Modeller users: FRFR or Real Cab and power amp?


About to order a Power Station 2 to run my FM3 into a leftover 2x12.

I'm enjoying the FM3 into my studio monitors just fine but I have the 2x12 anyway and this sets me up for lucking into an Ampeg V-2 or V-4 that isn't dying (like my last one).


When I think about it the only part of a modeler that isn't fully captured is the cab. TH-U is better because you can grab multiple positions but the reality is whether a modeler cab or IR only 1 spot on the cab is often captured. Worse it also contains the sound of the mic and pre used.

So technically a real cab will sound more complete than the IR or model. Whether you notice/care is another story. Also if you need multiple cabs then cost becomes a massive factor. I want to try Helix Native into a real cab but which one? The one I use for cleans? High gain? Middle ground? But then you are stuck with your choice.

So for now I keep coming back to using my studio monitors and direct the money into the guitar/bass or the speakers. For example I might add a sub for the bass guitar or not considering the monitors go down to 40Hz and play at 100dB already and clearly won't help the guitar ;)


Gold Supporting Member
Here's what I use for home monitoring when not recording, as a wet/dry rig with a tube amp, or for a small venue PA. It's very good sounding and gives a great stereo effect in the room without placement being critical. The SFX processing gives a stereo sound field anywhere in the room.


Kemper Powerhead into 1 of 4 cabs (Mesa Thiele, 112 widebody closed or open back or 212 vertical) depending on gig / room.

Light (unless I use the EVM loaded Thiele or 212), quick to set up (4 cables - power, speaker, guitar and e-net to pedalboard) and more than enough tonal options and power for any gigs I've played or will play. I often use a wireless from guitar to head because I'm afraid I'll move to far with a physical cable and pull the head off the cab, it's so light.

When I purchased it, I had great hopes of IRs / cab emulation into FR monitor. Didn't work for me on stage, I just missed the cab-on-stage sound too much. I just couldn't get over that, no matter how good the switchable cab sims were in concept.

If I need PA support (around 50% of the time), I run stereo line outs direct to FOH. So I spend a fair bit of time fine tuning the cab block for my 'performances', but my stage sound is never going to be exactly the same as my FOH (although very close). I want good tone the soundman can use in the mix while I get the stage sound I need to do my thing. Works for me.


I run a HX Stomp straight into the front of my JC-120 (no effects loop) set fairly flat. I've come close to picking up a couple Powercabs but other purchases prevailed. I'm mainly using it for amp models on a loaded board. I know the general practice is to not use cab/IR when using an amp but everything just sounds better with the full-on amp/cab/mic into the amp. Tim Pierce did the same thing in his demo and loved it. The only downside I've come across so far is when going direct to record the tones aren't quite the same (obviously).

For the record I'm kind of a noob when it comes to modeling but I figured the JC would be close enough to a plain flat-response type amp to do the trick and so far I have no complaints.

Anyone else doing the same? I'm actually getting ready to redo my board and have been wondering if there's a better way to approach it.
I played live for years with a Vox Tonelab into the clean channel of any amp that was already there and got great results. Sometimes I used cab sim, sometimes not. Just adjusted things until I got my sound, and I was always able to get my sound pretty quick.


Been experimenting with this lately, really like PowerStation into various cabs, sounds great, but can't use IR's, (not that I really love them), but modeling an AC-20 into a Greenback/V30 cab is a bit odd. So picked up an F12-X200 have it in a 1x12 cb ported cab, running the Axe through the PS, and into the F12 w/IR's is sounding really good, gonna pick up another F12, and put it in a 1x12 open back, or both F12's into a 2x12.

Steely Dave

I always just went FRFR but now that I’m in a band with roadies I decided to run my setup through a tube amp and it sounds infinitely better. Since I don’t have to schlep the stuff around, I don’t care if it’s heavy or not.


real amp and cab for me.
using a strymon iridium.

i use a somewhat older mesa boogie Mark 2b head, thru 3 different cabs with different speakers.

favorite is my Avatar closed back 1x12 vintage cab with an old Celestion G12C-30, taken out of a jimi hendrix marshall model cabinet....

i started running a Iridium mono out via NULL cabinet IR into the FX loop of the boogie, taking advantage of the 6L6 power section...
and that is nice,
but then i ran the input directly into the mesa front panel, amp set for clean, dead clean and flat, and THIS was the magic combo.

with the amp flat, i can dial in a very realistic fender, vox or marshall sound, and then can fine tune the EQ using the tone stack of the boogie.

i'm not looking for multiple sounds,
just 3 really good ones.

seems i can run the iridium into the Boss DD-200 i have, out of that and into the boogie the same way,
sounds just as good, with very clear effects.



Platinum Supporting Member
Helix into fx return of tube amp into cabs.
That's what I have been doing for a while. Gave me more of the feeling of playing through a real guitar amp. However you loose a lot of control. FRFR can be tricky depending on the model. Have tried everything on the market I could get my hands around. Atomic CLR (nice) RCF NX10, NX12, NX15 (nice), Friedman, Matrix, Mission Gemini, JBL SRX, Xitone MB, Turbosound TFM122 (awesome) and many more. Best compromise are the QSC K8.2 for me because of the 110 degree spread. Set them to studio mode and you get great control, big sound and even with two cabs it is still a very small and lightweight system. The only thing that FRFR can't do is creating feedback like you can get from a real guitar cab, at least not a volume lower levels.


Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
I've used both and like both if done well.

So far, pole mounted Atomic CLRs are my favorite.

I'm not looking for multiple sounds,
just 3 really good ones.
To date, that's what I'm doing with my FM3. Clean, overdrive, and high gain. Running into a Quilter MicroPro 200 8. At practice volumes, even loud ones, it sounds great.


I spent a lot of time and money trying to bond with FRFR monitors and they never worked for me, I started with cheap monitors and I kept buying the latest and greatest until I ended up with a couple of CLR monitors. The turning point for me was when I was in a classic rock band and the other guitarist blew me away out front, he was playing a Fender amp and I was playing the Axe II through the CLR. My rig cost about 5 times what his did and he sounded better. In my next classic rock band, I was using either the AX8 or Kemper into a SS power amp and guitar cab, I had no problem keeping up with the other guitarist who was playing a tube amp, in fact, I think for the most part my rig sounded better than his out front.
I don’t understand this..... out FRONT the sound guy should be able to mix you both at the same levels unless one of you has an amp on stage that is too loud (louder than FOH)......

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