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ok Fractal Guys.. seriously now.. front input vs rear input.. which is better?!

Georgy

Inspired
Too many opinions but nothing has been acknowledged by Fractal HQ, in regards to which input is better, so to speak..

Some guys reckon there's some special secret sauce thing going on with the front input vs the rear input, others say they're exactly the same.. Is one of these inputs better for wireless units maybe??

I'm hoping one of the actual guys that work for Fractal can chip and put this matter to bed once and for all..

Thanks
 

Jason Scott

Fractal Fanatic
From the Wiki:

For best results use the front input for guitar, whether wired or wireless, electric or acoustic (except when running a line level signal). The front input also has a soft clip function.

"The "Special Sauce III" uses a combination of things to get a lower noise floor. One of these things is new, premium Burr-Brown op-amps in the signal path which have extremely low noise and distortion (and are very expensive)."

"The front input is optimized for guitar level inputs and has spectral shaping and more gain than the rear input. The front input is optimized for guitar pickups. This is a combination of hardware and software processing. If you set the input source to Analog Rear this turns off the software processing part. If you are plugged into the front it will change the tone since you're still going through the hardware processing. This is why I say you must match the input selection to the input you are using. The rear inputs are standard line-level inputs and can be used with any program material. The front input, as stated above, is optimized for guitar pickups. As such it has more gain and less headroom and may clip if used for non-guitar program material. If you plug a guitar directly into the rear you may find you don't have enough signal level."

"The spectrum of a guitar is pink(ish). Above 800 Hz or so the energy rolls off dramatically. As luck would have it, humans perceive noise above 800 Hz or so to be most objectionable as it manifests itself as hiss. So the front input pre-emphasizes the high frequencies and then does the inverse in software. This has the net effect of a flat frequency response but pushes the noise floor down by the amount of the pre-emphasis. It's an old trick, used in FM radio and vinyl records. The basic premise is to optimize the data conversion to the information content of the source."
 

electronpirate

Moderator
Moderator
I've heard some fairly awful music production from people who naively trusted their ears.

And never got another job. Isn't it a producer's job to decide what sounds best for their version of a song?

I could make arguments that some of the most abhorrent production and tone has resulted in very many hit recordings. It just ends up working. Use your ears, not internet opinions.
 

Georgy

Inspired
I have a stupid question: Let's say that you have a rack with a wireless and an Axe FX. It is totally natural to wire the rear output of the wireless to the rear input of the Axe FX. But how the heck can one reach the front in a situation like that?!

Not a silly question, I was/am in that boat.. I've gone thru a process of elimination as to why my Sennheiser wireless was sounding not so good the last few times I had it going thru my Axe-ii setup, which lives in a 4RU rack etc etc. At this stage, it turns out the cable that was going from the back of the wireless to the back of the Axe-ii was dodgy.. So I've bought a better quality lead and I'm gonna run it through the front for a while before possibly doing it via the rear input.. Fingers crossed it's all good!
 
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cobbler

Fractal Fanatic
I have a stupid question: Let's say that you have a rack with a wireless and an Axe FX. It is totally natural to wire the rear output of the wireless to the rear input of the Axe FX. But how the heck can one reach the front in a situation like that?!

I just drilled a hole in the case inside the edge so the cover could be used if needed. I have a SKB case and it was simple being plastic. Others could be more problematic I imagine.

dwA493b.jpg
 

BrainalLeakage

Experienced
Not saying one is better than the other, BUT, when I set my input levels using the official Fractal "Cliff" method, I have to set the rear a little hotter to get the same sensitivity on the the input meters on the front. Plus the tone, at least to my ears, and with my guitar, and wireless, is a tiny bit different, but it's not enough that it will render your finely crafted tones useless, or anything. I personally only use the front, because it's easier, and faster to switch from wireless to wired whenever it becomes necessary.
 

simonp54

Experienced
So I double-checked, and it turns out that my wireless can make
  • balanced line-level output
  • balanced microphone-level output
  • unbalanced instrument-level output
So I apparently fed the balanced (XLR) line-level output into the rear of the Axe FX (TRS), thinking it would likely make the most electrical sense. I could try sending unbalanced to the front, but I suspect that I would likely be unable to hear the difference....

The sad thing is that my wireless doesn't have a digital output, because that would have been the obvious thing to feed to the Axe FX.

So it seems that the rear input makes a lot of sense in certain cases, perhaps mine, and perhaps in cases where somebody has a DI box to feed in the guitar via a balanced signal. (Unbalanced guitars should be made with opamps inside them, but balanced guitar outputs would really be the great for the battery-averse; perhaps one day in the future....)
Your wireless is....? (model / make?)
 

pelk21

Member
I just drilled a hole in the case inside the edge so the cover could be used if needed. I have a SKB case and it was simple being plastic. Others could be more problematic I imagine.

dwA493b.jpg

One thing that I used to do with my JMP-1 preamp was to leave one of the rack screws out and snake a George L's cable through the empty hole to plug it into the front input.
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
This question has been discussed, and responded to by Cliff, many times over. Dont see how anyone can claim otherwise.....

That said, if you can't trust your own ears, then quit making music. Do what sounds "good" to you first and foremost. There is no "right" way to do things, only what sounds "best". Most musical styles have came from people doing things "wrong".
 

Rich5150

Inspired
I run my wireless in to the rear input. And honestly if you look at some pro touring rigs using the Axe and wireless they run the rear input as well. In the end do what sounds best to you. I'm sure the minuscule difference will not be heard.
 

Rinkleton

Member
When people ask questions like this they are usually asking "what is the manufactures recommend method" vs "what is the absolute best or only way to do it right." The purpose in asking the question is to know where they should start tinkering, not necessarily what they should do and forget it. So the first response is much appreciated! It's hard to just do a test one way and the other and see what sounds best because their could be 20 other variables that aren't easily eliminated.
 

Rich G.

Experienced
I run two wireless units- One for mag, one for piezo pickups- in my live rack with my AxeFx. I use Inputs 1 & 2 L on the rear. I do this with my live rig for convenience. When I pull the AxeFx and set it on the desk for recording, I'll use a cable plugged into the front... again for convenience I don't notice much sound difference between front vs. rear input.
 
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