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Setting the Master Volume

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
One common theme with new users is the "blanket over the sound" complaint. Often this is due to excessive Master Volume values.

The Master Volume behaves just like the actual amps. However, unlike an actual amp, if you put it on 5.0 it won't cause your cat to hide for several days. This can cause the user to set the value too high as the physical feedback of painfully loud sound is not present.

As you turn up the Master Volume many amps get darker and the bass gets mushy. The key is to find the sweet spot.

Do this exercise:
Take an amp like the HBE. Set the MV to around 2.5 and turn the Level to a comfortable volume. Turn the Presence up to around 8.0. Copy the settings to "Y" by double-clicking the "Y" button. Now you have the same amp model and values in X and Y. Turn up the MV in Y to, say, 6.0 and lower the Level until the volume is the same. Go back and forth between X and Y and notice how much darker Y is.

This occurs because the virtual power amp is distorting, and quite heavily. Due to the impedance curve of the virtual speaker load this causes the bass and high treble frequencies to clip but not the midrange. The result is, naturally, compressed bass and high treble which can sound muddy and indistinct. Modern MV amps are not designed to overdrive the power amp considerably. They are designed to get most of their distortion from the preamp and then adjust the MV until the power amp just starts to clip which is the "sweet spot".

Some amps, like the Recto Modern, will distort the power amp at very low MV values, around 2.0. In real life these amps are painfully loud at these settings but in our virtual world we are unaware of this because the Level control allows us to adjust the volume to any arbitrary level.

Some modeling products intentionally limit how hard their virtual power amps can be overdriven. Even with the MV on 10 the virtual power amp is not being overdriven that much. Of course this is unrealistic. Our modeling is accurate and with the MV on 10 you will get the same amount of power amp distortion as the real amp when set to 10. With this great power comes great responsibility and that responsibility is understanding how the control works and how to set it properly.
 
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BrickGlass

Inspired
This is a good thread to have. I've had my AxeFx for a few years now, but when I first got it and tried to make a couple of my own presets I made this mistake on the first one. Couldn't figure out how to get the low end to not be a muddy mess. Took me a while to figure out it was as simple as turning down the MV.
 

SteveW

Inspired
This is a good thread to have. I've had my AxeFx for a few years now, but when I first got it and tried to make a couple of my own presets I made this mistake on the first one. Couldn't figure out how to get the low end to not be a muddy mess. Took me a while to figure out it was as simple as turning down the MV.
Same here...but I finally discovered it - turned 'em down in all my patches and am on my way to better sounds!
 

GibsonLesPaul

Experienced
Now, is there an easy way to find the sweet spot?

Could automatic levelling be possible sometime?
This maybe not like the real amp, but in virtual mode it could be possible?
 

Rex

Legend!
Non-MV amps are suppose to be left at MV=10, any tips and trick those amps.
Yes...leave MV at 10. :)

If you want to, you can play around with MV Trim to see whether there's a spot you like better, but you can get excellent results by just leaving it at 10.
 

Gilesy

Inspired
Even my wife was asking whether Cliff is on the forum much these days....i will gladly report back that you are in fine form!

thanks as ever Giles
 

Brownmatthall

Power User
Now, is there an easy way to find the sweet spot?

Could automatic levelling be possible sometime?
This maybe not like the real amp, but in virtual mode it could be possible?
That sweet spot is entirely dependent on the model and the user. Amps use different power amps and have different tapers and every guitarist is gonna like a different level of power amp saturation. It's just something you're going to have to chip away at to find out what you like (and fortunately you won't have to blow your hearing out to do so)
 

DropTheSun

Experienced
Some modeling products intentionally limit how hard their virtual power amps can be overdriven.
Hmm. This makes me wonder. Do we need "Ideal Master Volume" option? :)

Edit :
Fixed Authentic to Ideal, cause that's what i ment.
 
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Rex

Legend!
Hmm. This makes me wonder. Do we need "Authentic Master Volume" option? :)
Need it? Maybe not. But it gives us the option to experiment with things like lower preamp gain with higher Maste Volume.
 
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