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 Post subject: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:21 pm 
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I had the V1 for about 8-9 months because I like bringing a backup amp to my gigs, and it has to be able to cover a lot of sonic territory, be loud enough, lightweight and decent sounding. The V1 did a decent job of it. But when I heard about V2 arriving, I sold V1 for the same amount I bought it, and bought the V2 new when it came out.

I've rehearsed with it several times now, I wanted to really be able to give it a good try before reviewing it. My findings:
-The V2 is more organic and tube amp sounding than V1. It responds to your guitar very similarly to a tube amp, maybe missing just a bit of the tube compression of tubes. It's a bright amp, but reasonably warm sounding. I turn down the treble and presence a lot on many of my presets and trim the tone control on my guitar.

- It's plenty loud. I had the master at 5 with our loud drummer, and could easily get over the band on solos. It sounds good at loud and soft volumes. I'm hoping when the speaker breaks in, it will lose some of the brightness. I can't see a situation where I would need more ummph out of it for the regular playing situations I'm in.

- It has a very wide range of usable tones. The Fender tones are great- I love the Deluxe models for edge of breakup rhythm tones, the Twin is very clean like it should. I'm using the Supersonic model and Marshalls for leads- they sound good, if a bit on the bright side. Playing Blues with the '59 Bassman model for blues is very good- touch sensitive, and responds to the guitar volume like at tube amp. Well done!

- The Marshall models are improved over V1, but still a bit bright for my taste. Maybe they were tweaked for the IV instead of the III. I haven't found a cab model that perfectly fits what a JCM800 should sound like.

- The effects sound good- experimenting with placing before or after the amp model makes a huge difference. I really like the flanger after the amp model, which isn't the typical way you'd do it. The reverb and delays are just fine.

- The fact that you can't have two stomps at a time is still a big limitation to me. Being able to have a OD and Comp available is one of my favorite chains, but you can't do it. Please Fender, give us more flexibility with the effects.

- The footswitch arrangement is still klugey. You can't do banks of 4, and you have to set up your footswitch to bank up or down 10(!) presets. Since you only can access 3 at a time, they should have set it up to have a bank up or down button in steps of 3. Using both the 2 and 4 button gives you more options, but it's not really logical. Also, a big help would be to have the 2 button functions set up by preset instead of globally. There are some presets I've set up that need tap tempo and some that need delay on and off, and others that need mod on and off, etc. You can't do that either.

- Fuse software is ok, but confusing. They should look at Line 6's HD Edit which is more logical. You can't drag and drop presets at all. What a drag to try to rearrange presets. You have to load them in the Preset Editor, then right click your preset and save it to the amp. Sorry, that's not user friendly.

All in all, the MIII V2 is a killer amp for the money- very good sounds, lightweight, loud and solidly built for the money. I recommend it over the Spider IV's, Peavey, and Vox's for a great variety of amp-like tones, decent effects in a small package. If they improved the footswitch arrangement, stompbox flexibility, and Fuse software, I'd give it a 10. I give it an 8.5 right now. It's really a very good sounding amp, digital or not, and it's a bargain at it's selling price.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:47 pm 
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kudos for an excellent review!

quick question, given that evidently you have a lot of knowledge about tube amps. Do you think SAG and BIAS settings on the mustangs can overcome some of the lack of compression and brightness you were talking about?

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:13 am 
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bump this for gtrman 100.
jede2b had a great question. So far I'm giging and diging the M3 v1.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:54 am 
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I've tried changing the bias, but it mutes a wider range of treble than I'd like. The "icepick" I'm hearing is because the speaker isn't broken in. I have played with the sag control which gets it closer to the sound of a tube amp compressing, but not perfect. Close enough for me however, and never would be heard in a band situation. I'm very happy with the tone of the MIII V2.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:21 pm 
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gtrman100 wrote:
The "icepick" I'm hearing is because the speaker isn't broken in.


