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Tube Preamplifier suggestions

AndrewKirkland

Inspired
I have an axe fx 2 xl plus that I love for recording. However I'd like to buy a tube preamplifier for direct recording potentially with IRs. The preamp will be going into a mackie 8 bus for eq or my metric halo. I should mention I like a really bright sparkly clean sound with my gretsch and am very into Robin Guthrie/Cocteau Twins. I also like relatively high gain tones like a Pearl Jam guitar solo, Eric Johnson, and Ritchie Blackmore. Thanks for the help.

Any thoughts on the following?

Mesa Studio Preamp
Carvin Quad Preamp
VHT GP3
ENGL E570
Soldano SP77
Soldano X88R
Bogner Fish
CAE 3 SE ( latest version)
 

Rane

Inspired
Wouldn’t this all be completely redundant since you already have an Axe Fx? The power amp is a key part of a tube amp tone that is completely lost when you go direct with a preamp. If you want that sound, just turn power amp sims off in the Axe Fx. The only reason I can see for purchasing a preamp would be nostalgia or just want. Perfectly valid reasons; Just don’t expect to get anything tone wise that you don’t already have.
 

lummox

Member
The power amp is a key part of a tube amp tone that is completely lost when you go direct with a preamp.
That's mostly correct. But some modern highgainers heavily rely on preamp when shaping their sound, their power amps just add some subtle colouring. Moreover, excess power amp distortion may lead to unwanted muddiness in their tone. This is the case of many Engl amps. Considering this, the E570 might be decent preamp for direct recording. Though I doubt it is suitable for some vintage tones.
 

Rane

Inspired
That's mostly correct. But some modern highgainers heavily rely on preamp when shaping their sound, their power amps just add some subtle colouring. Moreover, excess power amp distortion may lead to unwanted muddiness in their tone. This is the case of many Engl amps. Considering this, the E570 might be decent preamp for direct recording. Though I doubt it is suitable for some vintage tones.

I’m a “modern highgainer” myself. While I’m certainly not cranking the master volume on my high gain tones, I find that there’s usually a sweet spot where the power amp pulls some of the fizz out of the tone and just generally makes everything sound/feel better.

In any case, the Axe Fx is perfectly capable of getting tones without power amp influence. A dedicated preamp for it would be redundant, and since the OP isn’t looking for extreme high gain tones, this is all just more reason not to go the preamp route.
 

2112

Fractal Fanatic
It's night and day between a pre and IR's and a pre/power amp and IR's IMO. You can always add a power amp sim along with IR's in your DAW like I did in the video below, but if you've already got the Axe I honestly can't see any reason why you'd want to go down that path.


The players you mentioned aren't really considered super high gain and most of their tones are the result of cranked vintage style amps.
 

gigawatt

Experienced
I used to have the Carvin Quad; its two clean channels sounded great, the Carvin X100B is renowned for its outstanding cleans, but much of it comes from its power section too. The Quad lacks in the crunch ability, and depending on the unit you get, (the newer ones sound much better) and the tubes you use the high gain is either muddy or extreme, the latter being better of the two. I can't comment on the others for clean tones but the ADA MP1 Classic has an outstanding solid state clean tone, and a really nice stereo chorus, it's modeled after the Roland Jazz Chorus. I said the "Classic" because it has an added brown channel that has excellent crunch tones that the original doesn't have. The MP-1 is an iconic piece, it was widely used in the 80's and early 90's before grunge took over. It's tone is mainly a hot rodded Marshall, but does the crunch and clean just as well imo.

The Engl and Soldano aren't really known for their clean channels. Is it the Rectifier pre you're talking about, I hear it's outstanding, but not because of its cleans. Always wanted to try a VHT Valvulator:D, so I can't say much about em. Same goes for the CAE and the Bogner, known much more for their distortion. I'm afraid only one of your choices has been noted for its clean channels.

Most importantly, read this thread, and when you get to the bottom, click the link to the older thread. It will tell you how to get a decent power amp tone from the Axe Fx. {I just happen to read it the other day ;)}

New thread, 1 page: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/is-there-a-model-of-a-tube-power-amp.138663/#post-1644316

Old thread, 2 pages: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/is-it-possible-to-bypass-the-preamp.70487/

It took me a while to find these (got sidetracked a couple times, and then there was the whole China thing), but I found them, so please give them a look. ;)
 
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gigawatt

Experienced
BTW, when I got the Carvin V3, it made the Quad sound like it was 50 years old. Just waaaaay ahead of it, difficult to dial in (for some ;-), certainly not as difficult as the Axe though. Here's an example: see how you like this clean tone:


Jackson KV2 w EMG 89 neck set to single coil, and EMG 81 for the distorted parts. However, the Carvin did not have very good crunch unless you cranked it. Sorry, didn't mean to get off preamps. :oops:
 

searching

Inspired
The mesa triaxis is really awesome. I added it to my rig a while ago and am really happy with it. The cool thing is that it's midi switchable and you can save a ton of presets on it. And it has 8 different channels of classic mesa sounds. So I just run it using the 4 cable method and it switches simultaneously with the axe fx when I change presets on my mfc. Basically it's set up perfectly for seamless integration with the axe fx.
 

gigawatt

Experienced
The mesa triaxis is really awesome. I added it to my rig a while ago and am really happy with it. The cool thing is that it's midi switchable and you can save a ton of presets on it. And it has 8 different channels of classic mesa sounds. So I just run it using the 4 cable method and it switches simultaneously with the axe fx when I change presets on my mfc. Basically it's set up perfectly for seamless integration with the axe fx.

