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Input level / gain with Strat question

guizmobro

New Member
Hi everyone,

first message here from my part. I’m a 2 time dad and living room guitar player. I was a Kemper user the last 2 years, but I decided to give the axe a chance. I received my axe III this week and I’m amazed! The difference, especially in terms of feel, is immense. I know these kind of things can be pretty subjective, but to my ears, the axe feels a million times better.

A huge thanks to Justin York from york audio. Not only are his products amazing, but he also is a very kind person who put me on to the axe.

one thing I noticed is that I apparently need to adjust the input level quite high. I have a strat, so it’s normal that it’s a lower input signal, but I have to increase level to 90-95% to tickle the red. Is this normal?

little side question: in the I/o menu, there’s an “input gain” knob on the right. What does this do exactly in comparison to the level?

just to illustrate: if I pick a deluxe (vibrato), it starts to break up at around 7 input gain on the amp. Is this normal, or so I need to compensate with the input trim (which in my understanding is a neutral input boost to the signal before it hits the amp)?

if you guys have any tips or advise on getting the best out of this machine, I’m all ears ;)

greetings from Belgium!
 
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GlennO

Power User
Opinions vary. There are two ways of looking at it:

1) Leave the global input gain knob at unity. This will give you the same behavior as plugging into the modeled tube amp. If it doesn't seem to have much distortion, that's probably the same thing you would get if you plugged your guitar into the modeled tube amp with those same settings.

2) Turn the global input gain knob up to get an optimal input level. It may not have exactly the same behavior as the modeled tube amp, but it's probably closer to what the author of the preset had in mind when they created the preset when using a hotter pickup than you have. If you don't turn it up, you may find yourself disappointed when trying out presets created by others.
 

mr_fender

Fractal Fanatic
The whole tickle the red thing is pretty vague and not very accurate. To more accurately set your A/D Input Level, do some test recordings of hard hits on the strings via USB In 5 and look for flattened peaks in the waveform when zoomed in close. Keep adjusting and re-testing until you get the input level set as high as possible with no signs of clipping in the waveform.

In most of my testing, if you want zero clipping in the input waveform, the red input meter LED should only barely blink for a split second on the hardest hits. If it's on for any longer than that while you are playing, you are most likely clipping on your loud peaks.
 

guizmobro

New Member
Very helpful tips! I think I’m going to stick to authenticity as I only do my own patches. If I ever connect to a real version of the amp, the settings won’t be all messed up in my head 🤪
 

Dave Merrill

Fractal Fanatic
I don't think absolute maximum input level is very important, unless it's super low. I believe Cliff has said that the Axe adjusts itself for good level internally, input gain only optimizes the a/d convertor dynamic range, not critical.
 

666was999

Power User
The input controls are there to hit the converters right but they don't make the signal inside the grid any louder.
The more you turn up the input, the louder the signal goes into the converters, but it also gets reduced more in the digital path.
The only control to make it louder is the last control on the page, the gain for input 1.
 
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unix-guy

Legend!
I don't think absolute maximum input level is very important, unless it's super low. I believe Cliff has said that the Axe adjusts itself for good level internally, input gain only optimizes the a/d convertor dynamic range, not critical.
Input Gain adjusts actual gain and affects the tone.

Don't confuse it for Input Level which is for optimizing the A/D converters.
 

sprint

Fractal Fanatic
My experience has been that "tickle the red" to my understanding was too much as I started noticing intermittent "crackle" in my clean tones with my SG. Now I set input level to only hit red on a hard strum of my hottest guitar, and, luckily my quietest guitar, which cannot hit the red, still has enough signal to satisfy the A/D converters so I don't have to change input level between guitars. Also, I build my patches around one guitar - not practical for everyone I know, but personally, I've never been able to get any one patch to sound good accross multiple guitars - I'd get happy with one guitar on a given patch and then, when switching to another guitar, I'd be dissatisfied with the tone / fighting a lot of the settings I made with the 1st guitar etc, so, to resolve this endless tweaking and untweaking, I only embark on a patch with the intent to tailor it for use with only one specific guitar - since taking this approach I am enjoying all the guitars I own much more as opposed to mostly using one or two to dial in everything and having the others collect dust becase nothing is really dialed in for them. For patches dialed in with my Carvin guitar, which has a coil split option and where the split coil mode is much quieter / lightly used / not the mode I dialed in the patch with; I put a switchable 6db boost on the output knob of the input 1 block to inceease the input gain as needed to accommodate the coil split sound, and/or have a separate scene within the patch with amp settings dialed in to the Carvin's single coil mode. I don't use the global input gain control becasue I find the per-patch switchable boost on the input1 block is more flexible and is easy enough to do.
 

guizmobro

New Member
I did a factory reset just to be sure not to miss anything. Surprise, everything was louder. Apparently the INPUT 1 GAIN is 1.000 at standard. The previous owner dialed that down quite a bit to 0.200 or so. I though that the basic value would be 0.000.

Can you confirm that it should be 1.000?

I have to change all my presets again. I want to kick myself for not having done a factory reset right from the start :mad:

As a basic test. A JTM45 with INPUT DRIVE at 5, bass at 0, mids and treble around 8: this is very crunchy already. Normal for a strat on neck?

Everything sounds nice with this machine ;)
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
I did a factory reset just to be sure not to miss anything. Surprise, everything was louder. Apparently the INPUT 1 GAIN is 1.000 at standard. The previous owner dialed that down quite a bit to 0.200 or so. I though that the basic value would be 0.000.

Can you confirm that it should be 1.000?

I have to change all my presets again. I want to kick myself for not having done a factory reset right from the start :mad:

As a basic test. A JTM45 with INPUT DRIVE at 5, bass at 0, mids and treble around 8: this is very crunchy already. Normal for a strat on neck?

Everything sounds nice with this machine ;)
Should be 1.00.

Remember those old Marshalls didn't have a Master Volume. All they had was "Volume" which is Input Drive. They get pretty crunchy past 3.
 

mr_fender

Fractal Fanatic
Don't forget that most of those amps are also loud as hell at those lower volume settings too. The whole Fletcher/Munson volume dependent thing can mess with you and make the quieter output of the Axe III seem dirtier in comparison too. Crank the hell out of your monitors to get a more "authentic" experience when turning up the gain on a non-master volume amp.
 

guizmobro

New Member
Don't forget that most of those amps are also loud as hell at those lower volume settings too. The whole Fletcher/Munson volume dependent thing can mess with you and make the quieter output of the Axe III seem dirtier in comparison too. Crank the hell out of your monitors to get a more "authentic" experience when turning up the gain on a non-master volume amp.

Thanks. I'm leveling with the amp block. Have been playing around with the Deluxe (Vibrato channel), which starts to breakup around 3.3. Adding drives also proves to be a leveling exercice. The most efficient way I found (at the moment) is through the scene levels.

Btw, the editor is a real dream. Really an excellent piece of software.
 

ModelGuitarist

Inspired
Thanks. I'm leveling with the amp block. Have been playing around with the Deluxe (Vibrato channel), which starts to breakup around 3.3. Adding drives also proves to be a leveling exercice. The most efficient way I found (at the moment) is through the scene levels.

Btw, the editor is a real dream. Really an excellent piece of software.
Axe Edit is one of the best parts. It really takes the unit into another realm.
I use it with a dedicated touchscreen laptop so it's almost like turning knobs. Great interface.

Check out @RoshRoslin on YouTube. He has some great tips for getting started; dialing in Master Volume/ Non-Master Volume, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/c/RoshRoslin/videos
 
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