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Axe-fx vs Tube Amps... my first experience.

sandmannn69

Inspired
VintageGearGuy said:
Although these are very valid points in one light, people are allowed to be picky, especially when they enjoy their hobbies and toys, and when technology generates more options and capabilities. Just because we all used basic cell phones not too long ago doesn't negate the value and fun of concerning ourselves with the latest smartphones which can, and do, makes a lot of our lives easier. I couldn't perform in my business day-to-day life without my phone beeping reminders at me all day and night and searching the net via google speech recognition when I need to know a fact or two on the go.

Besides, although people care what the audience hears, chasing tones is personal, and achieving different sounds brings with it satisfaction.

I can't help but wonder if Gilmour's sound would have been so moving if he would have been satisfied with "a marshall tube combo, a cheap whatever stompbox for leads, maybe a chorus, or something for color."

Anyways, my $.02 :)
Good points, although I don't remember any Floyd on the setlist, wasn't really danceable material. As far as tone-chasing goes, its over for me thanks to Axe-fx. I think some folks don't want it to end....

BTW, I hate smartphones. Expensive toys (like Axe-fx) :lol:
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
Mortega, do you realize the difference between "amp in the room" sound and miced sound? If you are going FRFR you are not hearing the "amp in the room" sound but just miced signal. You can't compare those two. Personally I love the "amp in the room" sound and that's why I'm not going FRFR. About the SLA-2... people don't love it because it sounds so good, people love it because it's so transparent.

I've done plenty of comparisons between the Axe-Fx and Mesa amps and I can assure you that there's no "high end (harmonic) juicy goodness" missing. If you are using a real cab you will get an organic creamy tone. If you are using the power amps of real amps then you will sound 95% the same.

So I want you to do this. If you guys have a Dual Recto (any amp will do), plug the Axe-Fx output into the amp RETURN and turn off the power amp and cabinet simulation from the Axe-Fx. Now you hear the difference between FRFR and the amp/cab thing. Just for the fun of it try the same EQ settings with the Dual Recto.

I know this next sentence is a cliche but: YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!
 

mortega76

Fractal Fanatic
Thanks for chiming in fellas...

sandmannn69: Things must have been much simpler back in the day... I bet everyone used the same amp then!!! But as with anything else (like VintageGearGuy said) things evolve... Just like the Axe-fx has evolved... and we now have more options.

Clark Kent: Regarding "amp in the room" sound... yes, I've been here long enough to know what that is... I did not go the FRFR route... I don't swing that way. ;) I understand when using the Axe-fx to it's full potential (via FRFR) that it will rival pretty much any mic'd amp/cab setup.

The culprits in my setup (I think) are my QSC GX5 and possibly the power amp sims in the Axe-fx... while they have gotten a million times better (since firmware 5.xx) they are still lacking a bit when compared to a real tube power amp (section). This is why I haven't read of many folks who were using tube power amps (or fx return into an existing tube amp) to begin with have many complaints or "bad reviews". They've had that "juicy goodness" from the get go...

I really wanted to try the Fryette 2/90/2 with my Axe-fx while we were at Matt's house... but we simply did not have enough time... I would have loved to try the Axe-fx in the fx loop of any of those monster amps.

The other culprit was (IMO) the Mako Mak4 (Durado Channel)... that sucker just killed everything in the room. We tried to escape but it took no prisoners... Blood and guts were everywhere.
 

AlbertA

Fractal Fanatic
Clark Kent said:
Mortega, do you realize the difference between "amp in the room" sound and miced sound? If you are going FRFR you are not hearing the "amp in the room" sound but just miced signal. You can't compare those two. Personally I love the "amp in the room" sound and that's why I'm not going FRFR. About the SLA-2... people don't love it because it sounds so good, people love it because it's so transparent.
That's mostly because most IR's are closed mic'ed. Those will give you a "mic'ed" sound.
 

