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Why do downloaded user presets sound different on my set-up?

lj045637

Inspired
Dear all,

I think this question was one of the Top 5 questions discussed in this forum, but I never found a convincing explanation…maybe someone can help and explain how to tweak:

Why do downloaded user presets sound different on my set-up?

Assuming that that the user has the relevant Cab IRs and that the tone has not been post-processed, what would be the major tweaks to come close to the recording.

Furthermore, the set-up is a direct set-up, i.e. Axe FX hooked up to Studio Monitors as in the case of the author of the preset. Recording and playing at the same room level.

Usually the presets I download sound very muffled and lack that sparkle on my set-up. How can I remove that blanket and get close to the original recording? Am using Equator D5 monitors which translate very well from my perspective.

…and please can we skip that “tone is the fingers“ topic :)

I am sure that a lot of people in this forum will profit from some good insights on this topic.

Thanks for contributing with your answers in advance.
 

Max_H

Inspired
Different guitars. They created their preset with certain pickups and certain string gauges and therefore created the preset to their guitar. Also, everyone has different ears, where one tone might sound muffled to one person, the same tone to a different person could sound absolutely killer.
 

Tonewicker

Inspired
Dear all,

I think this question was one of the Top 5 questions discussed in this forum, but I never found a convincing explanation…maybe someone can help and explain how to tweak:

Why do downloaded user presets sound different on my set-up?

Assuming that that the user has the relevant Cab IRs and that the tone has not been post-processed, what would be the major tweaks to come close to the recording.

Furthermore, the set-up is a direct set-up, i.e. Axe FX hooked up to Studio Monitors as in the case of the author of the preset. Recording and playing at the same room level.

Usually the presets I download sound very muffled and lack that sparkle on my set-up. How can I remove that blanket and get close to the original recording? Am using Equator D5 monitors which translate very well from my perspective.

…and please can we skip that “tone is the fingers“ topic :)

I am sure that a lot of people in this forum will profit from some good insights on this topic.

Thanks for contributing with your answers in advance.
i know you said that already but i think one of the reason is the record we listen to (unless it was a raw clip without any post-process and without other instruments like bass drum etc..) people sometimes get confused after listening the record and then try the preset itself because they instantly expect to sound just like in the recorded track but there may be eq-compression as i said.
second is the guitar itself and thats a huge one. i have presets that sounds great on a strat but ultra muddy on les paul and reverse etc..
and there are some rare examples that i think the people who share the preset keep some secret behind like the misha mansoor presets. i tried many presets from different users and got the exact sound or really close (due to difference of the guitars or pickups) but the misha presets are never sound like the way he shows. the old one is too thin and harsh and the fw18 one is too muddy and soft like its a alternative rock tone and i havent seen a guy who says ''yeah i tried that preset and it does sound the same/really close on me'' and yes i tried that presets with the relevant FW. but as i said thats a rare event that i only encountered few times.
 

chucma

Power User
One overlooked factor is the type of pickups you have. I use mostly PAF types and I don't always get the awesome rock/chug tones I hear on the forum when I try presets, however I do get the tones I want and they sound amazing cos I dialled them in myself.

That said, I know you warned us off from saying this, but a friend of mine brought his Line 6 around as he wanted to sound like I did in a certain song we play. We spent hours with him playing and me dialling in his Line 6 but to no avail. Then I tried playing it through his setup and voila the sound was there! I was amazed how different he sounded with the same setup and we just couldn't get him to sound like me.
 

lj045637

Inspired
Different guitars and pickups ok....but wait, aren't we playing through an amp modeller? That is the reason we bought this device...to get close the target sound...so how can I tweak the preset to get closer to the target sound?
 

Ron_R

Power User
There are a ton factors that contribute to "sound". Down to the type of coning within the speaker. You can try this yourself if you access to a variety of FRFR speakers. Even using the same Power Amp.

The other aspect is how it is recorded. Direct vs. mic'd. If it is mic'd, it has a lot to do with where the mic is positioned, the size of the room, the direction of the speaker with respect to the walls around it, etc.

Too many variables to really tell.

