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Axe-Fx III vs The real deal tube amp

DFauvre

Inspired
So, yesterday, I spent a few hours A/B between a new Mesa Boogie Tripe Crown TC-100 amp head going through a Mesa Boogie 2x12 cabinet against the Axe-FX III going through two new XiTone GRFR active cabinets. https://xitonecabs.com/product/12-grfr-active-lightweight-wedge/

First, I've played mostly rock electric guitar since I was 10, I started playing in bands at 14, I was touring with a successful rock band doing 100 shows a year in front of 1,000 to 3,000 a night by the time I was 21.

Last year I did an alt rock album at a famous studio in Nashville, The Sound Emporium, that was mixed by a famous alt rock mix engineer out of Portland and mastered by none other than 9 time grammy winner mastering genius Dave Lurrsen.

I've owned at least 50 different electric guitars over the years and numerous high end amps from Vox, Marshall, EVH, Mesa Boogie, Tone King, and on and on. My point is, I'm a pro, and have great ears for tone. I can hear very subtle tonal differences I find other's often can't.

The Axe-FX was the first amp/cab modeler where I could not tell in a mix if the guitar had been recorded from a real amp or was an amp modeler, I was very impressed! Had to have one!

FWIW, I used the Axe-FX III to record the following demo, for my next album, an '80s hard rock album. It doesn't have the LV yet. By the way, if you know of a pro level '80s rock lead vocalist looking for studio work, send them my way! ; )


When I A/B the Axe FX III with the new Mesa Boogie TC-100 through a new Mesa Cab, yes, they both sound great.

AND there is a subtle sheen, or 3D, quality, that I get from the real tube amp, that I can't seem to dial in on the Axe FX III.
So when A/B next to each other I can tell the difference and I prefer the real tube amp. I wish I didn't!

It's like the Axe FX III, in comparison to real amp, always sounds little further away, a little flatter in the sound stage, lacks a certain dynamics, and always at first blows me away then leaves me wanting more.

I would greatly appreciate suggestions on how to get the Axe FX III to sound more like a real tube amp. I know how to use the basics on the Axe FX III. I have tried all kinds of different cab IRs, bought the XiTones, supposedly everyone's favorite for the Axe FX (are the new Atomics better?) so I'm assuming this is not something that is just going to be changing tone settings on the amp in the Axe FX III or a new cab IR....

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I'd love an excuse to only use the Axe FX III and never bother with real tube amps again!

Thanks!
David
 

marshall2553

Experienced
Did you mic the Mesa cab or are you A/Bing an amp through a cab against the Axe through an IR into an FRFR monitor? You can’t really expect them to sound the same if doing the latter. The only apples to apples comparison would be mic’ing the Mesa or running the Axe into the Mesa cab without cab modeling enabled.
 

kelso1

Inspired
You're never going to get a full-range monitor to sound like an amp in the room regardless of the IR used. One reason for this is dispersion. A traditional guitar cabinet has a beam pattern that decreases with increasing frequency. This means less high frequencies when listening off-axis. A full-range monitor will have more highs. Now some will argue that if you capture the traditional cab off-axis in the far field then you'll get the same thing but you won't because the monitor is not interacting with the environment in the same way. The traditional cab will send less frequency content to off-axis which is then reflected off the floor, walls and ceiling. The monitor will send more highs off-axis that are reflected. Our hearing relies a LOT on the spatial cues of reflection and the reflections will not be the same.

Compound the above with the fact that 99.9% of IRs are near field captures which sound nothing like the far field.

I believe trying to get a monitor to do amp in the room is a lesson in futility. If you really want that sound use a traditional guitar cab.
 

mr_fender

Axe-Master
With component tolerances in the real amps, it's possible that your TC-100 just has a certain something that you prefer over the amp Cliff used to make the model. Add in differences in speakers, cabs, mics, mic placement, preamps, etc. and the list of variables quickly gets huge.
 

Smittefar

Fractal Fanatic
If you are recording the amp traditionally and the Axe direct. There's the difference of recording a real amp in a great room. Find a good solid state power amp and run the Axe thru the same speakers and mics.
IRs still don't sound as good as real cabs to me.
 
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unix-guy

Legend!
two new XiTone GRFR active cabinets.

bought the XiTones, supposedly everyone's favorite for the Axe FX (are the new Atomics better?)
To be fair, I think there are not too many using the GRFR Xitone cabs compared to the FRFR.

