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Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by Aahzz, Jul 18, 2021.
I switched to Tube (Sonzera 20) from a Boss Katana 100. No regrets.
I have a tube amp and a Helix. When using live, the Helix is amplified through an EVZLX12P. I put the DSP on "live" and I've always cut pretty well. But, and I HATE to admit it (lol), my tube amp ALWAYS has a grind that the Helix doesn't.
My personal tone tends to be a smooth, Dumble type tone. I use a J Rockett "the Dude" pedal with my tube amp. That's my only effect.
My Helix patches run two amps, a modern high gain amp, dry and an "edge of breakup" classic amp. I dial the modern amp lower so there is "body" to the tone.
When I use effects, I pull them to a parallel path before feeding them to the front of the amp. This helps keep a dry tone going into the amp. If I don't run two amps (which is usually the case if I'm using efx) I'll use two cabs/IRs. Those cabs are used with an A/B split, not a Y split. I'll tske one cab and "close mic" it, choosing the mic based on its tonal filter (using my ears more than my eyes). The second cab gets an LDC mic around 8 inches back, around 24% early reflections.
When dialing the amps, I always roll the bias back enough to remove the sizzle. I'll often reduce the sag, especially on "amps" that have a SS rectifier in real life.
These little tweaks help create fuller and more "in your face" tones. The biggest "helper"? Running a cleaner amp on parallel.
I played on an Axe Fx for years with the other guy on tubes, with a keyboard player too… never got lost. I’ll pass along a few of my modeler discoveries:
1. You have to develop band presets with the band, playing at gig volume. Generally, presets made at home and at low volume won’t translate with a band. If you only did this, and your modeler is up to the task, you’re halfway home already.
2. A quality monitoring source is essential. You may read that as “cheap sounds… well, cheap”
3. Shy away from using too many different amp models, and consider using very few cab options. While every patch that sounds great jamming with recordings at home is fun, it is impossible for the FOH or monitor mix guy to EQ that into a cohesive sound. They won’t like the rumbling lows becoming ice-pick highs with each patch change, and neither will your band. My best solution was using only 1 or 2 cab sims for all amps. You also approximate this when you run into a tube amp power section to amp/speakers with no cab sims. You have to funnel it down… it’s the way.
4. A modeler tone is more like the studio experience… cab blazing in a sound room, you’re playing in the quiet easy chair on cans hearing the finished mix. That’s cool, and done right leaves the sound guys very little to fix in the mix. If you’ve looked at the FOH EQ on most guitar amps, it’s very rarely flat.
5. Unlike a tube amp, you can give the house a different EQ and volume than you’re hearing. This is powerful, and you should use it to your advantage.
6. Air moving is air moving. A single 12” FRFR monitor is not going to out-volume your buddy’s 4x12 (or 2). Level up.
The truth is that tube amp settings you use at home might need tweaks with the band. I’ve heard great tube amps, set wrong, disappear or clash in a mix. I know Fractals and Kempers can match up, and they do it on stages worldwide. Check out Metallica, Def Leppard, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Periphery as examples. Done properly, the tech isn’t the issue.
I hope this is helpful to someone here.
I have indeed done that, so we have in fact seen the results . If I add any more mids it'll sound like my guitar has a head cold, and my various speakers are always on stands.
Helps to pay attention. Go back and read.
OK. Just curious. What devices were used for comparison?
TBH, I'm thinking the same thought as @dmatthews. Although I've not gigged yet with my FM3, I have jammed with a friend who used a SuperChamp X2 in the same room about 10 feet apart. No question or doubt. We could hear each other well. No muddiness or stepping on others toes.
Perhaps it was the Helix itself? If that's the case, there are several folks who own modelers other than Helix that @Aahzz can ask about. Yet, not trying to sell you any pond water. My experience is my FM3 can do well with others (tube or otherwise) in a jam mix.
What remains to be seen is live performance; we've not tried this yet, so I'll step off my soapbox and let others speak.
Thank you for the clarification. Not sure what to say now. @RickP has said most of what I'd like to say.
@Aahzz, tell you what. Let me post this question (or a hypothetical one similar to yours) on the Fractal Forum and see what some responses might be. While this may not be an objective question considering it involves Fractal, it may help uncover some facts about modelers and tube amps. Will be back later this evening with my findings.
EDIT: OK, question posted. I've got some things to attend to today, but will be back later this evening and will post some of the responses to my question about your modeler not cutting through the mix over a tube amp.
We were early adopters of modeling and started using them as far back as the original Line6 Flextones right up to the HD series of floorboards. We had rigs for all sized venues. FlextoneHDs into 1 or 2 Marshall 4x12s, Combos with and without extension cabinets for smaller venues, etc.. The absolute best part of these rigs was the ability to have the exact same sounds no matter what Line6 rigs we used. Hell, my PRS HG-70 and matching 4x12 even saw some action. Never tried the Fractals or Kempers. They never really interested me.