What I do is if I DL a preset and it sounds different, I post why here on the forums and then get advice on how to "fix" it.
 

lj045637

Inspired
There are a ton factors that contribute to "sound". Down to the type of coning within the speaker. You can try this yourself if you access to a variety of FRFR speakers. Even using the same Power Amp.

The other aspect is how it is recorded. Direct vs. mic'd. If it is mic'd, it has a lot to do with where the mic is positioned, the size of the room, the direction of the speaker with respect to the walls around it, etc.

Too many variables to really tell.

What I do is if I DL a preset and it sounds different, I post why here on the forums and then get advice on how to "fix" it.
Ok and what are the typical issues why it sounded different? What were the usual advices you received ?
 

Ron_R

Power User
Different guitars and pickups ok....but wait, aren't we playing through an amp modeller? That is the reason we bought this device...to get close the target sound...so how can I tweak the preset to get closer to the target sound?
The answer to your question is "No". Your target sound is not my target sound. No single unit will sound the same to everyone. That's why the Axe Fx is such a powerful tool. That being said, as I've mentioned, if you post a clip of the sound you are getting and try to explain why it's not your "target" you may get some help on how to achieve what you are looking for. Or at least describe the sound you hear and why it's not the sound you want. The people here are amazing!
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
Different guitars and pickups ok....but wait, aren't we playing through an amp modeler? That is the reason we bought this device...to get close the target sound...so how can I tweak the preset to get closer to the target sound?
just because it's a modeler doesn't mean it removes all variables. Pups, guitar types and different FW's are the biggest culprits, and there's nothing on the planet that can compensate for those differences other than the user simply tweaking until they get close. And with very dated FW's it may be impossible to get as close as you want.
 

Ron_R

Power User
Ok and what are the typical issues why it sounded different? What were the usual advices you received ?
For example, some time ago, I was looking for my "target" for a nice crunchy lead Mesa Boogie sound. I posted that on some of the strings, the preset recommended sounded "too boomy". A very bassy, deep tone. I was told what to tweak and how it would effect the sound. I tried what was recommended and within a few mintues, got it to sound exactly like it did in the preset from the person who created it.

I can't remember what the tweak was exactly, as this was a couple of years ago.

I also just created a clean sound from a vid from Cooper Carter on G66 on YouTube using the Band Commander. It didn't sound much like the one in the Vid initially, and I started fiddling around, and realized it was because of the Compression put in. I took the pedal out and got the sound on the vid, minus the compression. I added the Compression, and the sound was a bit off. I manipulated the only knob that was changed on the effect in the vid, and eventually got it to sound very, very close.
 

barhrecords

Axe-Master
For me, it depends on the preset.

Some presets translate really really well, others not so much.

The factors being what outside influences not included in the preset contributed to the posted recording. The guitar, pickups, strings, pick, setup. Global parameters in the Fractal. The recording chain. Post processing in the DAW etc.

In my experience, the more exaggerated the preset parameters, the less in translates. What I mean is presets really heavily tweaked tend to not translate well. Presets where the settings are more just the basic amp settings and simple delay and reverb, work great.

Also clean presets translate worse for me because they are most sensitive to the guitar output. For example, compressor thresholds need to be adjusted or to get just on the edge of breakup requires input gain tweaking to match the guitar.
 

edo

Power User
Vendor
I agree, the guitar is the main factor. I have 2 identical strats (literally), one is in flat tuning with 11's and one is in double flat with 12's, and they sound dramatically different on the same preset.
Cable is a close second. Try a 3m vovox and then a 8m cheap cable: night and day (and I'm not implying that a 100$ cable sounds better, just very different).

You should consider other people's presets as a template / starting point to adapt to your gear, that's all.
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
I agree, the guitar is the main factor. I have 2 identical strats (literally), one is in flat tuning with 11's and one is in double flat with 12's, and they sound dramatically different on the same preset.
Cable is a close second. Try a 3m vovox and then a 8m cheap cable: night and day (and I'm not implying that a 100$ cable sounds better, just very different).

