dual" originally referred to 2 different rectifier types, tube and silicon diode, and when they first came out with what they used to refer to as the Dual Rectifier Solo head, they had other amps like the Maverick and the Blue Angel that were also labled "Dual Rectifier", even though they all sounded absolutely nothing alike. But those amps fell by the wayside and the Solo heads eventually won out. Maybe the three tubes thing is how they rationalize it now, but that's certainly not what they meant originally.
 
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Pwrmac7600

Power User
can't wait to get your updated presets. I have never been able to get the rectifier models to sound good, so I am curious to try out your basic settings models of these. I own a Boogie, but mine is a DC-10, so it is a completely different beast. But I am fluent in how differently you have to approach dialing in a boogie as compared to other amps, and I still was never able to get a tone I really liked out of the recto's.
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
I think a good addition would be to mention that the Mesa V30s are not the same thing as your regular V30s. It's a very essential part of the Mesa sound. :) I would go as far as saying that the Mesa V30 is sometimes closer to a Pre-Rola Greenback than a Chinese V30 speaker.

Nice write-up! Love the red Recto. :D
 

zenaxe

Fractal Fanatic
Pffffff ..... I knew I was going to hate writing about the Mesa amps ... Too much features and gimmicks, confusing manuals etc.
Really? The guy who maintains the both the original AxeFx and the current AxeFxII wikis, finds a simple channel switching amp head with a few switches to be too featureful? That's like a space shuttle pilot b*tching about a motorcycle being complicated. :p No offense, Yek. U know we <heart> you.
 
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