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Thread: I'm not an Axe FX 2 guy

  1. #41
    Member TFC's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update. Too bad it didn't work out for you. The only thing I'd recommend is that if sometime you get a chance to play through or hear someone play through an FRFR rig, or a rig they've spent time dialing in, check it out.

    Now you've got some extra $$$ for that next guitar.

  2. #42
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    I have to echo what Les said earlier in the thread... the technology has potential, and is impressive, though maybe not quite "there" yet for some players... but why try to emulate a tube amp when you can just fire up your tube amp? I mean, obviously it has applications for people that have to deal with volume limitations, etc., but we're in a great era of electric guitar, where tube amps can be had with more variety and at better prices than ever before, and even some of the relatively affordable ones sound pretty dang good. It's a great time to be a player. Not trying to knock the Axe FX users, if you like it and it does what you want, then keep on keepin on!
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  3. #43
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFC View Post
    The only thing I'd recommend is that if sometime you get a chance to play through or hear someone play through an FRFR rig, or a rig they've spent time dialing in, check it out.
    I'd like that.
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  4. #44
    Goatee Practitioner Danerada's Avatar
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    I like this thread. I use a Line 6 HD500 and a Line 6 DT-25 amp because all of the songs we play are covers and it is a decent solution for that. However, if played and didn't have to worry about covering other tones, I would only play through the real deal (the ones I could afford).
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  5. #45
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    Interesting thread. I've been using modelers for several years. I started with a Line 6 XTLive, then to a Boss GT10 and the last year with the Boss GT100. I've also owned Line 6 and Fender amps and for the last couple years have been the proud owner of a 2 Channel H Combo. I've never tried the Axe FX but hope to someday. For me modelers and amps are two separate entities. I've just never been happy using one with the other. I primarily play in church over a great sound system and my GT100 is perfect. As mentioned sound men love it. When we play over other systems indoors or out I get the same response. It's always consistent and requires little tweaking for the venue. All that said, there's nothing I enjoy more than cranking that 2 Ch H with a tight combo in the right setting. A little more work to dial in but ever so worth it. So you can tell I'm firmly planted on both sides of the issue. But for grab and go the modeler just works for me.

  6. #46
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    Hans, you need to think about the single chain from start to finish in a logical manner. You plugged your guitar into the Axe II into the Twin. So let's break that down. First, it's guitar to some number of virtual stomp boxes to a virtual preamp/poweramp and cab probably followed by some combination of reverb/delay/etc. and then into a real preamp/poweramp and speakers. So to extrapolate that into physical devices you plugged into some pedalboard then into some preamp/poweramp that had a line out (or you grabbed the line out from a load box) then into something like a Palmer DI or H&K Redbox then into a digital delay/reverb and finally into your Twin. That'd be a less than ideal physical signal chain so it's not going to be a very good virtual signal chain.

    The Axe II can be used in many ways and configured to do lots of things. You unfortunately chose the least optimal usage of all. Assuming you want to use the amp modeling in the Axe II, here are some very good ways to hook it up:

    Axe II -> FRFR speaker - this is essentially running direct and you would run with power amp and cabinet modeling enabled on the Axe II. This should be a PA power amp into a PA speaker or a powered PA speaker. The sound coming out of a system like this is like listening to a mic'd guitar rig. It does not sound/feel exactly the same as standing next to your tube amp and cab - it's more like playing on a big stage where you're relying on what's coming out of the monitors more than your actual amp rig. This takes some getting used to whether it's modelers or real amps that you're using.

    Axe II -> PA power amp -> guitar cab - in this mode you have power amp modeling enabled but cabinet modeling disabled on the Axe II. This mode works great if you really want the amp in the room feel but you want to have the full amp modeling experience.

    Axe II -> guitar power amp -> guitar cab - in this mode you have power amp and cabinet modeling disabled on the Axe II. In terms of amp modeling, this is basically using the Axe II as a preamp. For the guitar power amp, you can use something like a Boogie 2:90 power amp or the effects return of a good tube amp.

    I've gigged in all of these configurations. The best on stage feel/vibe was running the Axe into a guitar power amp and cab. The best the band sounded was Axe running direct because we could control our on stage sound much better which means you have more control over the FOH mix.

