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Neither power amp + cab nor FRFR are doing it for me anymore? What's wrong with me?

Lilarcor

Inspired
Hey guys,

I'm stuck in a dilemma. For a long time I used the Axe FX with a power amp and guitar cab (selfmade oversized 212 with Celestion Century Vintage speakers) which seemed fine back then. Then I went to a FRFR setup (Matrix GT1000FX + Matrix FR212) which also seemed fine until I compared to my guitar cab side by side. Now I don't like either anymore.:confused:

With my cab I instantly miss the versatility that FRFR has. My means and my tone seem limited. Everything seems to sound kind of the same. The character of the cab is just so prominent.
With FRFR I can't get the same airiness and broadness in the mids that my cab has. My cab seems to fill the room more and seems more pleasant to my ears. It's mainly the mids I guess (not the high or low end) and I can't eq it in or out. I've tried dozens of IR's from multiple IR makers (ML, Fractal, Ownhammer, CabIR, ValhallIR, Celestion) with single mics, premade and custom mixes, far field, mid field, close mic'ed. It always feels that something is missing in my sound, not so much with clean tones but mid to high gain. I've used about every cab block parameter there is (like dephase, room, air etc), but nothing really helped.

Then I had the idea to use my FRFR setup as a neutral guitar cab and just low and especially high cut the hell out of it to make it sound more like a guitar cab. But no matter how much or little high cut I use there's either some very unpleasant high mid to treble frequencies going on or it just sounds muffled.

I'm looking for advice. Considering I can't get along with about every possible setup, the problem is probably myself and not my gear. ;)


P.S.: Don't know where to post this. Please move the thread to the right place, if necessary.
 

simeon

Axe-Master
try something other than the FR212. don't assume it's completely "flat" or the best sounding FRFR out there.
 

Lilarcor

Inspired
My FRFR setup doesn't sound bad. In fact, it sounds quite fine and drastically different from IR to IR. It's just that my guitar cab has something that I can't get out of my FRFR setup.
At first I thought that it's a problem with the micing technique (close up) which is essentially the sound of speaker with the ear right next to it. But mid or farfield IR's don't sound right at all. Way too distant and most of the time horribly phasey, which makes sense considering how they are shot.
I tried the free Redwirez Greenback pack which offers quite a few otions regarding mic distance and it seems that the tone gets more pleasant when the mic is not right at grill but a few inches back. Haven't seen this in other IR packs.
 

speedloader

Inspired
I'm afraid you developed unrealistic expectations. Miked cabs will never sound as full as actual cabs, and cabs will never make amps sound more different than they are. Try my IRs (link in signature), the X IR with a low pass around 5khz is fairly neutral and clear.
 

Georgy

Inspired
My friend, I too have experienced this on various occasions over my Fractal/Helix 'career'. This happens to the best of us and it can be very frustrating indeed. I've gone from loving my 4CM setup, to going FRFR only, and then back to a valve power amp + normal 2x12. And I still alternate between them all.. still.

I don't have a degree to self-diagnose what I think our issue is.. I actually think it's a combination of ear-fatigue, mixed with option paralysis, mixed in with "I think I'm over this sound now" syndrome!! Don't laugh, it's true! We like one sound, and we stick to it. Then one day, maybe the mood isn't ideal, you switch on your rig, you hit that first E chord and think to yourself 'how could I possibly have liked that sound.. that sounds _ _ _ _'. This happens to all of us at some point.

Is there a cure..? Don't know, but there is a band-aid fix as I like to call it which seems to work fine.. I also think a lot of this can depend on whether you're a bedroom player, or play a gig once a month, or even if you're a regular-gigging muso.

Here's what I do..
  • Don't play your Axe FX at all.. give it a week, or two, or even a month if you can hold out.
  • Play a 'real amp + cab' in that interim if you still have them. Pretend like you don't even have the Fractal gear.
  • Remind yourself of why you enjoy playing a real amp+cab. In fact, remind yourself why you enjoy playing the guitar in the first place.
  • Then when some time has gone by, when your ear-memory has been re-stored back to factory settings, plug your Axe-rig in and play again. I'm confident you'll hear and feel the difference.
I recently made an Mesa Mark 2C++ patch that sounded horrible to me at first. I went back to it a week later and now it's my main go-to patch that I use when at home playing through my Yamaha monitors. It's weird isn't it.. go figure.

Don't mean to get philosophical with you.. just sharing what works for me.
 

yek

Moderator
Moderator
I do prefer a traditional cabinet for in-the-room sound. Always have. I’m not worried about loss of flexibility, I like my sound to be consistent.

I also use FRFR a lot, as a backline. It’s different, and easy to explain why. But: it’s only noticeable to me, standing close. When I play back my rehearsal recordings, that FRFR setup sounds great.
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
If you like the sound of a real cab, but, feel they don't have enough variety, the simple answer then is you need a few more cabs. Closed back, open back, 1x12, 1x15, 2x10, 4x12 etc etc.

Get a switcher you can easily change different cabs as easily as changing IR's. Only downside is that its a lot of expense and storage, but it would likely solve your problem

Otherwise, sounds like you need to either choose between FRFR versatility or the "better", yet limited tone of just one cab
 

Tahoebrian5

Fractal Fanatic
I think the honest truth is you are always going to wonder if the grass is greener if you only had (insert gear here). The only way to really know is to try everything out there. It's not cheap but there is no denying GAS.
 

electronpirate

Moderator
Moderator
FRFR for years, and have never looked back.

