Has anyone ditched their cab for a FRFR and IR setup?

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Mark II
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Has anyone ditched their cab for a FRFR and IR setup?

Post by Chugga-Chugga » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:26 pm

I guess this has been possible for some time, and I'm embarrassed to say that I wasn't aware of it. I know you can run an amp modeler through a guitar cab with speaker simulation/IRs turned off, or through a FRFR setup with speaker simulation/IRs turned on, and obviously I know you can run a head through a cab.... but I *didn't* know you could run a head through an FRFR setup with speaker simulation/IRs. I guess I didn't know that standalone speaker simulation existed.

Even in 2017/2018, whenever I listen to amp vs. modeler comparisons on Youtube I can pick out the tube amp every time. I'm not anti-modeler, but I can hear a difference and the amps always sound better to me. That being said, I've been here over 8 years and still haven't bought an amp, and I think one of the reasons is that I can't settle on a cab. There are a lot of different speakers out there, and I like the different sonic 'tastes' that are available. From the reading I've done, I guess it's easier to simulate speakers than amps, and apparently using speaker simulation for recording, practice (and maybe live performance?) has become popular. I've listened to some cab vs. IR clips on Youtube and I can't tell the difference.

So, I was curious if anyone here was doing this, and if so, how happy you are with it, what kind of setup you have? It just seems like a great way to be able to play through a variety of different cabs without having to buy all those cabs.

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Re: Has anyone ditched their cab for a FRFR and IR setup?

Post by screamingdaisy » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:01 pm

From what I've seen it's a fairly uncommon setup.

The guys that are doing it are using something like a Two-Notes inline with a real speaker cab. They send the IR out to the FOH instead of using a mic, and will generally be feeding the IR send into their in-ear monitors if they're using them, then they have a line running to their guitar cab on stage which is generally un-mic'd and used for live monitoring/feel.

Using an IR is generally consistent sounding from venue to venue, and a Two Notes is much smaller than dragging around 4x12 inside an iso cab, which isn't realistic for most gigging musicians that don't have their own production crew.
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Re: Has anyone ditched their cab for a FRFR and IR setup?

Post by woodbutcher65 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:28 am

I have a foot in both worlds. I use a Fractal Audio Axe-FX II modeller and I'm a member of the Fractal Audio forums, too.

In that forum, it would appear that MOST users of Fractal rigs use FRFR speaker setups. It's the rule more than it is the exception.

Once you try it, in a good setup, you understand its appeal. The tone of the speaker cabinet is a big part of many classic (or new) tonal combinations and having the ability to have the tone of all the available possible cabinets in addition to the tones of all those amplifiers and effects gives you a degree of freedom you just can't match with the limited range of speaker cabinets that most players have the money and room for.

I've tried out my Fractal hooked up to my own stereo system, which is quite a serious setup in its own right, and the sounds I get out of it are frankly mind boggling. If it's not absolutely authentic tube tone into Marshall cabs loaded with greenbacks, it's still a wonder to hear and play through.

In fact I need to hook that back up again now that I've got a very well proven patch that does a very good job of faithfully recreating Steve Lukather's tone from the 90s.

I have not ditched conventional tube amps and guitar cabinets. Nor do I plan to. I see no reason not to be able to play in both worlds at will, and I can, and I do, and I love it.

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Re: Has anyone ditched their cab for a FRFR and IR setup?

Post by kdorsey » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:44 pm

No, not like that, but I’ve gone the opposite way many times...Kemper into my MkIII EQ’ed as close to FRFR as possible. It sounds pretty darned good, too.

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Re: Has anyone ditched their cab for a FRFR and IR setup?

Post by MonacoElite » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:19 am

Well, in your defense, this is the kind of setup that EVH ran in the late-70s so we're all kind of late to the party. You just need a dummy load that brings the amp's speaker signal back to line level and then a power amp with which to "re-amp" the signal. A set of powered studio monitors does that.

If you haven't tried IR and studio monitors, it's worth considering. It's definitely very cool. My interest stemmed from wanting to get my amps cranked up while also keeping things to a more reasonable playing volume.

It's great to crank amps but even in a sizable living room, there's still way too much sound bouncing around. If you want to legitimately enjoy the experience, a big tube amp will really need a huge room in which all that sound can dissipate. You can throw a mic directly on a speaker and have it sound great, but your ears are a different story. And it's especially noticeable as you increase the gain!

So awhile back I bought a load box (Suhr Reactive Load) and an IR loader (Two Notes CAB). Together with a pair of decent studio monitors (KRK) I can crank an amp and still jam at volume levels that are FAR more bearable. I can also add some slight EQ beyond the amp to tailor the overall tone which is super helpful.

Another upside of these setups is that they can accommodate any amp you happen to come across. So once you have the gear in place, it's there.

In total I probably invested about $1,000. Each of the components runs about $350...loadbox, IR loader and studio monitors.

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Re: Has anyone ditched their cab for a FRFR and IR setup?

Post by YellowJacket » Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:17 pm

I have a Torpedo Live which I use in specific situations. i.e. quiet practicing, recording, and playing in volume sensitive situations. It does not replace a cab but it drastically increases the versatility of a 100watt tube head.

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