Jay Mitchell

Fractal Fanatic
mortega76 said:
The culprits in my setup (I think) are my QSC GX5 and possibly the power amp sims in the Axe-fx...
Naah. Power amps is power amps. If you have enough power so you're never driving the amp into clipping or self-limiting - especially if you're playing through a guitar cab - you won't hear any sonic contribution from the power amp. That's a fact.

while they have gotten a million times better (since firmware 5.xx) they are still lacking a bit when compared to a real tube power amp (section).
I have no idea what you're missing, but there is no shortcoming in the Axe-Fx power amp sims.
 

RDeraz

Experienced
Mo,i'm not jumping on the pile here.how much of that tone was the mills cabs?what speakers?next time bring your 1960a cab and plug the Mako into that and see if you still love it.different speakers make a HUGE difference.even similar speakers in different cabs can sound night and day.

i've played through some Marshall cabs that sound great for hard rock vintage type stuff,but for heavy brewtal 7 string madness,look elsewhere.(IMHO a fart into a wet paper bag.)

none of these opinions mean anything.only you know the tone your after. ;)
 

mhenson42

Inspired
Jay Mitchell said:
Naah. Power amps is power amps. If you have enough power so you're never driving the amp into clipping or self-limiting - especially if you're playing through a guitar cab - you won't hear any sonic contribution from the power amp. That's a fact.
Whatever floats your boat - but it's my rig and "power amps is power amps" doesn't work for me.

I started with the Axe/SLA-2. Sound good. Yes, but it never sounded as good to me as when I played it through the loop of my Herbert. So... I bought the 2/50/2. Everything that was missing for me with the Axe/ART was cured. This what I personally hear/feel. Believe me, I could have saved the $1,125 I spent on the new 2/50/2 for other purposes.

Since I'm always obsessed with what I may be missing, I had to buy the 2/90/2 as well. So I bought one of those as well. I actually preferred the 2/50/2 with the Axe. The difference was slight, so I was prepared to send the 2/90/2 back to Musicians Friend - but I had the Mako on order and wanted to try the Mako with the KT88 power section, since the Dorado head used 6550s. I ended up liking the 2/90 better with the Mako. So I had to keep it. That was $1,400 I won't get back. So in the end, because the best possible sound out of my gear required different power amps, it cost me an extra $2,500 over the cost of the ART. It's worth it to me.
 

Thierry

Inspired
Hi guys...

I'm quite new here and quite new to the axe-fx : actually, I just ordered one but haven't received it yet !
So I have no real opinion about that gear except that I fell in love with the Axe (and atomic amplified wedges) at a workshop with Dweezil Zappa and the first thing I did when getting back home was to sell what I could to be able to buy an ultra and a pair of wedges.

Anyway, I cant say I'm surprised to read all the obsessive discussions about respective sonic preferences for all of you : I also have some preferences, of course.

But I've been playing for 40+ years now (ok, getting old) : I bought my first amp, second hand, in 1972, (Fender Bassman 100), then over the years I bought one amp after another, and have now a "collection" of 12 guitar amps, including a 1961 AC30, 1962 AC30 top boost, and a few marshalls, peaveys, etc... And 35 guitars. I simply LOVE guitars and I just cant resist....

It took me about 15 years (ok, I'm not very gifted !) to just start being a little satisfied with my sound. And I'm still improving, and still have a long way to go to get "that" sound.

But the sound(s) I get happy with, now, I can get them with about any combination of guitar/amp.
what I mean is that, to me, 90% of what I like in my (or any guitar player's) sound just comes from the way the guitar is played : attack, feeling, virtuosity (I dont have any of that), etc.
Of course, playing a great guitar or/and a great amp makes things a lot easier, but in the end, only the player makes the right sound. Or the wrong ones, for that matter.
And of course, my sound is really different when I play my 1961 AC30 or a Mesa Road King II (I dont own it, but I had one for a few months), but still the other guys in my bands know that I am the guy who plays.

