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colmac2000

Some help with FRFR...

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My first foray into FRFR...I picked up a db Technologies B-Hype 10 as a bit of an experiment to see if I might be able to wean myself off my current power amp -> 2x12 setup. I can't seem to get it to sound clear and natural - it sounds really muffled and compressed. Are there any basics that I might be getting wrong?

 

I'm not sure if the problem is the particular speaker (it is an entry level one, so it might just not be great) or whether all FRFR speakers just sound different.

 

I am also suffering a bit from option paralysis now that I have to worry about mic selection, cab selection etc and every change can have a massive effect on the tone. Can anyone recommend some basic settings that ought to sound good (for a basic rock tone)? I downloaded the Glen Delaune stripped down patches but they still sound quite muffled and compressed to me...some are better than others though.

 

Any ideas?

 

Thanks!

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What is the volume level you use? Bedroom low level? Or performance volume level to cut through a dense mix? Do you prefer a nice tone alone or a good tone in a band mix (or anyway with a backing track)?

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My first foray into FRFR...I picked up a db Technologies B-Hype 10 as a bit of an experiment to see if I might be able to wean myself off my current power amp -> 2x12 setup. I can't seem to get it to sound clear and natural - it sounds really muffled and compressed. Are there any basics that I might be getting wrong?

 

I'm not sure if the problem is the particular speaker (it is an entry level one, so it might just not be great) or whether all FRFR speakers just sound different.

 

I am also suffering a bit from option paralysis now that I have to worry about mic selection, cab selection etc and every change can have a massive effect on the tone. Can anyone recommend some basic settings that ought to sound good (for a basic rock tone)? I downloaded the Glen Delaune stripped down patches but they still sound quite muffled and compressed to me...some are better than others though.

 

Any ideas?

 

Thanks!

Thank you very much Sir. That speaker has a DSP EQ feature on the back panel. Make sure it's set to "Flat" not "Boost". Also, all of my Stripped Down Amp patches have Hi cuts on the cab block to approximate the High End Level level on most speakers. You can dial that up all the way if you want.  Thank you again Sir.

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Thank you very much Sir. That speaker has a DSP EQ feature on the back panel. Make sure it's set to "Flat" not "Boost". Also, all of my Stripped Down Amp patches have Hi cuts on the cab block to approximate the High End Level level on most speakers. You can dial that up all the way if you want.  Thank you again Sir.

 

Ah, the man himself :)

 

Yeah, it does have an eq switch but it is set to 'flat'. Switching to 'boost' definitely makes it worse. Taking the high cut out seems to make it fizzy rather than clearer. If I add in an eq bock and boost the highs then it livens it up a bit but it starts to get a bit harsh. It sounds quite a bit better through headphones than through the speaker...which makes me think the issue might be the quality of the speaker. Unfortunately I don't have a way of checking that without buying a DXR10 or something - bit of an expensive option! :)

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Ah, the man himself :)

 

Yeah, it does have an eq switch but it is set to 'flat'. Switching to 'boost' definitely makes it worse. Taking the high cut out seems to make it fizzy rather than clearer. If I add in an eq bock and boost the highs then it livens it up a bit but it starts to get a bit harsh. It sounds quite a bit better through headphones than through the speaker...which makes me think the issue might be the quality of the speaker. Unfortunately I don't have a way of checking that without buying a DXR10 or something - bit of an expensive option! :)

Yes I totally understand. The thing is, what you might hear as what you describe as "Fizz" is not a bad thing. I could go on and on and sight several actual audio clips of isolated guitar stems of some famous guitarists that you would think sound totally terrible unless you knew who the clips were from. My point here is this, and I've posted this on several forums, Real amps have Fizz. I call it "Tube Sizzle". That's the sound you get with a tube amp when it's pushed to the point where the tubes engage and they start to get hot. That's where the good sound comes from. So modelers have tried to emulate that. Line 6 has gotten very close to the real deal. Don't try to dial that out. On many of my commercial presets I have dialed that down a bit because for most people that are not used to how a real amp sounds and they hear the Helix they might say, "Damn that's so fizzy", but in the real world that's how tube amps actually sound folks. This whole "Digital" world has enabled to change what reality actually is. If that's good or bad I don't know but I think a modern guitarist getting into digital modeling needs to do some research on the good old days and how tubes amps that are overdrive sound. You'll be surprised at some of the most iconic guitar recordings of all time sound when isolated.  That's what I strive for when crafting my presets. Thank you guys again for all of your support and kind words throughout these past years.

