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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

To keep it short, I have been through the following amps recently.

Carvin Legacy 3 - Boogie Mark V 25 - Laney Iron Heart 60H.

Neither of these amps have a really good lead tone, the boogie was the best of the lot but was always a little "mushy", but I think that's just the "boogie" sound, especially on the modern settings.

The laney has been the most disappointing, the "lead" channel is very very boomy even with the bass at 0 and the boost function is utterly useless, it sounds like it oversaturates the tubes and they can't cope, so much for a "high gain" head.

The Carvin was "ok" but I had to change every gain tube to get rid of the fuzz, and even then it was horrendously bassy and brittle if you tried to open the amp up with treble/presence controls.

This has me wondering if there is any amp out there with a gain channel that is not fuzzy or mushy. I just want an amp that can do tight crunch tones and smoother lead tones.

I have done a ton of research on a lot of amps and if I was to generalize the major brands:

Blackstar - Most sound like cheap SS amps, even when fully tube, especially the HT series.
ENGL - Can sound very brittle, even the Morse model sounds brittle in videos (surprised me).
Mesa - Either very spongy (lonestar/stiletto) or overly fuzzy/mushy (rectifier).
Marshall - Decentish lead tones but not good for tight rhythm sounds.
Laney - Decent rhythm tones but not good for lead.


I know that's generalising on the extreme end, but from what I can hear no amp I have heard either in person or in reviews on youtube actually sounds good without adding a tube screamer or some form of boost in front of the amp, which to me defeats the purpose of using the gain channel.

So, now that I have the Laney should I'm tossing up between selling it and continuing to look or just looking for some decent pedals to run in front of the amp.

Can anyone recommend a decent amp?

BTW I'd don't have a massive budget, so basically anything more expensive then the mark V 25 is pretty much out.
 

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I have gone through countless high gain amps looking for something similar. I have never used pedals until only a few months ago and can say that I have missed out on a lot. You'd be amazed at what a 10 band eq/ orverdriver pedal can do to amp's otherwise flat dull or boring tone. I have also ditched my vintage 30s which I used for years.

I am fairly happy with the sound I get out of my triple x, it is still a little fizzy but with an eq and gate thrown in front of it the amp does pretty good.

I'd suggest looking at your whole rig and not just your amp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies.

I am currently using a 1X12 cab with a vintage 30, pretty much the only speaker I have really liked. I have tried 60watt, 75watt celestions as well as eminence and a few other brands, but I always come back to the V30's.

The Laney isn't "that" bad, its better then the Carvin. Maybe I should try some pedals in front of it.

Its funny cause with these sorts of amps I feel like I shouldn't need pedals, kinda defeats the purpose of a high gain amp.
 

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I'm using the same equipment as yours : ironheart go to 1x12 V30 celestion.
So far I'm happy with this.

But unlike your experience, I don't feel the lead channel is boomy.
I even set the bass at 3 o'clock ( pulled), and dynamic at 2 o'clock to get decent low end punch I looked for.
The pre boost set at 60%, also the gain on lead channel is 60%.

and here's my secret weapon to get the tone comes alive : Add delay.
( edit : I'm using cheap zoom CDR pedal on the fx loops).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not sure if you have had this issue with your ironheart, but I have found that the boost is almost unusable above around 2. I'm not sure if there is something wrong with mine but when using the boost (even with gain moderate around 6-7) if I strum a big power chord hard, (as an example) its as if it goes extremely fluffy, like oversaturating the tube of something. I never had this issue with the boogie or even the carvin.

And I have tried 12ay7 and 5751 in v1, v2 etc and it still does it, even if you have gain on full but no boost it will do it. I am now running a 5751 in v1 with normal 12ax7's in v2, v3, I can run gain on full but have to use my Boss OD to get enough gain for lead.
 

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Mesa - Either very spongy (lonestar/stiletto) or overly fuzzy/mushy (rectifier).
Huge Mesa fan here, so a couple comments.

