so we finally got a chance to get all 3 of these in the same room
pete and jay 2 members of the FAS forum that are local to me came by and we got this show on the road.
an RCF NX 12sma
a Pair of Xitone wedges
We also had a Matrix GT1000FX1U and 2U poweramps and a Fryette 2/50/2
We used Several guitars during our comparisons
Jay brought his Anderson strat (sounded f'n killer I need to look into one of these as soon as they have a 24 fret model)
Pete brought one of his 'frankenstrats" that is loosely based on a charvel. H/s floyded.
I have Jackson SL2H, a GMW strat,and a Bernie Rico Jr 7 string loaded with bareKnuckle Holydivers.
I also recently bought a Fender Jazz 5 string bass so we tested all 3 of these with a bass as well.
So for this FRFR test what we did is we set up a blank brand new patch on my Axe and on Petes
and used a very basic AMpeg SVT patch for our test with the bass.
HBE into the Citrus V30
All controls left at default except we brought the bass down to 9:00 and brought the presence up to Noon
(the Citrus is a full sounding cab IR but it's dark, actually worked pretty well set like this.
No drive, no reverb or delay ,no compression, just dry bare bones. we brought all of the wedges up to the same volume and just went back and forth,
between them switching guitars to compensate for pickups /woods etc, and playing the same riffs over and over , and the same lead chops repetitively.
Pete and Jay did the majority of the playing and were very good about being Human Loops.
This cab is by far the biggest sounding of the 3 (and is physically the biggest of the 3 as well) It has a lot more bottom end to it than the RCF or the XiTone does. It can get loud.
It is the deepest physically of the 3 cabs and you can hear it right away.
It also has an extended high end and mid presence to it .It seems like no frequencies are being cut off or muted.
This wedge definitely had the most "in your face" articulation to it out of the 3, but there was this "sizzle' or "crackle" we kept hearing
on the top end during our testing that was not their with the other 2 wedges, it was very very subtle but it was definitely there.
The dispersion on this thing does live up to its reputation it sounds exactly the same no matter where you stand.
I can see how a user can have a problem with the bottom end on this , if he is used to dialing in bottom heavy patches.
when we alternated between the 3 wedges (all with the same patch , flat global EQ) this wedge had substantially more bottom end to it than the RCF or the XiTone did.
surprisingly with the extended range of bottom end that this Wedge has, it was the weakest wedge out of the 3 when using a bass. More on this later
#2 RCF 12 NX SMA
This wedge is also capable of being very loud but does not sound quite as big as the CLR does. I owned one of these for about 5 months so I am very familiar with this one.
It has more of a "polished" sound to it , the low lows are cut, the high highs are cut, and it has a bit more of a scooped sound to it than
the CLR does. it is smoother sounding and therefore a little more Hifi sounding. I found this cab easier to actually listen to
than the CLR but it is definitely the stiffest feeling of the 3, and the tone changes dramatically when you get out of the designed dispersion
area (it gets very muffled sounding when you stand way off to the side or behind it). Using this in front of you as a personal monitor
would work great. I think as a backline solution , it would present a problem due to it's narrow dispersion.
With a little work on the global EQ we got this sounding very close to CLR, but it still was not as "in your face" because of the limited dispersion area.
the problem I have with this Wedge (and is why I sold it) is not the sound or the dispersion, but the feel. Compared to the CLR and the XItone it
is the least "guitar like " out of the bunch. If all I played was rhythm, it would be a non issue but as a shedder wanna be, it made playing
lead more difficult.
the RCF handled the bass patch beautifully and out of the 3 this wedge worked the best with a bass.
#3 Xitone Wedge(s)
We had a pair of these but one was faulty(I previously thought it was a bad cable but it was cutting out intermittently again yesterday so we ended up proceeding
the test just using one.
Out of the 3 wedges , this one IMO is the most "guitar like" it has a much more pronounced mid tonality but has no where near the bottom end of either the CLR or the RCF.
Because of this they sound much smaller than the other 2 wedges and got no where near to "filling the room" as the other 2 did.