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Can anyone recommend some basic settings that ought to sound good (for a basic rock tone)?

 

On Helix I have a fender twin dialed in and using a Strymon "Riverside" pedal with it. I'm using some Friedman ASM-12's and they sound awesome with that combination. Yes, they are pricey (and for a good reason). Don't just take my word for it- Read some reviews and listen to some youtube. Good basic settings are the result of some good sounding speakers, and every little thing you do matters.

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I suspect the problem might be the speaker tbh - everything just sounds muffled and processed, even though it sounds fine through headphones. Has anyone got any experience of the db technologies b-hype speakers? I don't have anything to compare it to and it would be really annoying if I bought a Yamaha DXR10 or something only to find it is basically the same (I know it would be better but maybe not a completely different sound).

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Oh - and another thing I just noticed...has anyone else heard a kind of low frequency crackling, or more a kind of fuzz-like farti-ness behind the bass notes and kind of tailing off at the end of notes? It makes chords sound a bit messy. I can hear it even with the cabs switched off, when I'm going into a tube power amp -> real guitar cab, so it seems to be to do with the amp modelling. At first I thought it was an artifact of some kind but now I'm wondering if it is an intentional part of the modelling...or maybe I am overloading something? Dunno.

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Any reasonable "FRFR" will be able to reproduce the sounds from a Helix at a modest volume. Some may not be as flat as others - cheaper ones having a boost in the bass and for clear vocals or at the higher end. The difference are really in how well they perform at higher volume levels.

What I suspect might be factors here are possibly gain staging to the speaker, but primarily the room being particularly resonant at the low end. How is this speaker set-up? On a wooden floor even though it is designed to be a monitor and you may get a significant low end boost in additional to room resonances. PA speakers typically need to be on speaker stands and not in a corner where again low end will be boosted. 

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Hello Colmac2000.

I'm afraid that your speaker could be slightly weak to be used with a band, specially if the drummer is "standard" rock loud and you want to use it not only as a monitor for you, but also to let the other band mates hear your guitar. 

But I think you can get good tones anyway from it.

I checked your monitor data sheet, and it does not have any low-cut filter unfortunately (or some lows adjustment). Even if it could be not very practical, my first suggestion is to put your speaker on a pole or anyway not on the floor, because on the floor the bass frequencies will be enhanced too much, so that you will adjust your tone trying to cut those low frequencies that depend on the placement (specially at performance volume level). Even in the rehearsal room, putting your speaker in a taller position (just a little higher up than your heads) will get you a more balanced tone, and it will help a lot to make your mates hear your guitar, too, without having to increase the volume too much.

 

As to the tones for rock, if you like, you can try my own custom tone, that I use with my band (at the rehearsal room and live):

http://line6.com/customtone/tone/3232147/

You will need also my own IR that I use in this patch, and you can download it from here:

http://ge.tt/1MT9wem2

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Oh - and another thing I just noticed...has anyone else heard a kind of low frequency crackling, or more a kind of fuzz-like farti-ness behind the bass notes and kind of tailing off at the end of notes? It makes chords sound a bit messy. I can hear it even with the cabs switched off, when I'm going into a tube power amp -> real guitar cab, so it seems to be to do with the amp modelling. At first I thought it was an artifact of some kind but now I'm wondering if it is an intentional part of the modelling...or maybe I am overloading something? Dunno.

It is something that many users note, and it is more obvious with some amp models, not all of them (imho). You'll find some threads and discussions about this characteristics (or problem, but anyway some real amps and od pedals have this problem).

It is difficult to remove that fizzy decay. Maybe a little less power amp ("master") volume may help, as well as some fine adjustment of the sag, bias and bias x. And it helps also if you don't overload the input (I always like the "guitar in pad" ON in the global settings for example) and the gain in the chain is under control. But anyway it is undeniable with some amp models. If this is really audible in a band mix context on the contrary is another matter...

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It is something that many users note, and it is more obvious with some amp models, not all of them (imho). You'll find some threads and discussions about this characteristics (or problem, but anyway some real amps and od pedals have this problem).

It is difficult to remove that fizzy decay. Maybe a little less power amp ("master") volume may help, as well as some fine adjustment of the sag, bias and bias x. And it helps also if you don't overload the input (I always like the "guitar in pad" ON in the global settings for example) and the gain in the chain is under control. But anyway it is undeniable with some amp models. If this is really audible in a band mix context on the contrary is another matter...