First, I wouldn't characterize the Stiletto as "spongy" - the Marks and the Lonestar, sure, but the Stiletto responded a lot like a Recto, but brighter and revoiced for EL34s. I didn't love the gain channel - I prefer the darker, smoother mesa tone - but the clean was GLORIOUS. Andy Timmons is known as a Stiletto user, but keep in mind he's using a boost out front and, I suspect, for a lot of his gain on that amp.

Second... Rectos actually cover a tremendous amount of ground. They're a little unintuitive to dial in, particularly the Modern mode, but essentially you want to run the bass very low, not oversaturate them, and keep the mids higher than you would on something Marshall-esq.

For perspective, both of these leads were recorded on Ch. 3 Vintage of my Roadster (which, as a 4-channel amp, is like Ch 2 on a Dual or Triple).


The second was obviously lower gain than the first, maybe 11-12 o'clock, and with singlecoils.
 

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Thanks for the replies.

I am currently using a 1X12 cab with a vintage 30, pretty much the only speaker I have really liked. I have tried 60watt, 75watt celestions as well as eminence and a few other brands, but I always come back to the V30's.
Get a made in england Celestion vintage 30 and test all the amps again. The china made celestion, whatever lie celestion says, they sound harsh and inferior to the 90's celestion (made in england), the made in england sound fat and musicals. I recomend you that as a stating point because the speakers are your vocal cords.

For a lead tone, IMHO, a Mesa Boogie dual rectifier, and if your not happy with that, get a pedal to make it even better.

Cheers
 

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Huge Mesa fan here, so a couple comments.

First, I wouldn't characterize the Stiletto as "spongy" - the Marks and the Lonestar, sure, but the Stiletto responded a lot like a Recto, but brighter and revoiced for EL34s. I didn't love the gain channel - I prefer the darker, smoother mesa tone - but the clean was GLORIOUS. Andy Timmons is known as a Stiletto user, but keep in mind he's using a boost out front and, I suspect, for a lot of his gain on that amp.

Second... Rectos actually cover a tremendous amount of ground. They're a little unintuitive to dial in, particularly the Modern mode, but essentially you want to run the bass very low, not oversaturate them, and keep the mids higher than you would on something Marshall-esq.

For perspective, both of these leads were recorded on Ch. 3 Vintage of my Roadster (which, as a 4-channel amp, is like Ch 2 on a Dual or Triple).


The second was obviously lower gain than the first, maybe 11-12 o'clock, and with singlecoils.
Out of all the rectos i have played and few that i have owned, all of them sounded different. I really really like rectos with el34s. I had a 50 single that i loved, and i sold it before i deployed so i would have extra cash to go home and see my family. I miss it a lot, it was the best recto i have played or owned and that includes a version 1 roadking.

The mini rectos are awesome, and the el84 midrange works well with the grit of the recto tone.

I owned a stiletto ace which was a great amp. It had nice cleans and the distortion was nice, I think i am going to have to replace it with a lonestar though. Neither are very high gain but are a great foundation for overdrive/distortion.

The stiletto deuce and trident are totally different from the ace and it is really a shame that the ace shares the stiletto name. The deuce/trident are BRIGHT. They have a decent amount of gain, but even with the treble all the way down the amp was too bright for me.

The mark series can be a tad mushy, but that is because they tone of the amp is in the treble control. Turn the treble up to 7 or 8 and the pull you bass and mids back quite a bit. The presence control is your high end cut and when kept lower the tone is nice, full and saturated but not mushy. The Mark 5 doesn't sound quite like a 4 or 3. It doesn't seem to cut as well.

I also just changed out my speakers to an eminence private jack and governor paired with a eminence legend 15 in my randall rs125xl cab. The PJ is similar to a celestion green back and the Gov is similar to a vintage 30.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Huge Mesa fan here, so a couple comments.

