Are you tired of spending hours crafting the perfect tone on your pedal, but then hearing something entirely different when you play live? Most guitar speakers tend to color your output, so what you’re hearing in the bedroom isn’t what you’ll hear on stage.
This is where FRFR speakers come in. A full range flat response speaker has a completely neutral output that’ll accurately represent your tone, so you can shape your tone exactly as you need it.
We’ve rounded up the 3 best guitar speakers for modeling amps. We focused on neutral, accurate representation of our guitar tones, along with build quality, ease of use, and overall features.
To determine the best FRFR speakers, we tested these cabinets with the same guitar (a Fender Stratocaster Player) and the same preset on our Line 6 Helix floor unit. We judged their frequency response, as well as their ‘room feel’ for the best possible sound.
- Our Top Three Picks
- Best Speaker Cabs For Modeling Amps (Reviews)
- Guitar Speakers For Modeling Amps – Buyer’s Guide
- Final Thoughts
Our Top Three Picks
- The Line 6 PowerCab 112 is our top pick, as it features every utility possible in a guitar cabinet and connects seamlessly with your multi-effects pedal.
- The HeadRush FRFR-108 is our budget pick. It’s one of the most affordable and practical speaker cabinets, and packs more features than you pay for.
- The Friedman ASC-12 is the go-to deluxe FRFR with an elegant vintage design and impeccable sound quality.
Best Speaker Cabs For Modeling Amps (Reviews)
Line 6 PowerCab 112 Plus Active Guitar Speaker – Our Top Pick
Our top pick, the Line 6 PowerCab 112, is by far the most loved FRFR on the market right now. It not only accomplishes the essential functions of a flat response speaker but also has much more to offer.
As an FRFR speaker, we found that the PowerCab’s ‘Flat mode’ gave us the most precise representation of our modeled tone, much like a studio monitor but packed in a guitar cabinet. Aside from the Flat mode, the PowerCab features six different settings, each corresponding to the tone of a legendary speaker such as the Celestion Vintage 30.
The six speaker EQs are default, but there is an option to have as many as 128 user presets for the frequency response settings. This allowed us to essentially replicate any guitar speaker ever using just this one cab, and we could even make our own custom EQ for a unique sound. We love this feature because it lets us use our massive frequency response collections live and shape them to our taste.
Aside from the sound design capabilities, we found the PowerCab’s design to be convenient – it’s well-suited for gigging and looks authentic. The cab weighs only 36 pounds and it was compact enough to fit in the back of our tiny car.
The PowerCab has a foldout kickstand, so we were able to place it at an angle that directed the sound right at us. We found this to be really convenient for sound monitoring on stage.
Finally, we were able to connect the PowerCab with our Helix floor unit effortlessly. It works well with any multi-effects amp modeler, but the L6 Link software allows for exceptional integration that made it super convenient for us. Helix users will definitely appreciate this.
Verdict: The Line 6 PowerCab 112 Plus is a feature-packed, versatile, and customizable FRFR speaker that ticks all the right boxes without breaking the bank. We can confidently say that it is one of the top speakers for modeling amps available right now, especially if you have a Helix Multi-Effects Floor Processor.
HeadRush FRFR-108 2000-watt 1 x 8″ Powered Guitar Cabinet – Best Budget Option
Our favorite budget option is the HeadRush FRFR-108, with its compact design and powerful 8” speaker that’s ideal for smaller gigs.
The 8” speaker may be small, but we found it has enough power and bottom-end to drown out an average 12” speaker. It offers over 2000W of peak power in a compact and lightweight body.
The HeadRush FRFR-108 weighs just 19 pounds and features a handle on both the top and bottom ends that made it easy to transport. We found it easy to pop into the back of a car too. The shape of the speakers allowed us to get it into an angled-backline position with ease that blasted direct sound right at our faces.
In our tests, we saw that the plastic chassis is not as durable as its competitors (using wood or metal), but the build quality is decent. The pole mount slot at the bottom of the FRFR-108 gave us another placement option, as it supports standard speaker stands. The foam covering over the speaker behind the grill also protects it from dust and debris.
