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Old 08-15-2019, 12:23 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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Default Fishman Matrix Infinity VT + Aura Spectrum DI

So, I believe I have actually come full circle with my amplification set up. I purchased my Taylor with the original Expression System back on 2005. I hated the ES after a few gigs so I had a second pickup installed (Fishman Matrix Ellipse Blend with the gooseneck). I must have used that system for 7-8 years but I hardly ever turned the mic on as it was unusable. I bought the spectrum di to use with the Matrix and it was an improvement but I was never in love with the tone. However, there were a couple shows where my guitar sounded incredible.

Around 2013, my Ellipse started humming which I believe was due to the UST being damaged a bit. I felt it was time to experiment with pickups so I ripped it out along with the remaining ES electronics. What I immediately noticed was that although my guitar was lighter and more resonant, it wasn't as warm as before. I then went through a series of pickups at a hefty price (Anthem SL, full Anthem, Lyric, Trance Amulet M and Schatten HFN & the Tonedexter although I haven't really tested it enough). All of these pickups had their strengths and weaknesses but in the end, I wasn't happy yet.

Anyway, I had a festival style show this past weekend, the HFN wasn't really giving me enough low end or volume so I quickly ordered the new Fishman Matrix Infinity VT system. I installed it and after trying it out at home, I was struck by how big my guitar sounded, especially with the switch set to a bit more bass. Generally this is for OM style guitars but I quite like it with my Taylor. I also paired it with the Spectrum and liked what I heard. At the shows I played, I had the opportunity to test this system through a full system with a sound man and a smaller (two speaker set up). Both times, the aura/matrix sounded amazing. I am quite shocked that I am back to where I started. Maybe the new Infinity VT is just tweaked enough to make it sound even better?

I am still planning to play around with the Tonedexter and once my Dazzo is fixed, I want to put that into the second jack on my guitar but the matrix/aura is consistent and good.
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Old 08-15-2019, 01:10 PM
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The Matrix/Aura combo is great. I have used it in the past. I now tend to prefer more organic sounding pickups that I can use without a pedal, straight into a PA. But, even in Chicago, the guys who I see play with bands are using mostly using Fishman Matrix/Aura systems, with a handful using Anthem. When you're being paid to play, you don't have the luxury of wasting time and money on the pickup hunt. The same can be said for folks using K&K systems with their preamps. The stuff just works. Normally, my HFN can sound awesome, but now and then it can sound thin and feedback prone.
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Old 08-16-2019, 11:38 AM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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Originally Posted by martingitdave View Post
The Matrix/Aura combo is great. I have used it in the past. I now tend to prefer more organic sounding pickups that I can use without a pedal, straight into a PA. But, even in Chicago, the guys who I see play with bands are using mostly using Fishman Matrix/Aura systems, with a handful using Anthem. When you're being paid to play, you don't have the luxury of wasting time and money on the pickup hunt. The same can be said for folks using K&K systems with their preamps. The stuff just works. Normally, my HFN can sound awesome, but now and then it can sound thin and feedback prone.
It's funny, I too wanted a more organic sound but after trying numerous pickups and then testing this new set up, I can safely say the Matrix/Aura is very natural and in many ways equal to some of the more organic sounding pickups. I have the HFN in this guitar as well and in comparison, it takes a ton of gain to get it to the same level and it just doesn't have the body. Still a very good option but if you want your guitar to sound huge, it's not the best.

After using the Anthem SL and full Anthem, I feel as though I have come to the conclusion that although the aura/matrix system doesn't have an internal mic, in many ways it's a very comparable system. It might even be more consistent. Here's my thinking...even with the Anthem SL, there's always a bit of piezo tone and I do find as though the tru-mic often has a processed/hollowness to it. The aura/matrix is quite the same but then there's the ability to play around with numerous images. I still want to try the tonedexter though to see if I can get an even more natural tone.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:28 AM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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Its interesting that you mentioned your original Matrix system developing a hum. Of the many under-priced guitars which I've bought off ebay over the years, the most common thread has been a Fishman UST system with a hum. Having the shielding compromised and developing a hum seems to be the Achilles heel of the Matrix and Prefix systems.

I tend to like the touch response of a soundboard pickup better than the touch response of a UST. However, if you tend to prefer a bassy sound and you need a high level of feedback rejection, a UST will be the better choice. In my own case, I have two guitars which have both choices available. They are equipped with both a soundboard pickup and a UST, each going to a separate jack.

Last edited by guitaniac; 08-17-2019 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 08-17-2019, 12:03 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Originally Posted by Petty1818 View Post
It's funny, I too wanted a more organic sound but after trying numerous pickups and then testing this new set up, I can safely say the Matrix/Aura is very natural and in many ways equal to some of the more organic sounding pickups. I have the HFN in this guitar as well and in comparison, it takes a ton of gain to get it to the same level and it just doesn't have the body. Still a very good option but if you want your guitar to sound huge, it's not the best.

