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Is FRFR really necessary for Helix?

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I'm a new Helix user and am blown away by it. This, after several failed attempts to like the HD500.  But I'm sold now, and want to put together a stage rig I can deal with.

 

Now I understand the appeal of an FRFR speaker and in particular, the l2m;  It'll give me the full glory of the Helix sound.  But for stage use, is a standard PA monitor speaker sufficient?  I'll be using effects, amps and cabs in the Helix, and that's what'll go to front-of-house, but I want my own monitor, and I want it to closely replicate the front of house sound.  It seems that I could do that reasonably with a run-of-the mill monitor, but please correct me and/or make me aware of the pitfalls.

 

Thanks much in advance!

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A standard PA monitor speaker is, basically, an FRFR speaker. 

imho, you are BEST served, if you are going to go direct, with a powered monitor that sounds like your pa. So, that might be the one that is already at your feet.

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That's kinda how I think about it, thank you.  And crap, I accidentally downvoted your reply and I have no way to undo that.  Sorry;  that's embarrasing!

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I've heard of some folks having luck with a standard acoustic guitar amp, like an Acoustic A40 or A100 as a monitor but I wouldn't know if that colors the tone at all. The wedge shape makes for a good monitor, though.

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I upvoted it to cancel it out  :)

Ha, thank you!  I've never seen a voting system that you couldn't undo!

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I've heard of some folks having luck with a standard acoustic guitar amp, like an Acoustic A40 or A100 as a monitor but I wouldn't know if that colors the tone at all. The wedge shape makes for a good monitor, though.

Yeah, I've considered that, and a Tech21 Power Engine.  But I've gotta believe that for the most part, a PA is designed to replicate what it's fed, so a decent PA monitor oughta work.  I'm still trying to unravel the FRFR thing as maybe mostly hype, at least for a live setup.

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FRFR is not hype if you want to make use of all the modeling in Helix, including amp/cab models, especially on a small gig where maybe only vocals and keys are going through the FOH. 

 

Otherwise you are stuck playing through a guitar amp using 4 cable method and using Helix mainly for effects. 

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Yeah, I've considered that, and a Tech21 Power Engine.  But I've gotta believe that for the most part, a PA is designed to replicate what it's fed, so a decent PA monitor oughta work.  I'm still trying to unravel the FRFR thing as maybe mostly hype, at least for a live setup.

For what its worth, I use the 4CM with the Helix and an Orange TH30. I like the clean and dirty channels on the TH30, so I mainly use the Helix for routing and effects but lately I've been getting a little creative with the Helix preamps straight into the power amp section of the TH30. I just bypass the Orange head through the routing and it works fantastic. I get the tone of the TH30 when I want it and still have the ability to play with some different preamp tones for certain parts of songs.

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FRFR is not hype if you want to make use of all the modeling in Helix, including amp/cab models, especially on a small gig where maybe only vocals and keys are going through the FOH. 

 

Otherwise you are stuck playing through a guitar amp using 4 cable method and using Helix mainly for effects. 

 

Fair enough;  "hype" is the wrong word.  What I'm getting at is, aren't most monitor speakers essentially FRFR?  If I'm not using a guitar-specific cab, and I have decent monitor, is looking and paying for something FRFR going to be substantially different than my monitor?   

 

I feel like anything I see labeled "Full Response" is substantially more money than something not, but which has a freq response of, say 80-20Khz, which is (I think) pretty close to full response.

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I, like a lot of people purchased the Helix thinking it would be a great compliment to my tube amp and replacement pedal board. My analog board was getting out of control.  Truth is the tube amp reduces flexibility of the set up, adds complexity and generates more troubleshooting, and weight. Whilst it took a month or two to retrain my ears and programming skills, my FRFR setup now blows my amps away. My tube-playing rhythm guitarist has his fender amp and its narrow tones - he is blown away by the variety coming out of a box that takes 5 minutes to set up, and that I can carry in one hand.

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I think you're mixing and matching your F's and R's in the acronym, which is maybe misleading you a little bit. The first "FR" is "Full Range", which is where your 80-20k (or whatever it may be) comes in. The second "FR" is not "Full Response", it's "Flat Response". Significant difference. Speaker cabs inherently color the sound they are reproducing by hyping some frequencies while diminishing others. It's what we hear as a cabs "signature" sound and is why we bother with all of these cabinet IRs. The extra money in an expensive FRFR speaker is going toward significant R&D in design and construction to reduce that coloration to a minimum. With a guitar modeler the result is that your IR sounds like the cab it was captured from, as opposed to sounding like that cab being played through another cab.

