An unfortunate FRFR user looking for help

  • Hi everybody,


    I recently bought a powered FRFR box in the expectation that it would play the sounds of the recently purchased professional profiles:!: accordingly authentic.

    The result was unfortunately disappointing. The box does not sound as fat as expected, and the profiles do not sound as advertised. Now the reason for buying the FRFR box was that I played the Kemper at home on a stereo system (stereo on the Main-Outs + CabSim), which of course additionally colors. I wanted to correct that formally and leave the sound shaping to the Kemper alone. Unfortunately :-), the sound with the stereo is so good! I did not manage (using the monitor EQ) to get the FRFR box even close. The FRFR box is equipped with a Class-D power amp and a 12 "+ tweeter, but it does not nearly reproduce the bass of the stereo system (maybe I'm unfair comparing these two systems?).


    What I have tried so far:

    • Disabled all effects -> Set basic sound
    • Changed settings in the amp section (Definition, Clarity, Pure cabinet, etc., Vol is neutral at 0.0db)
    • Tried different cabs on a profile (yes, CabSim on the monitor is on!)
    • Used a Headset (DT 880 Pro)

    Remarks:

    • The FRFR box is relatively loud. Therefore, the level at the monitor output is set to low values (<-20db ?) to be able to play at home, too.
    • The sounds I prefer are usually distorted. I do like the bought profiles the way they were advertised. These sounds in the videos are indeed to my taste.

    Is there a mistake in my thinking, that a single sound advertised in a comparable situation (solo playing) should sound on my system as close as possible?


    Ladies and gentlemen, I kindly ask for your advice and/or your opinion :-)


    Best regards

    Jörg


    :!: As long as it is not clear whether the problem lies with me, I will not name the specific products to not blame the manufacturers unnecessarily. In any case, these products have a very good reputation here. That's why I bought them.

  • You mentioned that the stereo speakers sound so good with much more bass.


    Which speakers are you using?


    Where are they positioned in your room?


    Which FRFR are you using?


    Where is it positioned in your room?


    The room placement can have a significant effect on the sound especially in the bass frequencies.


    Also you mentioned that

    I played the Kemper at home on a stereo system (stereo on the Main-Outs + CabSim), which of course additionally colors.

    I am sure you already know this and have it set correctly but I just want to make sure I understand this properly. When using the stereo speakers you send the signal from the Kemper Main Outs and have the Cab section of the profile turned on. When you run the FRFR you run it from the Monitor Out of the Kemper and the Cab Section is also ON for this output. The Cab setting on the Monitor Out is labelled "Monitor Cab Off" so if it is unticked the cab is being used if it is ticked the cab is off. This feels backward to me so I can see how someone might use the wrong setting.


    The other thing to consider is that some speaker cabs don't come alive until they are pushed a bit. I have heard several people say that XXX FRFR cab sounds great at gig volume but lifeless at bedroom levels. Presumably you have tried the cab at higher volumes just to rule that out.


    You also mentioned that you have tried the DT880 headphones. Do they sound more like the stereo speakers or the FRFR?

  • Hi guys,


    thanks for your answers!

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    Is it possible your expectations of the FRFR sound are unrealistic?

    Well, maybe yes. That's the question I'm after.

    Quote

    1. Which speakers are you using?

    2. Where are they positioned in your room?

    3. Where is it positioned in your room?

    1. 2xMB Quart 280, DENON PMA-520 Power amp
    2. Triangled constellation, about 5m away, 5m distance between the speakers
    3. About 4m away, same vertical position as the stereo speakers. I've tried a position on the floor as well.
    Quote

    When using the stereo speakers you send the signal from the Kemper Main Outs and have the Cab section of the profile turned on

    The cab section is turned on on both paths:

    1. Kemper -> MainOuts (stereo) + CabSim -> DENEON PMA-420 -> 2x MB Quart 280
    2. Kemper -> MonitorOut + CabSim -> FRFR
    Quote

    Presumably you have tried the cab at higher volumes just to rule that out.

    Yes, I have, but thanks for the thought...

