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modelers and high gain ... ear fatigue ... Fractal solution?


Hey guys,

I have a Yamaha thr10 for about 4 years. Whenever i play with high gain it all sounds thin and i get ear fatigue quite fast. Years before that i had an 11 Rack and used it with an Atomic reactor FRFR, but i also had this issue.
Is this user error by me or typical for modeling amps?
I could try an expensive Fractal but fear i will experience the same ...

Anyone has advice or thoughts about this?



Fractal Fanatic
Ear fatigue is mostly from volume, but with the things you list I'd say your more referring to listener fatigue, ie, getting burned out on listening to it pretty fast. Possibly this is from reproducing the tones on small speakers, or the wrong speakers. Possibly its the way the tone is set up... often the result of too much (or too low quality) drive/distortion.

Lower quality modelers suffer from the sum of their low cost parts. Inversely to Fractal Audio gear, every part of these modelers (including the speaker systems) contribute a little more suckage to the end result. Even if it sounds passable on its own, it immediately disappears in a band mix. With the structure, it can only get so good. Fractal products use only top notch components in their construction, each enhancing the signal path, resulting in a full and listenable, believable tone. Yes, you can make it sound bad with bad settings, but you can also make it sound great, and that very easily.

You mention "I could try an expensive Fractal" and you are right... you can try it and if it doesn't work for you, you can return it for a full refund. This is, indeed, the only way to truly know. As for the "expensive" part, gear is like anything else. Cheap sounds cheap, and expensive sounds like you'd expect... quality. In the relative sense, it's not so much expensive as it is priced for the level of quality built into it. Kind of Mercedes vs cheap car.


Power User
Remember that what you connect the Fractal gear into matters. To me the THR10 is a great amp for a compact, inexpensive home amp. Is say a FM3 better? Absolutely. But it's a completely different product too in terms of its design goals.

If you were to run the Fractal through your THR10, it might sound better, but it might have the exact same issues for all I know. You are not explaining what you mean by ear fatigue here because as said, it's more about volume usually. I get ear fatigue if I play my FM3 loud through my studio monitors for an extended period of time. I get the same with my tube amps.

IMO the THR10 is capable of pretty beefy tones within its limitations.

Bruce Sokolovic

Power User
I can't listen to high gain guitar sounds for over an hour without it all sounding like a jar of bees. The electric guitar serves a purpose, but a Stradivarius it is not.

Basically if the tone and sound was a go within the first 5-10 mins of me dialing it in, I tend to not second guess that, especially in the same session and on the same day.


Fractal Fanatic
I play mostly nowadays in a small room as opposed to the auditorium/studios I used to play in at loud volumes. So I tend to crank it a bit too loud and my small room really makes my ears tired after a short bit of jamming. A big help with this (other than turning the volume down) is using Fullres IRs which is Fractals answer to the "Amp in a room" tone. So I use my headphones, and I add a couple of Fullres IRs and my ears are happy for a good few hours!

Mutha Goose

Less gain, and careful EQ.

Most people craft tones at low volume. But then they turn it up, and it's an ice pick through their ears and so much gain, all you hear is noise. Generally speaking, a sound that is perfect at bedroom levels will not work well at band levels, and vice versa.


Fractal Fanatic
It's possible that the monitors are causing ear fatigue, not the modeler used. Playing the same preset and mixing a few recordings at the same volume through a pair of Yamaha HS8's and Focal Alpha 65's made me realize this. Using the HS8s induced ear fatigue after about 30 minutes, I have yet to experience any ear fatigue with the Focals. Saturation, absolutely. That's unavoidable but not ear fatigue.

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
I could try an expensive Fractal but fear i will experience the same ...
When making music, every part of the chain, from the guitar's strings, pickups, the cable, the amp, or in this case the modeler, the speakers and cabinet or, in this case the power-amplifier and FRFR, contribute to generating the sound. It's a long chain of equally important parts and like they say, the chain is as strong as its weakest link. You can rarely get away from that.

Fractal's FM3 isn't expensive gear, by a long shot. It might be more expensive than some other company's smallest unit, but it's extremely well made and has the best algorithms available inside it - I've used several other brands over many years and I'm firmly convinced of that. It's an incredible and flexible tool, and in its category nothing will touch it. So, is it really expensive, or could it be the replacement of a weak link that results in a stronger chain? Don't spend money foolishly thinking some gizmo is the fix to bad playing or some other link that is weak. Keep them all balanced quality-wise and keep your playing ability on par with the gear.

I bought an FM3 because it's small and easily packed when I want something to use for practice when traveling. With a set of headphones and my phone or tablet I have a nice sounding rig that I can stream music to and play as loud as I want and nobody gets disturbed. But, it also works great on stage, and I can plug it into the FOH system and it'll work in live settings equally well. That's a lot of flexibility and beats hauling a combo amp. Would it beat the sound and convenience of the THR10? Definitely so for me, but you can only answer for you, again it's that honest appraisal of where you see yourself in the future and whether it's an investment in your goal, or just a frivolous expenditure.

And, remember, purchasing a good modeler will probably mean having to spend money on FRFR speakers or a power-amp and cabinet, additional cables, probably something to carry it in… the spending, learning and agonizing doesn't end when you buy a real modeler, instead it opens up a world of other things needed to keep that chain strong but it's part of a commitment toward where you want to be.


Fractal Fanatic
I use a Mark IV high gain preset a lot through headphones, and my ears don't complain. But I keep the volumes on the low side and limit the amount of delay too.


@SloeGin I'm not exactly sure what you're describing, but I've had some set ups that even at low volumes for short time periods leave me with a headache and ringing ears. Not sure what causes it. BIAS FX really did this to me, and I couldn't figure out how to make it stop. I had a Rev C Dual Rectifier that would also do this unless I had the presence nearly off.

So FWIW the AFX does not do this to me, but everyone's ears may react different.


Power User
Turn down the gain. 99% of the high gain rigs or patches I've played have way too much gain. Dynamic guitar tone doesn't fatigue my ears one bit. It's the highly compressed ones that do.
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Fractal Fanatic
Compared to a marshall rock sound that has plenty of mids (around 300-400hz?) a good metal tone has it's mids way lower (one octave, say 150-200 hz?) and it is also common to have some very low lows there. The little speakers in a THR 10 can't display that low content that loud, so when the lows are missing it seems to sound thin. Next step then is that you increase gain to fill that gap, to add some fulness. And yes, it adds some fulness, but you get too much gain in the mids and highs then.
They could have designed the model with more lows at Yamaha's already, but I guess they needed to stay away from some security limits, you never know what extreme settings the users dial in.

You need to get the fulness and lows without all the gain, that's the target.
I don't think that the THR has enough controls to fix the problem. If they failed to add a that metal amp that you want, you can't fix that there.
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