Gearphoria Vol 4, No 1

SPOTLIGHT u What is FRFR? VERY FEW people are unaware of the rise in popularity of modeling preamps at the moment. To some they are the digital panacea for all our amp and effects needs. To others they are nothing but mere upstarts, simply the new kids on the block. Debate is heated with both the “toobz rule” and “digital fanbois” crowds having very vocal opinions on some forums. What can’t be ignored though is that the technology is finally here and at a level to make it a serious and viable alternative to the valve amplifier for many people. Along with this technology has risen a cottage industry of people building accessories and products designed to take these systems from the home studio to the stage, from expression pedals to midi controllers to solid state amplifiers and in particular, a new kind of speaker system called the FRFR speaker. So what is FRFR? Well the acronym started surfacing on the modeling forums a few years ago and stands for Full Range, Flat Response. Put simply it means that if you wanted to use your modeling system in all its glory, including the speaker simula- tions, you would need a speaker that can deliver a full range of 40hz to at least 18khz and be as flat and neutral as possible without adding any peaks or troughs in this range. A flat line if you will. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well even going back a couple of years it wasn’t easy to find such a thing. Sure there were studio moni- tors which worked fine for home, but often these all had certain characteris- tics in their sound with some lacking bass and others hyping the mids too much. Plus their size and robustness excluded them from on stage use. A look at the pro audio and prosumer market at full range speakers pre- sented a wealth of products, but many geared towards DJs or as pure vocal monitors, touting either the bass for DJ use or the mid range to allow the vocals to cut through on stage. Add to this the fact that most of the pro audio stuff was in a wedge format, something most guitarists only used to rest their foot on and wasn’t popular! Whilst many took to the wedge format, many others wanted the comfort and familiar feeling of a cabinet behind them and preferably something that looked like a tradi- tional guitar cab. So if it’s that simple, we should all be using FRFR systems for our backline then? Well, no... it’s not that simple. You see, the problem lies with the technology of capturing the cabinet simulation (sims). This is called an IR or Impulse Response and put simply it’s a snapshot of the frequency of the cabinet you choose. So that frequency when played through an FRFR system should sound like the original cab right? Well, no it doesn’t. At best it sounds like a recording of the cab you’ve just used. It’s this lack of the “amp in the room” feel that is the big- gest stumbling block to FRFR domi- nation at the moment. It’s a bit like taking a picture of your cab, printing it out and then looking at the printed pic- ture instead of the real thing. There’s lots of the information there, but not the same as looking at the real thing with your own two eyes. When you take an IR of a cab, it’s The phenomenon of FRFR What is it? Do you need it? Matrix Amplification’s Andy Hunt explains... VS 34 GEARPHORIA SEP/OCT 2015