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Difficulty Re-Amping in Ableton Live

New Axe FX III user here...totally blown away and loving it. I've been scouring the net to figure out how to re-amp with this unit in Ableton Live and I can't seem to get it to work despite following guidelines. Basically, I have a set of guitar tracks that I had already recorded in Live before I bought the Axe FX III. I was using a variety of amp VST plugins to play the tracks, but now want to use the Axe.

This is what I've done so far.
1. I have a audio track in Live ready to go with the raw guitar file (no processing, amp, etc),
2. I changed the audio setting in Live -- set the Axe FX III as sound source, input and output, activated all of the inputs and outputs, bit rate is correct at 48.
3. I went into the Axe I/O settings and changed Input 1 Source to USB (Channels 5/6)
4. USB is connected between my Macbook pro and the Axe

This is where things get mirky for me. I'm not sure how to setup the audio track to play the raw guitar track using the preset sounds I have selected in the Axe. How do I set up the Audio From section of the guitar audio track? I tried setting it to External In and 5/6...didn't work. None of the channels work. What I hear is still the raw guitar track. What am I missing? Do I need to be routing things differently?

Finally, is there a way for me to plug my guitar into my digital audio interface (Scarlett), like I did before when using my VST plugins, and then somehow have Live use the Axe as if it were a plugin?

Kris
 
I'm pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to re-amp given my preferred setup. Looking for advice on the most efficient and convenient way to pull this off. As I gather, there are many ways to do this -- using the standard way as instructed by the manual with using the Axe FX III as interface and switching back and forth between channel 1 as analogue or USB (pain in the ass); using an external interface in various ways; using conglomerate devices with mac combining both the audio interface and FX III; using an external interface with with USB but treating the Axe FX III as sort of an effect unit in the signal chain, using an audio interface with multiple inputs/outputs, etc, etc. I've watched countless videos on who to re-amp a million different ways, but none are on the context of producing vs. just tracking guitar parts.

This is what i'd like to do. I am using Ableton Live to produce complex songs, where guitar is only one of many tracks. What I am used to doing is just plugging my guitar directly into my audio interface and is using VST amp plugins in Ableton Live for my guitar. Super easy. I record my parts in one track with the plugin in the track, and play them back, using the plugin. No re-amping gymnastics or re-configuration required. I just change the settings in the plugin and that's how it plays back. I want to be able to simulate this ease of usability but use the Axe FX III instead of my VST plugins. I don't want the complexity of having to go through all these steps of creating a reference track, a DI track, and a re-amp track. I want to do all this in a single track. Is this possible? I wonder if someone makes a plugin that acts sort of like an amp plugin, but instead just routes the the guitar signal from the input of the audio interface to the Axe FX III, brings it back, and then outputs it to the audio interface mains. That simple.
 

Kamil Kisiel

Veteran
How about using the External Audio Effect live device? Set the input track for your audio track to be the dry guitar signal, connected to your audio interface. Set the External Audio Effect's "Audio To" to be the inputs of the Axe-FX, then the "Audio From" to be the main output. Now when you record that track in Live, it will record only your dry guitar signal, but you will hear the effected version passing through the Axe-FX and be able to tweak the settings. Then you can freeze the track and copy the audio to another audio track to render it (or not copy it, but then you run the risk of losing your render if you unfreeze it).
 
W
How about using the External Audio Effect live device? Set the input track for your audio track to be the dry guitar signal, connected to your audio interface. Set the External Audio Effect's "Audio To" to be the inputs of the Axe-FX, then the "Audio From" to be the main output. Now when you record that track in Live, it will record only your dry guitar signal, but you will hear the effected version passing through the Axe-FX and be able to tweak the settings. Then you can freeze the track and copy the audio to another audio track to render it (or not copy it, but then you run the risk of losing your render if you unfreeze it).
Can you define or explain "External Audio Effect" live device? I understand the part about plugging into my audio interface, which will be what Ableton Live is using as it's I/O device, but what does you mean by "Set the External Audio Effects "Audio to"?

Perhaps a simple signal chain diagram would help.

Guitar -> Focusrite Scarlet Input 1 --> ??? Am I physically running out of the Focusrite's stereo quarter inch outputs into the stereo 1/2 inputs of the FX III unit? Then how do I get the output of the FX II back into the Focusrite to feed it back into Live?
 

Kamil Kisiel

Veteran
Ableton Live comes with a bunch of plugins, instruments and audio effects. One of them is called "External Audio". It's an audio effect specifically for routing the current track out an audio interface and then back in. It's meant for integrating external hardware effects into your track's signal chain.

