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Difference between revisions of "Amp and Cab modeling for beginners"

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=Preamps and power amps=
  
[[image:H_amps.png|link=]]
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[[image:Amp block.PNG|400px]]
  
=Virtual preamps and power amps=
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Most traditional guitar amplifiers consist of a preamp and a power amp. The preamp is responsible for tone and gain, the power amp makes things loud and may add some distortion and character of its own to the sound.
  
The Axe-Fx series and AX8 are "virtual" guitar preamps. [[Amplifier models list|More than hundred heads, combos and racked preamps have been modeled]]. These processors also provide power amp simulation. This means that you can listen to the sounds of the modeled amps through headphones, a DAW, a PA system, studio monitors, etc.
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Fractal Audio's amp modelers model both: they provide "virtual" guitar preamps and power amps, combined in Amplifier models. [[Amplifier models list|Many heads, combos and racked preamps have been modeled]]
  
They also contain many other effects ([[Effects list|list]]), are able to [[Re-amping|reamp]] a recorded dry signal, [[Tone_Match_block|create Tone Matches]] of real amps and recordings (Axe-Fx only), [[IR_Capture|capture impulse responses]] (Axe-Fx only), and more.
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The processors also provide [[Effects list|many other effects]]. And depending on the processor, they can "[[Computer audio and reamping|reamp]]" a recorded dry signal, create [[Tone_Match_block|Tone Matches]] of real amps and recordings, [[IR_Capture|capture Impulse Responses]], and more.
  
[[Amp_block|Read more about the Amp block.]]
+
[[Amp_block|More about the Amp block...]]
  
[[image:H_cabs.png|link=]]
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=Traditional guitar speaker or Full Range Flat Response (FRFR)=
  
=Playing through a guitar speaker or FRFR amplification=
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[[image:h_cabs.png|link=]]
  
You can use the Axe-Fx and AX8 with a traditional guitar speaker. This will give you the familiar "amp-in-the-room tone". It does limit the possibilities, because any sound you will create will go be colored by guitar speaker, instead of using flexible cabinet modeling with its unlimited possibilities.
+
An amp, whether real or virtual, needs a speaker to sound good. And amplification is required to make modeling loud. Usually this means using either a traditional guitar cab with a power amp, or a so-called FRFR monitor.
  
To amplify the processor's sound through the guitar speaker, a hardware power amp is required. Either a guitar-oriented power amp, head or combo (this requires disabling power amp modeling in the processor), or a so-called "neutral" power amp (with power amp modeling enabled in the processor).
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* '''Traditional guitar cab and power amp'''
  
Alternatively, you can opt for FRFR sound reproduction: Full Range Flat Response. This requires a FRFR speaker and an external or built-in "neutral" (power) amp. Studio monitors are FRFR by nature, as well as some monitor wedges / cabs, and high-quality PA-systems.
+
A traditional guitar speaker will give you the familiar and fairly easy to set up "amp/cab in the room tone". This does limit possibilities, because any sound you will create will be colored by the character of the guitar speaker. When using a traditional cabinet, the preset doesn't need to contain a Cabinet model. If it does, disable it or disable [[Cab_block|Cabinet Modeling]] in the processor's setup menu.
  
FRFR systems and direct recording require [[Cab_block_and_IRs|speaker cabinet modeling]] because there's no real cabinet in the routing. The Axe-Fx and AX8 have many built-in [[Cabinet models list|cabinet models]]. They also allow loading additional cabs, known as impulse responses (IRs) or user cabs.
+
To feed the guitar speaker, a hardware power amp is required.
  
It's important to realize that when you're using an FRFR sound system with cabinet modeling, you'll be listening to the sound of a miked speaker, as opposed to a traditional guitar speaker. An IR / cab model almost always represents the tone of a speaker that was captured using one or more microphones placed very close to the speaker. That's an different sound than that of a guitar speaker at a distance. FRFR has more lows (due to the proximity of the mic to the speaker), more highs and has the characteristics of the microphone baked in. It takes a while to get accustomed to FRFR tone, but it's the same tone the audience hears through the venue's sound system and when listening to recorded music.
+
This can be a guitar-oriented power amp, head or combo, which will add it own coloring to the sound and decreases the possible tonal variations. This usually sounds best with Power Amp Modeling disabled in the processor's setup menus.
 +
 
 +
More popular is a so-called "neutral" power amp, which neutrally amplifies the incoming signal into the guitar cabinet. This relies on the virtual power amp, so keep Power Amp Modeling enabled in the setup menu.
 +
 
 +
[[Connections and levels|More information...]]
 +
 
 +
* '''FRFR'''
 +
 
 +
Alternatively, you can opt for FRFR sound reproduction and amplification: Full Range Flat Response. This requires a FRFR speaker and an external or built-in neutral power amp. Studio monitors are FRFR by nature, as well as some monitor wedges and cabs, high-quality PA-systems, and headphones.
 +
 