 

As to your question of whether FRFR is required for Helix, I think not. It's all in how you use it. FRFR is one way among many. I happen to like it :)

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Fair enough;  "hype" is the wrong word.  What I'm getting at is, aren't most monitor speakers essentially FRFR?  If I'm not using a guitar-specific cab, and I have decent monitor, is looking and paying for something FRFR going to be substantially different than my monitor?   

 

I feel like anything I see labeled "Full Response" is substantially more money than something not, but which has a freq response of, say 80-20Khz, which is (I think) pretty close to full response.

 

As mentioned above, it's really about FLAT Response...which to me is really about clarity and articulation for the most part.  The engineering that's being done on powered speakers these days is significant, especially in comparison to standard guitar cabinets (which is fundamentally a box with speakers in it).  The DSP you're so fond of in the Helix for modeling is also used in powered cabinets to aid in getting greater precision in the sound regardless of placement.  Also the cabinets themselves along with some of that DSP processing provides for less sound energy being lost and wasted into ceilings and floors and therefore achieve much greater sound projection over distance.

 

One of the things you'll immediately notice in higher end FRFR speakers is you don't have any EQ knobs.  The FLAT response is managed by the DSP processor and in the case of some speakers can be selected to respond like different types of cabinets.  Bottom line, you're not paying for "hype" when it comes to these types of powered speakers.  They're actually pretty awesome marvels of engineering on their own.

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I use both a powered PA speaker and the power section of a tube amp with my Helix. I can switch outputs on the helix to go between the two (or out to both) and in my opinion both sound great even without further EQ tweaking.

 

I think the flexibility of the helix is one of its strongest attributes. Jamming with friends though the power section of a tube amp, or playing a gig with a powered wedge monitor, either way you can make it work and in my opinion very little adjustment is needed.

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IMHO, using the Helix with a tube amp just hampers its full capabilities.  Much better to go FRFR.

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I agree with Hideout.  And yes, you could simply go direct into the PA and have the sound guy send you back a mix with your Helix through a foldback wedge and not have any stage system.

The reason many of us don't rely on that is that then you need very good monitoring and a good soundie.  I use a self powered PA style speaker - actually 2 but that's just because I get off on the stereo! - and it works extremely well.  It's just keeping more control of my sound for my own playing pleasure - it's not 100% necessary.

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Really necessary? Depends on who you ask.  ;)  I say no, its not. I have the ability to run the Helix into a Firehawk 1500 FRFR amp and it sounds killer. Thru my Mackie HR824 studio monitors it sounds great too. And I can also run Helix thru my Fryette Power Station 2 and into my 2x12 cab with Cele V30's and its just to die for. So, no IMHO it's NOT necessary.

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Really necessary? Depends on who you ask.  ;)  I say no, its not. I have the ability to run the Helix into a Firehawk 1500 FRFR amp and it sounds killer. Thru my Mackie HR824 studio monitors it sounds great too. And I can also run Helix thru my Fryette Power Station 2 and into my 2x12 cab with Cele V30's and its just to die for. So, no IMHO it's NOT necessary.

this!!!

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Absolutely NOT necessary!  But in my personal opinion, if affording a Stagesource speaker is an option for you - why not?  My personal use of the Helix is for the purpose of simplicity.  Everyone has a different reason for using their Helix and I don't wish to disrespect any of them.  But the idea of having to string up the Helix like a Christmas tree with 4CM and external pedals in the loops is the last thing on Earth I wish to do.  2 cables, a single Stagesource personal monitor, and connection from back of Helix to FOH is the life for me.  Get 2 stagesource monitors if you want to play stereo/WDW for personal enjoyment.  PLUS if you get a L6 speaker with the optional monitor, you also have your own acoustic amp and small PA to boot.  But no more hauling huge pedal boards, amps, and speaker cabs unless I just get a sudden desire to do something different/old school.

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Well, to be clear, I wasnt talking about 4cm or using an amp. I was asking about the use of stage monitors that don't specify FRFR.

 

I picked up an EV monitor tonight. It's not specd as FRFR, but sounds great. I wonder what another $400 would get me, if anything.

 

It's the EV ZLX-12P model.

