Help me decide - 5150 Iconic or Fractal FM3

Dale Faulkner

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Okay, so I've been on the fence about the 5150 Iconic half stack for a few months. Now there's another monkey wrench to toss in the works. I've long been an admirer of Fractal gear. I've never been willing to spend the money on an Axe-FX, one reason being that I haven't been able to plug into one and try it. But the videos sound incredible.

I'm looking at the Fractal FM3. It has the same sound technology as the Axe-FX in a smaller package. The videos I've heard sound amazing, but there is ZERO chance I'll get to actually try one anytime soon.

I've tried the 5150 Iconic, but I'm not completely sold on it. It can nail the "brown" sound, but I want more versatility than that.

My choices are:

5150 Iconic half stack

-or-

Fractal FM3 across my Marshall JCM 2000 half stack in 4-cable method.

The Fractal stuff, to my ears, blows away most other modeling I've ever heard. I'm sure I can get very decent early EVH tones out of it.

What do you all think?
I own both fractal ( axe Fx 2 ) and a5150 2/12. The 5150 is probably one of the best amps I’ve ever owned. It’s not the iconic but their probably similar. The tone is 10 out of 10. The fractal is also 10 out of 10. Every time I turn it on it just puts a big smile on my face. I can’t even begin to tell you how great the axe sounds but you will need a good power amp to go with it to really make it sing. Plus it has every amp you could ever think of in there. For variety I’d go with fractal but live I always play a tube amp. Hope that helps!!
 

PowerTube44

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I’ve had a block letter 5150 for 30 years, so I’m intimately familiar with it. So I was understandingly very interested to try the Iconic. I played one for about 15 minutes at GC a couple months ago. It’s a cool amp to be sure, but while it’s “in the ballpark”, I can’t really recommend buying one for $900 when the originals are widely available. With a little searching, you should be able to find a nice Peavey 5150 for around $1000. YMMV…
One thing to keep in mind is that I don't chug. I CAN, but I don't. My thing is getting great lead guitar sounds, above all else. I like full balls-to-the-wall saturation, but with clarity.

And honestly, I've never been a Peavey fan at all.

This is very much my type of lead sound, but of course, with some variations:

 

PowerTube44

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I own both fractal ( axe Fx 2 ) and a5150 2/12. The 5150 is probably one of the best amps I’ve ever owned. It’s not the iconic but their probably similar. The tone is 10 out of 10. The fractal is also 10 out of 10. Every time I turn it on it just puts a big smile on my face. I can’t even begin to tell you how great the axe sounds but you will need a good power amp to go with it to really make it sing. Plus it has every amp you could ever think of in there. For variety I’d go with fractal but live I always play a tube amp. Hope that helps!!
Have you tried the Axe-FX across a tube amp?
 

Dale Faulkner

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Have you tried the Axe-FX across a tube amp?
When I first bought the axe Fx 2 I couldn’t afford a power amp at the same time so I tried it through my monitors and also through the Fx loop on amp. Through the amp it sounded terrible and through the monitors it was okay but not much better. Through a power amp( I bought a matrix gt1000) it sounds incredible. I’m sure you will love it.
 

PowerTube44

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When I first bought the axe Fx 2 I couldn’t afford a power amp at the same time so I tried it through my monitors and also through the Fx loop on amp. Through the amp it sounded terrible and through the monitors it was okay but not much better. Through a power amp( I bought a matrix gt1000) it sounds incredible. I’m sure you will love it.
If I get it, it'll be run in 4-cable method across my Marshall.
 

Jethro Rocker

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You can roll off the OD channel to clean using guitar volume/tone adjustments. That's what I do. I hardly play the Red channel but that's because I have so much fun with the OD. So I'm using it as a one channel amp. I seem to always approach amps that way any more. Didn't always. The built in boost is great too.

I agree with you though it should be just a click away between the 2. I never play a dedicated clean channel if I can roll off to a clean I like but then again playing most of the stuff I do that's doable. Most of you guys gigging cover way more ground and clicking to that clean is great. I suppose you could put an EQ pedal in loop that backs the amp off a bit for a cleaner sound which would be one click but that's another work around compared to clicking right to clean if built like that.

