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Axe-Fx does not sound right

JoeyBTL

Inspired
For the longest time I felt like something wasn't right with the sound of my Axe Fx II Mark 1. I tried going through different pieces of my setup to narrow it down, blaming my cables, monitors, guitars..everything but the possibility that its the actual Axe Fx. I could never (within the past year or 2) get tones that sounded as good dynamically and sonically as the II is capable of. Well last week I was once again messing with presets and whatnot and although I usually use Axe Edit to control the unit, I reached down to the adjust something on the face of the Axe and it froze. I can't remember exactly what I was doing..maybe trying to reset the amp block, but it completely froze and that has never happened before. Any button mashing of the front panel did nothing for about 15 seconds. After it came back, I start to play and was amazed at how the sound transformed. The touch sensitivity was amazing. The tone was lush and saturated. I was blown away because I did nothing. This is what I've been missing. I even tried cab sims that usually sound like crap to me (various sims from the Misha Mansoor cab pack, so it shoudn't sound like garbage) and they sounded like I would imagine a good IR of a V30 should sound like. I was even trying random ones that I never use and it was just there. It felt like I was playing a great amp, just through different cabs. I was very pleased. But skeptical. I turned it off to have dinner and went back later to play more and it was gone. It had reverted to the previous crap.

After researching, I found that resetting system parameters was suggested for such things as I'm describing. I did that and it was back! I was again amazed and happy that I was able to do something to remedy it, rather than a fluke when the unit froze. Well here we are again about a week later and its back. And I've reset the system parameters like 5 times today and nothing. Still sounds like it shouldn't sound.

So I'm coming here to see what else I can do. I don't know what is corrupted where to make this occur but I want the good stuff back. I don't know if completely wiping the unit and reloading stuff is the answer but I couldn't find exactly how to do this. I read about reseting a device on the wiki: https://wiki.fractalaudio.com/wiki/index.php?title=Reset_system_parameters

but it references things like sending an "empty bank" to the unit which I don't have, and downloading a clean system data file that I don't see linked anywhere. So I don't feel that without more info, I could complete this. If I could somehow and this should fix everything, I'm all for it.

I do know it is not any cables/guitars/my computer/monitors etc. because this sound comes out from my mackie monitor, which is connected via XLR cable, as well as when I record direct via USB to logic. So from two sources it gets the same result. Also, it sounds like crap no matter what guitar I use, or IR, or amp sim. Just different flavors of it.

I wish I knew what caused it in the first place. I don't know if it has to do with it always being hooked up via USB to my computer and shutting down the Axe with Axe edit and logic open or something like that. If that is the case, I can be more diligent in the steps I take to shut it off. But something has certainly corrupted it. I've never done any sort of full reset in the time I've owned it. Just all the firmware updates.

I've attached the best example I have to show you how it sounds. First part of the recording is right after it changed to being "right". The best way to explain it is how the muted legato type stuff I was playing "pops" the right way. It comes out clear and punchier like it should. And again, the sensitivity is great. I'm barely touching the strings on some of the parts it still is coming out. This is compared to the second half of it which was after it changed back, I had to record to make sure I wasn't hearing things and you can tell how much different it sounds. The kind of too bassy, and not tight in the right ways and theres basically not touch sensitivity. Sounds like terrible amp or something. I realize it may not sound as apparent as it feels, but those are both through the same amp block settings. I think slightly different IRs but nothing that would make a vast difference. The effort it took my fingers to make the two clips were a lot different, thats for sure. When its playing "bad" like this, I feel like I have to play at 10/10 to squeeze everything I've got out of the sound. When its playing "good" there is very little effort and its more natural. I've tried reseting different presets, starting from blank presets, all of that stuff and it does no good.

Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated!

 

JoeyBTL

Inspired
I have not. It does not move much, and wasn't during the past week at all other time my plugging a cable into the front of it. But I can do that to check and see.
 

JoeyBTL

Inspired
I just cleared all banks and loaded the clean system file to clear everything out. Started a preset with only the Friedman HBEC45 and the Recto new mix IR, switching to the Petrucci mix IR, and it still sounds bad.

 

mr_fender

Fractal Fanatic
Sounds like maybe power amp modeling is turned off or something. Check the global settings to make sure it's enabled there. Also make sure the Sag parameter in the amp block is not turned all the way down.
 