After using the Anthem SL and full Anthem, I feel as though I have come to the conclusion that although the aura/matrix system doesn't have an internal mic, in many ways it's a very comparable system. It might even be more consistent. Here's my thinking...even with the Anthem SL, there's always a bit of piezo tone and I do find as though the tru-mic often has a processed/hollowness to it. The aura/matrix is quite the same but then there's the ability to play around with numerous images. I still want to try the tonedexter though to see if I can get an even more natural tone.
+1 to all the above! Early on in my Fishman Aura journey, starting with the original Blender model, which, in my memory at least, sounded the best even compared to the more modern Aura pedals I've had and still have (Fishman Aura Spectrum DI, which is still like new and in its original box and hasn't been used in two years). I like the Tonedexter the best for its universal compatibility to just about any guitar and mic a player may own.
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Old 08-17-2019, 03:29 PM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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+1 to all the above! Early on in my Fishman Aura journey, starting with the original Blender model, which, in my memory at least, sounded the best even compared to the more modern Aura pedals I've had and still have (Fishman Aura Spectrum DI, which is still like new and in its original box and hasn't been used in two years). I like the Tonedexter the best for its universal compatibility to just about any guitar and mic a player may own.
My own experience with the Spectrum DI has been that it works better with Fishman UST systems than with other UST systems. Beyond that, its not even recommended for use with SBTs. ToneDexter, on the other hand, seems to work well with any brand of UST or SBT that I've tried. As a consequence, I can install both a UST and an SBT in the same guitar and create an effective TD WaveMap(s) for each pickup.
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Old 08-17-2019, 03:52 PM
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My own experience with the Spectrum DI has been that it works better with Fishman UST systems than with other UST systems. Beyond that, its not even recommended for use with SBTs. ToneDexter, on the other hand, seems to work well with any brand of UST or SBT that I've tried. As a consequence, I can install both a UST and an SBT in the same guitar and create an effective TD WaveMap(s) for each pickup.
+1! ToneDexter is the one!
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Old 08-18-2019, 04:06 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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Originally Posted by guitaniac View Post
Its interesting that you mentioned your original Matrix system developing a hum. Of the many under-priced guitars which I've bought off ebay over the years, the most common thread has been a Fishman UST system with a hum. Having the shielding compromised and developing a hum seems to be the Achilles heel of the Matrix and Prefix systems.

I tend to like the touch response of a soundboard pickup better than the touch response of a UST. However, if you tend to prefer a bassy sound and you need a high level of feedback rejection, a UST will be the better choice. In my own case, I have two guitars which have both choices available. They are equipped with both a soundboard pickup and a UST, each going to a separate jack.
When you say "Under-priced" it makes me think that the Fishman UST pickups were most likely the cheaper sonitone pickups. I wouldn't read too much into my comment though. Mine developed hum after eight years of gigging. I will admit that I don't love how the Matrix is wrapped in a shielding that could rip but I think if it had major issues with hum, it wouldn't be such a well known and used pickup.

My guitar also has two jacks. I don't love that it does but at the time when I wanted the Expression System out, a second jack was the only way. I am going to put the Dazzo in the second jack. I think I prefer the attack of a UST just due to the fact that it's more immediate and responsive.
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Old 08-18-2019, 04:10 PM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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+1! ToneDexter is the one!
I am still going to test the Tonedexter a lot and hopefully it replaces my Aura. However, there are many pros to the Spectrum/aura set up over the Tonedexter. One, the images are already created with a quality mic so there's no fussing with mic placement in order to capture wavemaps. You just find an image that sounds good and blend it in. Yes, it might not be your exact guitar but at the end of the day, if I am getting a natural tone, I don't mind. I feel too that Fishman have spent the time tweaking the images to already sound great.

I don't necessarily agree with the spectrum only working well with the Fishman Matrix. I have used it with K&K and Schatten equipped guitars and I have gotten great results.
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Old 08-18-2019, 05:00 PM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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When you say "Under-priced" it makes me think that the Fishman UST pickups were most likely the cheaper sonitone pickups. I wouldn't read too much into my comment though. Mine developed hum after eight years of gigging. I will admit that I don't love how the Matrix is wrapped in a shielding that could rip but I think if it had major issues with hum, it wouldn't be such a well known and used pickup.

My guitar also has two jacks. I don't love that it does but at the time when I wanted the Expression System out, a second jack was the only way. I am going to put the Dazzo in the second jack. I think I prefer the attack of a UST just due to the fact that it's more immediate and responsive.
I've bought several Sonitone-equipped guitars (mostly Samicks) but never had a hum problem with any of them. I did replace those pickup systems simply because I preferred certain aftermarket passive pickups or active pickup systems better.

