Modeler Questions - Fractal/Headrush/Etc.

Ozopart

Senior member
Messages
127
I am interested in buying a Modeler as a means of expanding my possible combinations/permutations of sound. I don't gig, just play at home, but might also informally play with others at times.
I have been reading the threads here on the Fractal and Kemper, and saw mention of the Headrush.
I am budget limited so my worry is that I will spend money and the product will be obsolete within a few years. I know that is normal with computers and other digital/computerized products, but my hope is to add to my sounds in a manner which will last longer than a few years; not "forever" but maybe 10 years or more.
I am interested in the Fractal FM3 but my worry/issue is that you can only order from Fractal and the costs to return if not satisfied almost seem to make it not worthwhile to return if I am not satisfied. I am also worried at the moment that there will be a price increase on the FM3 soon.
I have looked at other products like the Kemper (my local dealer carries them), and Line 6 Stomp, and the Headrush. The Headrush seems like a good price but I am not sure if it is comparable in features/functionality to the FM3. The Kemper looks really nice but honestly is more product than I need.
Any thoughts/suggestions on how to enter the Modeling world without spending a lot, and without the risk of ordering where returns would be too costly, would be appreciated.
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,309
well, Fractal tends to release products quickly.  That means they are 'obsolete' quickly.  But here's the thing: I've got a first generation AxeFX ultra, and it sounds GREAT.  Always has.

My suggestion if you are on a budget is to use the obsolete thing to your advantage and pick one up second hand.  I suggest gently used by someone you know. 







ps - that ultra is for sale!!!  Comes with a pedalboard and road case.
 

alexreinhold

Senior member
Messages
507
I wouldn't worry too much about updates and subsequent incompatibility. Kemper doesn't do that at all and fractal is doing a lot to rid themselves of this reputation (as it's a common comparison point with kemper). I believe you can't go wrong with FM3. If you wanna save, sign up to the fractal forum and  check the For Sale section (or even post there). You'll snitch a good price in no time because many are waiting to upgrade to FM9 and wanna sell their FM3s.

Can't say anything about Headrush, sorry.
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,483
From some of the things you have said about the cost of return being a factor, if budget constraints are that tight perhaps it is a game just not worth jumping into. The learning curve for these devices is for some a steep one and the product that is right for one is not right for another and some have found that modeling is not for them in the end at all.

I used to have an Axe FXII and would happily use a Fractal product or a Kemper or similar in the future. I see Alex just replied and he is happily using a Kemper now after doing some research and getting insights here.

Another product you have not mentioned is the Helix range. A compact version of that tech is available in the HX stomp https://line6.com/hx-stomp/ which is not much bigger than a large pedal. Perhaps look for one second hand and see how you get on with that. If you don't like it then sell it for what you bought it for and it will not be a costly  experiment.

Also Atomic Amps https://atomicamps.com/

Or if you use a computer for any music related things there are also software options available.
 

TBurst Std

Senior member
Messages
2,668
Some great input so far. I will add;

These things don’t go bad. Just because a new unit comes out doesn’t mean the old unit is outdated. Think: did every player with a blackface Fender amp ditch them when the silver faces came out?

Myself, I’ve been Fractal since 2008.  Mayfly put it correctly, they don’t go bad; you get the urge to upgrade.
The power of marketing.  That’s not new.

Remember in the 70s you were happy with your Plexi but then the JCM800 came out.

Remember in the early 60s you were happy with your tweed/blonde/black face, then the silver faces came out.

I would suggest, unless playing in front of others live regularly, go with the cheapest option that puts a smile on your face.

In that I suggest, you have only yourself to please,  vs say 1000s people on a weekly basis.


Don’t waste your time with modelers other than Fractal or Kemper I would say. Alex (here on the forum) and I had a great discussion and call on going modeler. I smiled when he used the term I used.  You’re choosing between a Benz and a BMW
 

Sadie-f

Senior member
Messages
427
Before buying anything you might give this a spin.

https://guitarix.org/

It's a free preamp / effects chain / amp&cab modeler built in software and running on Linux, assuming you don't have a computer running Linux, you can use a livecd to boot a running Linux system on any PC, and install guitarix on that.

Of course, you'll need to go from guitar to line-level signal and probably get that into a 1/8 input jack, so a little hardware needed, but then you'll have a full modeler to play about with
 

