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Axe FX2 MkII Review Musicman0001 (and MESA amp recording)

musicman0001

Inspired
EDIT:
My first recording and recording post:


https://www.dropbox.com/s/8y7j9jnxxf7oong/metallica enter sandman-01.wav?dl=0

STACK:
https://ritskes.stackstorage.com/index.php/s/VSGlDwCPmRoSOui

http://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/metallica-mkiic-enter-sandman-first-one.115791/

I LOVE THE AXE FX ! A HUGE FAN!

I do not not need any amps anymore or line6 stuff. ;)

Musicman0001
******************* Original Posting ****************************************
Helix, Kemper or AXE FX.
That was the question. Financially the choice would fall on Helix and even Kemper as they both had good prices with footcontroller. Helix looked very futuristic and very slick with it'she display and scrible LED 's. I had to rely on reviews and forums as non of the products were to be found closeby to try. And definitely not all 3 together.

Although Helix was in my opinion the best match on money, looks and usability. I really do not like the looks of the Kemper, find it sort of ugly thingy. I was not sure on the Helix modelling. Kemper & Axe had great reviews and where on the market way longer. As I also wanted to use effects and create my own tones etc.

But woooow the price of the XL+ and a footswitch (2700 + 800 Euro's). So maybe the Ax8? But then I could not use 2 amps at once. It was priced very good compared to the Helix and Kemper. Difficult choices alltogether.
But at the end (instead of buying new Kemper or Helix) I decided to go for second hand Axe FX2 MkII & MFC101 Mki).

First try & super dooper happy helpers
When received it from Belgium I was like a happy exited child with a new toy hahaha. I was not very happy with all the knobs and direct usage on the HW. Luckily it had an software & an editor to help me out. Fractal robot for the new firmware (Quantum 2 beta was just released as I recall correct) and Axe Edit for the presets.

At first try all amps, effects & settings PLUS different ready made presets (factory & from AXE exchange) was really great to play with. But I didn't understand some things that happened or maybe I didn't understand it fully or correct.

And then I went on the fractal audio site and you tube. All these where great help in the overwhelming forrest in which I could not see that one tree. What I really REALLY liked was the VERY HELPFULL forum. I have never had experienced a helpful reactive lively forum as I experienced on the Axe FX forum.

From rookie to regular, from beta testers to the real FAS team. So many contributions and very quick responses, even if you ask newby questions or just inexperienced with first try stupid questions everyone has asked maybe already 100 times. You are just suddenly part of a fractal audio family. Even if you are just the benjamin of the family, you are treated with respect and equal (quick!) response!

Home Usage
What I experienced very soon is that the setup of the AXE FX is really important. Tickle the reds on input, gain staging, prevent clipping, etc. And also the usage of X-Y, scenes & modifiers in the presets. For home usage there are several options: directly from the axe fx with headphones (even use the axe as an audio interface trough usb with the sounds from your PC).

But I did NOT enjoy the sound directly from the HeadPhoneOutPut. It sounded really artificial and not amp or tuby. It had a sort of plastic feel to it. But I guess this has to do with the mixture of which headphone and maybe using a headphone amplification. I used a Sennheiser 650 and maybe that was just not a good marriage with the headphone output.

Then I used jacks output from axe fx to my TC Electronics Desktop 6 and used same headphone and it was much better. Guess it needed some pre-amplification from the soundcard. (If some-one has experience with headphone directly from axe fx, please respond, as the more machines in the middle, the more loss of signal & sound is my expience.

I also tried my "The Traveler" 50/100 watts with my 150 watt marshall 1912 stereo setup at home, but noticed that to have a nice sound & tone I have to play it LOUD. So I have to find another solution for home to play without headphones. I will check out some FRFR options & also will buy some good monitor speakers.

I did try it through my Musical Fedelity & Keff reference Model one speakers & Rel Strata III hifi setup which also worked, but I was loosing some sparkle (which was due to the sound signal setup, as I expecience the same from my PC to it as well, as I use Raspberry PI with HifiBerry+ with volumio to have much better result using FLAC & WAV).

So I stick for now with AXE FX as "soundcard interface" and amp modelling (both stereo) to TC electronics with headphones till I have money for a way better solution. Any tips, feedback etc.. Allways welcome!!

Rehearsel/live with band
When I made my own presets and sounds I found quickly that home made sounds are NOT USABLE for rehearsel or gigs. And you also have so many options to go for. real power amps, 4CM, FRFR, combination with output to PA systems etc.

As I already had some cabs and used my money on axe fx and buying a musicman guitar I did not have many options left hahaha. so my setup is for now: 2 marshall 1912 150 watt speakers, a Ernst Pliek Stereo EL34 Power Amp ("The Traveler"). But as cabs and amps tend to colour the sound, I think I will go in the future to AXE FX directly into FRFR active cabs or mission poweramp with passive FRFR.

