**This is 100% subjective opinion presented as 100% subjective opinion. I am NOT any sort of expert on this subject; I am just discussing MY opinion as such. YMMV!** I've been on a mission my whole playing life to find the perfect tones. I've been a gear hound since I was a kid. I am unabashedly focused on my tone quest along with creating and performing music. I started playing at 12 years old; I'm 42 now. Once I got the Axe-FX, I heard the top end of the actual tone sound like the best tones I've ever heard. The science behind it is more understandable to me know; but in the end what matters is the way the tone is shaped by the tools at hand. In my Axe-FX journey, and it is a journey, many of the epiphanies and added colors from Cliff's persistent and focused development have only made the tools at hand even more powerful and allowed us - the end user - to take the 'blank palette' and create our own soundscapes. Be it as a preamp with the cab/power-amp blocks off; be it FRFR as an all-in-one direct to FOH solution. I came into the box in late spring/early summer 2007 at version 3.xx firmware; there was no Ultra at that point. I waited 4 months to pay a lot of money for something I was essentially buying on faith and at that point we had a 30 day trial. I knew in the first 20 minutes that this thing was THE thing for me. I was in the chorus begging for the Royer 121 mic and a 'none' mic setting; and we got it. When Cliff opened up the User Cab capability I KNEW in my heart that at some point moving forward it would become a very powerful part of the toolbox to craft end tones especially for the FRFR guys. The IR's 'out there' and collected, shared and discussed to great lengths here and elsewhere were just the beginning. Recabinet and then Red Wire gave us power like we have in well outfitted studios to choose our speaker cab, choose our mic, choose the position and now with Red Wire's Mixer... create high resolution cabs for the AxeFX that can combine different mixes of IR's and only take up ONE user slot of the 10 we have to use in the Axe-FX. Now I've gone on and on (and on and on...) about that; and posted findings here and elsewhere almost in realtime at the front end of those abilities being available. Some folks assumed that somehow the stock IR's in the Axe-Fx are substandard; or at least that somehow that I felt that way. That's never been the case, but assumptions are assumptions. I started mixing Cab IR's in my DAW (thanks again to Mike from Red Wire sharing a Reaper file and directions, I'd have never figured it out on my own) and you can basically do mixing on the fly, in real time with FAR more efficiency than you can attempt even in a studio. When I did this, I was using the amp/cab blocks ONLY. I've done so many mixes of cab IR's at so many different IR's that I can't even track them. Hundreds. I've mixed all sorts of near field/far field, etc.. I wanted, or was attempting, to create 'space' - depth AND width - to a focused tone that you could close your eyes and 'see' in a stereo field. I got pretty close to that and there are threads spelling out what/how I did it. But when I ran these things live, in the room with the band, on the gig... they were washed. They did sound and work great; but it wasn't 'right'. In looking at it in retrospect, I was depending too much on using FF in my cab mixes and NOT enough focusing on the actual room. When I presented the sound live, I was dropping reverb at least back on and just rolling with the default settings there... and it was washing out. I have never been a reverb expert and didn't comprehend what was happening. So I turned it off and the sound was better... but lacked any 'body' to carry the tone. It sounded not 'right'. Reverb is the space. That's what reverb IS, a recreation of SPACE. Recent threads pointed out a few things that Cliff, again, dropped in to not much fanfare but from power user guys that understood what he did. I sure did not. Messing with the pre-delay and the 'long delay' suddenly, for the first time in my life, made reverb sound/feel RIGHT. That set me up for one of those little personal epiphanies that we all have. I went back to the tried and true method of just mixing a Royer 121 and a SM57 (off axis) on the speaker and dropping the reverb in wetter than I had in the past.... 6% (I've almost always went with 2% wet) and followed advice from guys that GET these things and it started really working better live. Now here's the kicker and the food for thought. I started messing, because I could, with the stock IR's from the Axe-FX. I set up a parallel path with two cab blocks both running high resolution mono cabs with the stock IR's mixed in too. And there it is. I've not touched anything in the cab or reverb block for about a week and have been recording and did a rehearsal and a gig with it setup this way. Now, this feels and sounds right to me. It's cutting live, it's fitting the mix recording, it's just feeling 'right'. Here's a YouTube demo of a Rivera amp with 15 different speakers. Notice the mic setup when watching; and notice how DIFFERENT each speaker really does make it sound. Every different IR will likewise capture the cab/mic used in such a manner. The IR's you use are your cab. If you use the User IR slots, you can control not only the cab and mic, you can control the POSITION of the mic and have a far larger variety of choices to use no matter what the source. Here's a solo'd track from a demo song that I posted here in the recording section. This is a bit dry for this demonstration, but you'll hear it... I think. What you are hearing is my Melancon Custom Artist T on the neck WCR SR single coil (excuse the hum!) and my JCM800 preset/Cab is RedWirez G12M Royer 121/Cap with SM57 Off-axis Cab edge at -6db, in parallel with Stock "BritCab412" with the Royer 121 mic at -12db, with the rotary and reverb blocks in the signal chain. The reverb is a medium room with the pre-delay at 39ms and the tail at 150ms at 6% wet. Disregard the playing (really!) and focus on the image presented when you listen with your eyes closed in the stereo field. The Rotary obscures this, but it's interesting to hear: http://soundclick.com/share?songid=8500356 Now here's another solo'd track from the same demo without any effects; same guitar/pickups; just my Fender Deluxe amp block, Cab block (Red Wire on Deluxe Blues speaker, and the 212Tweed/Royer 121 from the Axe-FX) at the same -6/-12db mix ratio and some reverb (I run 1/2% spring with zero pre-delay ms and zero long tail in series with a 2% medium room with the same settings from above) so you can contrast. Not very wet to hear it THAT well, but you'll get the picture. http://soundclick.com/share?songid=8500370 ***NOTE - those are all scratch tracks, one take passes. Yes I will be recutting them for real without all the biffs and clams!!!*** Fun stuff. Applying these things to making music is EVEN more fun. And that's what I dig about this community for all the knocks this forum takes across the Net; sharing experiences and learning from each other to make better tones and hence, better music!