JoeyBTL

Inspired
Not either of those unfortunately. Especially not after wiping the whole thing and starting a new patch. But I also loaded a bank of patches back on and they were fine as far as thats concerned.
 

mr_fender

Fractal Fanatic
If you normally use the front panel input, try running your guitar into the back panel inputs for Input 1 (or vice versa). Also try using Input 2 and using the FX loop block to feed a preset. You might be able to narrow down if it's maybe a hardware issue with particular input.
 

JoeyBTL

Inspired
Harm - Yes I did try that.

I just tried the rear input and it made a noticeable difference! This is great. Still not quite a good as the front input was for a short time, as I described, but after reading a few front vs rear input threads, I can see why the front is better anyway. I think this will lead to the answers I'm looking for here. I don't know why I didn't try the rear input before...damn. But thank you!!
 

JoeyBTL

Inspired
I'm pretty sure Fractal sells replacement input boards, but has anyone repaired theirs? I don't see any clearly bad solder joints, but I wonder if anyone knows what a common failure with them would be.
 

BillyZeppa

Power User
It looks like the input boards are affordable enough to try replacing if the problem can't be found elsewhere.
 

chumbucket

Inspired
I'm pretty sure Fractal sells replacement input boards, but has anyone repaired theirs? I don't see any clearly bad solder joints, but I wonder if anyone knows what a common failure with them would be.

If you have any DeOxit, you could spray a little on an old 1/4" plug and work it in and out of the front input jack a few times. Could be a bad connection caused by gunk or build up.
 

JoeyBTL

Inspired
Although the input board isn't terribly expensive, I'm leaning towards that not being an issue. The more I've A/B'd the front and rear inputs since I've posted this, the more it doesn't seem like they are all that different and share the same qualities I dislike in how it sounds and more importantly, how it feels. I even just tonight went back and first installed ares 1 beta. It sounded horrible for some reason. Like just woof and mud on everything. I don't remember it being that bad. So I decided to try to go back to quantum 10.1 and it was the same woof and mud. I know they aren't "as good" but no one would be playing it if it sounded like that. I even simply reset the amp and cab blocks by double clicking bypass and yea it changed a little, but still overall not good. Then lastly I went back to ares 2 and it still sounds and feels like it has been.

I would have no from getting the new input board but it doesn't seem like its the problem. Visually, it looks fine. All solder joints and connections seem good. But I don't what could fail on them otherwise and change the sound this drastically.

This clip is from quantum 10.1 going from the rear input on the first half and front on the second. Its not much different, but you can also hear how poor it sounds in general. I feel like my next step would be to send it to Fractal.

 

Decimator

Inspired
Although the input board isn't terribly expensive, I'm leaning towards that not being an issue. The more I've A/B'd the front and rear inputs since I've posted this, the more it doesn't seem like they are all that different and share the same qualities I dislike in how it sounds and more importantly, how it feels. I even just tonight went back and first installed ares 1 beta. It sounded horrible for some reason. Like just woof and mud on everything. I don't remember it being that bad. So I decided to try to go back to quantum 10.1 and it was the same woof and mud. I know they aren't "as good" but no one would be playing it if it sounded like that. I even simply reset the amp and cab blocks by double clicking bypass and yea it changed a little, but still overall not good. Then lastly I went back to ares 2 and it still sounds and feels like it has been.

I would have no from getting the new input board but it doesn't seem like its the problem. Visually, it looks fine. All solder joints and connections seem good. But I don't what could fail on them otherwise and change the sound this drastically.

This clip is from quantum 10.1 going from the rear input on the first half and front on the second. Its not much different, but you can also hear how poor it sounds in general. I feel like my next step would be to send it to Fractal.

Have you tried listening to it through headphones or different speakers? I am just shooting my thoughts but it did not sound so terrible through my speakers but I have nothing to compare your presets to or know exactly how you have everything set up in your patches. I am guessing you tried different guitars and cables already. Also if your pickups are active check the batteries. The tone in our heads can throw us off sometimes and our hearing changes over time as we get used to the sound we are used to hearing. I go back and listen to some of my older patches and they seem to sound so different than I remember and I can't understand how I thought they sounded good before.
 
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