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Thread: Periodically Hitting The Reset Button.

  1. #1

    Periodically Hitting The Reset Button.

    The first thing I did when I got my new HX/DA all hooked up was set it to where I'd set the one I had before. And it sounded great. But realizing that tolerances of pots and parts being what they are, I decided to start over completely with the new amp to see if maybe some slightly different tweaks were in order.

    So I started with the amp with all the switches at the DA setting, and all knobs at 0. Then I brought the HX gain up a bit, brought the treble up to set where I wanted the high end, brought up the mids, then the bass, then went back to the HX gain and set up a nice clean tone. Brought the bass gain up just a bit to add some juice. And finally monkeyed around with the presence to find a good spot for an overall lift for the upper mids.

    Finally, I messed with the HX and DA switches, one by one.

    Did it all by ear, not by eye. And where did I end up?

    You guessed it. Same as before - same as it ever was! LOL!!

    But in addition, I decided to tweak the amp for using it with my Fulldrive 3. I set the HX gain of the amp for a good clean sound with the guitar volume about halfway up. This resulted in a little lower setting on the amp gain. Then fiddled with the FD controls so that hitting the clean boost gave me a really nice "edge of breakup" with the guitar at around 6.

    Of course, bringing the guitar volume up adds more gain to the amp, whether the clean boost is on or not - the clean boost changes the color a bit, as I've only got it on a low setting.

    Finally, bringing in the OD section of the pedal adds a lot of midrange and girthy grind, and it's a great combination with the amp.

    So in essence, I've got some really nice options with the amp and the pedal combined that sound absolutely fantastic, and the exercise certainly wasn't a waste of time!

    Anyone else hit the reset button from time to time on their amps and rigs?
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  2. #2
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    I think the lesson here is about the quality and consistency of the components PRS selected for the HX/DA.

    The fact that you ended up in the same place where you started with the previous amp shows that there may be some differences between individual components in a run, but not much!

    Quality control showcase!
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance But he's soooo over them now!

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    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    Les...I wish it were that simple for me...I gotta say I am constantly tweaking my tone to achieve whatever sound I am going for at the moment...each guitar has its own amp settings that showcase the sonic capabilities of the instrument to the greatest extent...unfortunately they all differ!!!! ....this quest for tone... for me....ends up being a never ending process...I definitely have go to settings on both the HXDA and Recording Amp...but I have found bringing everything back to neutral when I play a guitar I haven't picked up in a while and then tweaking from there is my normal routine...once I accomplish what I am trying to do though I tend to set and forget....(until I have a new sound pop into my head or I pick up another axe)....It's at times tedious but overall...it's a nice problem to have!!!!!!
    -Bob

  4. #4
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    I'm not nearly as orderly as Bob, but I do periodically record my current setting and go back to the drawing board. If I come up with something new I like I play that for a while and stick the settings on my cheat sheet (or book).

  5. #5
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I put everything at 5. Every amp I touch gets the same treatment. I consider it ok to adjust the gain/volume to taste from there, but I leave everything else at 5.
    Plank Owner

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Dirty Bob View Post
    Les...I wish it were that simple for me...I gotta say I am constantly tweaking my tone to achieve whatever sound I am going for at the moment...each guitar has its own amp settings that showcase the sonic capabilities of the instrument to the greatest extent...unfortunately they all differ!!!! ....this quest for tone... for me....ends up being a never ending process...I definitely have go to settings on both the HXDA and Recording Amp...but I have found bringing everything back to neutral when I play a guitar I haven't picked up in a while and then tweaking from there is my normal routine...once I accomplish what I am trying to do though I tend to set and forget....(until I have a new sound pop into my head or I pick up another axe)....It's at times tedious but overall...it's a nice problem to have!!!!!!
    I change mine from guitar to guitar, too. I should have mentioned that this was only a setting for my Artist V.

    I don't have a lot of guitars, so it's pretty easy to make changes for each one.

    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I put everything at 5. Every amp I touch gets the same treatment. I consider it ok to adjust the gain/volume to taste from there, but I leave everything else at 5.
    But what if everything other than gain/volume sounds better at 4, or 6, or 9?

    I can't think of one control on my amp that sounds best at 5. At least, not all the time.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 11-12-2013 at 09:03 PM.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  7. #7
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    Yeah, wiping the slate clean is a great feeling but it's also scary as hell! That's what I did back in January...new amp, new cab, new guitar. Luckily I had the where-with-all to not blame the pedals for any issues (they were mismatched with the old amp) so literally everything I had in my arsenal got reset. My cell phone is chock full of pics of my amp and pedal settings, even though I'll occasionally reset all of my OD settings on a whim. It's addictive!
    + '01 Custom 24 + '11 DGT Standard (Mr. Clean) + '09 SE One + Super Dallas + Stealth 2x12+

  8. #8
    Yeah it is kind of addictive...and you know, it's all part of the creative process, too.

