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Let's Put a Close Mic'd AC-30 In Your Lap

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
I have had some time off from gigging and rehearsing and the entire and complete burn out that too much of that can create. My scheduled time has opened up considerably (though real life keeps sucking it up.... meh) for getting back to square and reassessing my entire gear direction.

I have owned the Fractal Audio Axe-FX for 3 years. Many know that, some might not. I have been happy with this black box, so happy that I've used it as my main rig for 3 years of sessions, rehearsals, and live performance. Over those years two things have created a very interesting dynamic - a) Cliff keeps developing the firmware; and b) to get what I want from the Axe-FX, I've developed habits and conventions that I often fall back on because they work.

Simple enough. I got the Axe-FX at version 3.06 (I think). It's at 10.03 as I type this. The feature set, control options and possibilities of ways to integrate it into different rigs has increased in that time. Sometimes by leaps and bounds.

I chose in the fall of 2007 to run FRFR direct to FOH with a powered self-monitor or IEM's. I had to do that for a specific gig that called for a silent stage. I've stuck with that convention because I enjoyed the control it afforded me room to room and night to night. I've called it, "spoon feeding FOH" many a times and it still fits. I get the tones I like, the sound guy gets a easy signal that he doesn't need to do anything with EQ-wise.

A few months ago, I upgraded my monitoring system with the JBL MSC-1 and a LSR2300 Subwoofer; the MSC-1 controller allows you to correct standing waves at your monitoring position, sets your levels for each speaker so you are getting a very flat and even sonic picture.

Cliff dropped 10.03 firmware for the Axe-FX; the biggest thing about it is how the top end 'relaxed' with the amp models; and I found the strength of Axe-FX - that clear top end reponse without hash - was sweeter and juicer than ever. Then I had my schedule open up.

I took the opportunity to tear everything down to the gournd; rethink, rebuild and revisit everything I do and why. I've had great input from some very knowledgeable people and took the advice and criticism I've gotten as I've gone though this process to heart in order to shape where I am going.

So I hit on some ideas and incorporated them and wanted to share them with folks.

This is NOT just a 'patch sharing' type of post. This is a 'teach a man to fish' post; the idea is to share what I am doing and WHY to inspire conversation, share ideas and discuss the reasons behind the choices. The hope is that guys that do not think the way I do can see what and why I am doing might be interesting (or offer me better ways to do it!).

I stripped down my Vox AC-30 Top Boost preset to the basics and rethought it from scratch. I present it here sans any time domain or gain effects; just a pure simple preset - amp/cab/reverb... and some tape drive.

Here's the clip that fooled a lot of folks... Axe-FX or real Vox? http://snd.sc/hJL4tF

Here's the preset: [attachment=0:hxvo9pb1]Stripped Vox AC30TB SP.syx[/attachment:hxvo9pb1]
Keep in mind this is just 'my' way. Not the 'best' way. Not the 'only' way. Not the 'proper' way. I'm just one guy out there doing things the way I do things. I share this not to pat myself on the back - I share this in order to show how and why I arrived at what I do in the hope that it helps out, informs and interests other guys to use their gear - no matter what platform - to get their heads around what they are doing with their gear and get onto making music with said gear.

In order to keep this manageable and not bore folks to death, I'll just present the elements and give context on what, how and why I did what I do.

So here's the basic preset. The main amp block is exposed so you can see the settings:

122010Vox.jpg


Note that nothing on the "Advanced" or "Geek" tabs has been changed from stock default settings. On the Axe-FX, the AC-30's presence control is a cut control at settings less than zero.

So pretty standard settings; lowered bass, treble and some cut. Master is up, preamp drive is down.