    I gigged with the Ultra then the II for 3-4 years and loved it. I basically had 4 patches - clean, crunch, bunch-a-crunch, and balls out crunch. I spent the majority of the time using the middle two patches. I play with my fingers as much as with a pick and I use the volume control and pickup combinations a lot. The Axe responds to those nuances brilliantly - it never neutered a guitar ever.

    Bottom line: until you've experienced the Axe II (or Kemper or any other modeler) in the right setting you really aren't getting a good idea of what it can do.
    You're never too old for tater tots.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    So I spent about 2 more hours playing with the Axe FX 2 - this time in studio headphones (Sony MDR-7506). While I really enjoyed the stereo effect and the crystal clarity, my 2nd impression is much the same as the 1st. The sounds weren't that different from going straight into the blackface Twin. I don't think people understand how clear that amp really is.

    When it comes to amp modeling, I still prefer the real deal over the Axe FX. But... I had a lot of fun playing with the sounds that were unique to the unit and deliberately synthetic. When the Axe FX 2 wasn't trying to emulate/simulate something real, I liked it a lot. With a few of the amp models I could turn the guitar volume all the way down to 2 or 3 before there was an perceptible difference in tone. Split vs full-bucker tone changed very little but it did extract some of the mud in single-coil mode. I heard a lot of modulation and other artifacts in single notes that were allowed to ring out - usually in the 1st second or two. And most importantly, the pickup seemed to have very little impact on the overall tone. To such a degree, in fact, that I'm not going to bother using the Axe FX 2 for a \m/ pickup tone sample. It's not a clear indication at all. I could get you nearly the same tone from an McCarty Archtop pickup with that unit.

    If the Axe FX 2 had a giant advantage over a tube set-up, it would be the fact that you can take a basic guitar and get a lot of good (but not always accurate) tones. If I were in a cover band and I needed a lot of different tones (especially synth sounds) in a highly mobile package, I'd own one - but I would not use it to replace a real tube amp.
    I hate playing through headphones. I hate listening to real amps through headphones - a good modeler will sound just as small. Go stick your Twin in another room so you can't hear it, mic it, and listen to it through headphones. I'd be surprised if you enjoyed that much.
    You're never too old for tater tots.

  8. #48
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    Bottom line: until you've experienced the Axe II (or Kemper or any other modeler) in the right setting you really aren't getting a good idea of what it can do.
    So listening to the Axe FX 2 with studio headphones isn't a clear indication either?

    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    I hate playing through headphones. I hate listening to real amps through headphones - a good modeler will sound just as small. Go stick your Twin in another room so you can't hear it, mic it, and listen to it through headphones. I'd be surprised if you enjoyed that much.
    Welp... guess I'm back to square one.
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  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    Hans, you need to think about the single chain from start to finish in a logical manner. You plugged your guitar into the Axe II into the Twin. So let's break that down. First, it's guitar to some number of virtual stomp boxes to a virtual preamp/poweramp and cab probably followed by some combination of reverb/delay/etc. and then into a real preamp/poweramp and speakers. So to extrapolate that into physical devices you plugged into some pedalboard then into some preamp/poweramp that had a line out (or you grabbed the line out from a load box) then into something like a Palmer DI or H&K Redbox then into a digital delay/reverb and finally into your Twin. That'd be a less than ideal physical signal chain so it's not going to be a very good virtual signal chain.

    The Axe II can be used in many ways and configured to do lots of things. You unfortunately chose the least optimal usage of all. Assuming you want to use the amp modeling in the Axe II, here are some very good ways to hook it up:

    Axe II -> FRFR speaker - this is essentially running direct and you would run with power amp and cabinet modeling enabled on the Axe II. This should be a PA power amp into a PA speaker or a powered PA speaker. The sound coming out of a system like this is like listening to a mic'd guitar rig. It does not sound/feel exactly the same as standing next to your tube amp and cab - it's more like playing on a big stage where you're relying on what's coming out of the monitors more than your actual amp rig. This takes some getting used to whether it's modelers or real amps that you're using.

    Axe II -> PA power amp -> guitar cab - in this mode you have power amp modeling enabled but cabinet modeling disabled on the Axe II. This mode works great if you really want the amp in the room feel but you want to have the full amp modeling experience.

    Axe II -> guitar power amp -> guitar cab - in this mode you have power amp and cabinet modeling disabled on the Axe II. In terms of amp modeling, this is basically using the Axe II as a preamp. For the guitar power amp, you can use something like a Boogie 2:90 power amp or the effects return of a good tube amp.

