Peavey 6505 vs 11 guitar amp modeling platforms! (Axe Fx III, Helix, TH-U etc.)

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Guitarjon, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    Hey guys!

    I got a Peavey 6505 120w head last week, it's a killer amp!
    One of the reasons for purchasing this amp was that I really wanted to compare it to a bunch of modeling platforms.
    For some reason I enjoy making those I suppose.
    It's just really interesting to hear how far (or not) platforms have come these days.

    Anyway, I'll cut the banter for now so here's the video.
    I would love to know what you guys thought!
    Was the real amp still superior or were some of the modelers just as good?

     
  2. primemover12

    primemover12 Member

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    Thanks for this interesting video! The 5150/6505 is my go-to amp for leads, so I was really looking forward to doing the comparisons.

    To me, the good news is that, in a mix, nearly all of them sound pretty convincing.

    Thinking only about which comes closest to the real life model (as opposed to which one I personally like best), I had the following thoughts:

    Axe-FX - couldn't believe how good this was. Very believable even isolated. Almost indistinguishable from the real deal.
    Helix - neck and neck with the Axe-FX. A very good showing.
    TH-U - pretty close, but some more fizz than the original or the prior models.
    x50 - again, pretty close, but more top end than the original. Feeling a little less real than TH-U.
    ReValver - pretty strong. closer than TH-U or x50 (none of that nasty fizz), but feels ever so slightly less present in the mix than the original or the Axe-FX or Helix
    Thermionik - I'd put this right with ReValver and maybe slightly ahead this time.
    Guitar Rig - sounded convincing until the higher parts, then betrayed some of the modeling fizz
    Amplitube - this model is seriously showing its age. far less articulate.
    Bias - the least convincing copy so far. thinner and more high end than the real deal or the better modelers.
    Nick Crowe - roughly on par with TH-U, a bit too much fizz, but still respectable
    Pod Farm 2 - roughly on par with Guitar Rig 5 or x50. surprising given its age.


    I'd call Axe-FX and Helix the top of this group. And I doubt I'd be able to pick the better one in a blind A/B test.

    Next, I'd put TH-U, ReValver, Thermionik, and Nick Crowe in the extremely strong category. I feel like each had slightly too much fizz or less presence than the original, but only marginally so.

    Next, I'd consider x50, Guitar Rig, and Pod Farm 2 totally competent sims that, at least in a mix, would sound pretty damned convincing for this recording.

    To my ears, only two (Bias and Amplitube) were undesirable sounding. In Amplitube's case, I am not surprised at all, since they haven't improved that simulation in years. The Bias model was the biggest surprise to me. I'm not a big fan of that product to begin with, but it seemed like the biggest disappointment. That's not even to say it sounds bad, just that it doesn't sound like the real thing to me as much as the others.

    Really, only the Amplitube model is so bad that I'd say that they really need to redo it. And I was really surprised by the quality of Thermionik and TH-U.
     
  3. adamquek

    adamquek Member

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    The Axe FX was amazing, but so many of them were so close as to be IMO indistinguishable except in a double blind test. It's a great time to be a guitarist (although the Pod Farm 2 suggests it's been so for a long time)
     
  4. MusicLaw

    MusicLaw Member

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    Phenomenal! :dude
    John's wrap up and personal favorite at 19:53 nails It -- Helix Native
     
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  5. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    Thanks for writing that out, I appreciate it!
    I really want to know what others think and so far people seem to agree with my thoughts for the most part.
    I pretty much agree with what you said there as well!

    About the Axe Fx:
    Since it's widely considered to be one of the most (if not the most) accurate amp modelers in the market now, I do feel that we should be able to scrutinize it and be critical.
    There seems to be a lot of positive bias towards that product which I understand, but sometimes I wonder how much that affects people's outspoken opinions on the quality of certain aspects of the product (in this case the amp modeling).
    Don't get me wrong, I use mine everyday for various purposes.
    However, I still think it's not yet able to emulate tube amps perfectly although were definitely talking small details here.
    What I find often with the amp modeling in the Axe Fx is that the sound always seems a bit more scooped than my real amps.
    The real amps seem to have a bit more warm mids whilst the Axe Fx seems to sound a little too clear or too strident.
    Also, the low end isn't there yet.
    The chunks sound great and in the wav form I could see that the mutes chunks were louder than with the real amp.
    However when playing single notes (on the low string like in the riff for example) that fat low end (warm-ness) almost completely falls away.
    Some of the other modeling platforms did a better job at that but that's just my personal opinion!
    Cliff is a genius so I'm sure he will crack the code eventually.
    There are so many variables and amp models in the Axe Fx so I imagine it's not easy to develop and improve on such an intricate device!

    I wasn't expecting Pod Farm to be amazing on this one but I always include it as a bonus, just to see how far we've come I suppose.
    I had a lot of fun with those older Line 6 platforms.

