Setting Up HXDA Type Amp

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As we know, the HXDA is a Plexi style amp. While I play mine much, much lower gain than this, Pete Thorn has some nice tips on setting up a Plexi style amp in this video. Certainly applies to the HXDA, especially in the HX switch settings, for you classic rock aficionados:

 

BWV548

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It's curious about ears, taste, impact of emotional memory on likes, dislikes etc...
I find those sorts of "classic rock" overdrive sounds seriously tedious to listen to and when I try to unpack why, I'm presented with a complex web to navigate. This isn't, in any way, a criticism of the presenter. He clearly knows what he's doing.
It also makes me ponder on the different sorts of ear training, and the fact that skill in one doesn't necessarily mean skill in another. Which is to say someone trained in dictation, sight singing, score reading, etc (me), won't necessarily be brilliant at the sorts of listing that recording engineers do, without a similar degree of training. I grew up with a fairly snobby view on what it meant to have a "good ear". But over the years I've come to realize that in some areas my ear is very much above the average (the former) and in others, it's pretty crap (the latter).
Now I'm rambling...
 

László

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It's curious about ears, taste, impact of emotional memory on likes, dislikes etc...
I find those sorts of "classic rock" overdrive sounds seriously tedious to listen to and when I try to unpack why, I'm presented with a complex web to navigate. This isn't, in any way, a criticism of the presenter. He clearly knows what he's doing.

Yeah, those aren’t anywhere near my tones, either.

I always call those the “Arena Rock Marshall Tones.” I don’t like them standing alone, though they work in a band context with some music (but not what I play).

However, plenty of players love those tones, and they are possible with the HXDA. In fact, some folks have asked me in PMs whether the HXDA can be dialed in to achieve that kind of sound, and basically, the answer is “yes” if you follow Pete’s advice on how to do it.

My idea of good Marshall tones get as far in terms of gain as Duane Allman, Hendrix or Clapton, and departing from there, I’m going to simply choose a different type of amp, because 70s-80s Arena Rock isn’t my thing.

But, heck, Pete Thorn plays arenas and gigantic stages, and he’s entitled to like what he likes. He’s certainly done some very high profile tours and sessions, and knows what he wants to hear from an amp.

So really, my post is more of a public service announcement than a “here’s what I like” kind of deal.
 

DreamTheaterRules

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After both watching the whole video last night and reading these posts I thought I'd add this. I love those tones. Seriously, those NAIL the classic rock tones that many have chased for years. But I do understand that they are bold and brash and might seem over the top by themselves. In a mix though, GOLDEN! Also note to those paying attention that the mic'd speaker is a greenback, not V30. I bet those V30s were SPIKEY YIKEY!"

In fact, I was SO inspired by those tones, that if my wife will let me (yes I said that, read on) I'm going to try to see how close I can get to those tones with the Archon tonight. I'm thinking T and P almost maxed, mids we'll feel out as we go. Bass maybe all the way down, Same for depth. And here's why I need some slack from the wife. Gain way down, but volume WAY up.

Before watching this video last night, I was playing with the gain on the Archon so low that I could turn it just a little and it would go quiet. I'm talking 7:30-ish on a clock. It still has gain there! It's not clean. But I'm thinking if I cut out the B and D and jack the P, T and V, I can get in the ballpark. Heck it's just for fun anyway. (Til I get the 5751 out of the Boogie and drop it in the Archon!).

Great video. Thanks for posting it Les! Pete is the man, and boy, does he know tone AND have the toys to get it!
 
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squirrel211

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I've been all over the map setting up my amp (similar to HXDA).
After both watching the whole video last night and reading these posts I thought I'd add this. I love those tones. Seriously, those NAIL the classic rock tones that many have chased for years. But I do understand that they are bold and brash and might seem over the top by themselves. In a mix though, GOLDEN! Also note to those paying attention that the mic'd speaker is a greenback, not V30. I bet those V30s were SPIKEY YIKEY!"

In fact, I was SO inspired by those tones, that if my wife will let me (yes I said that, read on) I'm going to try to see how close I can get to those tones with the Archon tonight. I'm thinking T and P almost maxed, mids we'll feel out as we go. Bass maybe all the way down, Same for depth. And here's why I need some slack from the wife. Gain way down, but volume WAY up.

Before watching this video last night, I was playing with the gain on the Archon so low that I could turn it just a little and it would go quiet. I'm talking 7:30-ish on a clock. It still has gain there! It's not clean. But I'm thinking if I cut out the B and D and jack the P, T and V, I can get in the ballpark. Heck it's just for fun anyway. (Til I get the 5751 out of the Boogie and drop it in the Archon!).

Great video. Thanks for posting it Les! Pete is the man, and boy, does he know tone AND have the toys to get it!

Nothing to add, but man, that bolded part made me think of the line from 'Good Morning Vietnam:'

"Seeing as how the VP is such a VIP shouldn't we should keep the PC on the QT cause if it leaks to the VC he could end up an MIA and then we'd all be put on KP?"
 