I then run a Drive block between the amp and cab. This is for a few reasons. Drive blocks in the Axe-FX are not stereo. So when I set it up post-cab; it sums the signal to mono. I pan the speakers out slightly; it's not a huge thing but I can only work with what I have. I use Drive1 (you get two drives in the Axe-FX) in front of the amp (but not shown here to keep this on topic) It is set up as a tape distortion; but with a tube type clip. The big thing is the balance of the drive and the level output.... along with the big 'epiphany' I had in the middle of the night a few weeks back (yes, I was dreaming in Axe-FX world that night... lol) note the frequency range. It's very limited; that drive is only hitting the lows and upper mids really, it adds a slight compression and body to the tone that puts it 'in your lap' (hence the subject title of the thread) and let's it have space and depth front to back when you listen critically on a reference level system. What's fun is that by varying this simple block up (mostly the drive and output levels) you can use it with ANY amp in the Axe-FX with killer (IMHO) results.

Here's the drive2 Block:
122010Voxdrive.jpg


Then to the cab. Nothing new or special here: though I tried a LOT of things (like two cabs in parallel, etc) but what I was using all along (well, for the past year or so) still just worked for my ear and taste - so here it is. The IR's are both Red Wire; you can use stock cabs if you prefer. I use a SM57 on Vox Silvers and the Bogner Uberkab V30/T75 (gasp!) both at 2" off cap edge and both off-axis. I've been using some form of V30 with most of these sorts of Vox/Matchless/Dr.Z tones since owning my DC-30 and Clubmans (both featured V30/Greenback mixes) in the analog world.
122010Voxcab.jpg


Reverb. Ahh, reverb. I did a thread on NOT using reverb live both on TGP and on the Fractal Forum that was applauded and jeered almost equally on both. :D But a closer look at this reverb might reveal that - kudos to Matman for introducing me to it, Radley and Jay Mitchell for offering their advice on applying it - mostly early reflections. I mix it in in parallel to the dry signal. I know in the Axe-FX that the mix control does the same thing really, but this helps me to grasp it and mix it better.

I don't dial it up and use it as an 'effect' or 'room' more than I use it to fatten the tone and enhance - subtly, ever so subtly - the actual tone and overtones. It's a no-see/no-hear no-room room. :D (Yea, I made that up). I could go on for hours at how I came to this; but the thing is you can easily bring the level up and hear it and use it as an effect (it is pretty cool) but that's not my goal with it or use for it.

When you listen critically to close mic'd amps in the studio (or online, there are a bunch of solo'd out guitar tracks now on YouTube and elsewhere of famous tracks) one thing I have always noticed is that lack of perception of 'thump' and 'depth' in space of the actual cab... not left to right, but 'front to back'. The elements are there in the modeling world - and especially IMHO inside the Axe-FX - AND the analog world (with any close mic'd amp/cab) but if you don't use any reverb, the dry tone can be too dry and sound 'thin'... more a perception of depth in this instance instead of the more common 'shrill' EQ adjective. There's a 'sense' of space when you jam with your amp in a room at volume. The early reflections, as I am using it here, is what I spent a lot of time mixing IR's (back of the cab, far field and near field) trying to replicate... with varying levels of success. I am now convinced that this was a reverb - ROOM - issue. not a IR one.

122010VoxVerb1.jpg


122010VoxVerb2.jpg
 

Attachments

  • Stripped Vox AC30TB SP.syx
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Jack Napalm

Power User
Thank you for taking the time to share this with everyone. Your tone was awesome and the tricks and tips you are sharing are invaluable to the community at large. I am going to have to try these out tonight.
 

Tone Seeker

Power User
Scott Peterson said:
A few months ago, I upgraded my monitoring system with the JBL MSC-1 and a LSR2300 Subwoofer; the MSC-1 controller allows you to correct standing waves at your monitoring position, sets your levels for each speaker so you are getting a very flat and even sonic picture.
Scott, I assume you are using this in your studio. If so, have you done this instead of acoustic treatment, or in addition to acoustic treatment?

Terry.
 

Warrior

Power User
Excellent post Scott, very helpful. I, for one, am very greatful that you take time out to share this info with us.