    I'm re-wonking (some might say re-working but I know what it really is) my pedal board lately as well. So much to do! So little time!
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  9. #9
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    But what if everything other than gain/volume sounds better at 4, or 6, or 9?

    I can't think of one control on my amp that sounds best at 5. At least, not all the time.
    I actually prefer them at 5. Maybe it's more my desire for symmetry.
    Plank Owner

  10. #10
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I actually prefer them at 5. Maybe it's more my desire for symmetry.
    Then just be more creative in how you achieve symmetry.

    I do keep my stereo knobs flat, because I want to hear how the artist mixed it, but on my amp it is all about want I want.

  11. #11
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I put everything at 5. Every amp I touch gets the same treatment. I consider it ok to adjust the gain/volume to taste from there, but I leave everything else at 5.
    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    But what if everything other than gain/volume sounds better at 4, or 6, or 9?

    I can't think of one control on my amp that sounds best at 5. At least, not all the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I actually prefer them at 5. Maybe it's more my desire for symmetry.
    I can't make a case for leaving all the controls at 5, but I think I can for starting there...

    It's a little bit about Jesse's symmetry, but a lot more about Pete's wanting to hear how the artist mixed it. That is, when I'm looking at a new amp, I want to hear it in the middle of it's range. Kinda like finding the tonal flat spot or middle ground. Then I see where it can go from there - both up and down on the controls.

    There is no 'right' way or 'one' way to evaluate these things. If there were - we'd all be playing exactly the same stuff with exactly the same tones - BOOOOOORING!!!!

    We all search for what we are trying to match in our heads. I just like to start at 5 and then have the freedom to go either way.
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance But he's soooo over them now!

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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I actually prefer them at 5. Maybe it's more my desire for symmetry.
    It's all in the mind, you know.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    I just like to start at 5 and then have the freedom to go either way.
    Most people start there.

    I have no problem with that, however, I like to know what every control does on its own. If I start with everything at zero, I can hear the full range of each control, and gain a better understanding if what exactly it does.

    Example: on some amps, the treble control or mid control have a large effect on gain. Mesas are often this way. I like to know how each control affects a range of the amp's frequency response, and how the Q and the curves are thought out. Not really possible starting at 5.

    Granted, where you end up may or may not be the same, but I really like to get my head around this stuff.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  14. #14
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    Yeah, wiping the slate clean is a great feeling but it's also scary as hell!
    Did the same thing almost two years ago... Still trying' to find "my" amp.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by veinbuster View Post
    I do keep my stereo knobs flat, because I want to hear how the artist mixed it, but on my amp it is all about want I want.
    The goal of a good high fidelity system is to do that, of course, but what I've learned since mixing for the last 23 years in my studio, in other studios, and in mastering rooms, and of course being an audio nutcase since the 70s, is that this particular goal is not really achieved, even in very expensive hi fi systems. I'll explain why:

    No two speaker models sound truly alike. You know this if you've ever listened to speakers to pick out a pair for your hi fi. They all sound different. And of course, they all can't be right.

    In fact, none of them are right.

    Just look at how the best speaker systems are made - multiple drivers, crossovers, boxes that have to be stuffed with wool and ported and lots of other things just so they don't vibrate and resonate too badly...and very high end speakers are often boxes on top of boxes. These "fixes" are designed to account for the shortcomings of putting speakers in boxes or on baffles and trying to get a full, flat frequency response. It's why every speaker system model out there sounds different.

    A speaker system, even a very good one, is a kludge of engineering fixes and choices and philosophies to overcome the limitations of present-day drivers. So we have woofers, and tweeters, and horns, and midrange drivers, and heil drivers, and ribbon technology, etc., etc., etc. And lots of box designs.

    So none of them are telling the truth. They're all trying, and failing. Sure, they can sound really good. But the artist wanted you to just maybe hear the power of a live band. Or the mighty sound of a live orchestra.

    You're not fooled - no speaker can really do that! I don't care how loud you crank it, the band in the room would sound different.

    And speakers like the old Bose 901s, or the Magneplanars or electrostatic panels simply add the problems of the room into the mix more than direct radiators like boxed speakers do. This is why studios don't use them for work.