 

Ah, OK - at least it's not just me. I did used to have a valve amp that did something very similar. It was annoying at bedroom levels but wasn't noticeable at rehearsal / gig volumes. I didn't notice it with the Helix until I tried it through the FRFR speaker but now that I've heard it I can't stop hearing it!

 

On the b-hype speaker - it doesn't have a particularly high wattage but is rated with quite a high db rating (~120db) and it is super loud. I'd be surprised if it can't handle a band setup. What it sounds like up loud is another question! I've only tried it at loud-ish bedroom levels so far.

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 Real amps have Fizz. I call it "Tube Sizzle". That's the sound you get with a tube amp when it's pushed to the point where the tubes engage and they start to get hot. 

^SO MUCH THIS^ 

 

"Sizzle" also comes from overdrive/distortion pedals. Those circuits are designed to clip (or distort, that's why it is called distortion) the signal. That sizzle becomes a lot more apparent on Helix because of the full range nature of the system (stock cabs have no low/high cut by default). It is even more apparent when you are just playing at home and not in the mix with a band.

 

To get rid of harshness of the sizzle, you must do what Glenn mentioned and dial in your preset to better approximate the frequency range of the cabinet model you are trying to reproduce. You can do that with the high cut at the cab model, or put in an eq after the cab to get a steeper high cut. 

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Thanks for the tips...the problem I have with the FRFR speaker is more to do with it sounding compressed and muffled...it just doesn't sound open and clear...

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Thanks for the tips...the problem I have with the FRFR speaker is more to do with it sounding compressed and muffled...it just doesn't sound open and clear...

Is your speaker set for "line" level, and is your Helix XLR outs set for "line" level? After checking those two things, turn the master volume on Helix all the way up, and turn the volume on your speaker 1/2 way up. What does it sound like after that?

 

If you put your ear to the speaker, can you tell if you have any sound coming out of the tweeter?

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Is your speaker set for "line" level, and is your Helix XLR outs set for "line" level? After checking those two things, turn the master volume on Helix all the way up, and turn the volume on your speaker 1/2 way up. What does it sound like after that?

 

If you put your ear to the speaker, can you tell if you have any sound coming out of the tweeter?

 

Ah - good points there. It is a B-stock speaker so  I guess there could be an issue with the tweeter. Might be tricky to check but I'll have a proper listen. Also, I didn't notice that there was a line/mic switch on the back (D'oh!). I'm not sure where it is set. I did have the Helix output set to Line and that sounded worse, so it's set to mic atm.  I'll set them both to Line tonight and see how that sounds. I'll try the volume thing too.

 

Got some things to try - thanks!

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I'd plug your cellphone audio into your speaker and play some music off YouTube or something to make sure the high end tweeter is working.

If prerecorded music sounds muffled, then you know it's the speaker

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bust out that opti trem on the final pedal block, trust me, it works wonders, settings at 1 and 1

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bust out that opti trem on the final pedal block, trust me, it works wonders, settings at 1 and 1

Good grief...

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Thanks for the tips...the problem I have with the FRFR speaker is more to do with it sounding compressed and muffled...it just doesn't sound open and clear...

After checking if everything works properly as it was suggested above, it seems to me that it is more a matter to find the best cab/mic sim (for you).

The Helix offers many (good) stock cabs, but trying them can be frustrating because there are many options, and what's more the editing is not arranged well (for example every time you change the speaker, all the other parameters change into the default values!).
In my case, I prefer to try some IR files because at the end it is easy and quick. I add some hi-cut and lo-cut, and in the Helix often even some extreme values are good (for example something like 110Hz low cut, and 4.5kHz high cut aren't that weird with Helix!).
 
Without trying thousand IRs, you could start with these very good FREE impulses from some commercial sites, such as:
and
(just use the "quick start" folder)
 
You'll have about 50 impulses that are a good starting point imho.
I'd add that it is even easier to find a good IR, and then later to try to get close to it using as alternative the stock cabs and mics of Helix, because at least you have a reference tone.
By the way, did you try my own IR that I linked in a message above?
 
If using Impulse Responses isn't your target, try to focus on just few single stock cabs and mics in the Helix, so that you have a smaller choice that often gives a good result, such as for example:
MICS: 4038 or 121 (ribbon mics)
CABS: 2x12 Blue Bell, 2x12 Silver Bell, 4x12 Greenback20, 2x12 Match H30, 2x12 Match G25
EARLY REFLECTIONS: zero
Lo-Cut: around 100-130 Hz
Hi-Cut: between 4kHz and 6kHz
Distance: generally I prefer close to the grille (1" or 1.5")
 
As to the hi/lo-cuts, you could place an additional fx block after the cab/mic sim, using an eq block with the low cut and high cut. This way it will be fixed, while you test the other combinations of speakers and mics, and what's more the cuts in the separate eq blocks are steeper (and may be more pleasant) than the ones you get in the cab block.