 +
FRFR systems and direct recording require [[Cab_block|Cabinet Modeling]] because the signal doesn't go through a traditional guitar cab. Fractal Audio's amp modelers have [[Cabinet models list|many built-in cabinet models]]. They also allow loading additional cabs from disk, known as [[Impulse_responses_(IR)|Impulse Responses (IRs)]].
 +
 
 +
Important: when using an FRFR sound system with cabinet modeling, you're listening to the sound of a miked speaker. That's a different tone than that of a guitar speaker cabinet. A virtual cab (almost always) represents the sound of a speaker that was captured using one or more microphones placed very close to the speaker (referred to as "nearfield" or "close-miking"). The sound of a guitar speaker at a certain distance is referred to as "far-field". Because of the close proximity of the recording mic to the speaker, the FRFR sound has more highs and lows, and has the characteristics of the microphone baked in. It can take a while to get accustomed to the FRFR sound, but realize it's the same tone you hear at a concert or when listening to recorded music.
 +
 
 +
[[Connections and levels|More information...]]
  
 
=Cutting through the mix=
 
=Cutting through the mix=
  
Important in general, but especially when playing through FRFR amplification: [[Connecting_and_setting_levels#Fletcher-Munson|Fletcher-Munson curve]]. This is the scientific name for the fact that human ears perceive sound at low volume levels differently than at higher levels. At low volume levels people often turn up treble and bass. The Loudness switch on older home stereo systems does just that. At higher levels those controls need to be turned down again to prevent harsh and boomy tones and to prevent the guitar from getting lost in the mix (a guitar that competes with cymbals and bass guitar will loose). Even turning up the volume won't help. Remember that the guitar is a "mid frequency" instrument. Always dial in your live guitar tones at gig levels!
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Lots of players who start using a modeler and take it to rehearsals and gigs, using FRFR amplification, find it difficult to make the sound of the guitar cut through the mix. Even turning up volume doesn't always help. This is caused by two things:
 +
 
 +
* [[Connections_and_levels#Close-miking|close-miked sound]]
 +
* [[Connections_and_levels#Fletcher-Munson|Fletcher-Munson curve]]
 +
 
 +
=Input and output clipping=
 +
 
 +
[[image:Iii-meter-bridge.jpg|link=|300px]]
 +
 
 +
Clipping means that a signal exceeds the limits. While analog clipping may sometimes be desirable, digital clipping is always nasty and something that you'll want to avoid.
 +
 
 +
Clipping can occur at various stages.
 +
 
 +
* '''Input clipping'''
 +
 
 +
Input clipping means that the incoming signal is too hot.
 +
 
 +
It's okay for the Input LED to "tickle" the red. If it happens all the time, adjust Input Level / Input Pad in the setup menu. This control is NOT a gain control! It controls the signal-to-noise ratio and does NOT affect signal level, amp gain or tone.
  
=Solve clipping=
+
* '''Output clipping'''
  
Be aware that input clipping is something totally different than output clipping.
+
The Output LED indicates that the signal level in the effects chain is too hot for the digital-to-analog converter at the end. Adjusting the Input Level will not solve this. Decrease the digital level somewhere in the chain, preferably using Level in the Amp block, or in the Output block.
  
It's okay for the Input LED to "tickle" the red. If it happens all the time, adjust Input Level/Pad in the I/O menu. Be aware that this control is NOT a gain control, it controls the signal-to-noise ratio only and does NOT affect signal level, amp gain or tone.
+
[[Connections and levels|More about levels...]]
  
The Output LED indicates that the signal level in the effects chain is too hot. Adjusting the input level will NOT solve this. Decrease the level somewhere in the chain, preferably using Level in the Amp block.
+
=Parameter paralysis=
  
=Fractal Audio software=
+
The sheer number of parameters and possibilities with amplifier and cabinet modeling can easily dazzle and confuse. It's handy to fall back on a reference tone.
  
* [http://www.fractalaudio.com/support Fractal Audio's editors] — load and save presets from/to disk, edit sounds, rearrange presets and user cabs and much more.
+
The Band-Commander (clean tone) and Friedman BE (dirty tone) amp models, both at completely default settings, provide great baseline tones. Combine with cab model Legacy 103 at default settings. Listen with headphones or through studio monitors.
* [http://www.fractalaudio.com/fractal-bot.php Fractal-Bot] — backup or restore your device, load and save presets and user cabs, upgrade the firmware.
 
* [http://www.fractalaudio.com/cab-lab-3 Cab-Lab] — mix IRs, convert IRs, create an IR of your guitar cabinet with IR Capture.
 
  
Note: you may need to install a driver first before you can connect the device to a computer. [http://www.fractalaudio.com/drivers.php Download it here.]
+
=Tutorials=
  
=Questions or issues=
+
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlFyLhwRJj0 Cooper Carter's Introduction to the Axe-Fx III, part 1]
  
* [http://wiki.fractalaudio.com/axefx2/index.php?title=Owners_Manuals Read the Owner's Manuals.]
+
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpwxNiOt6pQ Cooper Carter's Introduction to the Axe-Fx III, part 2]
* [http://forum.fractalaudio.com Visit the discussion forums.]
 