You should consider other people's presets as a template / starting point to adapt to your gear, that's all.
+1^100
 

B:ASSMASTER

Experienced
Cable is a close second. Try a 3m vovox and then a 8m cheap cable: night and day (and I'm not implying that a 100$ cable sounds better, just very different).
Price isn't the factor in cables sounding different. It's capacitance and length. Cables can't add any EQ to your signal. They can subtract EQ, though. Usually in the form of taking away high-end.
 

bondsong

Experienced
Not to mention the old saying "90% of the tone is in the fingers." or whatever percentage you want to use. I remember a story by a songwriter who was watching a Tina turner song being recorded. Eric Clapton was playing a guitar part. This guy was a huge EC fan. Eric finished and walked out of the studio so this guy had the chance to pick up Eric's guitar exactly as it was set up with the amp settings the same and he couldn't get it to sound anything like Eric Clapton. Same guitar, same amp, same settings.
 

HarrySound

Power User
Even my own presets don't work on my different guitars.
My PRS custom 22 SE has a USA PRS Tremonti pickup that is ceramic and hot as hell with a load of bass. The guitar has a very dull and short resonance through the body.

My Gibson Epiphone les Paul Custom has dull classic sounding pickups without a lot of volume or much of anything. The guitar lacks attack and has what I would consider medium sustain.

My USA made PRS custom 24 has 85/15 pickups that are very bright sounding but also have plenty of low end. The pickups also have more midrange and if I want a more metal sound I will cut 2db in the amp GEQ at 500hz They sound very broad and actually very modern. The guitar sustains for days and has a high level resonance through the body and neck.

I find it annoying because I want a single guitar to do everything for me. You just have to really learn the differences between them and try and compensate..,.but it's almost just not going to happen in some cases such is the influence of the magnetic field in the sound.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Experienced
Price isn't the factor in cables sounding different. It's capacitance and length. Cables can't add any EQ to your signal. They can subtract EQ, though. Usually in the form of taking away high-end.
Capacitance and the pickup's impedance will move the "bump begie the shelf" lower. So yes cables add eq as well.

To the OP... It models part of the chain. An amp has no sound without guitar, or player.
I mosdef would not want a piece of gear that made me sound like some one else. I want it to bring out what I hear in my head.

Presets..others... No use for them.

Equator D5s? I spent a over a year trying to get used to D8s, only thing worse that their bottom exaggeration are M Audio BX8.
 

USMC_Trev

Fractal Fanatic
Also whatever you heard that inspired you to DL that preset is not representative of the real thing. YouTube and Soundcloud et al use data compression software that takes whatever recording and something gets lost or added. Then it comes back through your computer and your computer recalculates it to spit it back out at you and something else gets lost or added.

Most of all, though, differences in guitars/pickups and individual players' fingers are the #1 reason.

Download one of Mark Day's presets. Unless you are:
A playing the same Jackson git fiddle thingy,
B playing through the same monitors,
C - with the same IR and
D - you're Mark Day,

it just ain't gonna sound the same as what you heard in one of his YouTube videos.

Best advice I could give is to delete that from the expectation bank. Disregard that as a possibility and you'l be much happier (a rule that extends well into other parts of life).

I'm pretty much down to just a few presets that I've built. When I look at what so and so's rig or a really good preset, I'm not looking to sound just like that anymore. It's a fool's errand. Win the lottery and spend all you want but it's never gonna happen, ever. All I'm looking for now is what kind of setups produce what category of tones (a played-out word and I'm starting to hate it TBH). That gets me in the ballpark. Then I play around with it until it's doing what I want and I'm grooving on it and that's the whole thing. I spent 30 years in awe of EVH. Still am in awe of EVH. I wish he was my uncle or something. I accepted long ago that nothing I will ever do will make me play like that or sound like that.

I do still want to be able to pull harmonics and sweet sweet feedback like the Gods intended, though. So I learn what it takes to make that happen and then make it my own.

That's the point that a lot of new people miss. Gear like the Axe-FX II can get you close to sounding like your guitar god on whatever song makes your motor run, but that's not the point. The point, I think, is to give you all the tools to get you sounding like you (cornbread, I know). The trick is after absorbing all the stuff you've ever learned and love to develop your own sound goals that best express what you hear in your head when you're not thinking about anyone else's music, and work to achieve that.
 
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