First, I wouldn't characterize the Stiletto as "spongy" - the Marks and the Lonestar, sure, but the Stiletto responded a lot like a Recto, but brighter and revoiced for EL34s. I didn't love the gain channel - I prefer the darker, smoother mesa tone - but the clean was GLORIOUS. Andy Timmons is known as a Stiletto user, but keep in mind he's using a boost out front and, I suspect, for a lot of his gain on that amp.

Second... Rectos actually cover a tremendous amount of ground. They're a little unintuitive to dial in, particularly the Modern mode, but essentially you want to run the bass very low, not oversaturate them, and keep the mids higher than you would on something Marshall-esq.

For perspective, both of these leads were recorded on Ch. 3 Vintage of my Roadster (which, as a 4-channel amp, is like Ch 2 on a Dual or Triple).


The second was obviously lower gain than the first, maybe 11-12 o'clock, and with singlecoils.
With the Stiletto I am just going of youtube videos, and in 99% of them once you have the gain cranked they don't seem very tight sounding, but I don't think that's the point of the amp.

I noticed with the youtube clips your not using a lot of gain. I agree they cover a ton of ground but I can get that tone pretty easily with the Laney.

I think the common theme though is that most players use a boost in front of an amp to get the tone they are after. I just got a mini tubescreamer last night to try in front of the Laney and it definitely tightens up the tone a lot.

I went to my local music store last night and tried everything they had. JVM410H, Blackstar HT series, H & K tubemiester, but only the H & K was half decent, the Marshall was shocking, the Blackstar was only slightly better.

My only other option now would be a second hand older Boogie like a .22 or IIB, or a store has a second hand Stiletto Trident for $2000 Aud, but where or not that has enough gain I'm not sure, sounds like what I had (Mark V 25) was prob the best of the boogies for an all round amp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Out of all the rectos i have played and few that i have owned, all of them sounded different. I really really like rectos with el34s. I had a 50 single that i loved, and i sold it before i deployed so i would have extra cash to go home and see my family. I miss it a lot, it was the best recto i have played or owned and that includes a version 1 roadking.

The mini rectos are awesome, and the el84 midrange works well with the grit of the recto tone.

I owned a stiletto ace which was a great amp. It had nice cleans and the distortion was nice, I think i am going to have to replace it with a lonestar though. Neither are very high gain but are a great foundation for overdrive/distortion.

The stiletto deuce and trident are totally different from the ace and it is really a shame that the ace shares the stiletto name. The deuce/trident are BRIGHT. They have a decent amount of gain, but even with the treble all the way down the amp was too bright for me.

The mark series can be a tad mushy, but that is because they tone of the amp is in the treble control. Turn the treble up to 7 or 8 and the pull you bass and mids back quite a bit. The presence control is your high end cut and when kept lower the tone is nice, full and saturated but not mushy. The Mark 5 doesn't sound quite like a 4 or 3. It doesn't seem to cut as well.

I also just changed out my speakers to an eminence private jack and governor paired with a eminence legend 15 in my randall rs125xl cab. The PJ is similar to a celestion green back and the Gov is similar to a vintage 30.
I had a mini rec and it was my least favourite boogie, I thought it might of been the speaker cab I had at the time as it was very "harsh" sounding. I actually hooked it up to the 1X12 in my Hot Rod Deluxe I had at the time as it had a sweet sounding older speaker (v30) but it was exactly the same. It did do metal pretty well but even with the vintage tone was to trebly, and if I wound back the treble/presence the amp didn't sound that good.

I have found that with every amp I have mentioned I have basically used an eq of some sort (via T.C G Major) to cut the very high hiss from the amps so I can run the treble a bit higher. I found especially with the mark series to try and get an open sounding amp while not been very brittle needed this. But even so I found the Mark V mushy at times. But I think that's the Boogie tone. All the clips I see of Lonestar/Stiletto/Mark V etc etc all have the same sort of tone, unless you run a boost in front of it.

I could be way way of as it was over 10 years ago but I do remember when I was younger trying out an F30 head and absolutely loving it. I got the nicest lead tone, was still tight and rounded for chunky rhythm, kinda like the EVH brown sound. But to this day I haven't seen one of those heads for sale, always see the F50 or F100 though.
 