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I'll say it again, as a general rule if money saved is what you are seeking, then tone is what you will least likely care about. Doesn't mean you can't come acrossed a good deal on used great stuff here or there. It does mean that you most likely won't find a good used CLR or FireHawk 1500 for $400.00. In fact I just looked, there's a FH1500 on ebay right now for $700.00- Dunno the condition, but almost half price!

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Dude, I use 15" coaxial Seismic Audio powered monitors with my Helix or my Kemper. My other guitarist is about ready to scrap his tube amp and come over to the Dark Side... it's just that initial high dollar investment that's kicking his @$$... LoL!

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Yeah, I've considered that, and a Tech21 Power Engine. But I've gotta believe that for the most part, a PA is designed to replicate what it's fed, so a decent PA monitor oughta work. I'm still trying to unravel the FRFR thing as maybe mostly hype, at least for a live setup.

I use a tech 21 power engine 60. Last weekend I fitted a 1" tweeter to it. It's most certainly near full response, defenatly for guitar frequencies. Is it flat? There or there about. It has eq adjustment at the rear to fine tune it.

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Well, to be clear, I wasnt talking about 4cm or using an amp. I was asking about the use of stage monitors that don't specify FRFR.

 

I picked up an EV monitor tonight. It's not specd as FRFR, but sounds great. I wonder what another $400 would get me, if anything.

 

It's the EV ZLX-12P model.

 

Nothing is "spec'd" FRFR.  That's simply a street term we tend to use that applies across the board to all pro speaker setups.  The ZLX-12P certainly falls into that category.  More money might get you higher wattage and maybe some better DSP features, higher end construction materials (ABS thermoplactic versus plywood and coating), dual amps for lows and highs which results in less likelihood of the limiter kicking in at high volumes...things like that.  Probably wouldn't make a whole lot of difference depending on how you use it.

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Well, to be clear, I wasnt talking about 4cm or using an amp. I was asking about the use of stage monitors that don't specify FRFR.

 

I picked up an EV monitor tonight. It's not specd as FRFR, but sounds great. I wonder what another $400 would get me, if anything.

 

It's the EV ZLX-12P model.

 

 

hey fella, 

PA cabs and monitors are should  be as FRFR as possible by design, the whole idea of pa is to put across an uncoloured copy of the input, 

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hey fella, 

PA cabs and monitors are should  be as FRFR as possible by design, the whole idea of pa is to put across an uncoloured copy of the input, 

 

 

yup, it's not a magic secret sauce. This is why most people I encounter using modeling aren't using a special FRFR designed for modelers (although I'm sure those are great) but are rather using a normal powered PA monitor wedge, hopefully something that sounds as much like their PA as possible.

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I picked up an EV monitor tonight. It's not specd as FRFR, but sounds great. I wonder what another $400 would get me, if anything.

 

It's the EV ZLX-12P model.

If you're happy with the sound you're getting, that's really all that matters. And while any box you plug into will sound slightly diffrent than the next, if they're both FRFR (or reasonably close to it), what you're sending to FOH should be pretty damn close to what you're hearing in your monitor. Not identical perhaps, but that's hard to achieve unless all the speakers are identical...and even then nothing's guaranteed.

 

As for the extra $400, the Stagesource speakers have several diffrent modes...PA, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, floor monitor, etc, that each fiddle with the frequency response slightly to suit the intended application. Floor monitor mode for example, will attenuate the low end a bit to compensate for the low frequency coupling that creates the "boominess" that tends to occur when you lay a speaker on the ground. Is it worth it? Hard to say. I've got an L2T which I like a lot, but I have no doubt that I could get results just as good with something a bit less jarring to the wallet. If you like what you have, game over. It's all good...

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Nothing is "spec'd" FRFR.  That's simply a street term we tend to use that applies across the board to all pro speaker setups.  The ZLX-12P certainly falls into that category.  More money might get you higher wattage and maybe some better DSP features, higher end construction materials (ABS thermoplactic versus plywood and coating), dual amps for lows and highs which results in less likelihood of the limiter kicking in at high volumes...things like that.  Probably wouldn't make a whole lot of difference depending on how you use it.

That's exactly the info I was looking for!  Thanks!

 

BTW, my whole family lives between Dunedin and NPR.  

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Ok, what I thought.  I was awkwardly asking just that.

 

yup, it's not a magic secret sauce. This is why most people I encounter using modeling aren't using a special FRFR designed for modelers (although I'm sure those are great) but are rather using a normal powered PA monitor wedge, hopefully something that sounds as much like their PA as possible.