Hi,
yes also in high fidelity the break in of the loudspeakers is very important and determinant:
if when is new the speaker sounds stiff and compressed, with harsh highs frequencies and even poor bass and dynamics , after 80/100 hours of playing music the speakers start to be really enjoyable with a correct dynamic range and extension on the bass , nice mids and smoother highs... i think it is a mistake to judge the speakers (and also every other audio equipment) when they are unplayed and so you should make for a guitar amplifier at least trying to imagine how it will sound better after a break-in period.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:42 pm 
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I agree with most of your findings.

The brightness didn't show itself to me as much, but I demo'd an amp in Guitar Center. I can only imagine how many others have test driven this one...

As a V1 owner, I have to agree with your take on the tones- there really is a noticeable difference! I've never actually played any of the included amps, save for a Fender re-issue or two, so I have no real idea how "accurate" the models are. ( and, frankly don't care.) I just know they sound GOOD, and far more "alive" and "tubey" than any other modeller I've heard.

Don't forget- the MIII is set up to work with actual pedals, too. Depending on which you like to place first, just grab a compressor or OD stomp, and have at it. I use real pedals with mine pretty much all the time, with very good results.

It seems to have some sort of limiter on the input (to protect the digital preamp), so Using an OD or booster to kick the front of the amp in the teeth doesn't work the way you think it will. I tried this with an OCD- just to see how much the amp would take- and got a fair bit of compression, but no volume boost, and no jump in gain. For THIS amp, OD pedals work best when used as distortion boxes. Use the onboard one, if you want to do the traditional thing with it. It's already part of the model.

I think getting the most out of this amp, esp using regular stomp boxes, requires us to reprogram our BRAINS more than anything else. Different type of amp- needs different techniques/ approaches. The " conventional wisdom" regarding the best way to use pedals was evolved using tube amps, and basic solid state amps- NOT digital modelling amps. They're simply different beasts.

I don't care at all for the phaser/flanger that are on it. I'd rather use my Phase 90 in front, and my flanger in the loop.

Also, keep in mind: the V2 fx loop is in a different place in the signal chain than it was in V1. It pays to pay attention to what post effects are on if you put stuff in the loop. You could end up with some odd unintended combos.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:15 pm 
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pyroman wrote:
I agree with most of your findings.

The brightness didn't show itself to me as much, but I demo'd an amp in Guitar Center. I can only imagine how many others have test driven this one...

As a V1 owner, I have to agree with your take on the tones- there really is a noticeable difference! I've never actually played any of the included amps, save for a Fender re-issue or two, so I have no real idea how "accurate" the models are. ( and, frankly don't care.) I just know they sound GOOD, and far more "alive" and "tubey" than any other modeller I've heard.

Don't forget- the MIII is set up to work with actual pedals, too. Depending on which you like to place first, just grab a compressor or OD stomp, and have at it. I use real pedals with mine pretty much all the time, with very good results.

It seems to have some sort of limiter on the input (to protect the digital preamp), so Using an OD or booster to kick the front of the amp in the teeth doesn't work the way you think it will. I tried this with an OCD- just to see how much the amp would take- and got a fair bit of compression, but no volume boost, and no jump in gain. For THIS amp, OD pedals work best when used as distortion boxes. Use the onboard one, if you want to do the traditional thing with it. It's already part of the model.

I think getting the most out of this amp, esp using regular stomp boxes, requires us to reprogram our BRAINS more than anything else. Different type of amp- needs different techniques/ approaches. The " conventional wisdom" regarding the best way to use pedals was evolved using tube amps, and basic solid state amps- NOT digital modelling amps. They're simply different beasts.

I don't care at all for the phaser/flanger that are on it. I'd rather use my Phase 90 in front, and my flanger in the loop.

Also, keep in mind: the V2 fx loop is in a different place in the signal chain than it was in V1. It pays to pay attention to what post effects are on if you put stuff in the loop. You could end up with some odd unintended combos.

I find the V2 to be brighter than my V1, but again, I think that's the speaker and it should work itself out. You're right about the limiter on the front end of the Mustang. All digital devices have a brick wall limiter that keeps the level before the overload point. Overloading a digital input creates the most horrible noise ever, besides Barry Manilow that is...

