Axe FX III Review - Part one, First impressions

Andromalia

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You don't like videos, good, I didn't make one. Old school text here. :D Just some early feedback about my axe III I received from G66 yesterday.

-Packing:
Double boxed, unit made it in one piece. Gone are the chocolates but you get a Tshirt and a sticker, maybe they decided that shipping chocolates in August wasn't the best thing ever.

The only thing missing is an USB cable. No big deal but given the price point I expected they'd put one in. I have dozens but if you don't, you'll need one.

-Installation
Was pretty easy. The axe is 3U, I then downloaded the USB drivers and axe edit beta from the fractal site, everything worked and was recognised at first try. Picked up my flying V and went on exploring the presets.

-Presets: nothing really extraordinary there, you still have the "FX showoff" effects and a the same themed presets we had in the 2. The "high gain" presets for the most parts have too much bass and seem to have been dialed in by a rock guy. Best one is likely the "Angel Severe" which is the Engl Invader I think. Most recto presets need work.

-My first home preset:

Like I do most of the time I get new stuff, I started with a simple preset, amp+cab, emulating the sound of a little know band in an obscure album: a mesa C++ with a greenback-loaded cabinet *cough*
I didn't use the unit screen, which is very legible and bright, I used the new axe edit and noticed a few things:
-You can use whatever block you want as input and output. It will allow for more flexibility in complex setups
-The noise gate default behaviour is excellent and much better than the one on the II.

The main sound difference with the II is that the highs are more chimey and real than before. you can push the highs (within reason) and get highs that are highs and not an ice pick attack on your ears.
This was also likely due to the new stock cabs: they are labeled sensically, with their speaker and microphone used, and finding one was way easier than it was when I got the II back when it was released. I didn't have the time to check all of them (there's a TON) but I feel there is a definite chance I won't need extra ones this time.
I was able to get where I wanted in 5 minutes. Without tonematching or anything. I'm feeling like I hear what that obscure dude played in the studio (He has an english king first name, was that Henry ?) before it got edited and mixed.
The cabs have a microphone distance button, which is really practical in achieving modern and vintage tones and has a dramatic effect (much more than just adding reverb) While the modern guys want it to sound like you stuck your ear to the cab, some like a more "airy" mix and this is for them. Think Number of the Beast vs Vulgar Display of Power.

And about that difference, it IS perfectly audible. I didn't really believe the II needed much more in terms of sound definition, oh boy was I wrong.

That said, I'd still put the axe III in the "luxury" segment now, like an AP Royal Oak (I accept donations) or a supercar. The axe II is perfectly serviceable and does an excellent job already. It's not like the axe III extras are *needed* to fix an unperfect predecessor.
The difference will likely become more evident when I plug that thing into reaper and see what it allows me to do in terms of recording and reamping. The routing options seems pretty insane. And I haven't read the manual yet.

To be followed... in a few weeks, because when I was born, I was cursed with 24 hours days only.
 

Turgon

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I agree with you on most points. Got my Axe 3 a couple days and fiddles with it. I bought it mostly for recording purposes, the Axe 2 will stay my live & practice unit. I think it's very easy to dial in a good sound. The knob even give you an ampish feel. I like the routing possibilities. You can decide if you route f.e. different cabs to different outputs and mix in your DAW or mix directly in the Axe. Speaking of cabs, I'm totally blown away by the sheer amount of cabs. In the axe 2, I liked maybe 3 or 4 stock cabs, but here I'm in no need for custom IRs. That's a big big plus.

I am not using Axe Edit at the moment, but the control panel works just fine. Cliff really thought this through! Only complain I have are the volume differences in the amp models, but after comparing and tweaking it's no big deal anymore.
 

Jzbass25

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Thinking about making the axe 3 a bday gift to myself, haha. I basically just play at home so it would be perfect for keeping my neighbors happy and giving me pretty much all the tones I need.
 

crwnedblasphemy

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I have gotten 3 emails now saying to get mine from fractal. I keep listening to clips online from Leon Todd, and I'm just not sold on the tones. I'm sure it is solid unit and does so so much, but to me it still sounds like a modeler. Believe me, i want to like it...I'm just not on board yet. Still love my EVH combo with a Strymon, so I'm in no hurry.
 

MaxOfMetal

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I have gotten 3 emails now saying to get mine from fractal. I keep listening to clips online from Leon Todd, and I'm just not sold on the tones. I'm sure it is solid unit and does so so much, but to me it still sounds like a modeler. Believe me, i want to like it...I'm just not on board yet. Still love my EVH combo with a Strymon, so I'm in no hurry.

You really have to have the unit in the room through some speakers to really appreciate it.

Clips online did nothing for me, I had to experience it first hand.

I had played big tube amps for the better part of two decades, and when I got my first AxeFx (Standard, around 09'/10') it absolutely blew me away. But online clips are boring and don't really do justice to the unit.

If you're still unsure, pick up an older, used unit for cheaper, just to experience it.
 


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