You might have heard the term FRFR being bandied around, but what does it mean? FRFR stands for full range, flat response and is usually used when talking about speakers. The best FRFR speakers will allow you to amplify whatever you’re putting through them without affecting or coloring the sound.
Regular speakers, like the ones you’d find in a guitar amp combo, or cabinet you’d pair with an amplifier head, all have certain tonal characteristics. A lot of the most popular speakers are used for precisely this reason – they affect the sound in a way that works well with the amp. Some people prefer particular speakers because they highlight or slightly scoop certain frequencies. The best FRFR speakers do the opposite in that they offer a flat and full frequency response.
As digital modelling has progressed, manufacturers of modelling units, like Kemper, Helix, Quad Cortex, Headrush etc, have gotten incredibly good at replicating the sound and response of amps being played through a variety of speakers. As such, when you stick one of these through a speaker, you’ll probably want it to sound as they intended – unaffected by the speaker that’s actually moving the air. And that’s exactly what the best FRFR speakers do: they let you hear your favorite profiles and patches exactly how they should be heard.
Here, we’ve listed a selection of active FRFR speakers – if your modeller or profiler is already powered, then you’ll want a passive speaker.
Best FRFR speakers: Our top picks
The best FRFR speaker in terms of value and performance is probably the Headrush FRFR112 (opens in new tab). It gives you and your modeller (it doesn’t have to be theirs) 1000W of continuous power, and is packed nicely in a fairly lightweight monitor wedge. It doesn’t color your precious tone, and the 12” speaker and 1.4” HF driver take care of a wide frequency range.
If you want an FRFR speaker that looks more like a traditional guitar amp, then the Laney FR-212 (opens in new tab) has you covered there, plus the vertical speaker loading makes it easier to hear yourself on stage. The Friedman ASC-10 (opens in new tab) takes care of the more boutique amp aesthetic.
Best FRFR speakers: Product guide
The Headrush amp and effects modellers are some the most popular out there and, as you might expect, they pair wonderfully with the matching Headrush FRFR speaker. The Headrush FRFR-112 is a lightweight 1x12” active speaker that will give your Headrush floor unit, or indeed any other passive modeller, the sound and response that you can only get from moving air with a speaker.
The specially-voiced 12” woofer sits alongside a high-frequency compression driver to bring all your saved patches and profiles to life on stage and, with 2000W of power, you can fill a decent sized room with ease. The design of the speaker cabinet is pretty smart too – you can use it as a kickback monitor for your own use, then take the XLR out to FOH, or you can pole-mount it to really be heard. You’ve also got two inputs with independent volume controls, EQ contour switch and ground-lift switch.
The Headrush 112 is one of the best FRFR speakers available right now, especially for the price. However, if you want something more compact, and even more budget-friendly, then check out their 1x8” version.
This might be one of the coolest powered speakers out there, and it’s made by Laney who are known for making some great amps, so it’s a brand you can trust. It looks just like a regular vertical 2x12 speaker cab, so if you want an old-school visual, then this could be the best FRFR speaker for you. To add even more to the look, there’s a really cool illumination light that you can switch on and off.
As well as FRFR mode, you’ve also got a couple of different cabinet emulation options that will replicate how particular cabs sound. You don’t have to use these, but they can be really handy for nailing a particular sound. The Laney LFR-212 is loaded with a pair of specially voiced 12” drivers and a 1” LaVoce compression driver. With it being vertically loaded, you’ve got one speaker closer to your ear when stood up, so it’s great for stage monitoring.
There is also a 1x12 version, that’s slightly smaller and cheaper, if you don’t need quite as much power.
The Line 6 Powercab series has been around for a good few years now and has proven itself to be really popular. Line 6 made waves with the Helix, so you’d expect their FRFR speakers to live up to the same sort of hype – and they do.
The Powercab 112 is one of the best FRFR speakers out there for players that want a range of great-sounding options to complement their amp modeller unit. You can use the Powercab in FRFR mode, where the custom-made speaker and high frequency compression driver will deliver an authentic representation of your preset patch or profile. You’ve then got six onboard speaker models that replicate the same sort of sound and response that you’d get from regular guitar amp speakers, for a more ‘in the room’ amplifier sound.
There’s also a kickback stand on it, so you can angle the speaker towards your ears allowing you to reduce your overall volume – that’s definitely a good thing!
Obviously, the perfect match for your Kemper profiler. The Kemper Kabinet looks incredible, with a nice green tolex and brown leather handle – very classy. Of course, there’s a load of technology nestled away in that great looking box too.
The 12” speaker, or Kemper Kone as it’s called, has been custom-built by Celestion specially for this. The Kemper Kab gives you the option of 19 classic guitar speaker imprints, all of which have been designed to give you the sound and response of some of the most renowned and sought-after speakers in the guitar world. Of course, if you’d rather, you can just use the cabinet models in the Kemper itself. However you use it, you get an incredible experience; it’s just like playing through a ‘real’ amp, but with all the benefits that the Kemper brings to the table.
This powered version gives you 200W of power for your non-powered profiler, or the Stage unit. However, if you’ve got a powered Kemper, then you’d be looking at the passive Kemper Kab.