But again, this setup is WAY different then home usage. So one really has to play on GIG LEVEL WITH BAND to find the tone & mix in the whole setup.

One thing I also noticed when playing through stereo amp in combination is the sound delay of both systems. This is noticble for yourselve but also at the first rows. So I should find some way to have the echo/soundglitch/delay, but I have not tried anything yet. So if you also have similar experience and have some tips/tricks let me know.

Firmware, Quantum & updates
I guess I'm late to the AXE modelling, but also just in the good times. When reading the forum the sound has improved over the years. And I stepped in at Quantum. Have never heard sounds before quantum. And even already noticed differences in 2, 2.01, 2.02 (fixed as all options are now in 2.03+).

And YES updating can & will have impact on your presets & sounds. Especially the ones that came out when I started with AXE FX. Again very lucky: many new amps to choose from and again many options to choose from (power & pre amp changed a lot). And should I go for Q2 2.01 or 2.02 as I do hear it but have no reference or preference yet. So that means just try and find out.

The best thing I found out is: just USE your ears. And if something has changed; make sure that you understand WHAT has changed and best is to RESET system and try from SCRATCH and again use your EARS. But I can imagine when you have more then 20 presets worked out for GIGS that you should be VERY CAREFULL just implementing and rely on NEW Firmware WITHOUT hearing it first and not doing some tweaking o have the best results.

I like especially the hamonics knob and some small tweaking of the bias knobs to have the amps to my personal taste and likings. And I noticed that more and more I go for TUBE tones instead of using drives.

MFC101 and especailly Scenes
I LOVE the usage of scenes (especially seamless preset changes!) and the flexibility it gives with MFC101 with lot of things in the presets to my disposal. Of course there are even "better" more flexible visual footswitches (but also very expensive) but the Mfc101 with XY and Scenes with scene modifiers or using modifiers with footswitch is so great to have and easy to use.

Forum & internet
Again: I love to see all idea's, read all tips and tricks on internet. The fractal axe fx wiki pages, the axe fx forum, the website from Chris (axe turorials), you tube examples from users and endources (Carter Cooper, Chris & many others).

So my conclusion of today is:

I'm very happy and glad I went for Axe FX instead of line 6 Helix and Kemper
I love AXE FX! Very flexible system and very dedicated users & forum
Also I have the feeling that Cliff and the FAS team are very dedicated as well
Not only scoring for money, but really to my feeling on technical perfection and modelling
Think I definitely will go for XL+ or AxeFX3 in future with FRFR (so with amp modelling and CAB modeling and IR's to my likings and needs etc..)
 
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tgorycki

Inspired
Welcome to the club! There are some great, helpful people on here that make the Fractal community such an awesome place!
Next, you may want to get some expression pedals, such as those made by Fractal, Mission, Boss/Roland. They definitely take flexibility over parameter control to the next level.
 

Lax

Experienced
I'm very happy and glad I went for Axe FX instead of line 6 Helix and Kemper
I love AXE FX! Very flexible system and very dedicated users & forum
Also I have the feeling that Cliff and the FAS team are very dedicated as well
Not only scoring for money, but really to my feeling on technical perfection and modelling
Think I definitely will go for XL+ or AxeFX3 in future with FRFR (so with amp modelling and CAB modeling and IR's to my likings and needs etc..)
Welcome !
Very happy to read your satisfaction :)

In the main part of your review, several points are obvious risks of disappointment :
-AXEFX via headphones : Little stereo image, can be too bassy, you can try 50 headphones before finding one that sounds good with your tastes.
-Setting presets via headphones : Can be tricky and see next point
-Setting presets on FRFR/monitoring/headphones to gig on non FRFR stuff : Obvious issue, the final shaping of the preset should be done on the gigging power amp / PA, it's not just "turn off cab sim and off you go". That means if you're using FRFR and non-FRFR you should choose between having two presets of each or a poor sound at home :D
-Playing level : There is no need to play loud with FRFR, the sound is the same, I'm really fond of FRFR gear :)

In fact, 50% of the hard times we felt are caused by the chosen amplification and its taming :D

Hope to read from you soon, the Axefx is a blast !
 

cakewalkgg

Inspired
I know the excitement feeling you described.. I got a speeding ticket coming home from work the day my axe was delivered. Unboxing and hearing it made that all better. I still feel that way nearly a year later.
 

musicman0001

Inspired
Welcome !
Very happy to read your satisfaction :)

In the main part of your review, several points are obvious risks of disappointment :
-AXEFX via headphones : Little stereo image, can be too bassy, you can try 50 headphones before finding one that sounds good with your tastes.
-Setting presets via headphones : Can be tricky and see next point
-Setting presets on FRFR/monitoring/headphones to gig on non FRFR stuff : Obvious issue, the final shaping of the preset should be done on the gigging power amp / PA, it's not just "turn off cab sim and off you go". That means if you're using FRFR and non-FRFR you should choose between having two presets of each or a poor sound at home :D
-Playing level : There is no need to play loud with FRFR, the sound is the same, I'm really fond of FRFR gear :)

In fact, 50% of the hard times we felt are caused by the chosen amplification and its taming :D

Hope to read from you soon, the Axefx is a blast !