    I've gigged in all of these configurations. The best on stage feel/vibe was running the Axe into a guitar power amp and cab. The best the band sounded was Axe running direct because we could control our on stage sound much better which means you have more control over the FOH mix.

    I gigged with the Ultra then the II for 3-4 years and loved it. I basically had 4 patches - clean, crunch, bunch-a-crunch, and balls out crunch. I spent the majority of the time using the middle two patches. I play with my fingers as much as with a pick and I use the volume control and pickup combinations a lot. The Axe responds to those nuances brilliantly - it never neutered a guitar ever.

    Bottom line: until you've experienced the Axe II (or Kemper or any other modeler) in the right setting you really aren't getting a good idea of what it can do.
    +1
    This is what I was saying earlier...only hippietim has said it better
    Its a mindset and to quote Steven Covey....begin with the end in mind.
    Visualize what you want to accomplish and whether or not a modeler is the correct tool...if it is...then you will need to commit the time required to breakdown your own existing paradigms and experiment with it.
    These (Axe/Kemper/11R) are guitar systems vs effects boxes...although they can be used that way to...complete systems.
    Have some fun with them....may still not be for you but....but if you crack the code that would make it work for you....its quite a eureka moment

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    So listening to the Axe FX 2 with studio headphones isn't a clear indication either?
    Do you normally play through headphones?

    You should demo it however you intend to use it. Correct me if I'm wrong but you don't usually demo amps at a store by putting them in an isolation booth so you can mic them and listen with headphones.

    It's like playing the amps at the PRS Experience with those isolation boxes - it's fun to do but it is nothing like playing the amp normally.
    You're never too old for tater tots.

  11. #51
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by studio66 View Post
    Its a mindset and to quote Steven Covey....begin with the end in mind.

    Visualize what you want to accomplish and whether or not a modeler is the correct tool...if it is...then you will need to commit the time required to breakdown your own existing paradigms and experiment with it.
    Respectfully, I grew up with Covey. I am familiar with the his doctrine. I use many of his tools extensively - on a daily basis. I even used his methods as a full-time instructor (for 17 years). Trust me - I don't need to change my paradigm to know if I like what I hear. I just need to make sure that what I hear is indicative of the product's capability.

    I accept Tim's explanation (that I need to hear the Axe FX2 in it's proper configuration) and left my position open-ended.
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  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    Welp... guess I'm back to square one.
    Do you have a nice amp with a good effects loop? I ran my Axe with a Bogner Ecstacy as a power amp and it was glorious. I also used a Bogner Duende and it was brilliant since you can get the good stuff at much lower volumes.

    One other tip, if you're playing at very low volumes with a high power tube amp I actually liked leaving power amp simulations enabled on the Axe because at such low volumes you are getting very little of the good stuff from a tube amp and the power amp sims sweeten things up a bit. IOW, if you're not getting tube saturation/coloration from your tube amp, leave power amp sims on. It's easy to enable/disable them globally so I'd suggest experimenting.
    You're never too old for tater tots.

  13. #53
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    Do you normally play through headphones?
    No. But I was trying to get as close as possible to hearing what the Axe FX 2 was producing. Without some of the things mentioned in this thread, it was the best I could do.

    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    You should demo it however you intend to use it.
    I agree - but this was borrowed for the sake of doing a pickup demo. I don't have an intended use beyond that. The best I could hope for is to set it up the way others use it so they can get a feel for the pups in their rig.

    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong but you don't usually demo amps at a store by putting them in an isolation booth so you can mic them and listen with headphones.
    Of course not.

    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    It's like playing the amps at the PRS Experience with those isolation boxes - it's fun to do but it is nothing like playing the amp normally.
    I conceded to that point in post 49. The headphones were the only way I had to try and get a feel for the output of the unit. The result was not that different from going into the Twin. I doubt the results will change much in the Axe FX approved set-up.

    I liked the synth stuff. The amp modelers left me wanting. When/if I ever hear an Axe FX in the approved configuration, I'll happily give it another listen.

    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    Do you have a nice amp with a good effects loop?
    I don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    I ran my Axe with a Bogner Ecstacy as a power amp and it was glorious. I also used a Bogner Duende and it was brilliant since you can get the good stuff at much lower volumes.
    Let me see if the guy who loaned me the Axe FX has more gear to loan me.

