Official Axe-Fx Q&A thread!

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by JohnIce, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Spicypickles

    Spicypickles Sweeps & Mops

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    Looking into an Axe8 or an Axe-II. Is the dual amp thing worth the extra scratch? Most everything else I won’t use much, but the dual amp intrigues me. This will be my first high end audio purchase in a long while
     
  2. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Dual amps can be fun, but if you’re running a mono setup it’s more work than it’s worth and you’ll almost always have phase issues.

    If you’re going stereo and have two separate cabs (FRFR or guitar cabs) then it’s more useful. Though I’ve never really felt like it was that important, I could live without it.

    Could be useful for scenes, since each amp has an X state and Y state (which can be switched with scenes) and you can toggle blocks on/off with scenes. So you can have up to 4 amps in one patch if you were so inclined. And maybe even more if you also had some scenes that were blending them.

    All that being said, 99% of my patches are single-amp.

    The biggest difference between axe FX ii and AX8 would be, at this point, the firmware. The axe FX ii recently got some or all of the amp modelling improvements from the axe FX iii ported over to it (Ares firmware) where the AX8 is still on ‘quantum 10’ firmware. Obviously plenty of people were happy with Q10 on the axe FX ii, and plenty of people are fine with how the AX8 sounds now, but personally I think this last (and final) update to the axe ii really improved the amp models a lot.

    Previously I went back and fourth on whether I preferred my axe FX ii or my tube amps, probably leaning toward the tube amps since I always tweaked less on them, but since the Ares 1 update, I kinda prefer the axe FX. A lot of amp models (particularly the Recto models) sound a lot better.

    But it does depend on the models you’re using. Some people on the axe FX forum preferred Q10, I think some of the Vox style amps were a source of contention.

    Unknown if the AX8 will eventually get the Ares port, cliff has been silent. Granted they’re probably really busy with the new units and controllers they’re making.

    All that being said, if I were new to the fractal ecosystem I would just wait for the FM3 to be released and get that. $1,000, so probably the same price or only a bit more than a used II or AX8 (not sure what the prices look like right now) and seems pretty capable. There’s an information overload on the fractal forum right now, but as far as cpu power, it seemed to do well, one of the techs posted a pic of the most complicated patch he could make (up to like 90% cpu or something) and it was pretty giant.
     
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  3. LeviathanKiller

    LeviathanKiller Knee-shooting Archer

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    I used dual amps a lot towards the end of my time with the Axe-Fx II. It made for really nice thick and filthy tones. Those presets didn't translate at all to the III though. Now I can get the thick and filthy stuff with just one amp. I could have probably tweaked stuff more and gotten it out of one amp on the Axe-Fx II as well but it was much easier to blend imo.

    TL;DR You can probably get what you want with just one amp block.
     
  4. Spicypickles

    Spicypickles Sweeps & Mops

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    Well now, what the hell is the FM3? The thing that appealed to me most was the ax8 being a floor unit, even though the likelihood of playing live is slim to none. I still like being able to swap patches and jam along to songs and I tend to write that way also, cleans into drive etc. I don’t want to have to turn a knob with my hand, and getting the floor controller would be an added expense.

    All I’m really looking to do is record some stuff, I’ve been talking abut it forever, I need to just do it
     
  5. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    New smaller floor unit, based on the new generation (axe FX iii firmware/models)

    8E971F0F-C3EA-4FD8-97B5-12A67B34C5EF.jpeg

    Announced, but not sure when they ship.

    For what it’s worth, the AX8 doesn’t have a built in interface, so you’ll need a separate interface to record. The FM3 does have a built in interface though.
     
  6. Spicypickles

    Spicypickles Sweeps & Mops

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    Is it a definite improvement over the Ax8? I have an interface so that’s not a problem.

    It looks like it will probably only have capacity for a very small amount of processing and be cheaper, based on a quick and dirty glance.
     
  7. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    From memory it has a bit more power than the AX8, but also has a separate processor for the display which frees up some DSP. One of the tech guys explained it on the fractal forum.

    He also posted a pic of this nonsense preset to show how much stuff you can fit in a preset (cpu meters at the top)

    F10609B9-8C19-4285-9564-A47F5A623D10.jpeg

    Someone did the same in their axe FX iii and it was at like 50% cpu usage.

