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Axe-Fx III vs The real deal tube amp

Genome

Inspired
Try a Fryette Powerstation, it’s meant to be a neutral tube power amp, you leave power amp simulation on but turn off the speaker resonance.

Solid state power amps are great (hell, Metallica use Matrix) and sound great. But there’s still something missing feel-wise for me. It’s small, though.
 

skydog

Inspired
I'll go a bit further with my explanation. To the audience somewhere in the middle and the back, the sound is identical. To the people right up front and especially for me, I grew up listening with my knees or something, because there's something I miss without the real speakers being pushed. I use the power amp and real speakers with one set of outputs, while the Main Outs go to FOH. That way, everyone is happy. And for me, it sounds every bit as good as my original tube amps, and I think better. I don't play with crushing distortion, so I need some space and tone in there. I cannot describe the technical elements that go into amp-in-the-room. But I sure know it when I sense it. And for an earlier post, I swear to god, the QSC is super heavy. And if you think that's bad, I use my vintage talk box, and therefore cart around an additional Crown, lol. Maybe, maybe, the FM3 will promise a small bit of weight reduction, but who knows. It's currently sitting on the floor like a puppy. I have the AF3 tuned in to several realms of heaven, and wish I could will the FM3 to program itself direct from the III.

Did I mention that the vintage speakers are a blend of two JLB AlNiCo D120Fs and a couple of equally fine ceramics? Holy immovable object, Batman! The only thing that makes it worthwhile, are the people that say, "Holy crap! That sounds exactly right!"
 

Smilzo

Power User
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
Hi, I take a different approach. I realize we are in the XXI century... the sound recording and reproduction are on different level. The direct emulated sound are more... "clinical", precise, refined... while amps goes... raw-er! Well, I stop emulating amp sound and feel. I think about what I need by today standard in terms of eq, gain, feel and search my own tone in the axefx. If you worked with tech guys... it's the same approach: you ask them to mod your amp/fx/setup closer to suit your need. I am equally satisfied by both real amp and axefx...
 

tealtonerick

Inspired
I haven't decided whether to call it 13.00 or 12.09 but it has amp modeling changes.

I have been trying to get some clarity on this in other threads. The somewhat related question here is about what the Output Mode should be set to in an Amp Block when driving amplifiers like the Duncan PowerStage. (The new PS200 in my case) For other's reference, here is the excerpt from the manual...

Output Mode – The default value, “FRFR”, is designed for use while using “Full Range/Flat Response” monitors,
or while recording. The “Solid State Power Amp + Cab” (“SS PWR AMP +CAB”) mode is intended for use while
using a solid-state power amp and conventional guitar cab. In this mode speaker compression modeling behaves
differently, relying on the speaker for compression while still simulating the interaction with the power amp.

NOTE: The SS PA +Cab Mode is NOT intended for use with “current drive” power amps, i.e. tube power amps,
Class-D current feedback amps, etc. This mode CAN be used, however, with FRFR monitors in high volume
applications where the monitor’s speakers are compressing, thereby achieving a more dynamic response.

The PowerStage amps are Class D amps and being designed to drive a conventional guitar cab, my tentative assumption is that they also employ some form of current feedback similar to that in a tube amp. In any case, the PowerStage + conventional guitar cab obviously isn't a true FRFR setup. But by the definition in the note, it's not a SS PA +Cab Mode either. Can you possibly clear up how this mode should be set for these amps? Thanks much!
 

Andy G

Inspired
I have been trying to get some clarity on this in other threads. The somewhat related question here is about what the Output Mode should be set to in an Amp Block when driving amplifiers like the Duncan PowerStage.

Might be worth starting a new thread dedicated to this question - you're more likely to get useful responses and discussion this way, as it doesn't get lost in the noise.
 

tealtonerick

Inspired
Might be worth starting a new thread dedicated to this question - you're more likely to get useful responses and discussion this way, as it doesn't get lost in the noise.

Yeah maybe, the question is in multiple other threads and I'm just trying to keep from trashing the place. I was hoping to maybe get Cliff's attention here in this one.
 

DLC86

Fractal Fanatic
I have been trying to get some clarity on this in other threads. The somewhat related question here is about what the Output Mode should be set to in an Amp Block when driving amplifiers like the Duncan PowerStage. (The new PS200 in my case) For other's reference, here is the excerpt from the manual...

Output Mode – The default value, “FRFR”, is designed for use while using “Full Range/Flat Response” monitors,
or while recording. The “Solid State Power Amp + Cab” (“SS PWR AMP +CAB”) mode is intended for use while
using a solid-state power amp and conventional guitar cab. In this mode speaker compression modeling behaves
differently, relying on the speaker for compression while still simulating the interaction with the power amp.

NOTE: The SS PA +Cab Mode is NOT intended for use with “current drive” power amps, i.e. tube power amps,
Class-D current feedback amps, etc. This mode CAN be used, however, with FRFR monitors in high volume
applications where the monitor’s speakers are compressing, thereby achieving a more dynamic response.

The PowerStage amps are Class D amps and being designed to drive a conventional guitar cab, my tentative assumption is that they also employ some form of current feedback similar to that in a tube amp. In any case, the PowerStage + conventional guitar cab obviously isn't a true FRFR setup. But by the definition in the note, it's not a SS PA +Cab Mode either. Can you possibly clear up how this mode should be set for these amps? Thanks much!
The Powerstage is class D but I don't think it has current feedback, the module inside those is an Icepower amp which is actually an hi-fi power amp.

PS, back on topic: the lockdown is over and after 3 months of playing at home I finally had the opportunity to play at rehearsal at full band levels.
I almost forgot how good the axe sounds in that scenario, yesterday I had a big smile on my face and I wonder how it could get even better.. we'll see soon!
 