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Well, to be clear, I wasnt talking about 4cm or using an amp. I was asking about the use of stage monitors that don't specify FRFR.

 

I picked up an EV monitor tonight. It's not specd as FRFR, but sounds great. I wonder what another $400 would get me, if anything.

 

It's the EV ZLX-12P model.

Monitors and PA speakers will be Full Range, but not necessarily Flat Response. To me the flat response part is not that important, just the full range part. So in my opinion, the extra few hundred dollars is probably not that important. 

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There are monitors with good tone and then there are monitors that don't work well for FRFR Helix/Kemper/AXE processors. You will just have to read and judge by others who have used them. Then, listen to them via the net.

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Monitors and PA speakers will be Full Range, but not necessarily Flat Response. To me the flat response part is not that important, just the full range...

Well that all depends on the degree to which the frequency response of the device has been deliberately manipulated. A lot of consumer-level headphones fall victim to this. The full range of frequencies might be represented, but the low end response is often so exaggerated that they're effectively useless for an application like this. Might be great for listening to hip-hop at 1000 dB, but it'll make your Helix thump like a 8 ton kick drum...

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Well that all depends on the degree to which the a device's frequency response has been deliberately manipulated. A lot of consumer-level headphones fall victim to this. The full range of frequencies might be represented, but the low end response is often so inflated that they're effectively useless for an application like this. Might be great for listening to hip-hop at 1000 dB, but it'll make your Helix thump like a 8 ton kick drum...

Precisely. 

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The reason many of us don't rely on that is that then you need very good monitoring and a good soundie. 

 

Exactly. 

 

I picked up an EV monitor tonight. It's not specd as FRFR, but sounds great. I wonder what another $400 would get me, if anything.

 

I bought an Alto Trusonic TS 212 powered FRFR speaker for $300. The name is misleading; it has one 12" speaker and a tweeter. Reading comments and explanations on this forum convinced me that I needed an FRFR powered speaker for my Helix, but I didn't have a lot of money to spend on one. After a fair amount of Web research, I decided on this one and didn't regret it; they're cheap, light, loud enough to compete with an over-enthusiastic drummer and sound great! I know a few other guys on this site have them (or the 10" speaker version)  and dig them too.

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I know I'm late to the party but I just got my helix a couple of days ago but I thought I would chime in and tell you what I'll be using it with. So I play on the worship team at my church and I've been using a 500x straight into the sound board xlr out stereo.We have a professional grade sound system and great sound guys so that eliminates my fear of control. I got some pretty good tones out of the 500x but it took some work. Now that I've been playing around with the helix and some IR's I purchased from 3 Sigma Audio, I'm getting some really killer tones with it.  I haven't used an amp in a long while and I don't believe I will for a while longer.

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I run my Helix directly into the FX send of my tube head, a PRS Sonzera 50. I usually just disable the cab IR's and run into an EVH 2x12. I wasn't very fond of it at high volumes at practice the first couple of times, but decided to use the headphones out into my amps return just to see how it would sound and it was wonderful. I don't necessarily think that FRFR is a must have thing. I can see where someone who wants different cab sounds throughout their set would benefit, but I can dial in what I want to hear with my cab.

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Monitors and PA speakers will be Full Range, but not necessarily Flat Response. To me the flat response part is not that important, just the full range part. So in my opinion, the extra few hundred dollars is probably not that important. 

 

 

I have mixed feelings about the flat response thing for monitoring.  On the one hand, I've invested in a couple of K8's as well as a CLR so the stuff I own is pretty flat.  On the other hand, I'm a lazy SOB so when I was gigging, more often than not I left my speakers in the car and monitored through the house wedges to ease setup and breakdown.

 

I think my ambivalence around stage monitoring comes largely from my days trying to manage stage volume with a tube amp.  Keeping volume down with a cabinet facing at the back of my knees, I became pretty accustomed to not hearing myself well and having my ears well outside my cab's sweet spot.  :unsure: Hearing myself through any decent house wedge is gonna give me a better experience than I generally had with my old analog rig while still minimizing stage volume.  I do have some nice custom IEMs for those rare opportunities where that's an option.

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I'm a new Helix user and am blown away by it. This, after several failed attempts to like the HD500.  But I'm sold now, and want to put together a stage rig I can deal with.

