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Is this the closest thing to achieving an FRFR setup through a guitar amp?
by the_stonesteels on 2012-11-27 14:51:42

I’ve read a good thread about this already but I’m trying to seek more insights/questions/ asking for opinions/suggestions/EXPERIENCE in my own comprehensive version. Maybe putting in more concise details in what I’m trying to achieve can yield some good results. Man I miss Nick Mattocks addition, I've also seen the HD500 connections vid and brwosed the first 5-10 pages of the What every pod hd500 user needs to know.

Is there anything else I can add/change to improve my chain/setup? Am I still missing something or are there any other suggestions you might want to add?

I’m comparing the sound of it to my VXT8. That’s what I’m aiming for. The checklist I wrote down below, based on my LIMITED experience has yielded the best results so far trying to attain the FRFR quality.


• HD500 Unbalanced Mono L Out  --> Marshall Mode Four FX return 

• On Line 6 edit, Input 1 is guitar, Input 2 is variax.

The patch I’m using is the SLASH AFD that I downloaded from custom tone.

  (JCM800 preamp which surprisingly still sounds awesome on my KRK VXT8s-Studio Direct setting)

Studio Direct IMO sounds fuller. (The Stack power front is supposedly the ideal setup but somehow it sounds thinner.)

• I chose +4 (because it’s not rack unit???) The manual stated “The FX LEVEL switch (8), provides the correct operating level to match your external effects device(s) (+4dB for rack units and -10dB for pedals).”

• FX level on the Mode 4 is set to max. Gain is set to 0.

Line, not amp. (On the switch close to the pedal)

• Inserted a ¼ instrument cable into the INPUT jack socket of the Mode 4 to release the automatic muting facility. ( Thus, the Bass, mids

  & Treble controls on the Mode 4 is off.)

• Cab sims are off. (Is this better?)

• Cranked Resonance to 11 and Presence to O. (reference below)

• FWIW, I use Mogami gold instrument cables.

• I didn’t have a chance to mess around with the FX send volume controls (am I saying that right?). Is there such a thing as a sweet spot between using the MASTER volume on the HD500 and the FX send controls?


  (from the Mode 4 manual) 

  RESONANCE Control - This control operates in the power amp section of the MODE FOUR and adds a lowend breadth and ‘thump’ to your sound that cannot be produced via

   EQ alone. When used in conjunction with the BASS control of AMP 1 (5) or AMP 2 (20), the RESONANCE control, affects the low-end rumble and overall tightness of your sound.

   Higher settings will give your tone a fatter, fuller bottom end.

  PRESENCE Control - This control also operates in the power amp section of your amp and adds high frequencies to your tone, increasing edge and bite. Higher settings will make your

  sound become crisper and more cutting.

• FX Loop Tip Tone #6 on the mode four states that “If the processor being used has an input level control, ensure that it is set correctly.” How do I know it’s set correctly besides judging it by ear to what sounds good. (That question sounds dumb but I can’t think of any other way to put it.)

My understanding of the 4 cable method:

The reason you would go with the 4CM is to utilize the amp’s preamp. However I don’t want to use it. I think my mode four paired witht the HD500 sounds “muddy”, unless there’s something I’m not doing right. Do I have a clear cut understanding of what a 4CM’s purpose really is?

mf350 back_r16957.png

From the Marshall Mode Four manual


To increase the flexibility of your MODE FOUR even further you may choose to connect external effects units to the built-in Parallel to Series FX LOOP. The effects loop allows direct connection of either floor pedals (stomp boxes) or rack processors. The FX LEVEL switch (8), provides the correct operating level to match your external effects device(s) (+4dB for rack units and -10dB for pedals). The amount of the chosen effect you add to AMP 1 and AMP 2 is determined by their respective FX LEVEL controls. Since the MODE FOUR’s FX LOOP is parallel, it means that the direct (‘dry’) signal is not passed through the loop and that your all-important tone is not at risk of being degraded by being sent through any external devices. Only a relatively small amount of signal is sent to the processor being used. When either of the effects level controls is turned up full, the FX LOOP of that AMP becomes a Series Loop. This means that the entire signal is sent through the loop.

FX LOOP TONE TIP 1: As a rule, effects involving Distortion or Wah are not used in an FX loop; they’re normally connected between the guitar and amp. They were specifically designed for use in front of the amp and, as a result, sound best when used that way. Time based effects such as Chorus, Flange, Reverb and Delay are best suited for Parallel FX loop use. This said remember, THERE ARE NO RULES so if you think your Wah and Fuzz pedals sounds best in the FX loop then go for it!

FX LOOP TONE TIP 2: When using time based effects such as Delay, Chorus, Flange and Reverb in the FX LOOP, for optimum performance the direct signal in the processor should be set to zero so that only the effect signal is returned to the amp. Doing this ensures the most effective control of the effect level (via FX LEVEL Control 11 & 24) and that the tonal integrity of the amp’s direct (dry) signal is unimpaired in any way by the processor.

FX LOOP TONE TIP 3: When using an effect such as Noise Reduction in the FX LOOP you’re going to want it to work on the whole signal so the FX LEVEL of each AMP should be turned up full so that the loop becomes a Series one.

FX LOOP TONE TIP 4: If you decide to use a stomp box in the FX LOOP, unless the unit has a Dry/Wet mix control (or is a stereo device that has an output that only carries a ‘wet’ signal), in order to make the effect sound its best you’re probably going to have to set the FX LEVEL Controls on maximum, or very close to it. Remember though, by doing this you are putting the tonal integrity of the MODE FOUR at risk because you’re sending the entire signal through the effect box(s) being used. Let your ears decide what’s good and what’s not!

FX LOOP TONE TIP 5: Always use high quality, screened patch cables . . . and the shorter the better. Long cables can reduce top end and overall punch.

FX LOOP TONE TIP 6: If the processor being used has an input level control, ensure that it is set correctly.

Here’s direct link to the Mode Four’s manual.

style="font-family: 'Arial','sans-serif';">I APPRECIATE in advance all the HELP/opinions/suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to read my thread!!

Re: Is this the closest thing to achieving an FRFR setup through a guitar amp?
by CairnsFella on 2012-12-11 19:13:18

It may be that I am completely missing the point here, but I am somewhat unsure what you mean by "trying to attain the FRFR quality."

Whilst I appreciatte an FRFR setup is, for some, potentially ideal when one wants to utilise the full modelling experience, the quality of such a set up is itself much more subjective. For example, I use a POD - mixer - amp - PA set-up, so technically FRFR. I obviously tweak this to sound as good as possible to my ears, however it is likley the 'quality' would still be much improved if I invested in higher quality equipment. Furthermore, neither my current gear, not a more modern and expensive alternative will likely be 'true' FRFR as much as it would be accepted under that banner. It is my understanding that a guitar amp would be quite unlikely to be FRFR unless - and Im guessing here some sophisticated eq where put in the signal path... but I'd still doubt it.

Ultimately, I would imagine you are really trying to achieve the best sound you can from a non-FRFR set-up, rather than somehow trying to emulate FRFR.

.. that said.. perhaps Im wrong.

The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.