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Just finished a pretty thorough A|B comparison. In all cases, the preamp was a Mesa TriAxis with the most pristine clean preset.
A was using the power amp section (via FX return) of a Mesa MarkV-25 set to 10W going into a Mesa 1×12 cab, and B was the H7600 (with cab emulation preset in serial mode) going into a JBL EON powered (solid state bi-amp) with a 12” driver. I think of the latter as a FRFR speaker.
I was very surprised by the result. Basically, most of the difference is actually coming from the power amp and not the cab emulation. What I mean is that preset 817 came fairly close as far as tone (while 217 was way too scooped and solid state sounding). But they key as a guitar player is that the Mesa tube power amp creates this type of “immediacy” when you play that simply doesn’t exist with a solid state amp. I always thought that immediacy comes from the preamp (which is the same here) but that is completely untrue. Having said that, setup A is clearly limited in range and doesn’t have chimey and super pretty highs. So it appears like one has to choose. Well not really with enough gear. The way I’m achieving a KILLER clean tone is with setup A for center channel (mono) and I use the piezo output of my guitar (a Music Man Majesty) to go into a Fishman DI with amazing acoustic guitar emulation, then into a stereo mild chorus fed into stereo JBL AON for which you don’t need the tube immediacy.
I believe that with the connectivity of the H9000, I will be able to plug all these devices and control relative volumes via FX chains and MIDI volume control in Emote. Hoping to the the H9000R this week, so we’ll se how things go, but I believe this will sound better than an AxeFX will ever be able to based on the conclusion of using the power section of the MarkV.
It will be key to be able to connect the IO of multiple FX chains in order to do that, but I was told by Eventide that they are really focused on it.