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you try it yet? 

Yes, sounds like a subtle optical tremolo at the end of the chain. I prefer my trems in between the amp and cab models though. Definitely not a "rock my guitar tone world" kind of game changer for me.

 

If the OP has an issue with his speaker, it won't matter what effects he is using and at what point in the signal chain. 

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Neither of my Yamaha DXR10 sound muffled! They are sparklingly clear, full and robust.

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Don't forget new speakers do need breaking in. (a drum machine for 12hours will do it on guitar amp speakers. The Helix is a very broadband instrument and reproducing bass frequencies is a subject in itself. When mixing, most tracks except bass need to be rolled off as it is wasted energy pushing your meters that is barely heard. That is what you have; too much low end energy for the speaker to reproduce it. make sure you apply a high pass above or shelf cut below 30hz for bass and for guitar making space for bass and kick at 120hz or there abouts depending on the slope of the roll off. You can get louderand clearer this way. Bare in mind too that Full response powered speakers are not rolling off the high end like a guitar cab would and depending on the cab or IR you use and especially if you don't use you can get a tone that is sparkly bright for some, shrill and fizzy for others. Roll that bass off and you'll be good

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Well, the tweeter seems to be working. Someone kindly sent me a bunch of patches that they use live and those sound very muddy through my speaker, and a lot less bright than the patches I have been working on.

 

I think there might be something wrong with the speaker so I'm probably going to return it and maybe try an Alto TS210. At least quite a lot of people are using the Alto so I know it should sound ok. The b-hype 10 is a bit of an unknown quantity.

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I kind of had a worry with the speaker just from it's name... B-Hype doesn't engender thoughts of flat response.

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Well, the tweeter seems to be working. Someone kindly sent me a bunch of patches that they use live and those sound very muddy through my speaker, and a lot less bright than the patches I have been working on.

 

I think there might be something wrong with the speaker 

The main point (that I think someone already mentioned): what about listening to cd music, that you are already familiar with, through this speaker?

If it is good enough for you, and similar to what you hear from other sources, then the speaker is not the (main) problem.

If not, the best way to test (and to compare) a speaker to be used as FRFR for guitar modelers is always to play CD music (or even MP3) that you already know.

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Thanks for all the help on this. I'm pretty sure the b-hype isn't going to work for me so that will be going back. I suspect there might be something faulty about that particular one. In terms of what to do next, I'm not sure whether it is worth trying the Alto, given that it is a similar price point...or whether I should bite the bullet and go for the DXR10 which seems to be the weapon of choice. My issue then is that it's starting to feel like with the increased weight, fan etc I'm starting to lose some of the benefit in going down the FRFR route. Especially if ti doesn't sound as good as a power amp -> cab setup and I need to spend days of my life trying different cabs, IRs, mics, mic placements etc...

 

...I'm starting to wonder what the benefit is in going FRFR at all :) I guess I had some naive idea that I'd be able to replace my 2x12 with a 10kg 10" speaker cab and still have it sound great...probably asking too much! 

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There are many different price points on speakers, starting from the Alto 210s ($) all the way to Line 6 Stagesource ($$$). Many users are very happy with everything within that range. I am currently on the lower $ end with JBL EON 610s, and am very happy with them. 

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And that list is only for consumer/prosumer gear; it doesn't get to the starting point in the pro tour price range.

How about a JBL VTX M22 stage monitor; bargain at only £3500 each ($4,700 US)  

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And that list is only for consumer/prosumer gear; it doesn't get to the starting point in the pro tour price range.

How about a JBL VTX M22 stage monitor; bargain at only £3500 each ($4,700 US)  

 

Nice...maybe I'll get a discount if I buy 6 at once :)

 

 

There are many different price points on speakers, starting from the Alto 210s ($) all the way to Line 6 Stagesource ($$$). Many users are very happy with everything within that range. I am currently on the lower $ end with JBL EON 610s, and am very happy with them. 

 

Another option :) Are you using the JBL with the Helix? What made you go with that one? Looking at the spec it seems to have a lot of bells and whistles I wouldn't need (bluetooth, routing options).

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...I'm starting to wonder what the benefit is in going FRFR at all :) I guess I had some naive idea that I'd be able to replace my 2x12 with a 10kg 10" speaker cab and still have it sound great...probably asking too much! 