    Quote

    You also mentioned that you have tried the DT880 headphones. Do they sound more like the stereo speakers or the FRFR?

    The headphones sound more like the FRFR. I think, that could be expected as the stereo system is less neutral than the headphones/FRFR.


    Thanks again!

    Jörg

  • I'm not familiar with the MB Quart 280s but a quick search for some reviews it doesn't look as if they are famous for having an especially over powering bass response. When I asked about the position of the stereo and FRFR speakers I was thinking (as I think you figured out) about whether proximity to floor or corner of room might be creating a bass boost on one but not the other. It doesn't look like that's the case though.


    I assumed you would have made sure about the cab sim and volume aspects but just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.


    The interesting thing is that the DT880 sound more like the FRFR than the Quart. That would seem to back up the assumption that the Quarts are far from neutral. I think both you and Nicky have raised a great question though ; is it just a question of expectation being different from reality?


    Is it possible to try hooking up a different set of HiFi speakers or better still Studio Monitors for comparison?


    Another good test would be to try the Kemper with a regular guitar cab (with cab sim off). If it sounds disappointing with both of these tests then the Quart speakers are probably the issue giving a false sense of expectation. I use my KPA at home through a set of Adam A7x Monitors and I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed at first. However, after a day or two getting used to it I now think they sound fantastic. I also tried with ATH M50x and Shure SE425 headphones. The M50x sounded really full and warm but the Shure sounded really lacking in bass at first. Again, now that I have adjusted my expectations the Shure sound much better as they are much more detailed in the mid range which is where the guitar sits. They show up things in the sound that I didn't hear before with the M50x.


    On the other hand, if it sounds good through everything except the FRFR maybe you need to try a different FRFR cab. Which one are you using at the moment?


    Another thought - you mentioned that the high quality commercial profiles didn't sound like the demo when using the FRFR. Did they sound like the demo with the Quarts? If you used the Quarts to assess the demo this may have influenced your expectations.


    Finally, I assume that you are having a similar experience with profiles from several different profilers rather than just one seller?

  • Dear Wheresthedug

    Quote

    I'm not familiar with the MB Quart 280s

    That's not surprising. The stuff is from the late 1980s! Maybe that's why it sounds so good :- )

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    ...they are famous for having an especially over powering bass response

    They are just good old hifi speakers, not having more or less bass power than other speakers. But compared to the FRFR there is just so much more bass pressure. Is it possible, that they just produce some amp in the room feeling which is missing with the FRFR?

    Quote

    but just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something

    I am grateful for your suggestions, because there could indeed be an undiscovered misunderstanding.

    Quote

    That would seem to back up the assumption that the Quarts are far from neutral

    That's what I'm saying. The whole hi-fi system colors the sound. But not as strong as a guitar cab. Therefore I need the CabSim turned on. This altogether is really sweet -> called a influenced expectation from now on :-)))

    Quote

    the Quart speakers are probably the issue giving a false sense of expectation

    If you used the Quarts to assess the demo this may have influenced your expectations.

    That's the point. What are influenced expectations and how do they compare to what the Kemper delivers at the end of the day? I really have to think about this...

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    Did they [the high quality commercial profiles] sound like the demo with the Quarts?

    With the Quarts it sounded much more like the demo, yes (but not perfect like the demo does). The FRFR was far away from beeing close. Well that comparison is unfair, because I heard the demo with the Quarts, too (as you mentioned)

  • The headphones sound more like the FRFR. I think, that could be expected as the stereo system is less neutral than the headphones/FRFR.

    If the two sound pretty similar, it sounds like the FRFR is doing the job correctly, that is to say accurately reproducing what the Kemper profiles are giving you. With that in mind it sounds like, as Alan suggested, EQ is the tool you need in order to get the results that you want.


    If the EQ on the FRFR isn't enough, there are a wealth of other options for EQ, from rack mounted 1/3 octave graphics or multi band parametrics to the guitar stomp box, such as the humble Boss GE-7. For rack mount gear (which is typically stereo) you could just patch one channel (I'm assuming the FRFR is mono) from the Kemper out -> EQ -> FRFR. For something like the Boss, I'd put that in the chain first, i.e. guitar -> Boss -> Kemper -> FRFR, although boosting frequencies on input may cause some of your profiles to behave differently.