Ozopart

Senior member
Messages
127
Thanks for all of the great suggestions/information. I am going to respond to everyone in one post here.
(1) I will look into Guitarix. I have an old Lenovo Laptop that I have Ubuntu on but it isn't 64 bit. Not sure if Guitarix works on old Linux versions. Also, I am assuming I would need an Audio Interface for this solution?
(2) Agreed that obsolescene is sort of a subjective thing. If it works it doesn't matter if newer versions are out there. The only reason I bring this up is I am typing here on my mid-2012 MacBook Pro which works fine but is getting to where I can't run software because it isn't supported on old OS versions. I can't upgrade to the current MacOS as it isn't supported on my laptop.
(3) Good suggestions on buying used but (a) I just don't like buying and selling direct to individuals. Just a quirk of mine but I don't like the risk involved in using payment "apps". (b) lately it seems that the price for used stuff is just not good enough to get me to go used. It is close enough to retail that I would just prefer to buy new.
(4) I think my comments on budget are a bit misunderstood. Perhaps I am not stating it correctly. I can afford things, I have just always been very budget conscious as my primary wealth accumulation approach is saving, not investing. As a result I am and have always been very conscious of value when I buy. Value to me is a combination of cost/quality/support/other things maybe. So value could mean the most expensive option, but one that is better quality, more upgradeable, and better features. Cheaper is often a bad option. I find in life you get what you pay for, and there is no such thing as "free". So as to budget and product returns, I am trying to make the best compromise decision to buy what to me will be the product with the best Value, and get it right the first time. That is why, as TBurst said, I am leaning towards Fractal. Kemper looks great but it is overkill for me.
Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. I am leaning towards the FM3 but still researching. I do want to try modeling, and the long learning curve to me is a desireable feature as my hope is to enjoy it and learn for many years to come.
 

Ozopart

Senior member
Messages
127
Mayfly said:
well, the FM3 is a great unit.  No worries about that one!
Thanks, and I appreciate the offer on your Ultra, I just don't know enough about it to make an informed decision.
I really wish I could play around with a Modeler prior to buying but I just don't know anyone who has one. So I might just have to take the leap and hope for the best. One concern I have today is I would like to research a bit more to make sure I at least make as informed a decision a possible, but I am thinking with the rampant inflation these days, the FM3 will have a price increase soon.
 

alexreinhold

Senior member
Messages
507
I can tell you with high confidence that it's very hard to go wrong with Fractal or Kemper. The others are also great but more subject to taste it seems...

Alternatively, get Reaper, a simple audio interface (Scarlett 2i2), small monitor speakers and the basic Amplitube 5 version. All that (if you don't have it yet) will cost you 200-300 USD and it works great.
 

Ozopart

Senior member
Messages
127
alexreinhold said:
I can tell you with high confidence that it's very hard to go wrong with Fractal or Kemper. The others are also great but more subject to taste it seems...

Alternatively, get Reaper, a simple audio interface (Scarlett 2i2), small monitor speakers and the basic Amplitube 5 version. All that (if you don't have it yet) will cost you 200-300 USD and it works great.
I do have monitor speakers already so I am good on that. I don't have an Audio Interface. I have been researching them. I see mixed reviews of the Focusrite, do you have one, and if so, you obviously would recommend it? Reaper seems reasonable in price, and does work on MacOS Catalina, my current version, and the last version supported by Apple on my MacBook Pro. I am a bit confused about AmpliTube. Not sure where this resides in the "chain".
My understanding is: Guitar>Audio Interface>Reaper, would it be Guitar>Audio Interface>Reaper and Amplitude? Sorry for not understanding this. It looks like Amplitude is expensive, close to $300 USD, so I am just wanting to understand the value added in using it.
Thanks for the help. As I have said before, I wish I could just get the Kemper as my local dealer has them in stock, I just can't justify the cost as the features are way overkill for me.
 

alexreinhold

Senior member
Messages
507
1. What features of the Kemper overwhelm you? It doesn't seem too feature-rich to me.

2. The Scarlett Focusrite is the world's best-selling Audio Interface. I used to have it and I never had a single problem. Generally, it's very hard to have problems with audio interfaces.

3. There is not really a signal chain involved when using Amplitube from your Mac. All you do is

a) optional: install Reaper on your Macbook (you can also use Amplitube standalone)
b) get Amplitube (there are cheaper versions than the 300 USD one) - get a trial first. Alternatively you can go with a similar software but from my experience Amplitube is the most complete and has the best value for money. Very good alternatives are Neural DSP products but while they give slightly better quality, they also give you less for more money.
c1) install Amplitube as standalone.
c2) optional (if you want to use Reaper or a similar DAW), install the plugin (usually VST, on Mac sometimes AU)
d) optional: activate the plugin in Reaper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CByHPXk3Flw
e) now you can either play around with Amplitube in standalone mode or (if you followed the optional steps) directly record in Reaper with your designated sound when activating the Amplitube plugin for the respective track you are recording.

Amplitube lets you configure signal chains just like you do with analog amps. The difference is the amps, pedals, speakers, etc. only exist on your screen. It's actually very intuitive if you have dealt with signal chains before.

If you don't plan on playing live, save money and maybe even want to record, I would definitely recommend to go down that route first. It's insane how good plugins have become at this stage. If you then think you need more, you can pull the trigger on a Fractal or Kemper. Just my 5 cents...
 

