MGR/Icedog 09/24/2002

Mesa Boogie TriAxis : MGR/Icedog's user review

« Mesa Boogie Triaxis »
5

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Mom and Pop type music shop (castle music) in Santa Barbara California, in approximately 1989. Price paid, about $1,000 new, whatever full retail was at the time.

I bought this unit to finish the stereo rack half stack I was putting together.

My Rack:
Space 1: Furman Power Conditioner/pwr strip
Space 2: 1/2 space korg tuner, 1/2 space Boss compression/limiter
Space 3: 1/2 space dbx stereo noise gate, sholtz midi octopuss w/2 loops
Space 4: Rocktron Intelliflex
Space 5: AKG Uhf Wireless Mic
Space 6: Mesa Boogie Triaxis
Space 7/8: Mesa Boogie Simul Class 2:90

Cabinet: Stereo Mesa Boogie 4-12

The triaxis nicely complimented the Boogie Simul Class 2:90 power section, and also supports real time midi control which allowed me to make full use of my Art expression pedal unit. On a particular channel I can assign either of two pedals to control a triaxis parameter in real time. I.e., a volume pedal that effects master volume, hence absolutely no change in tonal qualities, and a second pedal which simultaneously brings gain up, bass down, trebel up, 5 band eq up, presence down...for example... These pedals are also used to control real time parameters on the Intelliflex, and the midi octopuss serves to switch non-midi modules as well simultaneously.

Conceptually, to have 90 channels of tube preamp, midi switchable, well what can I say...that's like having 45 two channel tube heads all set at different tones at your command by channel switching! In practice you end up settling on say 10-20 different tones, but duplicating these settings on some channels and using different intelliflex settings to create a different sounding channel. The key is your in charge of what your 20 differnt tones sound like as opposed to say a modelling amp like line 6 or vox in which they tell you what your 20 different tones must sound like. With a Triaxis you can do way better, and have total control over your sound.

I did extensive comparison between the Triaxis and the Marshall JMP midi preamp, taking both units home and playing them for days. I have always been a Marshall man at heart, having owned JCM 800's at three different times. I had also owned a Boogie Mark IV, and that is how I got into Boogie as well. In the end, the Triaxis not only sounded better, was more versatile sound wise, and had superior options for real time midi expression.

HOw does it sound? Well, I won't spend much time here...it sounds as good as any boogie sounds...this unit is able to reproduce most any boogie product that has come out. There are about 8-9 different amp modes to choose from that you can assign to any of the 90 banks. Combined with the three different modes on the Simulclass 2:90 that gives alot of combinations. I can find any sound I want here from the cleanest cleans to the heaviest type triple rectifier type sounds (not sure if it is actually a triple rect, but it sounds as intense as one). The thing I really love is that I can have controlled third harmonic feedback (the good kind of feedback) at will.... reminds me of why I loved my Marshalls. Find the right spot on the stage and your Triaxis/2:90 is singing for as long as you want.

Now here is the deal....I enjoyed this setup for many years...and 6 months ago was considering selling it all in favor of a more simplistic rig...my hair is shorter now, and I'm not doing the heavy rock thing any more...natural evolution to the blues thing, so I was in favor of getting a combo of some sort. Well after researching many rigs and settling on a Fender Hot Rod Deville 410,... I decided to try an experiment on my triaxis that I had never done... the midi dump and upload! I found some websites with artist settings that could be downloaded to my computer, and uploaded to the triaxis automatically via the midi cables.

Damn!

This thing sounds so frigging good now..what great blues tones that I had never dialed in! I guess it makes sense that these artists with their roadies can really play with these units and dial in fantastic different sounds. So much better than what I had found. I want a do over..want to go back to my heavy rock days and re gig with these new settings. Now I have files saved on my computer with my original settings and my new settings..and I can reload and alternate between the two at will. Hmm what gig tonight? Jazz..upload the file...tonight, OzzFest? Upload the file....





With so many parameters to dial in ... I would say that the only part of the triaxis that I can comment on in any negative sense would be the interface for parameter changes....there are no knobs to twist...there are left and right arrows....This makes it slightly more cumbersome than a simple twist of a knob.

This is no longer important to me since I now use the shareware software I found in order to make paramter changes from my computer. A simple slider exists for each paramter...and as you slide the know on your cpu, the parameter is changing on your triaxis and available for a sound check. But for many years I did not use this feature.

Knobs would make this unit a little easier to dial in..but keep in mind this is a very minor complaint....in practice it is easy enought to make minor tweeks to sounds....i.e. at a practice or gig need a little more or a little less? No problem to dial this in.

For initial setup of channel parameters, I guess I am saying this is a time consuming effort if you don't have the use of the shareware and a computer....

The unit does come with some very nice factory presets..so in reality one need not do any extensive setup.

I have owned this stack I put together for over ten years. I have gigged out with it exptensively....I have never had to change the tubes! Never had a technical difficulty with it. It's rock solid. It loks sharp in the rack! Probably because there are no knobs...very cool look.



So..I had loved my triaxis..was considering selling it for a blues specific sounding amp..and now have fallen in love with it all over again. I am getting better tones and response out of it than any other blues amp I have tried. Some have critisized the clean sounds saying they don't compare to some of the Fender's with lots of headroom and sparkle...that is not my experience but the key is to use a simulclass 2:90 in the "full" mode not the half mode. It is absolutely the best sounding, most versatile, most feature rich rig I have ever played with.

Meanwhile, if I get a fender hot rod deville..it will only be a practice amp for watching tv in the living room and for going to practice...my stack is big and heavy for moving around for anything less than a gig.


This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com