    Seems capable to me.

    Sound-wise it should be the same as the axe FX iii. AX8 is sound-wise the same as the axe FX ii, though without the most recent axe FX ii firmware update as I mentioned earlier.

    Less footswitches, but I personally like the modular approach, since you can add on pretty much any 3rd party midi controller to add more footswitches. You can even just get a one button or two button latching footswitch and plug them into the ‘pedal’ jacks on the back, adding up to 4 switches (which are fully programmable the same as the three on the unit, according to fractal).

    Is it a step up, I guess it depends what you want to do. I think it’s probably a step up in sound and modelling quality, like the III was a step up from the II.
     
  8. Spicypickles

    Spicypickles Sweeps & Mops

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    Well color me misinformed.

    This looks promising, I just want enough buttons to swap from one patch to another, and turn on and off specific effects. Guess it’s gonna be a long wait for me
     
  9. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    This has been my feeling of how it's been. If tomorrow Fractal literally did nothing except change the name of the firmware from Ares to something else (insert empowering name here, like Zues or Athena or something) and then just boosted everything 1db, there would be all kinds of hype about it because of the placebo effect alone.

    I love that Fractal does so much work on this but at some point the costs on this tech will come down dramatically, which is great, meaning that the sound and capabilities in less expensive units will be on par to this. Same goes for Helix and Kemper. That's just computer tech. At the end of the day this is a software product with a hardware platform, and the hardware is extremely over priced. It's the R&D from years ago that everyone is still paying for. If you had the Ares software in Standalone or plugin format for $200, like Bias or Reaxis or something like that, You would never buy a 1 or 2gb computer hardware for $2000 with a 1 year warranty to run it on.

    I look forward to the future of all this kinda stuff and hope to one day be able to replace my entire rig with something like an Axe3 etc. , but with all the stuff I've been hearing, I hear this noise I can't unhear now. I never heard it, then did hear it one day. It sounds like air rushing out of a tire. It's on everything I hear now AxeII, GSP 1101, Helix, Kemper. I've went back and watched a bunch of demos and clips etc again and I now hear it, whereas I didn't before. I can't tell the difference when it's in a mix, which is great. When it's only the guitar I can hear it, if I listen for it. It's a really tight, plucky attack, with an airy smooth brittle high end and there is an anemic sense of energy in it. It's really strange. I haven't heard it for years of looking at this stuff but now I do. It's not a Youtube compression thing or something because only these modeler units seem to give that sound. Other vids and clips do not. I watched that guy that goes through every preset and it was on almost all of the sounds. Clean, dirty, heavy etc. I cna't hear it 100% of the time, but it's a lot. What I need to do is get my hands on one and really test it out over the course of a year or so.

    I have a question for people that own the AxeFx III AxeII that know tube amps well and active and passive pickups. How is the feel of the unit compared to a tube amp and to a solid state amp. Does that impedance matching circuit help at all? Is it real feeling at all? Is it like a solid state fee? I really want to like these units but my checklist is still pretty empty so far compared to my full rig. Any input is appreciated.
     
  10. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    What makes you think you're only paying for the hardware ? You're paying for the hardware and the ability to run Fractal Audio's program, with a good 5-7 years of updates during the product life cycle. The reason why there isn't a Fractal VST would lend credence to the fact that what's really valuable is the software part.

    Now the foot controllers *are* overpriced but eh, I never bought them. It's not like you have to.
     
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  11. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Nah, I don't think that it's only the hardware people are paying for. Like I said in my post. It's the R&D. It's worth the money if it meets your needs for sure. The only thing I really don't like about any of the Fractal stuff, or almost any other product for that matter, is the warranty. For this money it should come with at least a 5 year warranty, imo. I'm not questioning the reliability, but I think the peace of mind should automatically be there. One year with a 3 year optional upcharge is not cool. Tube amps in the same price range like Mesa, Marshall etc, and even inexpensive Boss pedals all come with a 5 year warranty. The Amps are delicate and have tubes etc in them and circuit board constructions and more parts to break, and The Boss are being stepped on. I understand they have a good reliability record so why not just offer it up with the cost?