A sincere thank you is in order.
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
I tried that reverb trick and TBH it's too long to be simulating early reflections. Your clip sounds great though... but IMO the reverb block is just a reverb block not early reflections. ;)
 

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
Clark Kent said:
I tried that reverb trick and TBH it's too long to be simulating early reflections. Your clip sounds great though... but IMO the reverb block is just a reverb block not early reflections. ;)

Umm, we'll agree to disagree. I do have the reverb up -25db.. but what you hear are the early reflections and not so much the verb. Just turn the reverb level down to -40db and you have 100% early reflections (which are a component of reverb Clark). I am emphasizing the use of early reflections (at the full on level of 0db).
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
Ahh... I tried A/Bing it to dry sound and I just heard the 2sec reverb and was like: "is that supposed to sound like a mic in a room". My bad...
 

Axisman5150

Experienced
Thanks Scott for the indepth explanation on your aproach. Many of your post have helped me to "fish" for my tones, so I thank you once again! :cool:
 
Scott, I know you said this isn't a patch sharing thread per se, but I was wondering if maybe you'd be willing to share some of the effects parameters in that AC30 clip. Some of them sounded amazing!
 

randocaster

Inspired
Porkchop Xpress said:
Scott, I know you said this isn't a patch sharing thread per se, but I was wondering if maybe you'd be willing to share some of the effects parameters in that AC30 clip. Some of them sounded amazing!


The patch is downloadable from the first post in the thread. Alternately, you can put in the parameters manually from the screenshots of the editor.
 
randocaster said:
Porkchop Xpress said:
Scott, I know you said this isn't a patch sharing thread per se, but I was wondering if maybe you'd be willing to share some of the effects parameters in that AC30 clip. Some of them sounded amazing!


The patch is downloadable from the first post in the thread. Alternately, you can put in the parameters manually from the screenshots of the editor.


I'm looking for the other effects from the clip such as Rotary, Vibe, Trem, etc...
 

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
Porkchop Xpress said:
randocaster said:
[quote="Porkchop Xpress":3v3az9pc]Scott, I know you said this isn't a patch sharing thread per se, but I was wondering if maybe you'd be willing to share some of the effects parameters in that AC30 clip. Some of them sounded amazing!


The patch is downloadable from the first post in the thread. Alternately, you can put in the parameters manually from the screenshots of the editor.


I'm looking for the other effects from the clip such as Rotary, Vibe, Trem, etc...[/quote:3v3az9pc]

Yes I will; in another thread. I want to do it this way because to just present it all would create an OP that would be 2 pages long all by itself!
 
Scott Peterson said:
Yes I will; in another thread. I want to do it this way because to just present it all would create an OP that would be 2 pages long all by itself!


Understood. Thanks for sharing Scott. This is great stuff.
 

winger

Power User
Scott, As always it's a pleasure to read your thorough explanations. Yet again I learned a lot. Thank you!
 

Morphosis

Official G66 Support
Thank you much, Scott! the clip sounds unnatural natural ;-) often, when i try to learn from other peoples presets it`s bit hard, `cause you`ll see some blocks, filters or drives and you ask yourself: ok, when i bypass it i hear the differense, but why didn` it THIS or THAT way, and is it really needed? Some blocks do nothing on other folks presets, some routings are senseless (in my opinion) ... so, it`s fine to read, whta the creators thoughts are!

So:
Scott@ Thanks for the tape drive trick! read it in your posts before often ... and do experiment with that! i`m on the way ...
Matman and the other "Predelay" Specialists@ You bring me to the "aha !!!! " understanding the working of reverb! Think, Scott also ... a bit ;-)
 

yek

Legend!
Scott, I like the touch that the "Drive-behind-the-amp" adds. But dedicating one of the two precious Drive blocks to that purpose is a (too) high price to pay. :)
Maybe there are ways to get a similar result using a PEQ, multibandcompressor or something?

I read that the effect the reverb provides is supposed to be subtle. Well, I have to admit that I don't hear it at all. That's at home using your preset and nearfields. Probably because of the reflections in the (large) room I'm playing in.
 
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