Best versatile, multi-channel high gain preamp?

jco5055

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Michael Nielsen has done a bunch of helpful rundowns of classic tube preamps on his YouTube channel, including this one comparing the Soldano, CAE, Fish, and Egnater IE-4.


I'm partial to the IE-4 myself. I used to have one of the Egnater modular preamps too (the M4) but sold it as I preferred the four channels in the IE-4 to any of the Egnater/Randall modules I tried. Someone posted recently on another thread here that Bruce is preparing to do a special run of new IE-4's with some extra features.

Also, OP I wouldn't overlook the Axe-FX, either the II or the III. Either would probably sound killer going through the new Fryette power amp. It's not quite the same as a real tube preamp, but I've found with the right amp model/settings (and cab sims off) run through a tube power amp and into guitar cab, you can get awfully close.
Thanks! Yeah its quickly coming down to Synergy vs Axe FX, I just gotta decide if I want to go full digital or not. Though I am going to look up the IE-4 also.
 

Serious Poo

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Replaced my Triaxis, Marshall JMP1 and Engl rack preamps with a pair of Syn2’s and a variety of preamp modules. Very happy with the results.
 

jb4674

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One of the things I don't like about the Synergy is the fact that you can only load up to two preamps in the SYN2. At $799 for the empty module and $399 for a single module, you're already at $1597 for the module and two preamps. For that price, you can buy a used Marshall JVM410 and have money to spare if your negotiating skills are good.
 

mentoneman

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Michael Nielsen has done a bunch of helpful rundowns of classic tube preamps on his YouTube channel, including this one comparing the Soldano, CAE, Fish, and Egnater IE-4.


I'm partial to the IE-4 myself. I used to have one of the Egnater modular preamps too (the M4) but sold it as I preferred the four channels in the IE-4 to any of the Egnater/Randall modules I tried. Someone posted recently on another thread here that Bruce is preparing to do a special run of new IE-4's with some extra features.

Also, OP I wouldn't overlook the Axe-FX, either the II or the III. Either would probably sound killer going through the new Fryette power amp. It's not quite the same as a real tube preamp, but I've found with the right amp model/settings (and cab sims off) run through a tube power amp and into guitar cab, you can get awfully close.

i had my friend’s M4 rig at my place, and was checking out the synergy stuff in serious buy mode, but for the sake of argument i fired up the IE4 at the shop and came to the same conclusion. Nails most if what i’m after. The shootout made the ie4 sound kinda muffly compared to the real deal.

Personally channel 2 has always been the TOL channel i’ve wrestled with both with the head and the preamp, trying to get SRV sounds out of it but it’s still a killer low/mid gain channel that records and cuts live very well and feels great!

and the fractal stuff is really cool too, as is kemper.
 

ctreitzell

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2,393
As mentioned, I am open to used/discontinued stuff (and waiting to find one available) if one is far and away the best out there. I know the Triaxis does seem to be considered probably the best all time.
Just a reminder that there isn't only one build of the TriAxis...the main question being whether to wait for and be willing to spring for a TX4 or "settle for" a TX5.

As far as programming goes, the AxeFX3 is pretty darn easy. If you are a serious tone snob, tho...The AxeFX has some slight negatives in my limited time testing it... (a couple days last fall). In our tests last year, real Bogners, Friedmans and Soldano have a brightness and punch the Axe3 couldn't replicate...I am not saying the Axe3 sounds bad, it sounds great.

I can't speak for the others, as I haven't tried them.

I got a TriAxis TX4 D early last year and haven't used it that much...that said, when I require some serious grind; the TriAxis has it in spades. I still haven't figured out how to program it, tho. Dude I bought it from had left it not reset and he made some really nice sounds, IMO...so I haven't worried about getting into programming. I hate the way Mesa wrote the TriAxis manual. My goodness, they had the audacity to use the term "subroutine" :facepalm

Also, like I have said before on this sub-forum
my TriAxis didn't start to sound killer until I had it pumping out of 4 amps simultaneously...with the 4 amps, it's got something metal that my other pres can't touch...well, 2101 can be pretty heavy...but TriAxis is well and truly another level
 

PFDarkside

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Replaced my Triaxis, Marshall JMP1 and Engl rack preamps with a pair of Syn2’s and a variety of preamp modules. Very happy with the results.
Which ones?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but for Synergy you need a rack module ($799) and two preamp modules ($399 each) right?
 

Serious Poo

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Which ones?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but for Synergy you need a rack module ($799) and two preamp modules ($399 each) right?
Yep.

FWIW, my main rack system has 2 Syn2's (below) with another Syn2 in my recording desk for direct recording through a Two Notes Torpedo Studio. Modules change depending on mood, phase of moon, amount of coffee, etc.