    Haha, yeah!
    This time around I wanted to mention my favorite in the actual video.
    I also think Line 6 deserves the praise for doing such an amazing job with their products and customer relations etc.
    The Bias towards the Axe Fx that I mentioned earlier also sometimes seems to make certain folks negatively Biased towards the realism of the Helix amp models.
    However from my own experience I can definitely say that Helix is right up there with the best of 'em and for me personally it probably is the best.
    It not only sounds great but it just fits into my workflow so well when it comes to mixing etc.

    The Axe Fx III is an essential piece of my setup too though so I wouldn't be able to live without it.
    It serves as my main sound card but I also use it to amp and reamp my real amps along with pre and post eq/effects/gates + cabinet modeling.
    Since I use a lot of OwnHammer IR's I love the fact that I can have 2000+ IR's in there.
    It makes my life easier.
    Maybe I should make a video about my recording setup...
     
  6. james...

    james... Supporting Member

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    I think in terms of amp sounds, it's obvious that amp/Fractal/Kemper are all in the lead now. Helix is close behind, but I've had one and frankly it's just not quite there.

    I actually prefer my AXE-FX to my amps now, and I'll tell you why. It's less noisy. It's more reliable. It doesn't turn into a pain in the tail if something is wrong with my power. OH! And it doesn't need to be turned up to ear killing volume in order to sound good. Now, I get it. Not every amp is noisy. Not every amp needs to be turned up insanely loud to sound good. But a lot are.

    My issue with the Kemper from day 1 is that it's not like an amp. The controls will never be the same. I can't twist the knobs like it's there in front of me. The Axe does that.
     
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  7. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    With tube amps I guess it all depends on the setup and whether you use them live or in the studio.
    I pretty much only use the tube amps in the studio with my loadbox so I've never really had issues with loudness.
    Some amps are more noisy than others but the gate on my Axe Fx has helped with that.

    Totally agree about the Kemper!
    I could never really get it to work for me...
     
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  8. Axe-Man

    Axe-Man Member

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    Another great vid Jon! I was surprised at how good the Helix sounded (it was pretty lineball with the Fractal through my cans).

    How are you finding the big Peavey vs your MH, EVH and Laney (which is their take on the 5150)?
     
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  9. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    Thank you!
    Good question!
    I haven't compared my 6505 to any of my other amps directly but overall I feel like the 6505 sounds pretty similar to the MH.
    I guess it has more low end and headroom etc than the small MH but the pre amp sounds pretty identical.
    Can't wait to compare them in a video soon though.

    IMHO the EVH's are different beasts all together.
    For me, the 6505 is all about that big roaring midrange and the EVH is all about that super tight aggressive sound, a bit more bitey.
    The Laney's are really great too.
    I'd say those are a bit less 'metal' sounding although they have a great 'in your face' sound coupled with thundering lows.
    I luckily don't have to choose because I love them all :)

    For lower budgets the Laneys, EVH LBX and MH are hard to beat.
    Keep in mind that all of this is coming from a studio perspective.
     
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  10. FPFL

    FPFL Member

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    @Guitarjon What are the keys to dialing in a 5150/EVH head in your experience?

    One other detail not discussed above, I find the actual amps a reliably noisier than any of the modelers I've tried for that sound.
     
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  11. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    Good question but not really easy to answer because I think a lot of that has to do with the guitar and pickups you put into it.
    For instance I dial my amps in pretty differently when I'm using EMG's in comparison than with a set of Duncan's or Dimarzio's.
    However, I don't think they are very hard to dial in at all.
    For example with the EVH's I just start with all the controls in the middle since that usually already sounds great.
    Same goes for the resonance contols.
    Then depending on the guitar I'll dial in the main EQ controls and presence etc.

    Since the Peavey 6505's have a lot of mids I sometimes dial those out a bit and emphasize the upper frequencies by boosting the treble a bit as well as the bass to fill it out.
    But again that's all super dependent on the guitar.
     
  12. mikah912

    mikah912 Member

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    I've never found a reason to dial a 5150 or 6505 on any other setting than 6/4/6 for B/M/T, and the dual gain controls around 9-10 o'clock - depending on the pickups in the guitar I'm playing. I generally always keep Presence and Resonance around 10-11 o'clock too. The more I stray from those, the woofier or fizzier it gets.

    EVH 5150 IIIs, on the other hand, have a more usable range of EQ to my ears. They're a bit more "smoothed out" to my ears.
     
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  13. Fireproof

    Fireproof Member

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    I commented in another thread, but I’ll add it here too: Awesome video and really love the way you did the 3 types of comparisons. You did a fantastic job dialing in all the modelers for sure. #1 for me was the Helix and #2 was the AxeFX. Bottom of the list for me were AmpliTube and Bias.