László

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After both watching the whole video last night and reading these posts I thought I'd add this. I love those tones. Seriously, those NAIL the classic rock tones that many have chased for years. But I do understand that they are bold and brash and might seem over the top by themselves. In a mix though, GOLDEN! Also note to those paying attention that the mic'd speaker is a greenback, not V30. I bet those V30s were SPIKEY YIKEY!"

In fact, I was SO inspired by those tones, that if my wife will let me (yes I said that, read on) I'm going to try to see how close I can get to those tones with the Archon tonight. I'm thinking T and P almost maxed, mids we'll feel out as we go. Bass maybe all the way down, Same for depth. And here's why I need some slack from the wife. Gain way down, but volume WAY up.

Before watching this video last night, I was playing with the gain on the Archon so low that I could turn it just a little and it would go quiet. I'm talking 7:30-ish on a clock. It still has gain there! It's not clean. But I'm thinking if I cut out the B and D and jack the P, T and V, I can get in the ballpark. Heck it's just for fun anyway. (Til I get the 5751 out of the Boogie and drop it in the Archon!).

Great video. Thanks for posting it Les! Pete is the man, and boy, does he know tone AND have the toys to get it!

Yeah, Pete knows his stuff. Even though his kind of tones aren’t usually my kind of tones (more gain than I dial in, and many more effects than I use at once) I appreciate what he does.

I wound up taking his advice in part, and pushed the mids up on my HXDA a little. It helped balance out the tone of the amp even more (though I only pushed the mids to 2 o’clock or so).
 

DreamTheaterRules

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I've been all over the map setting up my amp (similar to HXDA).


Nothing to add, but man, that bolded part made me think of the line from 'Good Morning Vietnam:'

"Seeing as how the VP is such a VIP shouldn't we should keep the PC on the QT cause if it leaks to the VC he could end up an MIA and then we'd all be put on KP?"
Classic movie!
 

WeFixFlats

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Though I have sentimental feelings about the tones we hear in this video, I found, over the last couple of years, I just couldn't "live" with them night after night. That's why Ms.HXDA and I visited my lawyer, Mr.Reverb, Esq. We parted amicably, and hope she's doing well, but it was for the best of both of us.
 

FJ4

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Very interesting post, thanks Les!

I also found this video which is very good regarding the HXDA.


 

László

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Very interesting post, thanks Les!

I also found this video which is very good regarding the HXDA.



Yes, that’s a video that really shows off the amp, and explains the controls! I run mine a bit more like Tim runs his 100 Watt model.
 

László

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Though I have sentimental feelings about the tones we hear in this video, I found, over the last couple of years, I just couldn't "live" with them night after night. That's why Ms.HXDA and I visited my lawyer, Mr.Reverb, Esq. We parted amicably, and hope she's doing well, but it was for the best of both of us.

I find it easier to use a few amps lately, and get a wide variety of sounds by footswitching between them.
 

BWV548

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Yes, that’s a video that really shows off the amp, and explains the controls! I run mine a bit more like Tim runs his 100 Watt model.
Oh the human brain is an endlessly fascinating and wonderful thing! It interests me, to no end, the myriad ways that people respond to the same stimuli, even when the experience is highly bounded.
The 50 watt sounds, which many people (many of whom have great ears and are great musicians) love, sounds SO dull and lifeless to me. Listening through my Focals, not an iPhone speaker, just to be clear.
NOT big and brash, dull; tedious.
The first examples of the 100 watt, sounded so much more nuanced and interesting. Then BAM, back to dull.
Please know, I'm not trying start an argument about taste. Just musing on constellations of responses, and what moves people, and what leaves us flat. And casually speculating on the "whys"
 

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Oh the human brain is an endlessly fascinating and wonderful thing! It interests me, to no end, the myriad ways that people respond to the same stimuli, even when the experience is highly bounded.
The 50 watt sounds, which many people (many of whom have great ears and are great musicians) love, sounds SO dull and lifeless to me. Listening through my Focals, not an iPhone speaker, just to be clear.
NOT big and brash, dull; tedious.
The first examples of the 100 watt, sounded so much more nuanced and interesting. Then BAM, back to dull.
Please know, I'm not trying start an argument about taste. Just musing on constellations of responses, and what moves people, and what leaves us flat. And casually speculating on the "whys"

I had a 50 Watt head, loved it, and now have a 30 Watt head. They’ll do the same stuff as the 100 Watt, just break up a little sooner, and the bass isn’t as tightly focused. In my case, I wanted a little earlier breakup, as I generally run the amp close to wide open.

In other words, Tim dialed in the 50 a certain way. But it isn’t the only way. It’s just the way he likes it. He’s probably the #1 session guy in LA, has played on countless hit records, and he likes what he likes, ya know?

Internet videos are of somewhat limited utility. They can only show a few things in a short time.