I don't use pedals with the Mustang- the point of an all in one amp to me is to avoid having to carry extra gear. I have the Line 6 Dream Rig as my main one, the Mustang is strictly for rehearsals and backup.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:55 pm 
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gtrman100 wrote:
pyroman wrote:
I agree with most of your findings.

The brightness didn't show itself to me as much, but I demo'd an amp in Guitar Center. I can only imagine how many others have test driven this one...

As a V1 owner, I have to agree with your take on the tones- there really is a noticeable difference! I've never actually played any of the included amps, save for a Fender re-issue or two, so I have no real idea how "accurate" the models are. ( and, frankly don't care.) I just know they sound GOOD, and far more "alive" and "tubey" than any other modeller I've heard.

Don't forget- the MIII is set up to work with actual pedals, too. Depending on which you like to place first, just grab a compressor or OD stomp, and have at it. I use real pedals with mine pretty much all the time, with very good results.

It seems to have some sort of limiter on the input (to protect the digital preamp), so Using an OD or booster to kick the front of the amp in the teeth doesn't work the way you think it will. I tried this with an OCD- just to see how much the amp would take- and got a fair bit of compression, but no volume boost, and no jump in gain. For THIS amp, OD pedals work best when used as distortion boxes. Use the onboard one, if you want to do the traditional thing with it. It's already part of the model.

I think getting the most out of this amp, esp using regular stomp boxes, requires us to reprogram our BRAINS more than anything else. Different type of amp- needs different techniques/ approaches. The " conventional wisdom" regarding the best way to use pedals was evolved using tube amps, and basic solid state amps- NOT digital modelling amps. They're simply different beasts.

I don't care at all for the phaser/flanger that are on it. I'd rather use my Phase 90 in front, and my flanger in the loop.

Also, keep in mind: the V2 fx loop is in a different place in the signal chain than it was in V1. It pays to pay attention to what post effects are on if you put stuff in the loop. You could end up with some odd unintended combos.

I find the V2 to be brighter than my V1, but again, I think that's the speaker and it should work itself out. You're right about the limiter on the front end of the Mustang. All digital devices have a brick wall limiter that keeps the level before the overload point. Overloading a digital input creates the most horrible noise ever, besides Barry Manilow that is...



Jeez- that is bad... As long as it doesn't sound as bad as Michael Bolton, or post meltdown Brittany.

I hear what you're saying, inre pedals. I'm a stubborn cuss, though- I like to choose my own flavors of spice, over what someone else chose for me. That, and my old self finds tweaking a physical pedal more expedient.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:44 pm 
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FWIW, I've just spent hours and hours in front of a V1 M I and a V2 M II.

At first I heard all sorts of differences.

Then I realized how directional these speakers are. By the time I mounted the two amps so they were at the same distance and angle to my head, I came to the conclusion that, other than a slight boxiness on the smaller amp, and I do mean slight, and the extra wattage + speaker on the M II, giving it a slightly sharper/stiffer sound, the two sounded remarkably the same on the same presets with the same guitar, cable, etc. And the compensation they applied for the physical differences is so amazingly effective, that even with the larger/smaller speaker, I doubt I could reliably pick out the right one on a blind test.

I think that unless people are taking all these precautions, the comparisons are mostly, if not entirely, placebo effect.

I do not hear "greater definition" in the V2 modeling, and all the tiny subtle differences I hear (and then don't) are well within the limits of position, speaker types, enclosures, mood, and other hardware issues ;-)

The guys who programmed the firmware must be laughing their butts off reading the reviews talking about "clearly more advanced modeling" on the V2. They had room on the ROM so they added the smart harmonizer, and a few stomp variants. The amps they added are minor variations on their (very good) tube model, the old ones I believe are unchanged. They fixed the Fizz, apparently, somewhere in the D/A power amp interface on the M III and up. Even if that had only required adding a capacitor, recalling and fixing all those V1s would have cost a fortune, so it's clear why a V2 was necessary.

If anything, I like the little M I a little more, because the smaller enclosure gives it a certain charming "old amp" boxiness. Adding a touch more midrange on the M II, even that seems to largely wash.