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With the Stiletto I am just going of youtube videos, and in 99% of them once you have the gain cranked they don't seem very tight sounding, but I don't think that's the point of the amp.

I noticed with the youtube clips your not using a lot of gain. I agree they cover a ton of ground but I can get that tone pretty easily with the Laney.

I think the common theme though is that most players use a boost in front of an amp to get the tone they are after. I just got a mini tubescreamer last night to try in front of the Laney and it definitely tightens up the tone a lot.

I went to my local music store last night and tried everything they had. JVM410H, Blackstar HT series, H & K tubemiester, but only the H & K was half decent, the Marshall was shocking, the Blackstar was only slightly better.

My only other option now would be a second hand older Boogie like a .22 or IIB, or a store has a second hand Stiletto Trident for $2000 Aud, but where or not that has enough gain I'm not sure, sounds like what I had (Mark V 25) was prob the best of the boogies for an all round amp.
Well, yeah, that's sort of standard operating procedure for MOST mesas - you don't want the gain anywhere NEAR fully cranked. I think the lead settings for "Red Skies" were gain in the 1-2 o'clock range, while "Letting Go" was more like 11 o'clock. Similarly for rhythms, 2 o'clock or so was probably what I was doing on heavy rhythm tones, and that's probably a good range to start in. I have the exact settings written down in a notebook at home, but I'm at work...

If you've been playing a Rectifier with the gain cranked, then yeah, I WOULD expect it to sound fuzzy and mushy. The two most critical knobs on the gain channel of a Recto (and really most Mesas) are the gain knob and the bass knob, when it comes to overall tone shaping. For leads, the gain you're probab;y going to want between 10-2 o'clock depending on what you're after, and the bass knob at or near the bottom of its throw. They don't respond at all like other amps. Give it a shot.

EDIT - also... stating the obvious, perhaps, but I don't know your level of experience with this stuff... I wouldn't expect ANY amp to sound like your favorite recording of a guitar tone, live in the room. You could have the same player and the same guitar and the same room and the same settings, and what you'd hear standing next to the guy isn't going to be all that close to what you hear on the record. That isn't due to "studio trickery" or anything like that, so much as it is due to the fact that 1.) the mic, positioned right up in front of the speaker and right on the cab, is going to hear a VERY different sound than you will from maybe ten feet back and about six feet off the floor, and two, virtually all rhythm tones are double tracked, which makes them sound bigger and more "expansive" than a single track of guitar on its own, due to the natural slight irregularities between the two tracks.

Normally I wouldn't even mention this, but you've owned or played a number of killer amps, and hated them all - I'd say based on what you're looking for the Mark-IV mode of the MArk-V 25 for leads and the Extreme or IIC+ modes for rhythms should get you close. Then again, IIC+ can sound incredible for lead as well, as Andy Timmons has shown:


I'm lusting pretty hard for the full Mark V after seeing this. :lol: Timmons' settings are in the description, by the way, if you still own the 25.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, yeah, that's sort of standard operating procedure for MOST mesas - you don't want the gain anywhere NEAR fully cranked. I think the lead settings for "Red Skies" were gain in the 1-2 o'clock range, while "Letting Go" was more like 11 o'clock. Similarly for rhythms, 2 o'clock or so was probably what I was doing on heavy rhythm tones, and that's probably a good range to start in. I have the exact settings written down in a notebook at home, but I'm at work...

If you've been playing a Rectifier with the gain cranked, then yeah, I WOULD expect it to sound fuzzy and mushy. The two most critical knobs on the gain channel of a Recto (and really most Mesas) are the gain knob and the bass knob, when it comes to overall tone shaping. For leads, the gain you're probab;y going to want between 10-2 o'clock depending on what you're after, and the bass knob at or near the bottom of its throw. They don't respond at all like other amps. Give it a shot.