Hand made in the USA, the Friedman ASC-10 lives up to the brand’s sterling reputation and it truly is one of the best FRFR speakers available right now. In fitting with the brand’s aesthetic, the ASC-10 has a really cool look about it, and probably looks more like a boutique amp than a powered speaker, making it a great choice for those that want it to appear more traditional.
It’s got a 10” Celestion speaker – some people prefer the response and sound of a 10” speaker when compared to a 12”, saying that it’s a little sweeter. All we know is that this particular FRFR speaker sounds great with any modeller, offering true and untouched amplification of whatever’s being put through it.
Alongside its custom-made Celestion 10” speaker with 2.5” edge-wound voice coil that essentially helps it work more efficiently, it features a level control, ground lift, 100Hz low cut filter, an all-analogue, bi-amped class G 500W power section, PETP film compression driver and a clip-limiter.
The Boss Katana is of course, a great modeling amps in its own right, however the new and improved MKII version also has the option to be used as a powered speaker for your modeller or profiler. The speaker has been voiced primarily for the sounds built into the amp, so it might not be completely FRFR, but it’s close enough to do a good job.
Running into the Katana MKII’s power amp input bypasses all the controls on the amp, apart from the master volume knob and the power control section which allows you to run it at either 100W, 50W or 0.5W. It’s super easy to use, and it’s quite nice having the controls on the top of the speaker. If you plug the amp into your computer, you can use the Katana editing software to boost or cut the low end too, so you can really tune it into whichever modeller you’re using.
We’ve listed the Katana MKII 100 as one of the best FRFR speakers because it does that job really well. Plus, if your modeller or preamp unit goes down, then you’ve got a perfectly good backup ready to use.
Read the full Boss Katana 100 MKII review
This gives you all the same benefits as the above 1x12 version, however you’ve got double the amount of speaker models, plus it has two speakers that you can use in stereo (and actually adjust the stereo width). So, if you’ve got some cool ping-pong style delays set up in your modeller, you can use the Powercab 212 Plus to really make the most of them.
The 212 Plus has some other really neat features that help make it one of the best FRFR speakers for pro-level modellers. There’s an on-board LCD screen and menu scrolling knob which allow you to navigate the 128 preset slots. You can even load in your own impulse responses (IRs), making this the ultimate FRFR speaker for players that want to be able to tweak all of their gear to get their desired tone. Alongside this, you’ve also got more connectivity options for running it within MIDI set-ups and more.
Read the full Line 6 Powercab 212 Plus review
OK, so this isn’t technically an FRFR speaker – it’s actually a powered PA speaker – but it does a great job when paired with something like a Helix or Headrush. It’s fairly similar to the Headrush FRFR speaker and features a 12” driver, plus a 3" voice-coil and 1.4” high frequency driver, for a good top-end response.
The Alto TS312 serves up 1000W of power, covering you for most applications when it comes to taking your modeller out for gigs, rehearsals etc. It’s relatively lightweight (just over 16kg) and has a handle built into it which helps when you’re lugging it around.
Though the speakers haven’t necessarily been voiced for the electric guitar, it doesn’t color the tone of your preciously crafted presets coming from your modeller too much. Having another input on the back, as the Alto TS312 has, is also useful for amplifying another instrument or vocals.
Best FRFR speakers: Buying advice
How to choose the best FRFR speaker for you
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So, you’ve spent some time researching the best amp modeller or profiler for your needs, and now you want to pair it with the best FRFR speaker. Luckily, the whole purpose of one is to not color your sound, and all of the options on this list tick that box. However, there are some things to consider when making your purchase.
The first one is probably going to be how loud do you need it to be? Those wanting to amplify their modeller just for home practice won’t need as many watts as those wanting to play live. It’s worth bearing in mind that the wattage levels of these FRFR speakers do work slightly differently to those of tube amps – a 50W tube will be perceptibly louder than a 50W FRFR speaker.
FRFR speakers are great for live use when you want your sound on stage to be the same as what’s coming out of the PA system. No more stepping out front in sound check, getting tangled up in your cables. You can play assured, knowing that what you hear is what the audience hears too.
If you are using it in a live context, think about how you’ll be sending your signal to the sound engineer. If you’re playing in smaller venues and you’ve got an FRFR speaker with a good amount of power, then you’ll probably be OK with just that and your modeller – you might not need to send a feed to front of house (FOH).
However, if you’re playing bigger venues, or you want to keep on-stage volume as quiet as possible (99% of the time, this will lead to a much better sound for everyone), then you’ll want to give FOH your signal. Some modellers might let you do this directly, however some of the best FRFR speakers do have a direct XLR output for this purpose. Of course, if you’re just playing at home, or jamming with friends, then you won’t need to dwell on this too much.
Many modellers allow you to do some pretty cool things with a stereo rig. If you’ve got some presets saved with ping-pong delays or super wide reverbs, then an FRFR speaker that allows for stereo projection is ideal. Alternatively, you could buy two speakers and set them up left and right.
Designs for life
Lastly, how it looks may well be a consideration. If this thing is going to be in your home, or on stage with you, then you should pick an FRFR speaker that you like the look of. Some look more modern and sleek, whereas others sport a more traditional amp-like appearance – some even match popular modellers and profilers.
Find out more about how we make our recommendations and how we test each of the products in our buyer's guides.
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