Mesa/Boogie Triaxis

Made by Mesa/Boogie

Description Boogie's premier preamp designed in the early 1990's. Still their "best" preamp being produced. A verniable "tone factory" (5-12AX7's) with MIDI and 20 factory presets within 90 prog. locations.
Posted By Theresa Dobbs (3289)
Directory Equipment: Amplifiers
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Overall Rating: 4.5 (of 5)
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Member Reviews

On 6/15/2002, Theresa Dobbs (3289) posted:
Overall Rating:
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 insured.)

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.
Sound Quality:
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 programs. 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 tube sockets. 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.
Ease of Use:
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 less)