    Regarding the midi foot pedals. High priced midi pedals are normal for any high functioning midi device. I would like to see more unique midi editors on the AxeIII but it will never happen though very possible because it would destroy their midi pedal product line. Midi is midi. It's almost never changed in the last 36 years. It is literally still on version 1.0 Midi is an example of things being done the right way and being made future proof. there is finally an initiative to make Midi 2.0 for certain things. I love midi. All Fractal would need to do is make a midi mapping editor in the AxeFxIII that allways you to map any message to any other message or parameter in mass. This would make it so you could turn any simple midi controller into a very complex controller, but then everyone would just use a basic Controller and have all the power they want. I wish it was an option and then only if you wanted the controller with the scribble strips etc would you need to buy something more robust for advanced functions. Long live midi.
     

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  12. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I think this last Ares update is pretty good, it was a high note to go out on with the axe FX ii.

    For what it’s worth, Cliff in one of the axe FX iii firmware update threads (firmware 4 or 5? Whichever one included the cathode follower improvements which were ported to the ii), mentioned how he finally ‘cracked the code’ on cathode followers and at this point he can’t really tell the difference between his real amps and the modeled counterparts.

    Someone brought up how he had said the same thing about the II way back when, and even about the Ultra I think (including links). He addressed this by saying that at the time he thought he was ‘pretty much there’ but over time he started to hear and feel the differences (which I get, and experience myself as I get accustomed to a new piece of gear - it takes a while to get used to it and really hear all the nuances).

    He also stated that while he feels like he’s ‘pretty much there’ now, he has no doubt that in time he’ll start to hear differences as he gets accustomed to the new firmware, and start chasing those differences.

    I can accept that clarification, though I can’t speak for everyone. Maybe it’s just marketing, but it seemed sincere to me.

    I would dig up the posts but I’m on my phone and those axe FX iii firmware update posts end up like 50 pages long.

    The problem with hype really stems from the forum I think. Too many people take cliff’s word as gospel and if he said he couldn’t tell a difference then you’re wrong if you could. And if you have an idea, doesn’t matter what it is, it’s not a good idea because fractal didn’t think of it first. There’s just something about product forums I guess, it brings out the fanatic in people.


    I guess whether you like the newest update will also depend on the amp models you use, as it doesn’t effect everything equally. From memory, some people think the Vox amps now have too much gain.

    I’m really a Recto guy at the end of the day and I have always struggled with the models. However after Ares I have no problem at all dialing them in, and I can get them to sound like my real Recto pretty easily.

    The ‘drive pedal’ modelling was updated in the iii but that was not ported to the ii. I’ve alwats kinda thought the drive pedal modelling was inadequate (you can say that on the axe FX forum now but not before the iii got an update), so I have always had a pedalboard with a few select boosts that I run into the input.

    The drive models are usable and can be tweaked to sound good, but sometimes it’s like, what’s the point, when I can just click on a ts9 and it sounds right without tweaking.

    I think the iii also has improved ad/da converters but I forget.


    So my final opinion is that I think it sounds ‘real’ right now, but who knows, my feelings may change. This is the longest amount of time I’ve used a single preset without going in and tweaking, or getting tired of the feeling or sound. I would like to upgrade to a III at some point but not for a while, maybe once prices come down a bit or something.
     
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  13. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    That's good to hear! I'm not really concerned if the models sound exactly like the actual amps or not. I know they are really close and I can't really tell when in the mix. MY main concern is the feel and finding something I really dig enough where I can not care about wanting to play my actual amp. I would likely use it as a preamp anyways and still go to my actual tube amp and use the IR's and cabs for recording ,and of course use it as an effects processor too. I can't wait to try it out someday. I've tired the Ultra and the AxeIIxL for a really shorttime period (like an hour on the Ultra and like 5-10min on the II) and I was already really impressed by it and could see the potential, but the feel was a bit solid state feeling to me. Once I can get my hands on a III I will put it through the paces and know for sure. Being I'm a guy who only really uses a clean, gritty, crunchy and heavy tone and a couple effects it's mainly to just have a compact rig with less potential for problems.