Be honest though I'm not using the clean channel unless I'm pushing its volume/gain to get a cool break up which negates having it clean. Maybe they thought dudes would just pedal the clean for OD then click pedal off to clean. Focus on the Red channel more for gain. For me the OD channels where I get most my thrills. Sorry for long post. You got me thinking.:D
Oh yeah there are workarounds, for sure.
Just for a stock sort of 3 channel amp, or 2 channel w 2 modes each, one would hope to be able to footswitch that.
Seems silly to HAVE to run an EQ or OD with an amp like that.
The features are there, make em accessible!
Cheers
 

PowerTube44

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So educate me here. Are these devices not meant to be run across a guitar amp, but across a power amp and monitors instead? If that's the case, then I guess I'm leaning back toward the Iconic. I don't want to have to also buy a power amp and a set of monitors. I'm going for sound in the room, not recording.
 

Frodebro

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So educate me here. Are these devices not meant to be run across a guitar amp, but across a power amp and monitors instead? If that's the case, then I guess I'm leaning back toward the Iconic. I don't want to have to also buy a power amp and a set of monitors. I'm going for sound in the room, not recording.

They can do either. Some people will say that you lose versatility if you run it through a traditional guitar speaker (because it will add its own color to everything), but an awful lot of people run them this way and are quite happy.

I’ve run my Kemper through studio monitors, PA speakers, and a slew of guitar cabs (including stereo into a pair of 1960s). Each way brings its own thing to the table, but all of them sound great.
 

Dale Faulkner

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They can do either. Some people will say that you lose versatility if you run it through a traditional guitar speaker (because it will add its own color to everything), but an awful lot of people run them this way and are quite happy.

I’ve run my Kemper through studio monitors, PA speakers, and a slew of guitar cabs (including stereo into a pair of 1960s). Each way brings its own thing to the table, but all of them sound great.
If you want to use the fm3 4 cable method through your amplifier then that’s a great way to go. I use mine so I get the natural distortion from the amp and then use Fx from the fractal pre and post. I don’t have amp models in my fx8. It’s effects only and routing options designed specifically for tube amps. The fm3 has the effects and the amp models. If you ran through a tube amp you would either have to turn amp sims off or put amp on clean channels and then load your amp models that way. I tried the latter with my axe fx2 and it sounded blah. It was when I bought a power amp it just turned into a totally different unit and sounded fantastic. But frodebro is right, there’s many ways to run it and experimenting is part of the fun too.
 

PowerTube44

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If you want to use the fm3 4 cable method through your amplifier then that’s a great way to go. I use mine so I get the natural distortion from the amp and then use Fx from the fractal pre and post. I don’t have amp models in my fx8. It’s effects only and routing options designed specifically for tube amps. The fm3 has the effects and the amp models. If you ran through a tube amp you would either have to turn amp sims off or put amp on clean channels and then load your amp models that way. I tried the latter with my axe fx2 and it sounded blah. It was when I bought a power amp it just turned into a totally different unit and sounded fantastic. But frodebro is right, there’s many ways to run it and experimenting is part of the fun too.
But can you not set the FM3 preamps to bypass the amp's preamp section and just use the power amp? Even my GT-100 can do that.
 

StrummerJoe

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Okay, so I've been on the fence about the 5150 Iconic half stack for a few months. Now there's another monkey wrench to toss in the works. I've long been an admirer of Fractal gear. I've never been willing to spend the money on an Axe-FX, one reason being that I haven't been able to plug into one and try it. But the videos sound incredible.

I'm looking at the Fractal FM3. It has the same sound technology as the Axe-FX in a smaller package. The videos I've heard sound amazing, but there is ZERO chance I'll get to actually try one anytime soon.

I've tried the 5150 Iconic, but I'm not completely sold on it. It can nail the "brown" sound, but I want more versatility than that.

My choices are:

5150 Iconic half stack

-or-

Fractal FM3 across my Marshall JCM 2000 half stack in 4-cable method.

The Fractal stuff, to my ears, blows away most other modeling I've ever heard. I'm sure I can get very decent early EVH tones out of it.

What do you all think?
I think you already answered your own question.

You want the versatility and already believe the Fractal stuff sounds great, while you believe the Iconic does one thing really well.
 

PowerTube44

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Okay, now let me toss Monkey Wrench #37 into the works. I just found that the FM3 can't switch channels on the amp, which my GT-100 does.

Stay tuned...
 


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