    So far, there is no fix. Just more speakers, bigger speakers, etc. But the problems remain the same as they were in the 1950s when someone got the idea to put a pair of theater speakers with huge HF horns into a living room to see how that sounded.

    But you can tell from even the next room, with the very best hi fi speakers in the world, that it's not a real band or orchestra playing in there. Transducers like speakers are the weak link in the audio chain, and I'll submit, they're even a weaker link than microphones, which are another weak link, but at least multiple mics can be combined to overcome some of the weaknesses of the recording and reproduction chain. So we see ten mics on a drum kit and other weirdness, but your wife won't allow ten speaker boxes in your living room just to reproduce drums, so that's out.

    The final weak link, of course, is the room. It's the weakest link of all.

    No two rooms, even ones that have been acoustically treated, or designed by architects with expertise in studio design, sound exactly alike. And the room has a very significant impact on what the artist, the engineer, the mixer, and the mastering engineer hear. Your listening room also has a huge impact on what you hear on playback.

    Most major label (and smaller ones, too) records are recorded by one engineer, mixed by a second one, and mastered by a third. Generally that involves three different speaker system types, different machines and converters in the case of digital, different sounding consoles, and so on. It even involves rooms acoustically designed for different purposes.

    In most cases, the artist and the recording engineer sit down together and come up with a scratch mix that serves as a guide for the mix engineer. This is usually closest to the Artist's vision - in that particular studio. The mixer adds another vision, and makes the tune a bit more commercial sounding in the process.

    Maybe the artist was listening on soffit mounted monitors in a million dollar room where the speakers are tri-amped and cost $50,000 the pair. Or maybe the artist was listening on a pair of Yamaha bookshelf speakers, the NS-10s, that were designed for home hi fi in the 70s or 80s. Whatever. There are going to be differences between what the artist hears and what you hear.

    The mastering engineer has the job of making that mix sound more polished, and to make sure that it translates well to a variety of environments, from homes, to cars, to computer speakers to earbuds and god knows what else.

    The only way you're going to hear exactly the how master that the artist finally approves truly is intended to sound is to go to the mastering engineer's room and listen.

    Your room, on the other hand, has anomalies, unless it has some very seriously measured acoustical treatment. It may bounce a bit too much bass around, causing bass cancellation and various nodes where the bass is too high in level. It may absorb or reflect too much high frequency.

    If speakers and rooms sound different from one another - and they ALL do - then you're not hearing what someone else was hearing during mixdown, during mastering, etc. You can't be. Even in the near field, you hear plenty of boundary reflections, etc.

    The tone controls aren't really designed for a listener who loves bass to crank up the bass. They're designed to compensate for room differences. And they can be good at that, or not. But that's the intention of most equipment designers. Sometimes the most useful control is the balance control, because some rooms don't allow for symmetrical placement of speakers relative to room boundaries. And so on. On more sophisticated systems, there are times that the smartest thing to do is use a shelving filter to simply cut the frequencies below, say, 50 Hz. Often that cuts the mud, and allows the bass to seem more focused and better balanced.

    In any case, you're not hearing exactly what the artist wanted. You're coming close, maybe. But I don't care if you have two $10,000 monoblock amps and a pair of Wilson Watt speakers, it's an approximation.

    Hence, tone controls; if you really understand your room and its acoustics, and you have a preamp with good tone controls, they can really rescue the sound and make it truly hi-fi. To be more accurate, I should simply say, they can make it higher fi. Because there is no high fidelity yet.

    I'll repeat: high fidelity is a dream that is not yet a reality. What we have is moderately good fidelity.

    If you've ever been in a well designed studio that has a THX approved multichannel system, it's breathtaking compared to what we listen to on commercial recordings, but it's still not real sounding. An improvement, yes. I've been in experimental 10 channel rooms with more than two subs. It can be very nice. Still ain't the real deal. But better.

    Still...try and live with 10 large speaker systems in the typical room. It's so not happening.

    Tone controls can also compensate for poorly mixed/mastered stuff. Early digital mixes often suffer from screechy and brittle high end, not because the artist had that vision, but because until ten years ago or so, mixers were pretty much still in the habit of goosing the highs to reduce the high frequency losses that often occurred with tape to tape transfers. So they're useful for taming bad recordings, too.

    It's really the same reason that there are tone controls on a guitar amp. To compensate for different guitars, different rooms, different speaker cabinets and speakers, etc. In the case of a guitar amp, however, the goal isn't reproduction, it's production. So tone-shaping becomes a major task, and sometimes we as players lose sight of the other important aspect of making the amp sound good in the room it's being played in.

