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Axe FX vs. real amp


Have any of you who own an actual amp modeled in the Axe performed the following A/B test?

1) Set all real amp and model controls identically
2) connect axe to fx return of amp
3) configure axe with cab and power amp sims off
4) match volumes and compare

Does the signal from the axe truly equate to the signal at the fx send jack of the amp? Please relate your experiences with this, as I no longer have any examples to compare.
have you ever tried this with 2 of the same real amp/cab rigs? even they might not be the same. :)

(well i just said what everyone else already said haha!)


Not sure if this helps but I've ran the AxeFX (Quantum 1.01 with poweramp & cab modelling switched off) into a Mesa 50/50 poweramp / 2 x12" cab. I A/B'd it with my Mesa Studio Preamp and tweaked both until I couldn't tell one from the other... I've learned not to pay too much attention to AxeFX knob positions so can't vouch for that...
I've also ran the AxeFX (with poweramp modelling on) into a matrix amp / 10" greenback cab and got it very close to my Princeton reissue. I won't say identical because I arrived at a tone that I was happy with and left it at that. FRFR with Cab IR is really good too, but I prefer a real cab given the choice...
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I agree with most folks here.
If you took 9 real "identical" real amps, tweaked them until they all sounded as close to identical as you can get them and then did the same with the Axe FX I suspect that you would have 10 sets of very slightly different settings.
I would defy you to tell which one was the phoney in a listening test.
You might spot it when actually playing if the response is different - I don't have any of the amps except the Cornford and I can't turn that up load enough to get the full experience without people in the next street complaining (yes, it *has* happened, sigh!).


New Member
Great replies so far, guys, thanks!

A few qualifiers from me:

I own and love my axe 2; this was just an attempt to leverage some of the collective experience on the forum to satisfy my curiosity. I also understand that there can be differences between identical real world amps, and if the Axe falls within that order of magnitude, my question is nicely answered.

I am using the axe with a Fryette Power Station and Ear Candy Buzzbomb cabinet. I initially was keeping the presence and depth on the PS at zero, thinking that would keep them the most "out of the way", but now, and especially after Q1.05, I am finding the most "amp like" feel with presence and depth at 10-noon. Just playing around with the different models, power sims on, with these settings sparked my interest in how close these models are to their real world counterparts. Peace out


I run the knobs pretty damn close on the recto model as I do in my real recto.

Only difference is I use the Mesa 5 band in the amp block and pull 750hz down 1.5 db.

After that is super close sounding.


I did it with my bogners (two shivas, a classic and a 20th anniversary, an Xtc 101B) through the same cabinets per amp and a Mesa Lonestar Classic.

Cliff has said time and time again the master volume tapers in all the amp blocks do NOT match the master volume tapers of the actual model. Also, other amps have different knob tapers for all their knobs. This differs per amp.

With that being said, the Bogner models were very very close. I did hear a difference, but it was so negligible I doubt anyone would care. I don't. Add that to a full mix and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. A couple knob turns and I got them to be identical in tone.

The only thing that I felt was different was the shiva model in the axe fx's depth knob didn't model the taper of the "excursion knob" (bogner's answer to a depth knob) of my Shiva.

In the end, did it really matter? Hell no. A couple EQ tweaks and they were 95-99% there. Good enough for me.

The Lonestar was similar, but unfortunately the fat/fatter modes were not modeled as well as the tweed and wattage modes. Again, if you compare the knobs and line them up. They'll sound similar. But not exact.

If you use your ears however I can get so close between the real thing and the AxeFx I doubt it would make much of a difference to most people.

You can always tone match and shoot an IR of your cabinet to close that gap.


Power User

I did a comparison with a buddy of mine last year and the results were astounding. I can't remember what firmware this was, but it I can only imagine it'd be even closer if I tried this with quantum. In the video, Preset 11 is just the dry Mark V (Mark IV mode) going into my compact rectifier 2x12, and Preset 12 is the USA Lead Bright on the Axe going into the Mark V's power amp and cab, no cab sims.

EDIT: Also, just to clarify, this is without any tone matching, we just tweaked until it sounded as close as it could get.
Ok I am confused, how did you run the real Mark through the Axe? Am I missing something?