I don't know what interface you have, but if you have enough I/O you can do:

Guitar -> Input 1 -> Track input
External Audio Effect Audio To -> Output 3/4 -> Axe-FX -> Input 3/4 -> External Audio Effect Audio From

I believe you could also achieve the same thing by using the Axe-FX as your audio interface in USB mode as follows:

Guitar -> Axe-FX Input 1 -> USB In 5+6 -> Track Input
External Audio Effect Audio To -> Axe-FX Output 5+6 -> In 1 block (Set source to USB in global I/O) -> Axe-FX blocks -> Out 1 block -> Axe-FX USB Input 1+2 -> External Audio Effect Audio From
 
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Ableton Live comes with a bunch of plugins, instruments and audio effects. One of them is called "External Audio". It's an audio effect specifically for routing the current track out an audio interface and then back in. It's meant for integrating external hardware effects into your track's signal chain.

I don't know what interface you have, but if you have enough I/O you can do:

Guitar -> Input 1 -> Track input
External Audio Effect Audio To -> Output 3/4 -> Axe-FX -> Input 3/4 -> External Audio Effect Audio From

I believe you could also achieve the same thing by using the Axe-FX as your audio interface in USB mode as follows:

Guitar -> Axe-FX Input 1 -> USB In 5+6 -> Track Input
External Audio Effect Audio To -> Axe-FX Output 5+6 -> In 1 block (Set source to USB in global I/O) -> Axe-FX blocks -> Out 1 block -> Axe-FX USB Input 1+2 -> External Audio Effect Audio From
Awesome. I am going to go for scenario 1, but I need to upgrade my audio interface, as it only has 2 inputs. Heading to the store now to pickup the Scarlett 6i6, then I should be set! I believe I might be able to do with the SDIF as well, with no hardware cabling whatsoever, so I may try that as well.
 
This problem is going to drive me to drink! I decided to go the SPIDF route.

I spent a good 6 hours yesterday trying to troubleshoot why I can't get the Axe FX III to work with my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 and SPDIF.
This is what I'm using and how I have things setup.

Gear/Software
- Macbook Pro with the latest OS (Mohave)
- Ableton Live 9 Standard 64bit as my DAW
- Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 audio interface (4 inputs, 6 outputs)
- Axe FX III (of course)

Routing

Guitar --> analog input 1 of the Focusrite --> Focusrite SPDIF Out --> Axe FX III SPDIF In --> Axe FX III SPDIF Out --> Focusrite SPDIF In.

I essentially want to treat the Focusrite as sort of a preamp, using the SPIDF inputs and outputs like an effects loop, with the Axe FX III inside the loop. Then inside Ableton Live, I can use the FX III as if it were an effect or amp plugin in a track.

Axe FX III Settings

- Axe FX III Input 1 Source set to SPDIF/AES
- Wordclock set to SPDIF/AES IN
- SPDIF/EAS Select set to SPDIF
- SPDIF/EAS Source set to Output 1

Ableton Live Settings/Setup


- Focusrite is set as the audio device in Preferences and Audio; all inputs and outputs activated
- I have inserted an Audio track with its input source set to Input 1 (the dry DI guitar signal from the Focusrite analog 1 input); the track's output is Master ( 1/2 in the DAW)
- Inside the track effect section, I have inserted the Ableton Live "External Audio Effects" plugin, with the Audio "To" set as 5/6, and the Audio "From" set to 5/6 (I assume that for the Axe FX III, input/outputs 5/6 are for SPDIF?)

Note: Nowhere in any dropdown menu for outputs and inputs in Ableton Live does it say "SPDIF"...it's all basically just output/input numbers.

When I play my guitar, I can see the dry input from the Focusrite input 1 producing signal in the audio track. However, the signal is not getting to the Axe FX III via SPDIF, with the Audio Effects Device plugin routing the signal to and from input/outputs 5/6.

I also tried not using the "External Audio Effects" plugin, creating DI audio track with the input from the Focusrite input 1, sending the output of that track to 5/6, and then creating a wet track getting its signal from 5/6, then sending all this to the DAW master. This doesn't work either. I've seen videos of both of these scenarios on YouTube with people successfully producing signal.

Not sure what is going on. I have sent this whole scenario to Fractal Audio via email to see if I can get on the phone with a tech and resolve it.
 

Kamil Kisiel

Veteran
Your setup and signal chain looks reasonable to me. I'm not familiar with the Focusrite interfaces, so I don't know what needs to be set up there to make it work of if you are routing the correct ins/outs in Ableton.

