The choice made for this preamp is obivious. Tone
and tone only. To have available a good solid Boogie
tone was the single most compelling reason to buy
this piece. This preamp/amp combination resides
in a stable of amps, (Marshalls, Fenders, Vox,
Hughes & Kettner) and has a reason for being here.
This preamp is paired with the Simul-class 2:90 for
medium size venues and a 20/20 for smaller
venues. Both are wonderful as far as sound and
tone are concerned. The speaker combination is as
important and I found the 2x12 recto with vintage
Celestion 30's work well as does the 2x12 T.Q. with
Celestion 90's. Sound and tone is directly related to
a combination of all these factors.
If this piece were to be lost, I would replace it. (It's
To improve the unit, I would concentrate efforts on
providing better FX loop circuitry, a more flexible
pathway, (parallel or serial, or both) as found on the
Hughes & Kettner Access. I would note the
programmabilty of the H & K Access. The H & K is a
marvelous piece of engineering.
But if you are in search of tone, then the "Factory of
Tone" is your only choice.( The Access is no longer
available.) The Triaxis is still one of the preminent
pieces of gear used out there. Many players curse it
as well as love it in the same breath. Mesa
Engineering is struggling with quality these days due
the the overwhelming success of their products.
They were known for their quality and durability, all
which seem to be taking a dip lately. But if you hit
upon a good one, it'll be a keeper. They still make
good stuff! You just have to be willing to slug through
all the muck till then.
Model Year: 2001
Price: $1499.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Guitar Center
This preamp features programmable membrane
controls for all it's functions including loop/amplifier
controls. The only "knob" is the "volume" knob that
acts as a send volume control and the stereo
volume control to an amplifier.
The preamp features a single FX loop (mono send
and stereo return) bypassable via a switch (button)
on the front panel. The preamp has four outputs for
amp switching control (ground potential). When
used in conjunction with their Simul-Class 2:90, the
preamp has capablilities to be voiced differently and
also has control of amplifier power output.
The output of the preamp is stereo and has (5)
12AX7 preamp tubes driving it. The first two tubes
are primarily for preamp tone production.
Using a Tom Anderson H3 pickup for lead playing
and (2) SK2's for alternate tones. Also using another
Tom Anderson H2+ with (2) SK1's. In addition to
these guitars, a couple of Les Paul '59 reissue (PAF)
's and '59 reissue Switchmaster with (PAF)'s.
My styles of playing vary from clean, smooth
fingerstyles, classic rock, progressive rock, fusion,
blues, metal and alternative. The tone production
requires considerable tweeking to taste and
programming banks as well as guitar matching the
Best suited to hi gain performances and soft
breaking tube sounds. Clean settings can be
overdriven at times depending on pickups being
used and playing technique.
This is a Boogie. Not a Marshall, not a Fender, and
not any other amp that you may want it to be. It has a
distinct Boogie characteristic. It performs all Boogie
tone selections faithfully. At times it does approach
Fender tonal characteristics (Boogie does owe it's
lineage to Fender, as does Marshall) when you push
the clean tones. But it does remain truely a Boogie.
Microphonics in all of the tubes out of the box was a
problem. The 12AX7's all were quite noisy and dirty
sounding. After playing the "tube musical chairs"
and swapping out three of the five tubes, the preamp
began to clean up. There is a bit more work needed
to be done yet and I am awaiting for new "premium"
12AX7's from the factory to install. (Review
Addendum 06/14/2002) After subsequent installation
of various 12AX7 replacement tubes from the factory,
I found the SP12AX7 (specials) to be somewhat
satisfactory. The first two stages (V1 and V2) were
the worst in performance and requires the SP tubes.
It might prove advantageous to install SP's in all 5
At high volumes, the tones (clean, overdriven, etc)
remain tight (this depends on the power amp). The
distortion and overdrive tones are all Boogie. Very
nice. Very sweet and rich harmonically.
(Addendum 06/14/2002) Channel switching from
one to another with varying gain settings can be
noisy. If the Loop setting is selected, the Triaxis will
exhibit a loud pop when switched. When performing,
this poses a problem from two standpoints. 1) It is
sonically disturbing. 2) The pop can be detrimental
to the speakers when played at significant volumes.
I would recommend keeping the Loop active and
using a switching system to handle the signal
routing separately in order to quiet the preamp. I
remind users and readers alike, the FX SND and
RTN are wired in series and this poses a significant
problem when using outboard gear that is noisy or
inferior in sonic strength. Coupled with a noisy
signal path, the problem only worsens after the
hitting an effect unit.
Programming the preamp is quite straight forward.
Dial in the settings and save. The 20 factory presets
allow you to edit the sound you are looking for
without much fuss. The first 10 are straight forward,
the second bank of 10 are used with amplifier
voicing switches. Once you understand the logic of
the programming structure, it's a piece of cake. The
only confusing aspect of the controls are the terms
"preset" and "program". One defines the sound and
the other defines a MIDI function.
To obtain "good sounds" you must remember that
changing guitars will change the sound and the
outcome of your presets. You need to assign banks
that are to be associated with a particular guitar. If
minute changes in tone or guitars do not bother you,
then this doesn't apply.
Comparing other rack mount preamps, I found the
Triaxis to have limited loop features (Serial vs.
Parallel or a combination) and having only a single
loop channel is limiting. Programmablity can be
simplified somewhat. MIDI implementation is
somewhat crude and qwerky.
I feel that once a good combination of tubes are
matched with the unit, it should perform well under
usual circumstances. The construction is good and
solid. The tube replacement will depend on how
often and how hard one plays. It would be
adviseable to rack mount the unit in a solid rack, a
floating shock-mount or 1/4" small rack. (6 space or