I always love questions about comparisons between tube vs FX. Coming from a cork sniffing forum I am subject to lots and lots of comments that I must have lost my mind when I tell everyone I have sold all my tube stuff right down to the box of tubes I used when I rolled them. I have had over 50 tube amps including various vintage Marshalls. I can certainly agree with the member above that says different models of the same tube amp sound different. Yes and Yes..

But the bigger point and one I make all the time is this. OK, so you want the AXE to do your Fender.. Sure, we can do that.. here ya go.. Pretty good right? Now it's my turn.. Lets have your Fender do a Friedman.. Oh, you can't.. alright.. How about a Bogner? Now multiply that by 100 other amps.

Well you see the point. So for me, I couldn't care less if the tone is exact. Cause when the (and i'll quote a friend) drummer kicks in does it really matter?


I did this comparison with a Friedman BE/HBE and a Mesa Mark V--running both through the same IRs and monitors (using a Torpedo Live) and could not distinguish between the two. Which is why I sold the amps.


I have done exactly this with my 5153 head and now the 5153 is in the closet. It sounds so close it's negligible.....


What if it sounds better than the real amp?

And this is what the actual experience turns out to be. Many times, a raw amp tone is enhanced through various eq measures, effects, and such. While it is not absolutely necessary to do this, I submit that many pros use additional equipment, both live and in the studio, to bring their tone up to par. All of this equipment is already in the axefx. The fx are state of the art; the eq's work as good as anything I have ever used and, just like the fx, can be placed anywhere in the signal chain. In my opinion, the amp sims are simply great. I think a lot of people don't realize how much the volume level affects what they here and how the guitar feels in their hand and I wonder if they are matching the volume level of the amp they are trying to duplicate. I would also submit that with a little knowledge and some patience, there are amp parameters found in the axefx that will compensate for decreased volume levels; at least to some degree. It has already been stated that the amp/speaker system the the axefx is plugged into is very important. It becomes more critical when considering the frfr paradigm. True frfr is not very pleasant to listen to, especially at loud volumes and many speakers claiming flat response have a tilt in the frequency response. The trick is "flat" as in no bumps in the frequency response and the tilt can pretty easily be dealt with. This is the deal; there is a lot of power in this unit. If you can't get good sounds out of, that are on level with just about any tube amp out there, it may be the user and not the axefx that needs some work. Imho.


Fractal Fanatic
The general consensus seems to be that yes the AxeFX can get you within a gnats ass of the same amp you might have sitting in the corner.

The killer element is you can keep that thought and load up around 200 other amps and a collossal amount of different cabs that would have never been sitting in the corner.

Do they sound like the real thing? It doesn't matter ..... I'll never have the chance to compare ...... if it just sounds good and reacts as you'd expect a real amp to do then I'm more than happy.


I would think Shivas would be extremely tough to emulate as they sound different with different volume and master volume settings -- usually IMHO they sound best the harder you could crank the tubes volume-wise -- at least with my Shiva (EL34 version.) Suspect that's Reinhold Bogner's design philosophy.

Even so, anything Shiva-wise from an an Axe FX/AX8 is fantastic.


New Member
Ok I am confused, how did you run the real Mark through the Axe? Am I missing something?
I have it in the 4 cable method, and that preset 11 was just a blank 4CM patch with nothing other than the FX loop engaged.
Guitar > Axe input
Axe Out 2 > Mark V input
Mark V FX send > Axe input 2
Axe output 1 > Mark V FX return

Then the preset 12 in that video was the same configuration but with an amp block instead of an FX loop block, thereby replacing the Mark V's preamp with the Axe-Fx.


Fractal Audio Systems
I would think Shivas would be extremely tough to emulate as they sound different with different volume and master volume settings -- usually IMHO they sound best the harder you could crank the tubes volume-wise -- at least with my Shiva (EL34 version.) Suspect that's Reinhold Bogner's design philosophy.

That's true of most tube amps and also true for the Axe-Fx. See the Tech Notes thread about adjusting the Master Volume.
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