EDIT - also... stating the obvious, perhaps, but I don't know your level of experience with this stuff... I wouldn't expect ANY amp to sound like your favorite recording of a guitar tone, live in the room. You could have the same player and the same guitar and the same room and the same settings, and what you'd hear standing next to the guy isn't going to be all that close to what you hear on the record. That isn't due to "studio trickery" or anything like that, so much as it is due to the fact that 1.) the mic, positioned right up in front of the speaker and right on the cab, is going to hear a VERY different sound than you will from maybe ten feet back and about six feet off the floor, and two, virtually all rhythm tones are double tracked, which makes them sound bigger and more "expansive" than a single track of guitar on its own, due to the natural slight irregularities between the two tracks.

Normally I wouldn't even mention this, but you've owned or played a number of killer amps, and hated them all - I'd say based on what you're looking for the Mark-IV mode of the MArk-V 25 for leads and the Extreme or IIC+ modes for rhythms should get you close. Then again, IIC+ can sound incredible for lead as well, as Andy Timmons has shown:


I'm lusting pretty hard for the full Mark V after seeing this. :lol: Timmons' settings are in the description, by the way, if you still own the 25.
The only thing I will point out with the Timmons vid is he isn't using a ton of gain, which is fine as the tone is nice but for the shreddy/prog type of stuff I play I had to have the mark V on full gain. But bear in mind that I had swapped the stock preamp tubes for a 12ay7 in v1 and 5751 in v2 in the Mesa to try and open the amp up, I do this with most amps to help make the amp more rounded and open, except the Laney which basically doesn't have enough preamp tubes to play with, you lose to much gain swapping from a 12ax7.

With the Mark V I was using the extreme mode for everything as I found the IIC+ mode a bit flat and lacking bass, where as the extreme mode sounded more open and had more bass, sounds completely different to the IIC+.

This is just my opinion, but with the rectifier if you can't use full gain then what's the point? It's meant to be there high gain amp, and if its fizzy at full gain then why bother with it in the first place? This is why I was so disappointed with it, it didn't really do anything that well, it felt like a gimmick amp when playing it.

I mucked around with the Laney some more last night and it doesn't sound to bad, but it just doesn't have enough gain for lead work without a boost. I spoke to a guy at the music store and he said the same thing, he told me to look at the 5150III, but of course know one has one in stock :(

I'm meant to be looking at an old school Mesa tonight, a studio .22. I know its a step backwards but maybe it will give me that tight crunch tone that I can just boost if a tube screamer. Going by what people say and vids I have seen the old Mesa's seem to be the Bee' s Knees. Short of blowing my budget completely on a IIC+ or even a second hand Mark V there isn't many amps left to try :)
 

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This is just my opinion, but with the rectifier if you can't use full gain then what's the point? It's meant to be there high gain amp, and if its fizzy at full gain then why bother with it in the first place? This is why I was so disappointed with it, it didn't really do anything that well, it felt like a gimmick amp when playing it.
Admittedly the amp world has changed a bit since the early 90s when the Rectifier was first introduced, but it IS a high gain amp. It just happens to be one that sounds best, by a long shot, when the gain isn't cranked up and when you use a heavier pick attack to push it a bit more - it's an incredibly tough-sensitive front end.

Though, if you're complaining about the gain in a Mark after swapping in low gain preamp tubes, maybe go back to the originals. ;) That said - if a Recto with the gain at 2-3 o'clock sounds too clean for you, you want a 5150.

Though, my point still stands - I think you're confusing what a recorded tone sounds like with what a live-in-the-room tone sounds like, given the number and range of amps you've played and not liked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Admittedly the amp world has changed a bit since the early 90s when the Rectifier was first introduced, but it IS a high gain amp. It just happens to be one that sounds best, by a long shot, when the gain isn't cranked up and when you use a heavier pick attack to push it a bit more - it's an incredibly tough-sensitive front end.