    Also, @Guitarjon - can you tell us which IR you were using? I remember reading it’s an OwnHammer, but can’t remember which one (or which mix). Thanks.
     
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  14. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    I guess you're right! :)

    Thanks man!
    I used the 412 ZLCS V30 MMMC pack and I used the JS mix from the quickstart folder to be precise!
     
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  15. Fireproof

    Fireproof Member

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    Awesome - thank you!
     
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  16. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    My pleasure! :)

    I thought I'd also share my thoughts on all the platforms:

    The real amp: 10/10
    I love how this amp sounds! I also own the 20w 6505 MH and I loved that one so much that I had to get the big one as well. This amp doesn't only sound huge and crushing (when dialed in that way) but it also has nice mids that fill up the mix nicely like no other amp can. The top end is quite gentle which helps with the cymbals and vocals. Of course this amp can also be dialed in to sound better suited for extreme metal, perhaps by scooping more and by adding more presence and resonance, but for rock/metal I really love the sound that I got. The guitars sound huge but you can hear that there still is room for the vocals. A great quality to have for an amp.
    In comparison to most of the modelers (in one way or another) the amp sounds up front without getting harsh and the single notes and chords sound fat and warm in an even way. The way the signal is compressed sounds very musical and natural. Great amp!

    Axe Fx III: 9.2/10
    Most people know how awesome this platform is! I use my Axe Fx III every day for various things and it also works super well with my tube amp setup. I don't think the Axe Fx models the amp perfectly in this case. Now, I'm not saying that 'every amp in the Axe Fx is inaccurate' but just that this isn't a perfect match. It still sounds pretty great though! My biggest gripe is that the Axe Fx often seems to sound just a tad to brash and also thin on the single notes. Could also be because it's a different amp that was modeled but this is my observation anyway.

    Helix: 9.5/10
    I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting the Helix to nail this amp as good as it did but the end result is impressive. I say that mostly because the 5150 amp model has been in the Helix from the beginning so it's basically an 'older model'. Didn't matter much as it's almost completely identical to the real thing. Great job Line 6!

    TH-U: 9.3/10
    Also very accurate! No resonance control unfortunately but a good responsive amp model! The saturation is slightly more gentle on this one than some of the others.

    X50: 9.3/10
    Pretty darn accurate as well! I love the general layout of this plugin and it's cool that the MKII 'mod' is also modeled.

    Revalver 4: 6.7/10
    It's definitely not bad at all but there is something strange going on with the overall dynamics. It sounds as if there is a compressor at the end of the chain that is 'pumping' too hard.

    Termionik: 6.5/10
    Not bad but it has some quirks. The low mids are too honky and the single notes sound too thin with this one. Shane is working on a new version now. He is a talented guy so I'm very excited to try his new platform.

    Guitar Rig 5: 8.4/10
    I wasn't expecting this one to come as close as it did! Quite impressive for an older platform. It did a way better job of emulating the 5150 than the Recto.

    Amplitube 4: 5/10
    Meh. Amplitube is a cool program though but imho the modeling just falls short. No IR loader is also a no-no for me....

    Bias FX 2: 2/10
    I feel bad about this. I don't like to be negative towards a company and they seem like great people. They're products look great and the marketing is great. I do think they should work on their amp modeling though. :(

    Nick Crow 8505: 5.4/10
    Not bad for a freebie! Not as impressive as some of the others though...

    Pod Farm 2: 5.8/10
    I always include this one just for fun and to be fair, it still sounds pretty good in the mix! Old but not obsolete! ;)

    I still would love to know what you guys thought! :)
     
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  17. themightyjay

    themightyjay Member

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    Nice comparison! I agree with you, Helix and TH-U are very close. I didn’t think the Axe Fx 3 came out of that comparison that great, thinner and more compressed.
     
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  18. Guitarjon

    Guitarjon Member

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    Thanks!
    I agree.
    If you had to pick one, which one would it be? :)

    Has anyone ever tried the new STL plugin?
    I wonder how close that one would come...
     
  19. themightyjay

    themightyjay Member

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    Definition the Helix, it’s close enough not to matter I think. It really captures the depth of the real amp.

    I’m a Kemper and Helix owner and I’m starting to favour the Helix more and more at the moment, especially for live use.
     
  20. gzii

    gzii Member

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    I agree with you, for me in this video the Helix is the closest, something I didn't expected (but the mids at 10 and presence 0 ?!!!! And we still hear a difference).
    But I feel your notation is a bit harsh, because when I hear all these modelisations, I think they all could fit in a music.
    And pod farm 2 surprised me.

    When you play, there are differences you feel and we can't know that part.
    And for me it is very important, and maybe it is why I think I will have another real amp again in the future.
    But it is maybe the best comparison video I've seen (one after the other, and then side by side...), thank you.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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