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Brian Coonan

Power User
PS, back on topic: the lockdown is over and after 3 months of playing at home I finally had the opportunity to play at rehearsal at full band levels.
I almost forgot how good the axe sounds in that scenario, yesterday I had a big smile on my face and I wonder how it could get even better.. we'll see soon!

I can't WAIT to get the Axe out and play live. Only got to do one rehearsal and it was prior to 3 months of tweaking and playing with it.
 

Wolfliver

Member

Just a thought.

I mean, the dynamics of a speaker are fairly well understood, I assume and an IR is probably "only" a linear convolution, which cannot recreate the nonlinear effects, which would probably appear, once the cone is moved considerably out of equilibrium.
Wouldn't it be also possible to model the physical properties in (almost) real time, like the Axe FX does for the amp itself?
The same would in turn apply to the microphones, air, reflections from the room etc. but I guess it would allow to us to "move the mic around" on the cone.
 

York Audio

Power User
Vendor
I think there’s a lot of validity to this discussion. I think the Axe is easily the most accurate modeler on the market, and I don’t think anyone would be able to tell you’re using a modeler in a full band mix. Having said that, I do think that real amps have a little extra energy going on in the top end, but I can typically match that with one or two advanced parameter tweaks.

If we never got another firmware update, I’d still be perfectly happy with the Axe and play it every day like I already do. These seemingly incremental improvements end up making a big difference in the overall experience through, so I’m excited to play with 12.09 when it hits!
 

DLC86

Fractal Fanatic
Just a thought.

I mean, the dynamics of a speaker are fairly well understood, I assume and an IR is probably "only" a linear convolution, which cannot recreate the nonlinear effects, which would probably appear, once the cone is moved considerably out of equilibrium.
Wouldn't it be also possible to model the physical properties in (almost) real time, like the Axe FX does for the amp itself?
The same would in turn apply to the microphones, air, reflections from the room etc. but I guess it would allow to us to "move the mic around" on the cone.
The axe fx already models speaker non-linearities, go to the speaker drive tab in the amp block and you'll find all the related parameters
 

Smittefar

Fractal Fanatic
But speaker drive and speaker compression are two fairly crude parameters to cover all speakers in existence
 

tealtonerick

Inspired
The Powerstage is class D but I don't think it has current feedback, the module inside those is an Icepower amp which is actually an hi-fi power amp.

PS, back on topic: the lockdown is over and after 3 months of playing at home I finally had the opportunity to play at rehearsal at full band levels.
I almost forgot how good the axe sounds in that scenario, yesterday I had a big smile on my face and I wonder how it could get even better.. we'll see soon!

OK, you may have more details about the PowerStage internals than I. But there are a couple of signs that make me wonder. The output impedance is rated 4-8 Ohms. To my understanding, this is higher than typical class D HiFi amps without some kind of current sensing feedback. No?
 

Jan Geerts

Experienced
Because it sounds and feels like a mic'ed amp through monitors, and that just doesn't work for me.
I use it with Orange Pedalbaby's and real cabs, and that does.


Yessir you are correct. I myself still have yet to understand why folks want to spend over $2000 for the the Axe and then completely bypass the amp/cab sims and just use it as an effects processor into a tube amp. When properly tweaked I can’t tell the difference between my Axe through a QSC or Peavey power amp vs my old tube amps. And the consistency night after night is unbeatable. Easy set up and dial in over and over again. I’m never going back to tube amps.
 

KN7

New Member
At the risk of bothering people by banging on about my setup I think I should share my experience as it may help the OP.

With 25 years of semi-pro playing and audio engineering under my belt I was in a not too dissimilar spot, it left me with very “educated ears” compared to some.

Missing the feeling and sonic nuances of a tube amp and speaker cabinet making their magic together was one of my concerns when I was in the midst of switching to the Fractal Axe-Fx III.

I had a panic point when I had the Axe-Fx setup through Yamaha HS8’s, all my traditional guitar cabs in storage or packed ready to be shipped and found something missing.

Like the OP the recorded sound was great, monitored sound through the HS8’s was great but something was missing when I wasn’t listening from a critical engineering perspective or from the perspective of the consumer listener and just as a guitar player.

I rolled the dice on what it was and had Zilla make two custom 1x12 guitar cabs with the Celestion F12-X200 speakers in them and ordered a Matrix GT1000FX power amp.

For me that scratched the itch and I haven’t thought twice since.

I happily sit in the room and feel the cabs musically light up, resonate and fill the space when I play and for me there is nothing missing anymore.

The bottom line is, it’s as close to a guitar speaker in a guitar cab as I could get that still allows for the magic of IR’s and the Matrix lets the power amp modelling shine.

Maybe that’s the direction you need to head in.
 

DLC86

Fractal Fanatic
OK, you may have more details about the PowerStage internals than I. But there are a couple of signs that make me wonder. The output impedance is rated 4-8 Ohms. To my understanding, this is higher than typical class D HiFi amps without some kind of current sensing feedback. No?
I think that's not really the output impedance but the load impedance. The output impedance is a few milliohms IIRC.
Here's the datasheet of the PS170 power amp, you can check by yourself and you'll also find the circuit diagram and a few graphs:

https://icepower.dk/download/1633/
 
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DLC86

Fractal Fanatic
But speaker drive and speaker compression are two fairly crude parameters to cover all speakers in existence
Maybe but there are also speaker vompliance and time constant available. I don't know if they provide enough variance to cover all speakers in existence, but certainly cliff would have added (or will add) other algorithms if something's missing
 

RayRay

Member
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?
I'm running III into a SD power stage 700 and out to a real cab (or two). Sounds glorious. Personally I don't like FRFR "in the room" ... a real cab? Hell to the yeah!
 
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