Though, if all that was 100% true, I wouldnt buy an Ultra, but still...
 

Jay Mitchell

Fractal Fanatic
mhenson42 said:
I started with the Axe/SLA-2. Sound good. Yes, but it never sounded as good to me as when I played it through the loop of my Herbert.
This simply says that you have intentionally added nonlinearities and colorations from a tube power amp section, presumably because you believe that the Axe-Fx by itself is not fully up to the job. If, OTOH, you actually like what the Axe-Fx does on its own (as I do), then you want a neutral power amp, and there are many such devices available. The primary criterion for preserving said neutrality is to keep the amp well away from any nonlinear behavior. With a tube power amp, the exact opposite is the case. You want to push it nonlinear, because you're relying on those nonlinearities to get "your sound." If I ever came to the conclusion that I had to have a tube power amp to get satisfactory results from my Axe-Fx, I'd sell it immediately. But that's just my personal opinion.....
 

mhenson42

Inspired
Jay Mitchell said:
mhenson42 said:
I started with the Axe/SLA-2. Sound good. Yes, but it never sounded as good to me as when I played it through the loop of my Herbert.
This simply says that you have intentionally added nonlinearities and colorations from a tube power amp section, presumably because you believe that the Axe-Fx by itself is not fully up to the job. If, OTOH, you actually like what the Axe-Fx does on its own (as I do), then you want a neutral power amp, and there are many such devices available. The primary criterion for preserving said neutrality is to keep the amp well away from any nonlinear behavior. With a tube power amp, the exact opposite is the case. You want to push it nonlinear, because you're relying on those nonlinearities to get "your sound." If I ever came to the conclusion that I had to have a tube power amp to get satisfactory results from my Axe-Fx, I'd sell it immediately. But that's just my personal opinion.....
Yep. Can't argue with that. To me, the Axe needs a good tube power amp to sound like a true tube amp. No reason to sell it because of that reason. The Axe is a great tool - one does not have to use all if it's capabilities to get the most out of it for their purpose.
 

Jay Mitchell

Fractal Fanatic
mhenson42 said:
To me, the Axe needs a good tube power amp to sound like a true tube amp.
That is where we disagree, then. My only purpose in owning a device like the Axe-Fx is to be able to do away with any need for vacuum-tube-based devices. I still own tube amps, but not because I ever need to use one of them to get the sounds I want.
 

biggness

Power User
The AxeFx is sufficient enough in the tone department, that even if it pales in comparison to a real tube amp, it still oozes the awesomesauce. It sounds good, there is no debating that. The thing is, no matter what two things you compare in life, you will prefer one over the other. You have to step back and disregard your preconceived thoughts about the products and determine which one fills your needs the best. Forget about which one all the "Virtual Jones'" approves of and go with the one you prefer. I prefer the AxeFX by a long shot, hence my continued ownership of the product. I could easily get caught up in the forum talk of how tube amps are better, sell my Axe and play the musical chairs with amps. Instead I view it as tubes are nice, but only the internet has told me they are the best. I am a forward thinker, and in order for guitar music to evolve, we have to evolve every aspect of what we routinely do as guitarists, one piece of gear at a time. That's just the nature of evolution.

Another thing that I have noticed is that many a guitarists believe that the next piece of gear that they get will somehow make them that much more happier. The truth is, new purchases only go so far in soothing a lack of creativity and desire. Trust me, I fell for that for years before realizing I am a guitarist, not an amp collector. It dawned on me when I went to go jam with an old friend who is too poor to afford anything short of beginner level gear and he was just destroying me.

