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And then the light bulb finally came on...



I've owned an AX8 for several years now (sold my first, regretted it, then bought another). And I've struggled since day 1 with my tone. Not because of the amp models, but because of the limitless IR options out there. I've spent days and days just flicking thru IR folders auditioning cabs trying to determine which mic, combination of mics, distance etc...I prefer. In the end it just wasn't fun anymore (and certainly not productive) so I put the AX8 aside and decided to go back to trying to make a pedalboard work.

I picked up a Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170 to run my pedals into and spent some coin on a Celestion Alnico Cream 90-watter for my Avatar 1x12 cab that had a V30 in it. As has always been the case, the pedals just didn't seem to cut it. They always sound either muddy and dark or shrill and fake to me. At the moment I have a Wampler Pinnacle and Ramble Fx Marvel Drive and both are just missing something.

On a whim, I decided to just plug the AX8 straight into the Powerstage and 1x12 cab and disable the cab block to see what it would be like to run the models into the same cab/speaker for consistent tone. It worked. All of the models so far sound great into the Alnico Cream and now I can actually play guitar instead of sifting thru one IR folder after another. The option to record direct is still there or I can drop a mic in front of the cab and go old school.

I always thought bypassing the cab block made no sense since you're essentially leaving behind half of the AX8's capability but with the right cab and speaker, there's no need to try thousands of other combinations.

Just wanted to share this "revelation" of mine. I'm sure others have discovered this long ago but it really is worth exploring if you haven't done so yet.

Rock on.


Fractal Fanatic
It is a great feeling when we finally get the sound we are chasing. Somehow WooooHoooo just doesn't quite make it.


New here
As a player who has no interest in home recording, I can agree with you 100% about plugging into a power amp & guitar cab. I've had a 4x12 for a decade that has become a fundamental part of my tone. To suddenly ditch it in favor of an FRFR makes no sense to me.

I've always been a head/cabinet guy. Never liked combos because I'm not a fan of open back cabinets. To me the AX8 is basically the most fantastic preamp ever created.

If I had a real 5150 head I would run it into my trusty old 4x12. Same as if I had a BE100. Or a Marshall Plexi. Or a MESA Mark IV. Or a Trainwreck Express. I'd never be able to afford all of those amps. With the AX8 I can run ALL of those heads into that same old 4x12 and get a consistent tone every time. (And the Fender clean tones sound AWESOME too...)

Go ahead and flame me if you want for not using the AX8 to it's full potential, but I'll never stop using a real cabinet. Onstage or at home.

The AX8 RULES!!!


Lots of people do this! Just go with whatever works for you! I had a similar problem with picking an IR and I'm not one that is willing to spend hours going through thousands of IR's to find the "right" one. I found some artist presets that I liked and bought a couple cab packs that I had heard good sounds from, picked the 3-4 IR's that were used in the sounds I liked and those are pretty much the only ones I use now. If I still had a poweramp / cab, I'd probably be doing what you're doing though!


I have set my presets in a way that the right channel holds IR, left 'pure'. Playing in the rehearsal room I usually end up with my guitar speaker, powered by an ISP Stealth Amp, and live or for recordings with the IRs.

Nice to hear you figured out an option how to make it run for you.


I have had an Ultra, a II and an AX8. Playing through a QSC and now a Matrix CLR, I've just never enjoyed playing through an FRFR. Power amp and cab for me every day of the week.


Just curious, what were you monitoring through before you switched back to a real cab?
I have a Yamaha DXR10 floor wedge and a pair of JBL LSR305's for monitoring. I still keep my guitar cab angled up to me as I like the brightness and presence so it's not like I don't like the direct mic'd tone. But it's just easier and more consistent to use the same cab for everything.

Suppose if I knew how to make an IR of my cab that would be the ultimate.

Ed Rogers

I replaced a v30 with a alnico cream in a combo I have. I can understand people thinking you’re wasting the AX8’s potential. But, that is one fantastic speaker, and worth every penny it costs.... if you’re going to give up thousands of ir’s for one speaker, you picked well! Going from clean to high gain, it really covers all ground.
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Davus PG

I replaced a v30 with a alnico cream in a combo I have. I can understand people thinking you’re wasting the AX8’s potential. But, that is one fantastic speaker, and worth every penny it costs.... if you’re going to give up thousands of ir’s for one speaker, you picked well! Going from clean to high gain, it really covers all ground.
Funny, after auditioning 100's of IRs myself and very much not wanting to disappear down the rabbit hole (for now at least) i settled on one IR that I now use for everything as it covers it all so well & that is the ML Zilla 2x12 Alnico Cream (57 & R121)

I like it so much that if I ever go back to a physical cab, I'd want those speakers in it.

I guess Mikko really nailed that one...


Glad you found "your" tones.

Honestly, I have found excellent tones in a variety of uses with a variety of units. Ultra, Axe FX II, Axe FX II XL, AX8...you name it.
That said, I have always enjoyed the power amp/cab set-up along with Fractal Gear and foot controllers. For portability I have tried both the Quilter and the Seymour Duncan. Both have advantages and both work well. I also have a Matrix that I like as well.
It is at least as easy as any traditional amp/cab/pedals set up, yet still with ALL the Fractal flexibility.

Also, I have found I can also get great tones with my AX8 direct, often my choice right now. Yet knowing that I can choose a different option if the gig demands...PRICELESS



Feeling like there is an amp in the room? No question in my mind. Power amp and cab is the way to go.

Having control over the tone that goes the FOH? IRs come in very handy. Honestly, I think this is the way to go compared to setting a mic in front of a cab unless you really trust your sound guy. Luckily, the AX8 can do both at the same time.

Now, if there were only a way to control what the person at the board, who may or may not know what they're doing, does to mess with your tone.
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