Untitled by Serious Poo, on Flickr
 

StephaneR

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Messages
31
Yes, all the preamps are connected to a CAE 2x4 switch, the signal goes through an effects rack and is amplified by a VHT 2/50/2 or an LD Systems XS700 connected to 2 cab EV TL-806 equipped with WGS 12L !





Sorry for the off topic on this post which is not mine!
 

hbb

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I’ll throw in my comments as an owner of the black widow. The sound quality, build quality and customer service is incredible. I have owned the black widow since feb 2019 so it’s not a honeymoon post. I use it almost daily. I have other good quality amps to compare it to including a Mesa boogie Mark v, Marshall studio classic, reeves high gain custom lead and Mesa boogie mini recto. I am presently pairing it with the fryette LXII so I can certainly comment about the way it sounds with that power amp. So for British sounds ie compared to the Marshall studio classic — despite not using el34’s it absolutely nails the same tone, grind, power but with much more range of gain etc. for the boogie tones I basically haven’t turned on the mark v except to occasionally use the power amp for a slightly different flavor. For American tones it easily can get nice fender cleans as well as some grind. Other interesting observations — the build — the builder Brian definitely put in appropriate components for heat dispersion — this thing does not get hot at all (in comparison to the fryette which I keep in a separate rack). for customer service — I get same day responses from Brian with full and detailed explanation. And if I have ever had an issue he has resolved it very quickly and professionally. As for the difference in tones you can get — you definitely aren’t getting the same range as the synergy which is an expanding ecosystem. But I do feel you have more than enough tones for any studio or gigging player and there is no need to pull modules out — just press a button and you have switched it up. So you can cop fenders of almost every era, vox ac30 with and without top boost, Marshall jtm 45, slp, Mark iv high and low gains, orange flavors ie graphic only as well as others, diezel vh4 channel 3, recto, powerball Hugh gain channel, ecstasy red and Plexi tones and diezel Herbert tones. I’ve had experience with enough of these amps to say they very much capture the essential tone and I wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from the actual amp in or out of a mix. So in my mind a large well done but non expandable stable of classic guitar tones is more than enough for my needs. And the price is set — ie I don’t have to purchase more modules — so the per amp “model” cost is favorable to the black widow. On the flip side I have not tried the synergy system so I definitely wouldn’t knock it at all.
 

iam_krash

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
650
Michael Nielsen has done a bunch of helpful rundowns of classic tube preamps on his YouTube channel, including this one comparing the Soldano, CAE, Fish, and Egnater IE-4.


I'm partial to the IE-4 myself. I used to have one of the Egnater modular preamps too (the M4) but sold it as I preferred the four channels in the IE-4 to any of the Egnater/Randall modules I tried. Someone posted recently on another thread here that Bruce is preparing to do a special run of new IE-4's with some extra features.

Also, OP I wouldn't overlook the Axe-FX, either the II or the III. Either would probably sound killer going through the new Fryette power amp. It's not quite the same as a real tube preamp, but I've found with the right amp model/settings (and cab sims off) run through a tube power amp and into guitar cab, you can get awfully close.
The axe fx? "awfully close"?
That digital junk isn't in the same ballpark with these iconic analog pre amps. I don't care what tube power amp you pair it with.
Play through a Fish or Soldano(or any of the above mentioned), then get back to me regarding how "close" they sound and feel to an ass fx.
 

Beagle1

Member
Messages
370
The axe fx? "awfully close"?
That digital junk isn't in the same ballpark with these iconic analog pre amps. I don't care what tube power amp you pair it with.
Play through a Fish or Soldano(or any of the above mentioned), then get back to me regarding how "close" they sound and feel to an ass fx.
I've owned at one point or another many of the great analog preamps although admittedly not the Fish. I did keep my hand-made Egnater IE4 and TOL 100 head because I think they offer something special I can't quite get in a modeler. Yes, I prefer the real-deal analog preamps too but I feel that many guitarists would be satisfied or maybe not be able to tell much of a difference when playing an Axe FX dialed in well with latest firmware and run through a quality tube poweramp, although some of that depends on playing style and the type of tones you are going for. Fractal has made substantial improvements to their modeling in the past year or two, especially since the Ares firmware that runs on the III and the partial port of it to the II. OP specifically did include Axe FX/Kemper as a possible option and I gave him my opinion.
 

tapeup

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2,009
I started from the opposite principle, I have the original preamps, they are connected to a switch and I can play with the one I want!

Stunning preamp selection you have there! Of all those preamps in your rack, I only had the lowly Marshall 9000 back in the day (I say lowly simply compared to the rest of the wonderful pres you have there). Just curious, how does it compare to the rest of them?
 




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