Aside from a highly thought-out outward form, we found that the HeadRush also had an excellent clear and flat frequency response across the frequency range, with decent headroom to spare when we needed it. The contour switch was also very helpful in reducing out-of-control low-range frequencies that came up when we moved between different positions, such as low to the ground vs on a stand.
Though the 8” speaker is powerful enough for smaller gigs, you can also get the 12” version if you want more volume. Overall, we give this build a thumbs up for fitting all the necessary features and superb quality into a neat price range that certainly leveled up our gigging experience.
Verdict: The HeadRush FRFR-108 is a 2000 Watt peak-power beast that comes in a compact package with an 8” speaker. In our opinion, it is one of the most affordable choices if you want a flat frequency response in an extremely convenient package that’s perfect for gigging.
Friedman ASC-12 500-watt Active Modeler/Profiler Monitor – KGR Editor’s Choice
Our editor’s choice is the Friedman ASC-12, which could even be considered a work of art. It gave a natural amp-in-a-room’’ feel to our modeled tone and made the listening experience sublime.
There has been a persistent issue among amp modelers that even with accurate simulation of great amps and cabinets, they do not have the same feel as an actual guitar speaker displacing real air. We found in our tests that the ASC-12 completely mitigates this and gave our tone an authentic feel like no other FRFR could, with prominent air displacement.
A lot of this comes down to the classic construction of the ASC-12. We found that the wooden body delivers the best possible acoustics in any room, while still being durable for gigging. Everything from the finish to the label reminds us of vintage high-end guitar speakers.
The wide and flat frequency response is not the only setting the ASC-12 offers. It has an all-analog class-G power amplifier. We were able to select between a flat response and a more ‘colored’ output that simulated a classic cabinet. This means that aside from being an FRFR speaker, the Friedman offers its own characteristics as well.
We found it much heavier and more powerful than most other FRFR speakers, so we recommend it for more extensive projects where you have all your rig transportation figured out.
Overall the Friedman ASC-12 is a rugged powerhouse with an elegant outward appearance. We found it capable as both a guitar stage monitor and as a more typical power amp. It comes with the guarantee of any premium Friedman product, being personally tested and signed by Dave Friedman himself, so we’re confident in its reliability.
Verdict: The Friedman ASC-12 is a more premium and refined take on the FRFR design. It delivers beautiful results with great vintage looks and a rugged body. The sound quality is incredible, and it can double as a power amp.
Guitar Speakers For Modeling Amps – Buyer’s Guide
FRFR speakers are designed to allow you to hear your amp modeler’s guitar tone exactly as it was intended. For this, the FRFR cab needs to have a wide and even frequency response with no boosts or cuts given to any audible frequencies.
Essentially, they are studio monitors as far as their core functionality is concerned. But the problem with studio monitors is that they tend to be either too small and weak or too large, fragile, and bulky. Studio monitors are not designed for gigging and don’t have any extra functionalities built into them; they are just the most neutral speakers you can find.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when choosing an FRFR speaker, whether for home practice or live performances:
- Portability – If you’re planning on taking your FRFR speaker to your local cafe for a gig, you need to make sure it’ll be light and easy to carry like a guitar cab, and still be durable, such as the Headrush. But for home practice, you can get one that’s designed to sit in one spot, like the Line 6 PowerCab.
- Compatibility – When using FRFR speakers with amplifiers, there are concerns about their power rating and impedance. The power rating of your speaker must be higher than or equal to the output of your amp or whatever else you connect into the speaker input. The impedances of your input and output should also match.
- Features – FRFR speakers tend to have extra features such as simulation of specific speaker cabs using frequency responses, EQ controls, and vintage looks. Think about what features you need based on your use case, and plan accordingly.
To quickly recap, the Line 6 PowerCab 112 is the best FRFR speaker in its range, offering high-quality sound with great customizability, while the HeadRush FRFR-108 is the best bargain if you’re on a tight budget. If you need the absolute best, the Friedman ASC-12 is our Editor’s Choice, and is simply brilliant with a vintage design.
No matter which one you end up choosing, all FRFR speakers will accurately represent your amp simulation live. They make developing new styles and signatures much easier without buying several different physical speakers and pedals and lugging them everywhere you go.