    All of this is to say that I don't think you've done anything incorrectly. If you run the Kemper in a normal setup to the FRFR, it'll do what it's expected to do. From there it's just a matter of seasoning to taste for your preferences. If the smiley curve that you get from the stereo is what you like to hear, patch in some kind of EQ hardware (and dedicated EQ units are going to be much more flexible than what's on the cab), and make it smile. That will be a global change across all your profiles, and you'll consistently get the feel you're going for.


    After writing this, it occurs to me from other comments here that you didn't mention the brand / model of the FRFR. It would be helpful if you did as I don't think anyone would see it as you speaking negatively about it. However, to help troubleshoot it's important to have all the data. For instance, what's the frequency response on the FRFR? If it's got a high pass filter built in or just naturally rolls off low end at a certain point, that could be a factor.


    Additionally, as others mentioned, if you have a subwoofer in the stereo system and it's cranked, no guitar cab or FRFR will compete with that. At the risk of mentioning obvious stuff you probably already know as a guitarist, if part of what you're missing in your sound is a massive low end, it's because you don't have a bass player. :)


    In all seriousness though, it's very common for guys to dial in a guitar tone that sounds great when practicing alone but is completely inappropriate in a band setting / mix because they're encroaching on the bass player's sonic territory. What sounded good in isolation now sounds like a mushy mess, because guitar and bass are colliding in the lower frequencies. Worse still if your bassist is a giant, sunglasses wearing gorilla.


    So, the application of your sound is also important. if you're not planning on playing in a band, or doing home recording, then strap on some EQ, add a subwoofer if needed, and get the sound you enjoy. However, if your guitar will be combined with other instruments, it would probably be worthwhile getting used to how it sounds when you stay on your side of the sonic street. That way when you do start making music with others (if you're not already), you won't be uncomfortable when the sound guy slaps a high pass filter on your guitar and padlocks it. :)

  • If you take your logic there Chris the first starting point is probably to try tweaking the Global EQs in the Output section (depending on which output is in use).


    Another thing might be if the FRFR cab is running in mono this will obviously sound less spacious than the stereo speaker set up although Jorg has said he is running a test with all EQ off so even the stereo set up won't be filled with super lush stereo effects.

  • If you take your logic there Chris the first starting point is probably to try tweaking the Global EQs in the Output section (depending on which output is in use).


    Another thing might be if the FRFR cab is running in mono this will obviously sound less spacious than the stereo speaker set up although Jorg has said he is running a test with all EQ off so even the stereo set up won't be filled with super lush stereo effects.

    There's global EQ? Sheesh. If you need me, I'll be in the bathroom with the manual... :)


    The sub for my home stereo has a separate volume, so even with all EQ off if he has his sub cranked that still gives the FRFR a lot of bottom end to compete with. However, depending on the frequency response of the cabinet if he pushed the low end in the global EQ as you pointed out, maybe that would match up.


    Stereo versus mono is a tougher cat to skin, satisfaction-wise. I guess Jorg would just have to develop a one track mind. :)

  • Hi folks,


    many thanks again for your helpful suggestions!

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    ...you didn't mention the brand / model of the FRFR

    We're talking about a BlueAmps Beast 112, active, FRFR/GFR (set to FRFR), no EQ, 55-18.000 Hz (FRFR), 250W, 129 dB max. Besides the FRFR/GFR switch (which is set to FRFR) and as far as I know, there are no additional filters build in.

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    EQ is the tool you need in order to get the results that you want.

    I tried inserting an EQ at slot X and boosted 80Hz with different settings (1db to 12db). This increased the bass level but does not produced any remarkable pressure ... and with higher settings it sounded stranger and stranger.

    Quote

    If the smiley curve that you get from the stereo is what you like to hear, patch in some kind of EQ hardware (...), and make it smile

    Assuming that my sense of sound is not shifted too much, another legitimate consideration would be to buy two used speakers and a used hifi amp and install them in an empty guitar case. Legitimate, because it works for me and gives me the smiley curve. That's usually the argument you can't beat.