Though, if you're complaining about the gain in a Mark after swapping in low gain preamp tubes, maybe go back to the originals. ;) That said - if a Recto with the gain at 2-3 o'clock sounds too clean for you, you want a 5150.

Though, my point still stands - I think you're confusing what a recorded tone sounds like with what a live-in-the-room tone sounds like, given the number and range of amps you've played and not liked.
The issue with the Mark V 25 was never gain but just the tone, was how I would put, very "fluffy". It had the gain, would do good chunky saturated crunch tones but that was about it. It was a great amp but for the money I sold it for I could buy 3 different amps if I wanted, that's why I sold it, just counldn't justify so much money in an amp that wasn't what I wanted.

Changing the tubes was only to try an make the mark V sound less fuzzy/fluffy, wasn't a gain thing at all. The Laney doesn't have enough gain, but it only has 3 12ax7 pre amp tubes, where as the boogie had 5 and I think the 5150III has 7.

I think maybe I am trying to get to much from one amp, but I guess when your paying soooo much for the Mesa stuff you kinda expect it to do a lot.

I'm looking into the 5150's but all the reviews are mostly full metal reviews, so I really just have to try and find one and try it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hell, give me an example of a tone you DO like.
John Petrucci's tone from the Awake period. Super clear and defined sound. My Mark V 25 100% didn't sound like that on the IIC+ mode. But I am assuming that Petrucci was using a IIC+ only, where as he could of been using the triaxis or something for leads.

Basically just want a nice un-fuzzy distortion sound. Cross between marshall roundness and boogie saturated gain I guess. Whether that exists in an amp I have no idea.

I thought maybe the Marshall JVM series would be it but they sounded like ass when I tried the 410 and 210 heads, they sounded really good in some youtube reviews.

I thought of ENGL amps or more specifically the ENGL Morse model but there just way way to expensive to even consider.
 

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You might like the egnater renegade 65 or tweaker 88. The 65 has a smooth marshall-ish style gain that is full and warm without too much high end. The 88 is variable wealth of tone with the depth and fullness of the kt88s.

You sound like you want something running 6l6s or kt 66 or 88.

The peavey 5150 6505 line can be harsh in the mids and high end. Great for metal but hard to dial back to a smoother lead tone. The EVH 5153s are a little more responsive and can be pulled back a little better.

It may sound a little cliche but you might consider a legacy 3. They have a little more gain than the previous versions but still offer big full rounded tone.

Another suggestion would be a lone star with an xotic bb pre thrown in front of I for an Andy Timmons style tone.
 

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John Petrucci's tone from the Awake period. Super clear and defined sound. My Mark V 25 100% didn't sound like that on the IIC+ mode. But I am assuming that Petrucci was using a IIC+ only, where as he could of been using the triaxis or something for leads.

Basically just want a nice un-fuzzy distortion sound. Cross between marshall roundness and boogie saturated gain I guess. Whether that exists in an amp I have no idea.

I thought maybe the Marshall JVM series would be it but they sounded like ass when I tried the 410 and 210 heads, they sounded really good in some youtube reviews.

I thought of ENGL amps or more specifically the ENGL Morse model but there just way way to expensive to even consider.
Awake was a IIC+ layered with a Recto for rhythms, and I believe either a IIC+ or a IV for leads. You should absolutely be able to get in the right ballpark with the Mark-V 25, either just leaning on the IIC+ or layering two tracks of the IIC+ against two tracks of the more Recto-like Extreme.

Again, I think you may be confused the "recorded" tone of an amp for what it sounds like live in the room.

This is Petrucci putting it through it's paces for a more contemporary Dream Theater tone, but it clearly gets there (and, honestly, isn't THAT far removed from heavier stuff like "The Mirror"):


(this is the 100, but there've been enough 100/25 comparisons to convince me they sound damned close to each other, though to be fair I haven't gotten to sit down with a 25 yet)

When you owned any of these amps, did you try throwing a SM57 in front of the cab and dialing with position until it sounded good, and then recording and double-tracking the tone?
 
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