    I have no doubts Cliff is really working his butt off on it and it's refreshing to know there is a company that does what he does. It will probably work out for me but it will take a good year to let go of my actual rig, because of the noticing things over time like you were talking about. These are exciting times and as guitarists we have been spoiled.

    I'm also excited to use it as a studio processor as well like someone was talking about on here. Just for tools like the looper and RTA compressors, EQ's etc it looks great and even having it for bass will be nice too. It will be awhile before I get the chance but it will be nice to finally check it out once I do. By then it will probably be even more improved. The second I don't hear that weird high end thing I'm hearing and the feel and amp interaction is there, I'm probably sold on it and be convert/fanboy.
     
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  14. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    For me, I think the biggest change in Ares was to the low end. It seems like he finally started addressing that the low end did not react like a tube poweramp and speakers. That was always the thing that stood out to me. You could dial in a bunch of low end with EQs, but there was still some reactive feel thing that still wasn't there that makes palm mutes chug and shake the room. I think the final Ares update on the II improved this dramatically, which is probably why mnemonic finally started liking the Recto models.
     
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  15. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Hi, I'm curious how the AxeFx II or III handle preset and scene switching in regards to dropouts and noise like pops, clicks delays silence etc. As far as I can tell by videos on editing, it will have a slight drop or hiccup when switching presets and a very slight but workable one when switching scenes. It also seems that this can vary greatly depending on what is being switched from /too. What is everyones thoughts about this regarding making it work seemlessly with no pauses, clicks, or dropout when playing a song that requires more extensive or drastic changes?
     
  16. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Yeah its BS. Its the main weakness of the units.

    On my ax8 i had a rhythm tone and solo tone and that was it for the whole set.
    Initially i was using one type of amp for rhythm tone and something else for lead.

    Caused some huge and noticeable volume drop out swell thing between switching. Was terrible.
    So THEN i changed both to being XY Scenes instead....and it STILL happened. Granted not quite as bad but it was there.

    So to make sure it doesnt happen, i had to make sure what amp i was using was the same for both patches. That seems to be the only way to ensure you get truly seamless.

    And thats ridiculous. Alllllll these sweet amp models in the unit and im stuck using just 1 live to make sure i get seamless switching?
     
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  17. LeviathanKiller

    LeviathanKiller Knee-shooting Archer

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    Axe-Fx III is near seamless now I think or is seamless? not sure exactly but I do know it's much less of an issue than it was on the II and AX8
     
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  18. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Good to know about the switching stuff guys. It seems you can try to time it or something, but I'm starting to find the quirks of the unit out now before I buy it or anything. Other stuff that's a potential concern was that the impedance match thing is only on one input which probably isn'ta huge deal, but all the little things can add up to the difference of using it how you want live or just as a studio tool etc. After trying all my IR experiments, I'm also not a fan of IR's at this point, so though I'm still interested to see where all this technology goes, I don't think it's for me quite yet. Maybe with more software updates/ improvements , or more knowledge and experience from myself it will eventually happen.
     
  19. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    I was bored the other day, so I was messing with my Axe-FX II in terms of tweaking my master preset. I decided to remove the X/Y switching, and put additional blocks and bypassed them with scenes instead (used a second block for a clean amp, etc....). I always had a dropout when switching scenes with my Behringer FCB1010.

    Anyways, getting rid of all the X/Y and putting more blocks to switch between resulted in about the same dropout. I don't know where this came from, but I decided to mess with my input gate settings. I turned the threshold all the way down (off), and barely raised it until the background hiss stopped. It is barely on, like -80db or something. I found that after this I no longer had the dropout! My scene changes were continuous. I kind of want to put the X/Y back to see what happens!

    I think the input gate had too high a threshold, which is what I was hearing as the gate chopped on/off between sounds. Lowing the threshold helped, and maybe using a Gate block instead might be even better. I didn't try it, but you never know. Might be worth messing with if you are getting dropouts between scenes.
     
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  20. PuriPuriPrisoner

    PuriPuriPrisoner SS.org Regular

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    Is there a big difference in the amp simulation quality between the ii xl+ and the iii? I don't really use effects other than a noise gate and boost so I don't know if the extra processing power is worth it. I can get the xl+ for $1200 locally but I kinda want a iii but I'd end up spending $800 more for one used.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019

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