I have only briefly (years ago) had the chance to play thru the CLRs (not really "new", they've been around for a while now) and have not been able to really evaluate themside by side with my Xitone FRFR passive wedges, so I can't make a fair comparison. BUT I would say based on what I know the CLR is probably the favorite...

In any case, as has already been mentioned, comparing an amp and cab to FRFR or GRFR is never going to sound the same as that is and apples to oranges comparison.

When I A/B the Axe FX III with the new Mesa Boogie TC-100 through a new Mesa Cab, yes, they both sound great.
Are you saying that you played both the Axe Fx and the real amp through the same real cab? If so, what power amp did you use?

Edit:

I am very happy with my Xitone FRFR and have recommended them to many.
 
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DFauvre

Inspired
Did you mic the Mesa cab or are you A/Bing an amp through a cab against the Axe through an IR into an FRFR monitor? You can’t really expect them to sound the same if doing the latter. The only apples to apples comparison would be mic’ing the Mesa or running the Axe into the Mesa cab without cab modeling enabled.
you are correct, and no, I did not mic the Mesa cab.
 

DFauvre

Inspired
Thanks for the info, very helpful. Are you saying use the Axe III through a guitar cab? I tried that once, with the power amp, don't recall what it was called, that supposedly, was for doing this kind of set up. Sounded worse than the Axe III through the XiTones.If you are suggesting I run the Axe III through a guitar cabinet...what power amp do you like?
 

DFauvre

Inspired
If you are recording the amp traditionally and the Axe direct. There's the difference of recording a real amp in a great room. Find a good solid state power amp and run the Axe thru the same speakers and mics.
IRs still don't sound as good as real cabs to me.
I agree, IRs don't sound as good as real cab, what power amp do you recommend?
 

DFauvre

Inspired
To be fair, I think there are not too many using the GRFR Xitone cabs compared to the FRFR.

I have only briefly (years ago) had the chance to play thru the CLRs (not really "new", they've been around for a while now) and have not been able to really evaluate themside by side with my Xitone FRFR passive wedges, so I can't make a fair comparison. BUT I would say based on what I know the CLR is probably the favorite...

In any case, as has already been mentioned, comparing an amp and cab to FRFR or GRFR is never going to sound the same as that is and apples to oranges comparison.


Are you saying that you played both the Axe Fx and the real amp through the same real cab? If so, what power amp did you use?

Edit:

I am very happy with my Xitone FRFR and have recommended them to many.
No, what I'm saying is that, the Axe III, through XiTones, or Atomics, sounds very cool, however, it never quit reaches the same tonal qualities of a real tube amp.
 

Smittefar

Fractal Fanatic
No, what I'm saying is that, the Axe III, through XiTones, or Atomics, sounds very cool, however, it never quit reaches the same tonal qualities of a real tube amp.
Then you are comparing an FRFR monitor and a regular guitar cabinet. They simply fill a room with sound in different ways. They cannot really be compared. It is best to compare recordings of both.
 

biggness

Power User
The upcoming 12.09 addresses some (or all) of this.

Care to elaborate on this any? Is it amp modeling related? I am leaning towards no, since it's not an upgrade to 13.xx firmware.

Semi-related - I read a post of yours on TGP where you talked about how there just isn't enough computing power available with commercially available DSP's to capture all the nuances of just an amps power amp section, much less the intricacies of the preamp. My question is, what are some things you wish to capture, but are limited by the current commercial DSP offerings, and are there undiscovered ways of being crafty with coding to bring some of them to fruition with WHT we have now?
 

DFauvre

Inspired
Then you are comparing an FRFR monitor and a regular guitar cabinet. They simply fill a room with sound in different ways. They cannot really be compared. It is best to compare recordings of both.
I already said, as far as recording goes, I'm happy with and prefer the Axe III. What I'm not happy with 100% yet is the sound of the Axe III through FRFRs in a room.
 

jlynnb1

Axe-Master
you are correct, and no, I did not mic the Mesa cab.
therein lies the issue...even though you are using FRFR with your Axe it's still reproducing mic'd tone. That's what the Axe gives you, not the "amp in the room off axis bouncing off the walls, ceiling, floors" tone.
 
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