I guess what I am trying to say is, the AxeFx covers enough sonic ground to satisfy every guitar great there ever was, all their styles and sounds, all in one box. It is MORE than enough for you and me alone. Let your creativity speak for you.
 

guitarmike

Experienced
The AxeFx is sufficient enough in the tone department, that even if it pales in comparison to a real tube amp, it still oozes the awesomesauce.
I agree with what you are saying in your post and I think that you would agree -the axe does not pale in comparison to a real amp. I have done side by side test with fender and marshall amps (I know- not "brootalz") and the axe holds its own very well. My test were through the power section of a roland jazz chorus used simply for power and speakers (I guess most would balk at that thought). There is a trick here to be learned I think. The axe offers some powerful sound sculpturing tools and it has taken me years to figure out how to really use this tools for guitar. You can achieve very ugly tones with these tools and with so many options, it is easy to make poor choices. All I can say is that for the amp tones I like, I find the axe to be perfectly capable of getting me there - and beyond. And with two peq's and graphic eqs, if you cant get bright enough or a big enough bottom, or tone color...well, maybe your not working the controls right.
 

paulmapp8306

Fractal Fanatic
Not sure I agree with Jay on the SS amp is an SS amp thing. I have every respect for Jay given his background, and agree that a SS amp SHOULD be an SS amp - however I a/b'd

Art SLA-1 bridged
Alesis RA300
QSC GX3
Lab Gruppen fp2200
Crown (cant remember the model)

Along with 2 valve power amps. While I prefered the valve power amps - which may well be due to there non linearity, ALL the SS amps sounded different. They were well within their limitations - and no-where near clipping.

At the end of the day it doesnt matter is an amp is linear or not - its the tone/feel/response that you end up with. If thats "X" SS amp or "y" valve power amp doesnt really matter.
 

sandmannn69

Inspired
mortega76 said:
Thanks for chiming in fellas...

sandmannn69: Things must have been much simpler back in the day... I bet everyone used the same amp then!!! But as with anything else (like VintageGearGuy said) things evolve... Just like the Axe-fx has evolved... and we now have more options.
Yes, they were, no cell phone in your pocket, only about 30 channels on the telly, good tunes on the radio, everybody had a Peavey combo amp....nowadays, we've got too many options and not enough great players. Folks spend too much time chasing tone and not enuff time making music. In the old days, Clapton and VH just plugged in their amps, turned everything to 10, and played. Now with the Axe-fx, you can do the same thing pretty much, without the bleeding ears. Axe-fx makes it simple, and you still get a ton of options!
 

RDeraz

Experienced
sandmannn69 said:
Yes, they were, no cell phone in your pocket, only about 30 channels on the telly, good tunes on the radio, everybody had a Peavey combo amp
ahhh...yes... the Peavey combo days. :lol: amps didn't have too many options then.i had a Renown(still do) and a Korg PME modular effects unit.(comp.graph eq,chor,delay).everytime another guitar player came by our rehearsals to sit in or jam,they always said the same thing,"Damn,I never heard a Peavey sound like that" then stand there and look at the amp in disbelief.i knew my gear sucked,but i figured out a way too get it to sound good.combine the clean and dirty channels,find a good eq curve,crank it up.

point being,you had to spend time with your equipment to learn how to get the most out of it.figure out what works and what doesn't.or figure out a way to make it work.with the AFX it's the same.waaaay easier,but the same. ;)
 

sandmannn69

Inspired
RDeraz said:
sandmannn69 said:
Yes, they were, no cell phone in your pocket, only about 30 channels on the telly, good tunes on the radio, everybody had a Peavey combo amp
ahhh...yes... the Peavey combo days. :lol: amps didn't have too many options then.i had a Renown(still do)
Yay, the good old Renown, best of the three peaveys i had. Used one thru college, good rock amp with 2x12 celestion clones, but what a heavy beast. Sold it after getting my first tube amp, a very loud Marshall 4203 combo. Been pretty much Marshall since then. Now its all Axe-fx.
 

mortega76

Fractal Fanatic
I posted this at Rig-Talk and I wanted to share my experience...

