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Fractal Axe FX

Discussion in 'Modeling Amps, Plugins and Apps' started by Joe K, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Joe K

    Joe K Tele-Holic

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    What the heck, I am going to start one in this forum.

    I have (and love) a collection of Fender amps. I am a tube fiend like most of us.

    On the other hand, a pro friend of mine happily uses an Axe FX and was talked into it by players on the Experience Hendrix tour (like Steve Vai). Doing some research into these latest pieces (Fractal and one other that you can set to model any amp), it seems technology finally delivers something that sounds as good as tubes AND has additional benefits (disadvantages too, initial cost and complexity).

    That said, my favorite tones comes from a Fender tweed and blackface amps (after that would be Marshall and Vox. I know the FX does these well).

    Does anyone know if these devices do a good job with Fender tones? That's not what you hear on the many YouTubes and websites devoted to the Axe.
     
  2. TieDyedDevil

    TieDyedDevil Tele-Holic

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    The only way to know for sure it to try...

    There are a number of modelers out there that are - IMO - really darned good.

    As you noted, there are disadvantages. I'm not convinced that price should be listed among the critical disadvantages.

    Yes, if you want to compare the most expensive modeling systems to a middle-of-the-road traditional rig, you'll see a rather large disparity in cost. But what if you compared the high-end modeler to a high-end traditional rig - say a Fender Vibro-King together with a board having ten or so pedals (at, say, $150 to $400 each)? The cost difference fades away...

    I play a modeling rig and a traditional rig. The total cost of a gigable system worked out - for me - to be about the same in both instances.

    There's a wide spectrum of choice whether you play a modeling rig or a traditional rig.

    If you can depend on the venue to provide a good sound-reinforcement system (such that you don't feel compelled to bring your own cabinet for a monitor), you may be able to get away with carrying an all-in-one unit. That's certainly a win from the standpoint of bulk and weight, and probably a win when you consider the cost. (Digitech RPs and POD HDs, for example, are more than OK for performance use and range in cost from about $200 to $500.)

    If you have to provide your own amplification, that adds to the cost, bulk and weight. One thing that's really important with a modeler is that you run it through a decent (and by that I mean: powerful and as sonically uncolored as practicable) sound reproduction system. Cutting corners (or worse: playing a modeler through a guitar amp) will negate many of the benefits of using a modeler by giving an inaccurate rendering of the modeled amp tones.

    Modelers provide the greatest benefit to players who must be able to select from a broad palette of amp tones and effects at the touch of a button. If you're in a serious cover band, you probably already play a modeler.

    Modelers can also be beneficial for the player who wants to explore different tones, or for the player who has his/her "own sound" and wants other benefits such as compactness, ability to set tonality independent of volume, consistency over time and freedom from maintenance tasks. A modeler makes sense for that kind of use even if you use only one amp model and a few effects; the cost of a modeler is in the hardware. The models are just bit patterns; the cost of their storage is vanishingly small.

    Modeler use, I believe, favors players who are well-organized. If all of your settings are consistent from performance to performance, you're a good candidate to play a modeler. If you like to make tonal decisions on-the-fly, a modeler will challenge you to find a workable approach to providing quick access to all of the settings you might change. As someone who plays both modeling and traditional rigs, I can tell you that there's a world of difference between having twenty or thirty controls spread across your pedals and amps versus a half-dozen controls that are multiplexed by navigating through menus.

    As far as the range in modeler prices goes, my experience is that there are two good reasons to buy a cost-is-no-object modeler rather than a more pedestrian "commodity" modeler. High-end modelers offer more simultaneous effects, more routing options and more control choices. If you're into sound design, you'll almost certainly want to spare no expense. The other thing that added expense buys is better realism of modeled high-gain amplifiers. There's a direct correlation between the amount of gain and the processing power required to render the model.
     
  3. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    Understand this, the big name users of the Fractal almost always run the modeler into a tube amp.
     
  4. daddyopapa

    daddyopapa Tele-Afflicted

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    But there are a lot of guys who get great results live with either a powered FRFR like a QSC K10 or a power amp like a Matrix and a FRFR passive.
     
  5. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm just saying when I heard about the Fractal and looked at the website saw the endorsers and started looking at their rigs I found:

    Steve Vai is running his Fractal into a Carvin tube amp.

    Dweezil Zappa is running his Fractal into Atomic tube amps designed for modelers.

    John Petrucci is using Mesas.

    Reading all the comments by the artists it looks like they are not replacing tube amps with the Fractal they are replacing their rack mount effects with the Fractal.
     
  6. hecubus

    hecubus Tele-Meister

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    I've had good results bypassing the speaker simulation with other modelers and running them as a pre amp into the loop of a tube amp. This basically isolates the power amp section if the tube amp and is the idea behind the atomic tube amp line.
     
  7. Starrman44

    Starrman44 Tele-Afflicted

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    I say go for it. A ton of guys I know of use the FRFR like the guy above says.

    I love tube amps, but even I would love to play around with that setup. It's just the fact if I didn't like it, I would have to sell the stuff I just acquired and probably take a loss on all of it. Besides, I just really like amps right now. I like grabbing them, plugging in and that it.

    Some day, though, I may try something like that out.
     