[later] Found one difference. The Pitch shifter LEVEL on the V2 takes it all the way to 100% effected signal. On the V1 even at full on, it only reaches around mixed half and half.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:24 am 
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The Mustang III V2 definitely sounds better than the V1. Not sure what you ARE or AREN'T hearing in the M1 and MII, but the MIII V2 has something good going on. Even if it's just a better power amp which means greater clarity or definition. Either way, there are multiple reports coming in (including mine) saying the MIII v2 definitely sounds better - and not just from lack of digital aliasing.

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Amps: Fender Mustang III v2 - Alto Kick 12
Effects: Line 6 M13


Last edited by jwoertz on Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:43 am 
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You say: "The Mustang III V2 definitely sounds better than the V2." Can you please specify how you came to that conclusion? Do you have both on hand?

It's great that people like the M III V.2. Apparently there is a better power amp or interface to it, as the Fizz is gone. I'm glad any time people hear improvements.

But as far as the models really sounding different, "more detailed", etc, I'll believe it when someone who has both does a real side by side comparison, setting them up like two studio monitors, like I finally did. Not listening to one on the floor and the other someplace else. And certainly not recollections. Because I heard all sorts of differences, that were real, but in the end they were artifacts of a different listening angle, which has an enormous impact, far greater than I realized. I should have known, as it's also true when mic'ing an amp, whether you point the mic at the center of the speaker or at the cone. Not to speak of the slightest difference in settings between the two. Assuming you use the same preset on both, one that uses only what is common to them (and leaving out the pitch shifter), the same guitar and cable, and the MASTER volume set identically.

I spoke to a salesman today who had compared them, and he honestly told me they sounded the same to him, but there were some additional models and effects in the V2.


Last edited by FernandR on Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:46 am 
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I've got both and can hear the difference with my eyes closed every time. But you are right - nothing drastic at all. Definitely no new technology as far as I can tell. But the V2 wins every time as far as depth and clarity.

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Guitars: Fender A.D.E Strat - Schecter PT with Duncans - Martin OOOC16RGTE
PA Gear: Alesis MultiMix 10 Mixer - Carvin FX2 - EV ZLX12P Powered Speakers
Amps: Fender Mustang III v2 - Alto Kick 12
Effects: Line 6 M13


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:04 am 
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I'm sure we can agree that they had to change something, and they do mention an improved power amp. But when you compare the sound, are you sure it's not mostly the age of the speakers? that would certainly add "edge" to the new one. I'm not questioning what you hear, but the differences, even between a I and a II are so subtle that after I really set them up the same it came down to minute details, easily explained by physical differences. Nothing that would suggest even any changes in the firmware. Let's try to get to the bottom of this without prejudice.


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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:14 am 
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jwoertz wrote:
I've got both and can hear the difference with my eyes closed every time. But you are right - nothing drastic at all. Definitely no new technology as far as I can tell. But the V2 wins every time as far as depth and clarity.


I've also compared V.1 to V.2 and can hear more "clarity" in the V.2 for sure! Infact I had to alter the treble response to compensate for the "brighter" but more "there" sound.

The differences are very subtle however and I'm sure Fender did not want to mess around too much with an already outstanding amp. the V.1 is still a brilliant amp, which incidentally in my case did not have any "Fizz" that I could preceive!

I've now returned the V.1 and am more than happy with the V.2! :)

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Last edited by proguitartrax on Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:30 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mustang III V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:20 am 
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Well, everybody's happy. For me, after the V2 M II got broken in, it's rather the midrange I have to boost a hair to get my presets to sound the same on my M I and M II, apparently because of the smaller boxier M I enclosure. Who knows how exactly they will compare after the M I in turn gets broken in.

To me it wasn't academic or a satisfaction issue. It was quite important so I could record with one or the other and not get a difference in say dynamic behavior from a preset, or a tone diff that I couldn't EQ out. And I don't. Nothing like I thought at first. So we're all happy, and if we agree that the differences are subtle, we're on the same page.


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