Ok... Per Matt's suggestion I went ahead I looked for a Carvin TS100... I was able to find one today for $300. I was so excited that I went to our practice place to test it out against my QSC GX5. When I plugged in both cabs my bottom (Flextone 8ohm mono) cab sounded pretty loud with the amp at full volume and the presence at noon. But my Marshall 1960 (16 ohm) cab was very low... I then swapped the cables (and adjusted the ohm settings) and the Marshall was audible but the Flextone was whisper low. My bass player opened the rig and all the tubes looked fine but the volume knob on the PCB (?) board looks a bit corroded. I know nothing about amps so I have no clue what to do... I went ahead and set my Marshall 1960 cab to stereo mode at 4 ohms (if I remember correctly) so I can A/B with both the QSC and the Carvin TS100 2nd channel (Axe-fx power amp sims ON). First up was the Carvin TS100... my Axe-fx (with my current distortion setting and output 1 maxed) had a top end that I had never heard before coming from my setup... it's like a shimmer or high end sparkle that is very reminiscent of what I was hearing from the Fryette 2/90/2 (Axe-fx power amp sims OFF). To mimic Carvin's max volume I had to set the QSC's volume at around 12:30 or closer to 1 o'clock... and it definitely sound ed like it was muffled... or (like I've said before) the top 25% of the shimmer being filtered out. It was loud but definitely not "thumping"... I then put the QSC at 3 o'clock and then maxed it out... and it was freaking devastating!!! But at that volume you can't even hear yourself think... you just want to move out of the way of the speaker. My dilemma is that I want to have the power to "rumble" if the need ever arises... but in reality most soundmen I've dealt with don't even let me get past 10 o'clock. For my setup I want more power and a true stereo amp because I'm running two cabs so I need to sell my QSC GX5 and save up for a Fryette 2/90/2 or something similar. Any suggestions for a great tube power amp under $1000? Or maybe a better SS power amp?
 

DieSchmalle

Inspired
mortega76 said:
and it definitely sound ed like it was muffled... Any suggestions for a great tube power amp under $1000? Or maybe a better SS power amp?
That 'muffled' sound is just too much mids. These are louder than deep bass and presence frequencies. This is a loudness issue.
I bet you can very close with your QSC by cutting out those mids.
I would try a Filter block at the end of the signal chain.
Set type to peaking, level to +3, gain -6, q to .25.
Thats just a starting point.
Now you can experiment with frequency, gain and q to find the sound you want.
You can switch back and forth using 'eff. byp.'. Use 'level' to bring back the volume that you loose with 'gain' so that is sound equally loud bypassed or not.
A graphic EQ would also be a good choice to do that job.
 

arcangel

Inspired
ok thread like these i like, i have been playing guitar for ten years now, and i vary on my sound from time to time, i am pretty confident in my playing ability for what i play but to be honest gear wise i am a very big noob at this, i went from having a little marshall avt 275 with a POD 2.0 to getting my axe fx ultra a couple of months ago cause i felt i really needed to step it up, i have never own a tube amp have played with them but never owned one, my current setup is my ultra - ART SLA 2 - Mesa 2x12 v30's so im always wondering what am i missing here ... i dont really mess around with the advanced parameters cause i really dont know how to use them, i dont go more than a drive block with an amp and some fx i know that my axe is capable of some sick tones im just not that savy on those kinds of things. That being said i like my current setup and i do get the tone i like out of it, i guess ignorance is bliss in this case, but i would like get better and i always try to mess around with things but for some reason or another they end up sounding not good to my ears, i've downloaded some patches from other guys to see what they do, to see if im missing something in my patch but i usually go back to my setup for some reason or another, i have been debating my self if i should get the fryette 2/90 and see if that will improve my tone, so i guess ill have to try it to see what happens, anyways my point is just get what works for you, and if you are missing something in your " tone " you can always come here and ask question or go to a store and try shit, my 2 cents anyways.


P.S. if there is anybody in so-cal area that does know to use the full capacity of the ultra, will you teach me how to use this amazing piece of gear. i shall be your padawan lol :D
 
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