Some of it is commitment to it. The amps that I want I can get the 'in the room' feel (usually the NMV amps.) If you feel adventurous, you could have the real cab there next to the FRFR onstage, and just switch them depending on what you're doing.
 

Billbill

Power User
People change, gear changes, ears change best part is sometimes these changes happen all at once which can be weird to deal with. Fact#2 It's probably all in your head:)
 

antcarrier

Power User
I had a similar dilemma regarding frfr at least. In my experience, far field IRs are the answer. There's just not many of them around, and many of the ones that are I don't like either.

I have spent hundreds of hours capturing far field IRs, and have thousands of them. Most of them aren't something I would use (as the process is largely experimental, the results are not always desirable). When there's a good one though, its a great experience and has the best of both worlds.

One day when I have more, I will probably put a bundle together of my favourites or something. Until then, the information you need to create them yourself is out there.
 

Lilarcor

Inspired
@antcarrier
The far field IRs that I tried all didn't sound like anything useful at all. But in theory I totally concur. Would you mind sharing one of those "good" IRs so I can try it out and see if I like it?

Get a full stack AND a CLR!
In a way that's what I have. Not a full stack but a 2x12 cab which is enough for my bedroom.;)
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
you're comparing apples and oranges and expecting something to do what it never will....FRFR isn't meant to be cab in the room and will always fail that comparison.
 

jakbur

Experienced
Hey guys,

I'm stuck in a dilemma. For a long time I used the Axe FX with a power amp and guitar cab (selfmade oversized 212 with Celestion Century Vintage speakers) which seemed fine back then. Then I went to a FRFR setup (Matrix GT1000FX + Matrix FR212) which also seemed fine until I compared to my guitar cab side by side. Now I don't like either anymore.:confused:

With my cab I instantly miss the versatility that FRFR has. My means and my tone seem limited. Everything seems to sound kind of the same. The character of the cab is just so prominent.
With FRFR I can't get the same airiness and broadness in the mids that my cab has. My cab seems to fill the room more and seems more pleasant to my ears. It's mainly the mids I guess (not the high or low end) and I can't eq it in or out. I've tried dozens of IR's from multiple IR makers (ML, Fractal, Ownhammer, CabIR, ValhallIR, Celestion) with single mics, premade and custom mixes, far field, mid field, close mic'ed. It always feels that something is missing in my sound, not so much with clean tones but mid to high gain. I've used about every cab block parameter there is (like dephase, room, air etc), but nothing really helped.

Then I had the idea to use my FRFR setup as a neutral guitar cab and just low and especially high cut the hell out of it to make it sound more like a guitar cab. But no matter how much or little high cut I use there's either some very unpleasant high mid to treble frequencies going on or it just sounds muffled.

I'm looking for advice. Considering I can't get along with about every possible setup, the problem is probably myself and not my gear. ;)


P.S.: Don't know where to post this. Please move the thread to the right place, if necessary.
My biggest problem was finding a FRFR system I liked! There is lots of variation in sound with different FR systems including switching different power amps and cabinets or powered cabinets. I found that it was important to tweak my sounds for each FRFR combination I tried.
 
I've learned that less is more with the axe-fx. Start by finding an amp with characteristics you like (do not touch a single parameter, make sure the amp and cab block are reset, you may wanna grab a decent cab for starters though) THEN once you find an amp you like start scrolling through the cabs. Changing the CABS will make ALL the difference vs. trying to EQ your patch to death. This has worked for me so many times, I have my go to amps and cabs bc of this.

Lastly, I have had the best luck turning on the pre-amp section of the CAB (I use Modern) and then ues the Bass, MId, and Treble to EQ vs. the amp itself. I typically end up with 3-4 on BAss and 3-4 on Mid and 1-2 or even 0 on the treble. Works like a charm.

good luck
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Some people seem to like having the PZM mixed in with the IR and monitoring at gig volume with FRFR to get that cab feel.in that situation.

I have a free sample if you search the forum, bu t I also have a few kicking $1.95 combo packs on sale on my site. If you invested already in Fractal gear and FRFR, why not invest nominally more in your tone and see if a different approach to IR is what you are seeking?

https://www.drbonkerssoundlab.com/p...-wav-fractal-audio-systems-ultra-res-formats/
 

Lilarcor

Inspired
First of all, thanks for all the responses so far. It seems I'm not the only one who has run into such a problem.
Like I've said in my original post I think one of the problems is that I'm constantly comparing real cab vs IR. I know this isn't a fair comparison. But the fact that I have the possibilities to do so makes it hard for me to resist.
I'd like to clarify that neither tone is bad. It's just different. And changing between them shows the limits of either method very drastically.

@boardwlk17
That's exactly what I'm doing but as a bedroom player (most of the time) using both simultaneously is just overkill. In fact, this way of using both the guitar cab and the frfr speaker is what started my dilemma. I allows me compare them quickly and without any hassle.

@dr bonkers
I will look for this sample and see if I like it. I've also browsed through your "commercial" IRs and been tempted to try them out (the Mesa and the Marshall in particular).
Not sure what PZM means exactly but if it means that you mixed room captures with the close-up captures it's something I have also tried with varying results. I like the Celestion Plus mixes that include the room mic. But I've failed to mix something like this myself (for example using Ownhammer IRs which include room and mid field captures).
 
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