I think this may have to do more with the Matix GT100Fx VS the on board power sources of the other 2 wedges.
The dispersion on these is also very good , not as good as the CLR but definitely better than the RCF.
Still a very usable offering but I would want.....need 2 of them to be really happy. Running 2, bridges the gap between this and the other 2 quite a bit.
Surprisingly the Xitone handled a bass very well, almost as well as the RCF did.
Next we set up my Axe to go output one into the Matrix and output 2 into my Fryette into t my Avatar Cab. the cab is stereo so we could
compare the differences between what the 2 power amps add/don't add to the Axe amp sims.
I set the Fryette with the presence off and the depth at noon and just left it alone
On a lower gain patch the difference between the 2 was negligible both amps work great I could live with either one.
On High gain patches however (which is where I live 99% of the time) you can definitely hear what the tubes add to the equation.
Again the actual tone here was very similar between the two amps as it was with the lower gain patch , but the feel was noticeably different.
The Fryette adds this girth and harmonic sparkle that the Matrix just does not have.
So then we turn the depth all the way down.
The difference was still there, it hardly diminished at all.
Now in a club blasting would I actually notice this?? Maybe, but probably not. Home practicing? hell ya you notice it right away.
I also ran the Xitones with both power amps and the difference there was almost nill. Using Cab IR's somewhat negated any difference in the feel
you notice with a regular cab so if I was to use passive FRFR wedges the Matrix would be what I'd go to.
So to wrap up my thoughts on these 3 here is where I stand
Overall what works best for me is the Fryette into a real guitar cab . I am currently not gigging and the Fryette sounds amazingly good at all levels
So I have decided that I don't need an FRFR solution. To my ears all 3 still sound somewhat like PA monitors, but make no mistake these are far far better than
what we previously had available to us a FRFR solutions
But, if I was gigging, this is what I would use.
As a Backline for me , the CLR is the clear cut winner. It's dispersion is really what everyone has said it is. I can imagine this makes it every easy to hear this speaker anywhere on stage.
It's very big sounding,and sounds the same no matter where you stand. I can image 2 of these would rip the walls down and sound very 4X12-ish.
2nd would be the XiTone. These as I stated sound very much Guitar cab like, and if both were working properly the entire time , I would
imagine could hang with the CLR.(but you'd need 2 of them to match 1 CLR)
I'd love to A/B a passive CLR against a Xitone using the MAtrix to power both. I think that would be a far more accurate comparison.
I think the RCF would be the weakest back line solution just do to its limited dispersion and more "HiFi" feel.
As a Monitor in front of me? any one of them would work just fine, I personally would probably like the RCF the best for this as it's the most polished sounding of
the 3 and would most likely be the easiest to listen to, then it would be a toss up between the CLR and the Xitone. either would work just fine, the only thing I'd be worried
about would be that "in your face" effect the CLR has. I think it could become tiresome after a long night stating me in the face.
build wise. the Xitones use that LineX coating and you probably could throw one out the back of a moving car and it would still work.
I find the wood on the CLRs to appear very soft and in all honestly don't look that tough to me. I'd use a road case if I had one to protect it As much as possible.
The RCF looks to be well built , but again i don't think it's all that "tough" looking either.
Aesthetically I find the RCF the best "looking" of the 3 followed by the XiTones and finally the CLRs
I'm interested to see what Jay and Pete have to offer as it seemed like we were pretty much in agreement yesterday on most of these points.
Overall any of these 3 would work , your individual needs and you budget should dictate which ones to go with.
As far as all of this fan boy-ism and gushing about these things? I don't get it? they still sound like a PA monitor to my ears
definitely much much better than previous options but still , they are monitors. I'm sorry i just don't drink the Kool -Aid.
I'm not going to hate on any of them because they all very capable and viable options to get the job done, but some of the gushing I read about these???
WTF I don't think so.
Hopefully our options will still continue to bet better and better as we move along.
For me , my 2X12 behind me thru the Fryette and any one of these in front of me work would great as club worthy rig.
I've just come to the realization that I am a "cab guy" and I don't need an FRFR solution right now.