Axe Fx II vs VST

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Gunnar, Dec 21, 2018.

  1. Gunnar

    Gunnar SS.org Regular

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    Hello,
    I currently have an Axe FX II. I love it, but I am wondering if there isn't a competitive VST option for much cheaper. I wanted to know if anyone has recommendations. I basically only use my Axe Fx in my small home studio so I feel like I don't need the portability of it. I know the Axe Fx II has depreciated in value since the III came out and I'm afraid the future will lead to more and more depreciation. Does anyone have experience with switching from an Axe Fx to a VST solution?

    I just want to hear your opinions on this front. Thanks!
     
  2. steinmetzify

    steinmetzify CHUG & SLUDGE

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    Did it last year; had an AxeII and wasn’t playing very much. It bugged me having this $1500 box sitting on my desk all week when I really only played a few minutes a day, if that.
    Went to VSTs for about a year or so.

    Really comes down to feel for me....the tones are there, especially concerning Mercuriall and the Fortin stuff, best to my ears.

    It’s not really a fair comparison, you’re going from a dedicated $2000 piece of hardware to a $100 plugin, in this case you kind of get what you pay for...

    All of them have free trials, DL some and see what you think.
     
  3. Genome

    Genome SS.org Regular

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    The only one that holds a candle for me is Reaxis, which I think is better than the Axe-FX's Triaxis models. For everything else I've tried, the Axe-FX is pretty much the winner.
     
  4. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Just keep the axe fx. So you dont use it too much, it doesnt matter. You own it. Use it as needed.
     
  5. Bentaycanada

    Bentaycanada SS.org Regular

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    Is there a VST option that will replace your Axe Fx? No.

    Although, it depends on what you’re looking for. There are lots of great vst amps out there, like Mercuriall, Thermionik, Neural DSP.....

    Might be worth a look, but they won’t “replace” an massive digital unit.
     
  6. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

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    do you have an interface other than the axe to use to try out plugins? i say try out demos of vst's (with the interface, since you wont have the axe after you sell it) while you have the axe to make your decision. all the recommendations here are good as well as helix native, TH3 (my favorite), amplitube 4... there are so many and most are on par with the axe in my opinion. easy to try them back to back with your rig to see if it'll work for you
     
  7. NeubyWanKaneuby

    NeubyWanKaneuby SS.org Regular

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    I have Amplitube 4 with the Fender, Mesa, and Orange amp packs. I honestly prefer my Axe over them, even though those packs are actually sponsored by the actual companies.
     
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  8. tender_insanity

    tender_insanity SS.org Regular

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    Buy a few UAD plugins and some eventide stuff and some EQ's on the higher price range and you will find the Axe quite cheap in the long run =)

    Then again as you said, not a fair comparison. Wonder how much would cost a Mercuriall all-in-one-dedicated-hardware? Of course a hardware is always a lot more $$$ for
    production ain't cheap. And if you want cheaper production, they head up to manufacturing in China/Indonesia and all of sudden a good product becomes crap among cork sniffers :D
     
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  9. WarMachine

    WarMachine SS.org Regular

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    I agree with the majority dude. You've got the swiss army knife of digital preamps, when it comes to the plugins, there's really not much else to add that hasn't already been mentioned. To throw a few more; TSE X50, BIAS FX (don't really get why there's so much hate on this, i think it sounds great), and on the free side with a few tweaks the Emissary sounds awesome! Also if you can dig in with it a little bit Peavey Revalver 4 can sound pretty nasty as well.
     
  10. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    The feel is what always bugs me also. That and it is just not a good flow to have to plug in a laptop, open up a DAW, etc... just to play. It kills my inspiration for some reason. I find many plugins can sound good, but just feel flat and boring to play.

    I am in the same situation though. My Axe sits more than I play it. It has always kind of bugged me also.... funny enough, in some ways I kind of like that is it losing value... I feel less and less bad about not using it 100%. At this point I might as well keep it...... I still like switching between it, and an amp/pedals rig also. Gotta switch it up. :)
     