Funny I sold a Triaxis to help pay for an Ultra about 10 years ago. You're right, it was awesome, and from what I remember its clean channel sounded really great too. "Searching," what version do you have? I had two of them and the newer of the two sounded much better. There's also a "Texas/Country version as well isn't there?
 

warlockII

Power User
Mesa Studio Preamp Loved it for certain sounds but wasn't as versatile as I wanted.
Carvin Quad Preamp Didn't like it anywhere near as much as my X100
Soldano SP77 I was completely disappointed in this pre

You should really check out a Peavey Rockmaster and a Kasha Rockmod II...They are KILLER pre amps at very affordable prices.
 

gigawatt

Experienced
Naaaah I had a Peavey Rockmaster for a while, it needs a dark Peavey power amp to make it sound decent like a Classic 60. The one I had was all top end and mids and tons of gain, I suppose the crunch channel was nice, clean was just ok. It was also really noisy even with new tubes, which BTW it blew out 2 of my Tung Sols cuz I didn't know V3 was a cathode follower :eek:. I'm not familiar with the Kasha, what are they like.

I agree with you on all the others, the Quad really needs the right amp to sound good, I assume the original T100 is the ticket, not the TS100 like I had. The T100 adds a lot more color than the TS100.
 

gigawatt

Experienced
I have an axe fx 2 xl plus that I love for recording. However I'd like to buy a tube preamplifier for direct recording potentially with IRs. The preamp will be going into a mackie 8 bus for eq or my metric halo. I should mention I like a really bright sparkly clean sound with my gretsch and am very into Robin Guthrie/Cocteau Twins. I also like relatively high gain tones like a Pearl Jam guitar solo, Eric Johnson, and Ritchie Blackmore. Thanks for the help.

Any thoughts on the following?

Mesa Studio Preamp
Carvin Quad Preamp
VHT GP3
ENGL E570
Soldano SP77
Soldano X88R
Bogner Fish
CAE 3 SE ( latest version)


Have you checked out the two links to the 2 threads I posted, a lot of good info about using a preamp with the Axe. ;)
 

Rex

Legend!
Moreover, excess power amp distortion may lead to unwanted muddiness in their tone.
Excessive power amp distortion is never a good idea, regardless of the tone you’re going for. ;)

Personally, I’ve never heard an electric guitar tone that didn’t benefit from a power amp that’s at least gently pushed.
 

gigawatt

Experienced
Oh sorry, I thought you meant all power amps not just Fractal's. ;)

P.S. How in the world do you get up too 17,000+ posts? Oh I know, you're a spy arencha? Don't tell me... I know a spy when I see one! :p :D

P.P.S. Also, I just bought one of these, if you like Marshall style tones with a great clean channel, this is your pre. If you prefer Mesa style tones, there a guy selling a modded MP1 (original) with the 3.666 mod, (Mesa tone).

https://www.ebay.com/itm/ADA-MP-1-Classic-Guitar-Preamp/173353633228?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

You may have to enter username and password to see it.
 
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gigawatt

Experienced
Hey, what ever happened to the op? Please, not just a lurker... Anyway, there's great info below:

Most importantly, read this thread, and when you get to the bottom, click the link to the older thread. It will tell you how to get a decent power amp tone from the Axe Fx. {I just happened to read it the other day ;)}

New thread, 1 page: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/is-there-a-model-of-a-tube-power-amp.138663/#post-1644316

Old thread, 2 pages: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/is-it-possible-to-bypass-the-preamp.70487/

It took me a while to find these (got sidetracked a couple times, and then there was the whole China thing), but I found them, so please give them a look. ;)
 

AndrewKirkland

Inspired
I just want to say thank you to everyone for all the useful information and experience with these preamp! I wasn't getting notifications from my this post. I think I am gonna just stick with the Axe FX for my needs. The triaxis sounds like there is alot of potential there, but I may not dig the sound as much as the axe. On a side note I bought an Eventide H3000 and it is killer in the FX loop of my axe fx. I am not using any cab sims with it and I am getting a great direct clean sound. I think a preamp direct will just introduce noise and a new set of problems. I really like having the ability to save my sounds.
 
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searching

Inspired
Funny I sold a Triaxis to help pay for an Ultra about 10 years ago. You're right, it was awesome, and from what I remember its clean channel sounded really great too. "Searching," what version do you have? I had two of them and the newer of the two sounded much better. There's also a "Texas/Country version as well isn't there?


I have the version 2, pre phat mod, which I hear is the best version. It still has the rectifier channel before they screwed it up with the phat mod, and it also has the continuous control variable amp setting feature or whatever they call it.
 
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