There’s a new breed of Wedge in town. Not merely there to prop your foot on during the big solo, these are designed specifically for onstage amplification of popular latest-generation modelers—think Fractal’s Axe-Fx II and AX8, Line 6’s Helix, Atomic’s Amplifire line, Kemper, and others—and seek to present a more traditional guitar-cab-like sound and feel in the process than the usual PA monitor-style wedge. XiTone’s 12” Active Wedge is just such a product. It incorporates full-range, flat-response (FRFR) design elements, but modifies these for a performance that should feel more familiar to guitarists used to old-school guitar amps.
The 19.5” x 16.5” x 16.5” unit weighs just 37 lbs and has feet both on the bottom and on one side, enabling use as a floor wedge or an upright cab with a more traditional rectangular appearance. It houses a 12” Eminence 12CX coaxial woofer plus an Eminence ASD:1001 tweeter, along with an 800-watt Dayton Audio two-way plate amplifier with DSP and active crossover (splitting 200 watts to the tweeter and 600 watts to the woofer). It’s covered in a rugged, black polyurea coating with a black metal grille protecting the speaker. Somewhat unusually, the tweeter is mounted at the back of the woofer, in a configuration that seeks to include its contribution, while minimizing the artificiality that some guitarists experience from tweeter-loaded FRFR cabs. In addition to this, XiTone’s Mick Farlow tells us, “The active crossover is designed to allow for a more guitar-cab feel, and taking the tweeter out of the picture as much as possible helps to accomplish that.”
The amplifier has individual Neutrick XLR and ¼” inputs for each of two channels, and a female XLR out for linking to other units or front-of-house PA support. Each channel has its own Volume control, with a switch for Line level or –24dB mic pad. A 5-position DSP Mode switch offers, Mode 1: FRFR; Mode 2: FRFR with 2dB bump at 500kHz for slight mid boost; Mode 3: FRFR with tweeter –2.5dB at 5kHz; Mode 4: LRFR (limited-range, flat-response) with only the 12” speaker engaged; Mode 5: 12” speaker raw (more like a traditional guitar cab). There’s also a switch to enable Bluetooth for streaming audio into the amp. Tested with a variety of electric guitars into both a Fractal AX8 and an Atomic Ampli-Firebox, the XiTone quickly proved itself something very different to the mid-priced PA wedge that might otherwise stand in for modeling amplification on stage. Although it’s billed as an FRFR solution in the broad sense, it delivers some extra lower-midrange thump and a certain guitar-cab-like punchiness (due to its sealed cabinet design) even when set to Mode 1—which is to say, it’s not strictly FRFR, but that should be taken as a good thing by any guitarist seeking a traditional onstage response from their modeling rig. The Active Wedge sounds good at low volumes, but really comes into its own when pushed up to at least midway, at which point there’s lots of gutsy punch, plenty of stage volume, and a realistic presentation of both tone and playing feel. For my playing style, I think I most enjoyed Mode 4, with the tweeter disengaged, but Modes 1 to 3 arguably shone a little brighter, with a plethora of more atmospheric effects like delay, reverb, and some modulations. All in all, this is a cool product that should help plenty of guitarists feel more at home bridging the tube-amp-to-modeling gap, and at a price point that’s comparable to that of a mid-priced, traditional powered PA wedge.
CONTROLS Independent Volume control and Mic Pad switch for each channel, 5-setting Mode switch
POWER 800 watts at 4Ω (600 watts for woofer, 200 watts for tweeter)
EXTRAS Dual XLR and ¼" inputs for each channel, XLR out for link, Bluetooth functionality
SPEAKERS Woofer: Eminence 12CX coaxial driver; tweeter: Eminence ASD:1001
WEIGHT 37 lbs
KUDOS A powerful and good-sounding active wedge that’s cleverly designed to address the need for a more familiar FRFR solution for modeling amplification.
CONCERNS As is the case with many modeler amplifiers, users might still need to tweak their preset EQs to achieve an accurate sound on stage.