* Explore this wiki further.
 
  
 
[[category:Axe-Fx2]]
 
[[category:Axe-Fx2]]
 +
[[category:FM3]]
 
[[category:Axe-Fx3]]
 
[[category:Axe-Fx3]]
 
[[category:AX8]]
 
[[category:AX8]]
 
[[category:Sounds]]
 
[[category:Sounds]]

Revision as of 09:21, 20 November 2019

Preamps and power amps

Amp block.PNG

Most traditional guitar amplifiers consist of a preamp and a power amp. The preamp is responsible for tone and gain, the power amp makes things loud and may add some distortion and character of its own to the sound.

Fractal Audio's amp modelers model both: they provide "virtual" guitar preamps and power amps, combined in Amplifier models. Many heads, combos and racked preamps have been modeled

The processors also provide many other effects. And depending on the processor, they can "reamp" a recorded dry signal, create Tone Matches of real amps and recordings, capture Impulse Responses, and more.

More about the Amp block...

Traditional guitar speaker or Full Range Flat Response (FRFR)

H cabs.png

An amp, whether real or virtual, needs a speaker to sound good. And amplification is required to make modeling loud. Usually this means using either a traditional guitar cab with a power amp, or a so-called FRFR monitor.

  • Traditional guitar cab and power amp

A traditional guitar speaker will give you the familiar and fairly easy to set up "amp/cab in the room tone". This does limit possibilities, because any sound you will create will be colored by the character of the guitar speaker. When using a traditional cabinet, the preset doesn't need to contain a Cabinet model. If it does, disable it or disable Cabinet Modeling in the processor's setup menu.

To feed the guitar speaker, a hardware power amp is required.

This can be a guitar-oriented power amp, head or combo, which will add it own coloring to the sound and decreases the possible tonal variations. This usually sounds best with Power Amp Modeling disabled in the processor's setup menus.

More popular is a so-called "neutral" power amp, which neutrally amplifies the incoming signal into the guitar cabinet. This relies on the virtual power amp, so keep Power Amp Modeling enabled in the setup menu.

More information...

  • FRFR

Alternatively, you can opt for FRFR sound reproduction and amplification: Full Range Flat Response. This requires a FRFR speaker and an external or built-in neutral power amp. Studio monitors are FRFR by nature, as well as some monitor wedges and cabs, high-quality PA-systems, and headphones.

FRFR systems and direct recording require Cabinet Modeling because the signal doesn't go through a traditional guitar cab. Fractal Audio's amp modelers have many built-in cabinet models. They also allow loading additional cabs from disk, known as Impulse Responses (IRs).

Important: when using an FRFR sound system with cabinet modeling, you're listening to the sound of a miked speaker. That's a different tone than that of a guitar speaker cabinet. A virtual cab (almost always) represents the sound of a speaker that was captured using one or more microphones placed very close to the speaker (referred to as "nearfield" or "close-miking"). The sound of a guitar speaker at a certain distance is referred to as "far-field". Because of the close proximity of the recording mic to the speaker, the FRFR sound has more highs and lows, and has the characteristics of the microphone baked in. It can take a while to get accustomed to the FRFR sound, but realize it's the same tone you hear at a concert or when listening to recorded music.

More information...

Cutting through the mix

Lots of players who start using a modeler and take it to rehearsals and gigs, using FRFR amplification, find it difficult to make the sound of the guitar cut through the mix. Even turning up volume doesn't always help. This is caused by two things:

Input and output clipping

Iii-meter-bridge.jpg

Clipping means that a signal exceeds the limits. While analog clipping may sometimes be desirable, digital clipping is always nasty and something that you'll want to avoid.

Clipping can occur at various stages.

  • Input clipping

Input clipping means that the incoming signal is too hot.

It's okay for the Input LED to "tickle" the red. If it happens all the time, adjust Input Level / Input Pad in the setup menu. This control is NOT a gain control! It controls the signal-to-noise ratio and does NOT affect signal level, amp gain or tone.

  • Output clipping

The Output LED indicates that the signal level in the effects chain is too hot for the digital-to-analog converter at the end. Adjusting the Input Level will not solve this. Decrease the digital level somewhere in the chain, preferably using Level in the Amp block, or in the Output block.

More about levels...

Parameter paralysis

The sheer number of parameters and possibilities with amplifier and cabinet modeling can easily dazzle and confuse. It's handy to fall back on a reference tone.

The Band-Commander (clean tone) and Friedman BE (dirty tone) amp models, both at completely default settings, provide great baseline tones. Combine with cab model Legacy 103 at default settings. Listen with headphones or through studio monitors.

Tutorials

Cooper Carter's Introduction to the Axe-Fx III, part 1

Cooper Carter's Introduction to the Axe-Fx III, part 2