Thanks for the feedback!

Till I have money to by a full FRFR set I stay with 2 presets:
1 for home settings with cabs for home and specifically for headphones and I will buy soon KRK monitors. I run everything through the AXE (also PC). So AXE is my soundcard today till I have money to buy a a better one. As I want to connect everything to the Monitors and also my High End Stereo Set. (today thats only running on Hifiberry+ and Volumio).

1 Stage/Live rehearsel preset list for the songs we play.
Have found some great way's to handle this using Scenes (seamless) including scene-controls and usage with XY settings. But indead I have to make time to do this as I have not played with the band with the AXE yet, as the drummer broke his ribs (ooops). First time I tried it was too thin and also the levels were crazy with the stereo TUBE amp 100/50 watt EL34 Erst Pliek The Traveler.

One thing is that I love to try lots of amps that I never played or today not own. It's really really super. Especially with Quantum 2PLUS.

LOVE IT!
 

musicman0001

Inspired
I know the excitement feeling you described.. I got a speeding ticket coming home from work the day my axe was delivered. Unboxing and hearing it made that all better. I still feel that way nearly a year later.

Yes and after a few months that's still the case.
And also following the forum (like the Yek amps) and many others.
Learning a lot and getting more and more into everything and it's super!
 

Admin M@

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
> Just use your ears.

Exactly! Luckily, in most cases, one will find them to be directly connected to the brain :)
 

musicman0001

Inspired
> Just use your ears.

Exactly! Luckily, in most cases, one will find them to be directly connected to the brain :)

And the funny part is that my ears find the AXE and my small tweaks and usage play and sound even better then my own real tube amp! Which I really do NOT use anymore since I bought the AXE FX MKii and the MFC101. (i do still use a Ernst Pliek 100Watt DUAL/stereo EL34 Power Amp as I do not won any FRFR equipment, but after buying the AXE FX 2 XL+ (or when released the Axe FX 3 on Quantum 3 ) that's the next step hahaha)

So THANKS CLIFF (and FAS team)
 
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musicman0001

Inspired
Welcome Musicman0001!
What did you mean by problems with echo?

Thanks
Pauly
on stage sound in relation to pa sound for audience.
there is a slight audible noticable delay in sound coming from my axe amp cabinet and the sound going from axe to pa
 

ETOLKIEN

Experienced
Your brain can deal with that: tolerance to latency is learned

"First let me add to the anecdotal evidence from my perspective as a performing guitarist and vocalist who has also played some keyboard and piano. I often perform in a totally acoustic setting with un-amplified acoustic guitar and no microphone. In a case like that, the latency is very low - particularly on vocals. When I perform plugged in and sing through a mic, I generally use floor wedge monitors fairly close. None of these scenarios pose any problems for me.

When I perform in larger venues with a house PA and monitors that may be suspended from the ceiling, I am quite uncomfortable with the delay between the time I pluck a string on my guitar and the time I hear it through the monitor - and I have a difficult time performing under those conditions. I am sure that if I did that all the time as a matter of practice, I might eventually get used to it and adapt."

http://music.stackexchange.com/questions/30323/when-does-audio-latency-matter-and-not-matter
 
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musicman0001

Inspired
Your brain can deal with that: tolerance to latency is learned

"First let me add to the anecdotal evidence from my perspective as a performing guitarist and vocalist who has also played some keyboard and piano. I often perform in a totally acoustic setting with un-amplified acoustic guitar and no microphone. In a case like that, the latency is very low - particularly on vocals. When I perform plugged in and sing through a mic, I generally use floor wedge monitors fairly close. None of these scenarios pose any problems for me.

When I perform in larger venues with a house PA and monitors that may be suspended from the ceiling, I am quite uncomfortable with the delay between the time I pluck a string on my guitar and the time I hear it through the monitor - and I have a difficult time performing under those conditions. I am sure that if I did that all the time as a matter of practice, I might eventually get used to it and adapt."

http://music.stackexchange.com/questions/30323/when-does-audio-latency-matter-and-not-matter
Solved the latency issues for the HOME recording usages. Tried several settings, and it plays MUCH better now at home. Because I myself i'm quite sensitive to sound and latency etc.. recording can be found in OP (EDIT) or via http://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/metallica-mkiic-enter-sandman-first-one.115791/

The latency amp and PA is not really a problem as I stopped playing live and are now mainly playing at home and started now to test recording instead as a new hobby ;)
 
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