  8. nater

    nater TDPRI Member

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    I've been playing the Fractal Audio Axe Fx II for over a year now. Absolutely Love It! If you're at all interested go spend some time on the fractal websites. A lot of those guys are into heavier tones, but I'm all about the fender and Vox tones and the axe does them in spades. I haven't had the urge to turn on my tube amps at all. I went all in and I'm playing direct thru FRFR systems. No amps, pedals, or cabs.
     
  9. Joe K

    Joe K Tele-Holic

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    Nater,

    What are you using for FRFR amplification?

    The total cost of a stage ready modeling systillsill include the modeler, an FRFR amp and a floorboard controller.

    Not necessarily more than a couple of premium amps and a pedalboard, but certainly up there.
     
  10. nater

    nater TDPRI Member

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    Joe, it certainly gets costly when you add it all up, but when you factor in the hundred or so amps, drive pedals, and all the excellent effects, it's well worth it.

    In playing through 2 RCF 12 NX SMA wedges. I can use them for personal monitors or put them on stands and carry a room, or rehearsal.

    I also have the MFC 101 foot controller from Fractal. It's pricey too but it instantly integrates with the AXE and has lots if cool features.
     
  11. Joe K

    Joe K Tele-Holic

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    RCF 12 NX SMA wedges

    Interesting choice, to use a wedge as your flat response amp. Thanks for the info, nater. Much appreciated.


     
  12. nater

    nater TDPRI Member

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    Well the wedge design is nice for using as a personal monitor. But you can also put them on a stand or just stand them up on their ends. Lots of options really.

    Since your going direct you really only have to worry about yourself everyone else "should" be able to hear you through their own monitoring system. And of course the audience hears you through the mains.

    During rehearsal, or just jamming, the RCF's have PLENTY of power to be heard on their own.
     
  13. beunme

    beunme TDPRI Member

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    my 2 cents worth

    i have a line 6 HD150 and love the amp models and effects..Cant really say i am a player but am a learner and the different effects give me something to play with after practiceing chords n scales and such,honestly tho i most often use a lil marshall combo G50RCd and the line 6 for just playing,makeing sounds i think are cool,oh my line 6 is a 150 watt head n a 4x12 slant cab with celestions in it,massive volume,seen a neighbor at the store,he told me about hearing me make things squawl in his house a half block away...lmao
     

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    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  14. quonsar

    quonsar TDPRI Member

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    Early adopter here. Bought a Fractal Standard in 2007. Absolutely loved the thing. When the Axe II came out I bought that too. Just superb for my purposes. I play Christian Rock and Worship. I use an FBT Verve 12ma powered wedge for monitoring and send a seperate output to the board.
     
  15. bob1234

    bob1234 Tele-Afflicted

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    Axe FX's are great for the home studio musician, as you can get a myriad of tones out of it. The cleans are superb, as well as the higher gain tones.

    That said....

    If you're a fairly simple player that sticks to one style, especially on the clean/bluesy tone side of things, you're better off saving your money and getting an 11 rack instead. They have great effects, and do a great job at nailing fender tones to my ears.

    At the end of the day its all completely subjective :-/
     
  16. dtulsa

    dtulsa TDPRI Member

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    That is exactly what I will be doing do not want the modeler at except for studio work at times
     
  17. poorplayer

    poorplayer Tele-Holic

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    Could you ask your pro friend to check out his fractal one day and listen to the clean tones? I bet he has some recordings as well that he could email you. Ive owned at different times the AxeFX, Kemper, 11rack, GT100, Zoom G3 and software like S-Gear and Amplitube. The software seems to give the best value - cleans through dirty are excellent and S-Gear is around $150. 11R is an excellent budget minded choice and I might start there if You like rack gear. Maybe 300 bucks used and play around with it and sell it later with no or little money loss. The Fender Mustang Floor is a bit of a giant killer for the money. It excels at Fender clean tones but is a bit less capable with all the higher gain stuff. The little Amplfire is around 500 used or 600 new is very well liked but more limited in its effects - which is why people put it on a pedal board typically. The Axe and Kemper are really awesome but quite expensive. A used AxeFX Standard - which is discontinued and no loner getting updated - sells for around 800 and gets you (I think) 90% of what the current top Fractal model offers. Some actually prefer it to the new units. The AX8 is a floor version with more limitations (but the same sound quality) and sells for $1400 but has a long wait list at the moment. The Line6 Helix is another top floor modeler with a built in pedal. I gets more mixed reviews but is on average highly praised, but is also pricey.
     
  18. jpjr50

    jpjr50 Tele-Holic

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    I just built a home studio with monitor speakers, audio interface, studio desk, etc. I'm so looking into getting an Axe FX rack. I don't like Amps or pedals even though I just started collecting them. Normally I just use Guitar Rig 5 through my audio interface through my PC and monitor speakers. I get better premade tones rather than me diddling around with pedals. I'm almost tempted to sell my amps and pedals to fund the Axe FX.
     
  19. El Chivo

    El Chivo Tele-Meister

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    I think the band Failure is going direct with Fractal. They only have a PA speaker onstage to get some rumble going and for feedback. I've read that a lot bands do the same for festival gigs.
    I jumped into the Line 6 stuff early on and have always been excited by this modeling concept. It didn't work for me onstage, but I sure wish I still had my Flextone II head. It recorded beautifully.
     
  20. dtulsa

    dtulsa TDPRI Member

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    I hate to ask this but wouldn't a G system from TC electronics work good also the price is really dropping on the web I only want the effect I will be running stereo amp setup on stage
     
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