    "Well," you say, "I want to come as close to the Artist's vision as I can within these limitations, so I won't use tone controls."

    My reply is simply that given the fact that you have different speakers, and different equipment, and a different room, you're already using tone controls - the tone controls are in your head from when you selected speakers that pleased your ears, same with your electronic equipment, and of course when you set your stereo system up in your room.

    You can only guess at what the artist heard, an educated guess at best.

    So if you hear a problem when you're listening (and admittedly, some folks are blissfully unaware of such problems), then it makes sense to solve that problem with judicious use of your tone controls, or to at least try.

    And what about those albums that for whatever reason, are simply unlistenable but the music is really good? I'm a huge fan of Tom Petty, but every album after Wildflowers has sounded crappy to me. Generally they've been compressed to absolute death, they have no dynamic range, and the high and low frequencies sound unnatural. But I want to hear the songs!

    So yes, I reserve unto myself the right to use the tone controls to at least make those records listenable!! I don't even ask Tom's permission. I just do it.

    Anyway, use those preamp controls! There's nothing to fear -- you can always put them right back in the middle if you get freaked out!
    Last edited by LSchefman; 11-13-2013 at 09:34 PM.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  16. #16
    Angry Southern Gentleman Hopeful Sinner's Avatar
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    Les, my man, you are killing me! My HXDA GAS is at an all time high... I am ready to up my amp game a bit and must get my hands on one of those very soon. The only other option at this point is maybe an MDT.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Hopeful Sinner View Post
    Les, my man, you are killing me! My HXDA GAS is at an all time high... I am ready to up my amp game a bit and must get my hands on one of those very soon. The only other option at this point is maybe an MDT.
    My guess is that you can't miss with any of these amps. I've only had the HX/DA in my studio, but I also like the tones I'm hearing in clips of the other amps.

    What I love about the HX/DA is that it's a very warm sounding amp with an overdrive tone I call buttery. I know that isn't an audio term, but if a guitar sound was a pancake dripping with butter and syrup, this amp makes that happen. At least, it can be set up that way, and that's how I like to do it.

    The clean sound is, to my ear, very open and beautifully 3D.

    But everyone's got different needs, so I'd never say "buy one of these!"

    However, it's a good idea to try one if you get a chance. If you're ever up in Michigan, drop by!
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  18. #18
    Angry Southern Gentleman Hopeful Sinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    My guess is that you can't miss with any of these amps. I've only had the HX/DA in my studio, but I also like the tones I'm hearing in clips of the other amps.

    What I love about the HX/DA is that it's a very warm sounding amp with an overdrive tone I call buttery. I know that isn't an audio term, but if a guitar sound was a pancake dripping with butter and syrup, this amp makes that happen. At least, it can be set up that way, and that's how I like to do it.

    The clean sound is, to my ear, very open and beautifully 3D.

    But everyone's got different needs, so I'd never say "buy one of these!"

    However, it's a good idea to try one if you get a chance. If you're ever up in Michigan, drop by!
    I have got to make my way up to Morgan Guitars at some point. I think Derek has all the amps I'm interested in but if I happen to make it to Michigan before that, I will gladly take you up on that. I would love to check out your studio setup!!!

  19. #19
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    I "reset" from time to time... usually doesn't end up changing my settings a ton, but maybe less gain, or swapping the bright switch for a bit more on the treble knob, stuff like that. My amp isn't the sonic chameleon type, so vastly different settings still have the same basic flavor. I get my versatility from different guitars and somewhat from pedals. And of course my hands!

    Les, add one to the HXDA gas thanks to you. Been wanting one for a while now due in no small part to your rave reviews. To speak to the consistency you mentioned, the HXDA that Paul brought to the Boston clinic was a ringer for everything you've said, as well as everything I've heard in clips. He also A/B'ed a production Paul's guitar with his personal PS proto, and they were nearly identical tonally. I guess these people know what they're doing...

    I graduate this spring, which means finally working in my field after way too much school, and I'm really looking forward to misappropriating a paycheck for an HXDA!
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  20. #20
    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Anyway, use those preamp controls! There's nothing to fear -- you can always put them right back in the middle if you get freaked out!
    A very thoughtful post and I don't disagree with anything in it. I have moved the preamp controls on occassion, but in general I leave them flat. Until I listen to something like that and feel compelled to change them to make something that would otherwise be hideous appealling.

    I have decent equipment (though far from the top of the line) in a well formed room layed out for listening.

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