Over the years I've bought at least half a dozen guitars with a humming Matrix or Prefix system. Off the top of my head, I can recall a Wexler guitar, an Eastman guitar and a Tacoma guitar with that problem. When I use the term "under-priced", I mean that the price was suspiciously low for what that particular model should be selling for.

I hasten to mention that a suspiciously low price doesn't always indicate a problem. My last ebay purchase was a used anniversary model Crafter, plus a deluxe case, for about 35% of the new price without a case. Nothing wrong with it at all.
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Old 08-19-2019, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Petty1818 View Post
I am still going to test the Tonedexter a lot and hopefully it replaces my Aura. However, there are many pros to the Spectrum/aura set up over the Tonedexter. One, the images are already created with a quality mic so there's no fussing with mic placement in order to capture wavemaps. You just find an image that sounds good and blend it in. Yes, it might not be your exact guitar but at the end of the day, if I am getting a natural tone, I don't mind. I feel too that Fishman have spent the time tweaking the images to already sound great.

I don't necessarily agree with the spectrum only working well with the Fishman Matrix. I have used it with K&K and Schatten equipped guitars and I have gotten great results.
The Fishman Aura Spectrum DI also works well with the LR Baggs Element Active system.
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:01 AM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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With respect to the Spectrum DI's compatibility with a variety of pickups, the Spectrum's trim/gain control has a range of -10db to +2db. It isn't even designed to accommodate weak passive pickups of any type. let alone passive SBTs with a weak signal. If it works adequately well with the Pure Mini, that's only because the Pure Mini has a relatively strong signal for an SBT.

By comparison, ToneDexter has a gain range of off to +27db.

Last edited by guitaniac; 08-19-2019 at 06:30 AM.
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:21 AM
guitaniac guitaniac is offline
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The Fishman Aura Spectrum DI also works well with the LR Baggs Element Active system.
I don't recall trying the Spectrum with an Element-equipped guitar. I do recall trying a DTAR Wavelength-equipped guitar with the Spectrum and observing that the improvement was minimal. I also tried the Spectrum with a PUTW UST and felt that it was actually counter-productive with that particular UST.

My far-and-away best results with the Spectrum were with a Fishman UST system (a "barn door" onboard Aura system with the Aura EFX turned off). With that particular guitar, I actually liked one of the Spectrum's OM sound images much more than the guitar's own model-specific Aura sound images. In that particular case, I was actually using the Spectrum and that little 00-sized guitar to model a bigger (OM-sized) guitar.


I sold the Spectrum years ago, but I do currently own a "barn door" Element-equipped guitar and a ToneDexter. That combo is working very well for me.
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:27 AM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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With respect to the Spectrum DI's compatibility with a variety of pickups, the Spectrum's trim/gain control has a range of -10db to +2db. It isn't even designed to accommodate weak passive pickups of any type. let alone passive SBTs with a weak signal. If it works adequately well with the Pure Mini, that's only because the Pure Mini has a relatively strong signal for an SBT.

By comparison, ToneDexter has a gain range of off to +27db.
That’s odd about your experiences with the Matrix and hum. If I had, had similar experiences, I too would be hesitant to try the pickup again. With that said, all I can say is that the newest VT version looks and sounds professional. It just seems to sound better to me than previous versions.

As for using the spectrum with a variety of pickups, I take this approach... If it sounds good, it sounds good. I have used it with my Godin a8 mandolin with RMC pickups, my larrivee with the k&k pure mini, my Taylor when it had the hfn and an octave mandolin with a headway pickup and they have all sounded fine. What I have found is that the input gain is fairly hot on the spectrum. My buddy and I both use it with the matrix and the red clipping light often comes on with aggressive strumming. I adjust the input trim and still get it here and there and the sound techs often mention how hot my signal is. I feel that the trim has more than enough gain for passive pickups.
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:01 AM
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Scott, Wasn't there an issue you had with the Full Anthem you tried? Did you ever get a chance to give it a solid test as a fully functional/properly operating PU? I don't recall exactly.

Nonetheless, I love reading about the success you're having with the Fishman Matrix Infinity VT PU. That is fantastic! You already had the Fishman Aura Pedal, so you're all set.

I can plug in directly with my Baggs (Full Anthem) equipped guitars and they sound tremendous. No need for external/outboard preamps.

That said, I don't typically go to open mics or plugin anywhere without using my pedalboard. (My board is well populated and a has EQ and a notch filter for feedback on the Baggs Align EQ, a BrightEye Clean Boost, Neunaber seraphim Shimmer reverb, Diamond Memory Lane delay, Tuner, Looper, etc. (you get the idea) The Baggs anthem sounds great either straight in or through the board)

I would imagine the Fishman Matrix Infinity VT would be just as good. Maybe better. Although I think I read it can be slightly more feedback prone than the Baggs. So I'm sticking with the Anthem. But I wouldn't hesitate to try the Fishman system you are using now.
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