  11. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    Really important things when using VST’s, particularly if you’re auditioning vs a physical unit are:
    - low latency, so make sure if you’re just jamming with a plugin you’re doing so in the most process-light way. Close programs in your computer and use the lowest buffer and highest sample rate you can without clicks and pops. More processing means more latency. Your audio interface makes a huge difference to this too.
    - a good interface! One of the things that makes guitars feel weird when plugged into computers is a lot of the time the thing you’re plugging into won’t ‘show’ your guitar the right impedance. Impedance loads your pickups (unless they’re active) and this literally changes the sonic characteristics. Too low an impedance and you lose all your high end, very high impedance and you’ll have ice pick highs that make you want to pull your ears off. You can get around this either by using a good quality audio interface (which you could should anyway for the above) or by very simply getting any FX pedal that isn’t true bypass and plugging into that then your interface. Non-true-bypass pedals basically work like DI boxes, and they show your guitar the right impedance to make them sound right, then use a thing called a transimpedance amp to lower the signal impedance (ratio of voltage to current). The output of a non-true-bypass pedal is similar to line level, so it doesn’t matter what you plug into your tone won’t be degraded. Not by the input amp anyway.

    Most of the reasons people try plugins and have a bad time (and usually end up complaining about ‘feel’) are because they’re either experiencing latency or they’re losing a lot of important high-end from their input signal, and the highs are where all the tactile isidiosyncrasies of your playing are hiding.
     
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  12. tender_insanity

    tender_insanity SS.org Regular

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    That's why I use ReValver 4 Standalone as my main host/platform. You can add as many 3rd party plugins in there as you want. I mean, like Mercuriall TS-clone in front with Kuassa Phaser, then into Thermionik JCM800 and into IR loader and post effects like Overloud GEM EQ, Izotope Delay and some nice reverb. And all of this can be stored inside ReValver. Then it's easy to start using them in DAW.

    I think it only as a very powerful and flexible multieffect/preamp processor. Plugins do use the same 0's and 1's. Just in different format. And for an aged processor like Axe or whatever (probably architecture from a decade ago), you will hit the processing limits quite quickly compared to a modern computer with 8700k + 32gb RAM.
     
  13. Jeff

    Jeff Banned from Reality

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    I’ve got the HX Stomp and Helix Native. They work great, and I prefer them to the AxeII.
     
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  14. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    The axe fx II has a main selling point: you already have it. I had one and still tested VSTs here and there for the fun of it, nothing comes really close. Some are really good for one amp, and then... you need the axe II for effects anyway.
     
  15. binz

    binz SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the elaborate answer. What would be a good interface for this purpose? Does a Focusrite Scarlet or Steinberg UR22 MK2 for 100-150€ already do the job? I'm looking to get a stand-alone interface anyway because my POD HD500X and Reaper / my Laptop don't like each other much resulting in Blue Screens.
     
  16. Mo Jiggity

    Mo Jiggity 7-string n00b

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    There is so much wrong with this I don't know where to begin. The DSPs used in Fractal products are purpose-built for low-latency signal processing, whereas x86 processors are orders of magnitude more complicated and built for general-purpose computing, not to mention the architecture of supporting peripherals, memory, buses, etc. It's also possible to optimize algorithms for different architectures using different execution strategies and platform-specific instructions so it's not "the same 0's and 1's" (whatever you actually meant by that). Mentioning RAM is also pointless in this discussion since audio applications not involving sampling aren't memory-bound. Finally, if your assertion were correct, then companies like UAD wouldn't be selling DSP accelerators for running plugins specifically designed for such hardware.

    On topic: if I were you I'd dump the Axe II before it depreciates more (as I did literally days before the announcement of the III) then see how you get on with the VSTs. There are dozens of great options in this space and if you ever need to play out live you can re-purchase the Fractal unit for less or buy a newer, better offering. I started unloading gear that I don't use a few years ago and have regretted selling nothing. No value is being realized if it's sitting in a corner instead of being used.

    **EDIT: And with regard to the "aged processor" comment... it's not like an effects processor is a race horse that gets slower with age. The same algorithms are running on it as when it was released and it works exactly the same as it did a decade ago with the possible exception of noise floor, etc. being ever so slightly affected by component value drift. Drawing a comparison between a purpose-built appliance that receives intermittent updates and has defined inputs and outputs to a general-purpose computer that has to run constantly-updated software with capabilities evolving at a breakneck pace dictated by a massive consumer market consisting of billions of people across the planet is silly. Your 10-year-old laptop being slow has jack shit to do with the value proposition of a decade-old effects processor.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
    laxu, binz and I play music like this.
  17. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    So, full disclosure, I work for a company in the market you’re talking about there so I’ll let others make recommendations, but yes, brands like those and in the price point you mention will do exactly what you need!

    Haha.
     
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