We all have different/unique tastes. That’s one of the many things that makes the world an interesting place. But those tastes also run to how an amp is set up, how much to turn up the guitar, and lots of other factors. It’d be interesting if you posted a clip of yourself playing tones that you like, on an amp that you like, just so we can get an idea of what you’re into tonally. Personally, I appreciate a reference to what other folks like.

I’ve posted a lot of amp clips here in the past, but I don’t think I have any on SoundCloud right now, or I’d post a demo I did a few months back of the HXDA doing 3 different parts - one pretty clean, one slightly crunchy, and one solo with the amp into medium gain territory. It was designed to show how the amp can be controlled only with the guitar volume control from clean to gainy.

Of course, the point of posting the original post was because so many folks are into that Arena Rock tone, and yeah, it’s possible with the HXDA.
 

BWV548

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I had a 50 Watt head, loved it, and now have a 30 Watt head. They’ll do the same stuff as the 100 Watt, just break up a little sooner, and the bass isn’t as tightly focused. In my case, I wanted a little earlier breakup, as I generally run the amp close to wide open.

In other words, Tim dialed in the 50 a certain way. But it isn’t the only way. It’s just the way he likes it. He’s probably the #1 session guy in LA, has played on countless hit records, and he likes what he likes, ya know?

Internet videos are of somewhat limited utility. They can only show a few things in a short time.

We all have different/unique tastes. That’s one of the many things that makes the world an interesting place. But those tastes also run to how an amp is set up, how much to turn up the guitar, and lots of other factors. It’d be interesting if you posted a clip of yourself playing tones that you like, on an amp that you like, just so we can get an idea of what you’re into tonally. Personally, I appreciate a reference to what other folks like.

I’ve posted a lot of amp clips here in the past, but I don’t think I have any on SoundCloud right now, or I’d post a demo I did a few months back of the HXDA doing 3 different parts - one pretty clean, one slightly crunchy, and one solo with the amp into medium gain territory. It was designed to show how the amp can be controlled only with the guitar volume control from clean to gainy.

Of course, the point of posting the original post was because so many folks are into that Arena Rock tone, and yeah, it’s possible with the HXDA.
Yeah, I sort hijacked this thread. I apologize for that. it's sort of rude, and I hate being rude. Unless I want to be rude. But I didn't want to be rude in this case at all
 

DreamTheaterRules

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I had to wait til today to try to get those "Plexi" type tones with the Archon. The wife was gone so I had my chance. I cranked the master wide open and jacked up Presence, Treble and the mids, and turned Depth all the way down, Bass all the way down, etc. Oh, the gain... you should see the gain knob. It is probably sitting around 7:30! I mean it's very very close to all the way off! I turn it 1/8" and the amp goes quite. It's just barely up high enough to make sound.

I played for a few seconds and then dialed from there. By the end, I was at T dimed, P dimed, M to taste, liked it noon or above, B 9:00, D off, gain between the original spot and up as high as maybe 8:30. I'd say it's pretty close to the tones above. Very open, punchy, dynamic, bright, crunchy and due to the volume, the bottom end doesn't sound thin for that type tone. I was using V30s and feel it would have been even closer with greenbacks.

That's the good news. The bad news is, you just can't get those tones at lower volumes. Turn the volume down and the magic of that type tone goes away. This is because when you really push the back end, what you're hearing is PI distortion and power tube distortion, and not pre-amp distortion. When you turn the amp down, you lose the PI and Power tube distortion and the only way to get distortion back is add it at the pre-amp stage, and that is very different in sound and feel.

What Les said above makes perfect sense about choosing the 30 watt because it breaks up sooner. A 100 watter will have more bottom punch but can't get those gain levels at volumes that I could EVER get away with. So that magic is only available with lower wattage amps to most people. Knowing where the magic is with those type amps, I also wouldn't want even a 50 watter, unless there was no "big glass" option. Since the 30 is El34, that is the one I'd try if I ever tried one.
 

pac90

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have you guys with big iron tried the universal audio ox? i think i remember seeing 1 person talking about getting one

its reviewed as good for preserving cranked tone at lower room volumes

no skin in the game, just curious for the geekery of it all
 

László

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no skin in the game, just curious for the geekery of it all

Geekery is a good thing!

You can do three things with it: use it as an attenuator, use it as a load box to model a speaker cab for direct recording, and use it with headphones. It looks cool, costs a lot.

If memory serves, Tosca has one and loves it.
 

László

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So I posted this link in response to the MT-15 thread, but really it belongs here, because the amp used on this song is the HXDA on all guitar tracks, clean, crunch and overdriven. The only pedals are a little delay, and a wah on the (two cats fighting in a bag) guitar solo. The little intro snippet is the HXDA through a Moog filter during mixdown.

The song is Waves of Blue. First band for me in a long time.

https://soundcloud.com/lschefman/waves-of-blue
 
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