Ozopart

Senior member
Messages
127
alexreinhold said:
1. What features of the Kemper overwhelm you? It doesn't seem too feature-rich to me.
Answer: Not really overwhelmed, in fact, I confess to not knowing enough about it to know the features. Really it is an issue with the cost being almost double the FM3.

2. The Scarlett Focusrite is the world's best-selling Audio Interface. I used to have it and I never had a single problem. Generally, it's very hard to have problems with audio interfaces.
Answer: I did look at the Focusrite, but have been looking more seriously at the PreSonus Studio 24C as it comes with DAW software that looks like it might work for me.

3. There is not really a signal chain involved when using Amplitube from your Mac. All you do is

a) optional: install Reaper on your Macbook (you can also use Amplitube standalone)
b) get Amplitube (there are cheaper versions than the 300 USD one) - get a trial first. Alternatively you can go with a similar software but from my experience Amplitube is the most complete and has the best value for money. Very good alternatives are Neural DSP products but while they give slightly better quality, they also give you less for more money.
c1) install Amplitube as standalone.
c2) optional (if you want to use Reaper or a similar DAW), install the plugin (usually VST, on Mac sometimes AU)
d) optional: activate the plugin in Reaper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CByHPXk3Flw
e) now you can either play around with Amplitube in standalone mode or (if you followed the optional steps) directly record in Reaper with your designated sound when activating the Amplitube plugin for the respective track you are recording.

Amplitube lets you configure signal chains just like you do with analog amps. The difference is the amps, pedals, speakers, etc. only exist on your screen. It's actually very intuitive if you have dealt with signal chains before.

If you don't plan on playing live, save money and maybe even want to record, I would definitely recommend to go down that route first. It's insane how good plugins have become at this stage. If you then think you need more, you can pull the trigger on a Fractal or Kemper. Just my 5 cents...

Some answers above, in general I am contemplating your options (DAW software, Audio Interface, etc. vs. FM3) and not sure how to go. If I understand correctly, with the FM3 I wouldn't need any of the other options. I could add things of course, but out of the box, if I understand things correctly, the FM3 would give me the ability to add sounds to my setup either through Studio Monitors, or my tube amplifier. If I go the DAW and Audio Interface route, it would be a 1/3 of the cost of the FM3. Just trying to decide on the best approach.
 

alexreinhold

Senior member
Messages
507
If you only do home playing, you're on a budget and you're new to digital amplification, I'd personally go for plug-ins like amplitube on your Mac. When I record I still do many tracks via Amplitube. And for simple practice, the standalone version is great. The whole setup should also be simpler than a modeling amp because the rabbit hole is not that deep
 

Ozopart

Senior member
Messages
127
alexreinhold said:
If you only do home playing, you're on a budget and you're new to digital amplification, I'd personally go for plug-ins like amplitube on your Mac. When I record I still do many tracks via Amplitube. And for simple practice, the standalone version is great. The whole setup should also be simpler than a modeling amp because the rabbit hole is not that deep
For the plugins, I still need an Audio Interface, correct? If so, given that I only play/record my guitar, would the Focusrite Scarlett Solo be good, or would you recommend the Scarlet 2i2?
I will check out the Trial version of Amplitube.
 

Jebberz

Senior member
Messages
269
If you got a MAC, instead f Amplitude, yo could also try Mainstage. I've been using is sucessfully as a Bass rig for some times, and you can also incorporate other plugins within it, and it is very cheap.
 

Ozopart

Senior member
Messages
127
Jebberz said:
If you got a MAC, instead f Amplitude, yo could also try Mainstage. I've been using is sucessfully as a Bass rig for some times, and you can also incorporate other plugins within it, and it is very cheap.
Thanks! At this point I am strongly leaning towards the FM3 as it seems to be more single solution oriented. What I mean is you can add the FM3 to your setup and use it with their software and don't need third party plug-ins. At least I think that is the case. I am a bit nervous about a solution that requires downloading a bunch of plug-ins and other software from third party sources not "known" to Apple.
 

Sadie-f

Senior member
Messages
427
Ozopart said:
Thanks for all of the great suggestions/information. I am going to respond to everyone in one post here.
(1) I will look into Guitarix. I have an old Lenovo Laptop that I have Ubuntu on but it isn't 64 bit. Not sure if Guitarix works on old Linux versions. Also, I am assuming I would need an Audio Interface for this solution?

I expect there's a 32 bit build.

I did post this super early in the morning and didn't fully think through the I/O, yes, I guess you'd need something like a USB sound card for input where then output could be your builtin sound card / 1/8 audio jack. You can do this for a whopping $10.

If you're nearby me I could loan you my mixing board which has USB out -> guitarix -> 1/8 jack -> amplifier | headphones

I've got a Khadas Tone-2 digital USB -> 1/8 headphone amp that also has XLR adapter cables out. I'd be glad to loan you, small enough to send in mail.

Oh and to software rev etc issues, I don't think any of the products you are talking about are being orphaned. The manufacturer isn't updating some underlying OS willy-nilly / monthly.
 
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