 

Now I understand the appeal of an FRFR speaker and in particular, the l2m;  It'll give me the full glory of the Helix sound.  But for stage use, is a standard PA monitor speaker sufficient?  I'll be using effects, amps and cabs in the Helix, and that's what'll go to front-of-house, but I want my own monitor, and I want it to closely replicate the front of house sound.  It seems that I could do that reasonably with a run-of-the mill monitor, but please correct me and/or make me aware of the pitfalls.

 

Thanks much in advance!

In a word no. Your monitors are for all intents are an FRFR. You wont get a "better" sound from a dedicated FRFR, you'll just have to EQ your patches a little differently to accommodate the shape of the box and type of speaker, the same as you would from brand to brand of monitor. 

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I run my Helix directly into the FX send of my tube head, a PRS Sonzera 50. I usually just disable the cab IR's and run into an EVH 2x12. I wasn't very fond of it at high volumes at practice the first couple of times, but decided to use the headphones out into my amps return just to see how it would sound and it was wonderful. I don't necessarily think that FRFR is a must have thing. I can see where someone who wants different cab sounds throughout their set would benefit, but I can dial in what I want to hear with my cab.

 

I think when it comes to this part of how to best use the Helix it comes down to what the person needs in their performance more than anything.

 

There have been endless discussions about the "amp in the room" sound which really just boils down to just a traditional live stage sound.  In many cases that's what the person is after, and in which case they're probably better off simply by-passing the Cab and IR features of the Helix and going direct into a traditional cabinet in the same way as you're describing.  There's nothing wrong with that especially if it fits your needs.

 

There is another segment of user of which I'm a subscriber.  What I've sought after for a long time is to have a stage sound that competes with, and is as good as those that you hear on a professionally produced recording.  For that you really do need all of the tools provided by the Helix, especially including cabinets, mic's, mic placements and mixes, because that's how it's done in the studio.  More importantly you need a rig that will reflect that kind of accuracy and those nuances effectively.  Most modern, decent PA systems have that ability, so it's simply a matter of reproducing that sound on stage as well as having a way of achieving it when you're building your patches at home.  In other words, the control room experience while you dial in your sound.  That's where the FRFR speaker comes into play as it will give you an accurate idea of where you're at in achieving that goal.

 

Just as it's hard for people who like the "amp in the room" feel to explain why that's important to them, it's equally hard to describe why some of us are so driven toward the produced sound.  All I can say is I'm more than willing to tediously tweak and mess with a patch for many hours over a period of a few days to achieve that sound using various arrangements of cab/IRs, mics, mic placements and mixes as well as placement and configurations of amps and effects until I hear it.  It doesn't happen every time, but when it does it's a truly glorious sound....indistinguishable from a polished studio recording.  And when played live in a band it's in a completely different world from a traditional live amp sound.

 

To me it's not about convincing people that one side or the other is the way to go, because they are two very different ways of approaching what you do and achieving what you're personally after.

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Yes, I so much agree with DunedinDragon!

I don't want the raw guitar sound, I want the studio sound - I always did, but before systems like the Helix didn't know that's what I was looking for.

The fact that I can process the sound after the speaker (IR) is fantastic!

And I'm personally fine for live sound and feel  - as is the rest of the band - with a fully produced sound though FRFR at decibels that still give some feeling of a big amp but better (I'm an old guy who used to play live with a 50w Marshall well and truely cooking in the day!).

By the way, on a big stage even in those "olden days", I used to hear about as much of my sound through the foldback as my amp direct if I was lucky - that push up your bum disappears then you are 6M out from the amp and the 2000w side fills and a row of wedges are pumping!   Professionals got used to hearing their amp coming from FB as much as the amp itself - bet you The Edge hears most of his sound from foldback.  And you get into the luxury of having some reverb etc on that side fill really quickly!! A good stage mix used to be a thing of beauty - and a band always loved that guy that could reliably give them what they wanted to hear.

Now I operate on a more conservative scale, I'm really happy to have the Helix do a better job than I used to get from my side fill mix. (I do take a aux line into the monitors so I can control the balance of the rest of the band)

My wedges face me - I'm still getting all that interaction of the strings and the amp - I can still play the feedback - actually I can do that way more predictably that those old days. Be very confident the good harmonics are going ring and take off and as a result I can control that whole amp/guitar thing better than ever.

But because its all facing me (in stereo) it has almost no impact on the FOH mix.

Obviously it's a personal thing - that the way it is for me.

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