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A Video Game Remixer's Take on the Axe FX II XL

SwigglesRP

New Member
Hello Fractal Forums!

As a few of you might know, I recently researched, scouted out, and landed myself a Fractal Axe FX II XL (B-stock) unit in the last few weeks after much patience. Like many of you, I felt compelled to share my thoughts, experience, opinion, and reach out in regards to my story since I spent so many months reading up all of your stories as well.

Boring Music Background Time! I've been playing electric guitar (and eventually acoustic, bass) for 9 years having grown up in a musician-less, but musical household. I started with a Squier Strat and little Fender amp, moved to a Peavey Vypyr Modeling Combo Amp and a few Ibanez upgrades including my primary 7 string, RG7421 with DiMarzio pups. I've been fascinated by classic rock, hard 80s rock (Van Halen, Steve Vai), and slowly into more aggressive metal (Pantera, Megadeth, Periphery, Animals as Leaders) as my interest in playing more unique, often technical styles grew faster!

Fast forward to senior year and a Youtube musician by the name of FamilyJules7x catches my attention as a home-recording guru with Line 6 products like the POD X3, making metal versions of video game soundtracks. I hopped into the world of home-recording with a copy of Mixcraft 5, my Line 6 GX (it's dead now, don't worry), and this strange passion for combining rock, metal, original riffs, and video game tunes from Tetris to Skyrim. It's a weird niche to many, but it's helped me find my closest friends, biggest "audience" on Youtube and even Twitch Performances, and gotten me some gigs including indie-game soundtracks! Using POD Farm and asking few questions, I was stuck with fizzy tones, fairly generic mixes, and honestly I don't know what really got me more than 10 views on a "Remix" video. I powered through 4 years of learning mix tutorials, practicing my chops, and enjoying the Youtube guitar scene to its fullest, doing charity albums or playing on real video game OSTs! Thanks to the ongoing recording community here, my eyes caught the Axe FX as a pipe dream for when I was a big-shot software engineer who could afford it let alone use it well. I went through Guitar Rig, Amplitube, LePou Legion, custom impulse responses, and hours of mixing tutorials searching for something like the real amps I never owned, or older musicians I worked with had shown me. While Bias FX was almost the savior, it still didn't give me a full range of options and the CPU efficiency couldn't support quite enough tracks to my liking. Ordering this Axe FX, let alone the 4 years of college and internships/jobs I spent working for this little box, changed everything for me.

My First Reactions: The box came extremely fast, and I still couldn't believe I found one after literally seeing it go out of stock within a day. Given my obsessive nature, I already knew my way around setting it up with my monitors (Mackie MR5 Mk3s) and getting it hooked to my desktop. After turning it on to the first setup, my dad sat next to me eager to see how it'd sound (while not a musician, he's an avid fan of all things rock from 60s-80s). The first preset was so rich and bright, I basically felt as though I hadn't been hearing guitars properly for ages. Through my Ibanez RG350M (DiMarzio Evos loaded) I could hear unbelievable twang and full range throughout.

My Recording Process: With the Axe FX, I completely eradicate so much of my issues it's not funny. The power of this device lets me load my projects (often contain Toontrack's Superior Drummer 2.0, maybe a Kontakt Library) within seconds, rather a full minute. I can record my guitar ideas instantly with no latency, and have Reaper playback my audio. I felt it was a bit odd to try and balance my mix audio with the raw Axe FX sound (since I don't think I can mute the Axe FX's output from live performance), but I've created presets that let me balance well. I can record fairly hot this way and have my other instruments at a comfortable volume. Bass guitar is equally fun, as I can record my Dry/DI signal AND a wet amped signal at the same time. For my more progressive metal/heavy tracks, I can simply re-amp the dry signal with a dirty tone and this has worked extremely well. Re-amping friends, I've received complements at the tone and just the "breathing space" simple rock sounds have. I would easily say that this purchase will make itself back in quality music creation, be it $ or just my happiness and ease of workflow.

Other Awesome Uses: Along with being an active Youtuber-Video Game Soundtrack Remixer (please take me seriously haha), I enjoy performing my tracks and working on music through Twitch streaming. Using my Scarlett Solo as the interface, I can output a mono signal of my lead guitar tone with a Reaper backing track creating a fun and high-quality performance. Essentially:
Axe FX II ->Scarlett Solo input ->Reaper (mixed with backing track of songs) ->Open-Broadcasting-Software->Twitch.tv

The reasons for me having to use the Scarlett is because of the software I use for streaming with a microphone, Voicemeeter, is locked at 44.1 Khz. Nonetheless, it works and I'm loving it!

Thoughts/Suggestions to New Users:
To unmystify my post, however, I absolutely must suggest that everyone using this device immediately configure your Instrument In and Input 1 to be adjusted (very low IMO). The factory presets are definitely made to get you wowed and comfortable, but you definitely need to be wary of each instrument going in. I also immediately felt the need to install Axe Edit (did so 3 weeks in advance like a kid), since the front interface is just a bit too slow for me to build from scratch. The build quality is solid nonetheless, I find myself happy to switch presets on the fly while working on music or even streaming live performances on Twitch. Being used to Bias, POD Farm, Guitar Rig, and similar, I found Axe Edit to be a thorough, deep, but visually pleasing software that anyone can pick up with just a bit of time. I felt it a bit tricky when I wanted to experiment with a preset, but revert to its original state later (easily remedied by copying into a new preset).

Reference tracks of mine/Demos: Thank you if you've made it this far through my wall of text, I appreciate it and really have to thank Fractal for making such a versatile, uncompromising device for any musician dedicated to his or her craft.

My proudest video in a Bollywood-Metal style, predating the Axe-FX, from Killer Instinct (2015):
My first video with the Axe-FX, a more A7x-inspired metal cover from the indie game Castle Crashers:
 

Shenks

Experienced
Great read and back story... welcome to the (exceedingly special) club of Fractal owners... I took the plunge earlier this year and wonder why (why indeed?) I didn't jump in earlier.
 
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