    Quote Originally Posted by hippietim View Post
    One other tip, if you're playing at very low volumes with a high power tube amp I actually liked leaving power amp simulations enabled on the Axe because at such low volumes you are getting very little of the good stuff from a tube amp and the power amp sims sweeten things up a bit. IOW, if you're not getting tube saturation/coloration from your tube amp, leave power amp sims on. It's easy to enable/disable them globally so I'd suggest experimenting.
    Ok.
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  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    Respectfully, I grew up with Covey. I am familiar with the his doctrine. I use many of his tools extensively - on a daily basis. I even used his methods as a full-time instructor (for 17 years). Trust me - I don't need to change my paradigm to know if I like what I hear. I just need to make sure that what I hear is indicative of the product's capability.

    I accept Tim's explanation (that I need to hear the Axe FX2 in it's proper configuration) and left my position open-ended.
    I think my comments have landed maybe not exactly as intended.
    I guess in part I'm attempting to relay...hopefully helpfully...the process I went through going down this road
    Again to hear whats "indicative of the products capability" may still require a shift or change in thinking..not suggesting for a second you wouldn't know what you like to hear or what good tone is to you...no one would know that better than you
    I'll give you an example of the paradigm shift I had to go through and hopefully that will illustrate what I'm trying to share.
    I wanted my (insert modeler name here) to sound just like an "amp in the room" and became pretty frustrated with it until I started viewing it as I was listening to an entire signal chain through monitors in a control room...that sort of thing.Its a mind set.Add to that the proper configuration and possibly your outcome will be different.

  15. #55
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©'s Avatar
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    I don't want to come off like this conversation isn't valuable. It is. That's why I started the thread.

    This entire exercise started off with my need for a tool to help demo \m/ pickups because I don't have a metal amp. So far I have found the Axe FX 2 to be the kind of product that will take whatever tone it's given and shape it to sound the way it's programmed to sound on the way out. That defeats the purpose (for my needs) because I can plug in my Archtop and my Metal CE with \m/ pups and record the same tone (or incredibly similar) going direct in through my Apogee Duet.

    In my opinion, I need a real metal amp to demo these pickups.
    Last edited by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©; 07-02-2013 at 06:48 PM.
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  16. #56
    Junior Member xarkon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFC View Post
    Thanks for the update. Too bad it didn't work out for you. The only thing I'd recommend is that if sometime you get a chance to play through or hear someone play through an FRFR rig, or a rig they've spent time dialing in, check it out.
    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    I'd like that.
    PM'd; I *might* be able to help with this.

    Dave

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! © View Post
    I don't want to come off like this conversation isn't valuable. It is. That's why I started the thread.

    This entire exercise started off with my need for a tool to help demo \m/ pickups because I don't have a metal amp. So far I have found the Axe FX 2 to be the kind of product that will take whatever tone it's given and shape it to sound the way it's programmed to sound on the way out. That defeats the purpose (for my needs) because I can plug in my Archtop and my Metal CE with \m/ pups and record the same tone (or incredibly similar) going direct in through my Apogee Duet.

    In my opinion, I need a real metal amp to demo these pickups.
    Feel free to come by and use my Uberschall Twin Jet any time.
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  18. #58
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    Although it doesn't seem relevant given your last post, I will chime in on my experience with the Axe FX. I owned all 3 versions, Standard, Ultra, and II. I found the best tones were when used with a neutral or solid state type of power amp with FRFR speakers. The power amp and speaker modulations are really good and if you don't use them you lose out of some of the feel you get by just using it as a pre-amp. I'm an IT guy so technology doesn't bother me however I still thought even the Axe FX II was way too complicated and took a lot of tweaking to get good tones. I guess I still prefer to spend what little time I have playing vs. tweaking which is why I got rid of it. For straight up effects or a headphone amp it was awesome but kind of pricey for just that use. I also found that was great for metal and hard rock tones but for clean and bluesy stuff it kind of left me wanting a little more. I'm sure the newest firmware has improved on this since I checked out around version 7 or 8 on the Axe FX II but I could never dial in a very good tweed or plexi tone vs what I could get on a real amp. What I don't get is why they don't come out with a single rack space version that just has effects and no amp models. If they sold that for half the price they'd sell a ton of them.
    Last edited by yankeebulldog; 07-02-2013 at 08:55 PM.
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  19. #59
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Don't like Axe FX = You're doing it wrong.

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