One thing you can try is just set up the synth block in the Axe-FX to generate some constant signal and route it to the output. Then you can check the inputs dropdown in Ableton Live to see which, if any, of the inputs are getting the signal. Also I would assume that Focusrite interfaces have some kind of mixer / router application ? Both my MOTU and RME did, you should be able to check all signal levels there.
 
Is SPDIF out set to "Playback 5-6" in Focusrite Control?

Here are some screenshots. What is strange is that I see signal in 5/6 but when I turn on the External Audio Unit plugin to take send the Focusrite DI input to the Axe FX via SPDIF and back, the output is clean and dry. Do I need to modify my preset in the Axe somehow different? There is no SPDIF in the input block options.
Is SPDIF out set to "Playback 5-6" in Focusrite Control?

Here are some screenshots. What is strange is that I see signal in 5/6 but when I turn on the External Audio Unit plugin to take send the Focusrite DI input to the Axe FX via SPDIF and back, the output is clean and dry. Do I need to modify my preset in the Axe somehow different? There is no SPDIF in the input block options.

upload_2019-5-12_19-25-42.png

upload_2019-5-12_19-26-9.png


upload_2019-5-12_19-27-2.png



upload_2019-5-12_19-27-41.png
 
In the Axe-FX global settings Audio menu is Input 1 source set to SPDIF/AES, and SPDIF/AES Source set to Output 1?
Yup. I think something flakey is going on with either the Focusrite or Axe. For a few minutes I was able to get it to work but my guitar signal sounded super saturated. Then it started to screech and howl. I then attempted to try using the External Audio Effect plugin by using the quarter inch outputs and inputs 3/4, sort of like using the Focusrite as a preamp and the Axe as an effect in an effects loop. So no SPDIF. That screeched and howled as well. I tried multiple configurations in the Scarlet control software, muting and unmuting channels, etc. Super frustrating. I’ve never that this much difficulty attempting to get a system to work. I don’t know who to call, Focusrite or Fractal. The two units don’t seem to be communicating properly.
 

Kamil Kisiel

Veteran
Is your project at 48k? and you set the word clock on the Axe to SPDIF?

Although with the screeching and howling it sounds like you may have a feedback loop happening. I am pretty sure there is nothing wrong with either of your devices, it's just a configuration issue. I wish I was more familiar with the Focusrite stuff so I could offer some advice, but I've used this setup with both MOTU and RME cards and it has worked in both cases assuming the routing is done right.

Your screenshot of the focusrite configuration doesn't show what the mix is for the line outputs and spdif outputs?
 

Bakerman

Axe-Master
Change this to "Playback 5-6".



Your screenshot doesn't show the custom mixes for Outputs 3-6. If those include whichever input is receiving reamped signal, that would create a feedback loop.

If there's still feedback, looking at DAW track routing/monitoring settings is a logical next step. It might be good to create a new 2-track project for troubleshooting without the EAE plugin for now. Drop a DI into a track and set its output to 5-6. Add a second track to record SPDIF In (5-6). See if it reamps/records then without feedback.
 
Change this to "Playback 5-6".



Your screenshot doesn't show the custom mixes for Outputs 3-6. If those include whichever input is receiving reamped signal, that would create a feedback loop.

If there's still feedback, looking at DAW track routing/monitoring settings is a logical next step. It might be good to create a new 2-track project for troubleshooting without the EAE plugin for now. Drop a DI into a track and set its output to 5-6. Add a second track to record SPDIF In (5-6). See if it reamps/records then without feedback.
Good grief! I finally got this working. The problem was with the Focusrite Scarlet configuration settings. When I was on the phone with Focusrite tech support, the guy had me use custom configurations for all three sections (Inputs/Outputs, SPDIF, etc) with just about every input/output activated, which was unnecessary and just confused things, and confusing the hell out of me because I was trying to resolve things by muting inputs/outputs. It was really as simple as setting the SPDIF output to 5/6.

However...I'm not through yet. My guitar sounds much different with this configuration than when I plug directly into the Axe FX III and use the headphone out form the Axe as well. When plugging directly into the Axe, it sounds so much more fuller, clear, louder, and direct. Using SPDIF, it sounds like it's more saturated and lower volume, and even with my Scarlet input 1 level set to almost peak. Shouldn't the quality of the signal be just as good?
 
Is that XLR or 1/4" to the front input 1 on 6i6? First I'd check if it sounds the same running to Line In 3/4 or SPDIF.
It is one of the hybrid inputs that will accept both XLR or 1/4 inches. I am plugging my guitar quarter inch directly into it. I don't think I can run my guitar into the Lines....I need to be able to adjust the trim level.
 
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