 

Unfortunately comparing a 2x12 guitar cabinet to a pro level speaker system is like comparing a go-kart to a Porsche.  There's a LOT more that goes into these type of speakers that what goes into your typical guitar cabinet which mostly consists of 2 speakers, some wiring and a cabinet.  These, along with studio reference monitors, are designed to be very precise acoustic systems for accurately reproducing and (in the case of stage speakers) projecting sound.  As Rewolf and jbuhajla point at, there's quite a range of options, but you generally get what you pay for in this type of pro gear.  I guess I wasn't terribly shocked by the prices as I've been around professional audio stage systems for quite a while.  But you have to bear in mind what you're getting is an acoustically neutral enclosure that contains a significantly powered (1000w+) class D amp along with a limiter and some DSP processing (similar to what's in the Helix) for maintaining an even response across the entire frequency range so that it's capable of accurately reproducing sound from ANY form of instrument or voice...not just guitar.

 

I use a Yamaha DXR12 which is priced roughly between a full solid state or tube amp and weighs about 50 lbs.  I didn't buy it with any delusion that it would be easier to move around than an amp.  But on the other hand my band has three more DXR12's that we use for stage monitors and it's not uncommon at all to see DXR12s used as FOH speakers for many full bands or DJs.  So that really helps put it all in perspective.

 

I'm certainly not saying you need to be at that end of the spectrum.  There are many people here that are perfectly happy with Alto 210s which are half the price and half the weight.  But I would encourage you to pay attention to what other folks are using here rather than deviate too far afield from it in search of a lower price.  That's how you can find yourself very discouraged.

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I've have QSC's, line 6 stagesource, used a Mackie Thump and have Alto 212, 210 and a couple of cheap older altos (10").  Alto wins every time.  Something about them just works for the Helix, guitar and my ears.

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Another option :) Are you using the JBL with the Helix? What made you go with that one? Looking at the spec it seems to have a lot of bells and whistles I wouldn't need (bluetooth, routing options).

Yes, I use them with Helix. I use them to build my tones at home (on the floor as wedges, set on "monitor" mode), which translate very well to our QSC based system at church. At the time I was speaker shopping, I found a deal on Amazon for $325 each, free speaker stand, free shipping, no tax. I bought two. There is a LOT of volume available there if you need it for a live setting. 

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I have both Stagesource L2t/m and Alto TS210.  It may be the Stagesource sound a little better and they can a teensy bit louder (128 dB SPL max vs 125 for the Alto I think (can you even tell the difference between that?)), but I'm finding myself using the Alto much more because it's so much lighter.  And in a band context it kinda all goes away, anyway.  And the Alto is plenty loud.  I used it recently with a band with another guitar (marshall) and bass and drums playing basically 80's post punk in a two car garage.  It was all I had (and my Helix) and it easily kept up.

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Oh - and another thing I just noticed...has anyone else heard a kind of low frequency crackling, or more a kind of fuzz-like farti-ness behind the bass notes and kind of tailing off at the end of notes? It makes chords sound a bit messy. I can hear it even with the cabs switched off, when I'm going into a tube power amp -> real guitar cab, so it seems to be to do with the amp modelling. At first I thought it was an artifact of some kind but now I'm wondering if it is an intentional part of the modelling...or maybe I am overloading something? Dunno.

 

I did a clip of this to show someone what I am hearing - what do you guys think? I just can't get rid of it and now that I have tuned in to it I can't stop hearing it. The clip is just recorded on my phone and it is through a Magnum 44 into a 2x12 - so, no cab modelling on the patch. I have tried various guitars, pad on and off, all the input Z values etc...

 

https://soundcloud.com/gearaddict/recording-1

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I did a clip of this to show someone what I am hearing - what do you guys think? I just can't get rid of it and now that I have tuned in to it I can't stop hearing it. The clip is just recorded on my phone and it is through a Magnum 44 into a 2x12 - so, no cab modelling on the patch. I have tried various guitars, pad on and off, all the input Z values etc...

 

https://soundcloud.com/gearaddict/recording-1

What amp model/overdrive blocks are you using?

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I think that was one of the matchless models with a hedgehog overdrive in front of it...but tbh now that I've become aware of it, I'm hearing it on most of the amps.

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I think what you hear is very similar to what you would normally hear on a tube amp, at least what I heard in the sound clip on my computer speakers. I have some old Gibson amps and a fairly new hand-built tube amp, similar distortion/rumble characteristics.

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