Tube amp wise, Marshall JCM800s and 900s, Peavey 5150, Mesa Boogie MkIV, Fryette Sig:X, Soldano SLO all through various matching and non-matching cabinets.
Your point being…?
I have to ask, in the most inoffensive and least fanboyish manner… why? You aren’t a cheap guy, that’s plain from the amps you’ve used. Why would the top two modeler choices available be of no interest?
Seriously, I’m just curious.
That’s a fair question!
They don’t fit my needs.
95% of the time my sound is basically a heavy rhythm sound. The other 5%, clean or the rhythm with “something”- flange, tremolo, whatever.
I don’t play covers. No need to try and cop anyone’s sound. I only want MY sound.
My pedal board usually only has a tuner, a noise suppressor, and depending on the amp, a MXR GT-OD set as a clean boost. No need for all of the effects.
My amps do most of the work. If I can’t get a great rhythm sound - what I use and need 95% of the time - I won’t use the amp.
I do think think the Fractals and Kempers are great pieces of gear, if you need all of those features. I absolutely do not.
To put a bow on all of this, they’re a total overkill for my needs.
This was great advice. Every word of it. If y'all skipped it, go back and read it before continuing in this thread.
I’m also not interested in modelers. In school, many years ago, we used to use the phrase “finding your voice” on a musical instrument. You can probably instantly recognize Miles, Carlos, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Albert King, BB King, and a helluva lot of other musicians. That’s always been my personal goal, and I feel like I’m getting closer. I admire people who like to hunt for and find sounds. That’s just not who I am. I want my sound.
Thanks, brother! It was hard earned… wish I could say I did it that way from the start!
I hear you.
I spent years gigging a H combo and then a Custom 50 combo. No frills, no pedal board. Just the built-in boost and reverb.
The cover band drew me to the Kemper and it stuck.
You've touched on another of my issues. While I am in a cover band, my intention is always to have my sound. I use exactly one preset on the Helix, because that's all I need to sound like me, I'm not trying to nail exact tones. I don't use a lot of effects - a very occasional chorus or phaser. I'm playing rhythm, so I don't even need a lead boost.
I'm leaning towards something Marshall.....
Modelers are a great convenience, and fun to play around with, but there's still a difference between reproducing an amp, and playing an amp. There are a lot of technical reasons for this. One of the reasons tube amps are punchier is that they raise amplitude exponentially, while transistors do it in a more linear fashion. You really hear the transients through a tube amp.
It's why modelers seem to disappear in the band context sometimes.
It makes sense. I posted this same thread over at TGP and I have some folks saying either I should turn up, or the other guy should turn down, but it's so not about volume.
Right, there are a lot of differences to factor in.
Tubes and modelers are different beasts. Even on a recording, they don't seem to play well together. I've given up trying. I simply go to my tube amps to record, and stopped tearing my hair out trying to make sense of it.
Your ears don't lie. You can hear what's going on.
Feeling frisky today, Bob?
The thread is about someone comparing using a modeler to a tube amp in a live music setting. All the prior posts were about EQ, volume, dynamics, the way they react to the player, etc. I’m not sure how the discussion of any of those is is off topic. Also not figuring out how YOU get to decide what we shouldn’t bring up in comparing them, in Aahzz’s thread. Perhaps you can enlighten me. If you can, and I missed something, then we can all have a laugh at you zinging me. I’m not laughing right now though.
Sorry if I've been away for a while. I've posted a Fractal vs. Tube Amp Comparison question on a separate forum in hopes of reading about people's viewpoints One response was simply:
"Let him find his own way to the light." To me that seemed a bit gratuitous so I didn't comment to that reply.
Other responses mentioned plugging the Helix into the power section of a tube amp and using an appropriate cab instead of the FRFRs. Still others questioned the quality of the FRFRs.
The video below is one other reply that the person said convinced him to buy Fractal.
I had thought to ask if the room acoustics might have played a role in the tube amp sounding better than @Aahzz's Helix.
I'm seriously curious to learn why the Helix and his FRFRs can't do well against a tube amp. My puny mind tells me there's something else that isn't being factored in.
And please forgive any snarky comments on my part. I felt that some earlier comments (on page 1) were a bit cheesy, hence the snark. I'll not bother mentioning these again.
I do understand why some think that modelers aren't for them, because of the excess options. This had always been one reason why I used to shy away from modelers, until I realized their potential, and the fact that I'd never again need to buy a boutique or collectible amp again because a good modeler had already made that possible.
That, plus the options for no-cost OS upgrades that will last well into the future. Consider the cost of tubes and maintenance. IMHO, it made sense that a decent modeler would do the job and provide good tone.