    Since the speakers are very old, they are very cheap to buy (about $ 200 speakers+amp). This approach isn't so far away from a solution with e.g. Matrix power amp + Marshall 1960 cabinet. The difference is, that the stereo speaker solution defines a base sound but still needs the CabSim on, which gives me the advantage to use different CabSims. The disadvantage is the loss of the stereo effect (if I really need this). This should work as a mono (or stereo) monitoring system. The PA guy could take care of MainOuts-EQing, because he gets the "uncolored" profile sound. Maybe that's the best of all worlds for me.

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    Additionally, as others mentioned, if you have a subwoofer in the stereo system...

    No subwoofer, just the two MB Quarts 280 speakers. The DENON amp allows adjusting bass, treble and loudness.

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    In all seriousness though, it's very common for guys to dial in a guitar tone that sounds great when practicing alone but is completely inappropriate in a band setting

    In my experience, the profile is usually presented in a single player situation to focus on the guitar sound. That's what triggers my purchase decision. I think that information about the context of the intended use would be helpful to decide, if the profile works best in a band context or whatever else.

    I'm aware, that there's a big difference between profiles intended to use in a band context or a solo playing situation. I'm talking about the solo playing situation here.

    Quote

    I guess Jorg would just have to develop a one track mind

    Maybe I better should keep all tracks of my mind, develop new ones and decide myself for one of them :)

    The idea that the listener should adapt to the system, rather than the system to the listener, is somehow unfamiliar to me. I have to get used to that.

    Another example: Presumably there is a guitar you like to play most, right? This is the one you would take first if you should decide spontaneously . Would you force yourself to play another because it's formally correct?


    Regards

    Jörg

  • I see the Beast is intended for real amp in the room type pushing air so in theory it should be exactly what you need. In notice it has FRFR and GRFR settngs and you are running full range. Presumably it doesn’t make much of a differ running in the guitar range setting? I’m asking this partly for completeness to make sure everything is considered but also because I am considering whether I need an FRFR speaker or whether GRFR would be better.


    Your suggestion of building your own cab based on HiFi soeakers is certainly not “normal” but if it works for you then it might just be the perfect anwer. However, I am genuinely surprised that you aren’t getting the kind of serious thump that you expect from something like the Beast 112. I would definitely try another FRFR cab for comparison to rule out a fault in the Beast before resorting to the HiFi option.

  • another legitimate consideration would be to buy two used speakers and a used hifi amp and install them in an empty guitar case. Legitimate, because it works for me and gives me the smiley curve. That's usually the argument you can't beat.

    I'm currently working up a couple of Queen songs and Brian May's tone is always so challenging to emulate. Even if you have the vintage AC30 and the treble booster he used, you're still just part of the way there. A huge amount of his sound is that handmade guitar and custom wound pickups. Then, while we're at it, let's throw in playing with a shiny, round piece of currency instead of a celluloid or plastic guitar pick. All of which are obstacles before you even get to his personal playing style, which turns out to be a much lighter touch than I would have imagined.


    Almost everything that he did was different than the conventional norms, but he went with worked best for him. And you can't argue with the results.

    However, I am genuinely surprised that you aren’t getting the kind of serious thump that you expect from something like the Beast 112. I would definitely try another FRFR cab for comparison to rule out a fault in the Beast before resorting to the HiFi option.

    Yeah, it seems like all the horsepower should be there. No clue why it's not delivering.


    The downside of the HiFi option, as with all highly custom options, is the future and maintainability. If that becomes a part of a signature sound and it becomes harder and harder to replace the components if / when they fail, then it puts that signature at risk. How important that is naturally varies with each person.

  • Hey Jörg,


    I would try a different FRFR cab and make sure that the frequency response (at least in theory) is similar to your hifi speakers.

    One of your problems: bass response

    Your hifi system: 40 - 32.000 Hz

    Your frfr system: 55 - 18.000 Hz


    ...going down to 40 instead of 55 Hz makes a big difference already.