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How to setup Axe Fx II


New Member
Hi All,

This is my first post so be gentle. I am a new comer to guitar technology and have always used tube amps and pedals, but after seeing videos on youtube etc I am very interested in buying a Fractal Axe FX II. However, I have no idea what I would need in order to use the Axe FX in a live situation, for example to play in my basement with a drummer, bass player, singer. Do you have to have the axe fx, run it into a power amp then a mixer and then into speakers?? Is this normal? What is the best way to utilize the speaker emulation with the axe fx, I see a lot of reference to FRFR speakers but will they be loud enough? I am not looking to run it through my amp head, I want to use the Axe Fx for everything, but do not want to sit in front of my computer or use head phones. I am used to a 100 watt head, so you can imagine I like to hear things loud. If someone could give me some insight on how to most effectively use the Fractal for both effects and as an amp/speaker modeler I would appreciate it.



There's no such thing as "normal" with the Axe.
You can set it up in MANY different ways.. it's what works for you.
Of the top of my head I believe it's being used direct to PA, to power amp and cab, to power amp and FRFR, 4CM in std head/cab combo and other combinations.
I go direct to PA (from OUT1) and to FRFR stage monitors (from OUT2). I can adjust my stage output levels without impacting the FOH feed levels.
That's what works for me, tho'.

Since you have a head/cab combo, you could start with the 4CM approach.
Or, try Axe into head effect return,
Or, Axe to Power amp into speaker cab..
Those are some starting points... they may not work for you.
Think of the Axe as being over 70+ amp heads with at least as many Cab combinations... it's a virtual tone cornucopia!
You may go thru a variety of setups to find the one that you love.
However, don't quit because the first "aint't given you chills".. have to find the setup that works best for your ears, as one persons tone nirvana is another's garbage!


Hello Morty, welcome!

I believe the Axe nowadays can be used "almost" as a plug n play amp. Fractal has been working really hard on this. The default settings are really really awesome. Adjust gain, bass, treble, presence, mids etc to taste just like a normal amp.
You can leave all the advanced stuff for later, no problem.

Since you mentioned you have a tube amp, the best way for now is use your amp as a power amp. Axe -> Tube Power amp -> Guitar cab.
Connecting the Axe-Fx II: power amp and speaker cabinet - Axe-Fx II Wiki

As luke said download the manual and check the Wiki.
The forum is great to. A lot of people willing to help.

Sorry for the English.

Cooper Carter

Fractal Fanatic

In my opinion, the easiest way to use the Axe is also the best sounding: FRFR. You can get yourself a great powered stage monitor from JBL, Mackie, etc. for fairly cheap that will sound awesome and be plenty loud. If you are willing to spend some more $$, there are some stunning FRFR options.

Having a stage monitor (or a pair for stereo :) as your amplification will allow you to utilize all of the Axe's amp, cab, and effect simulations to their fullest and will serve you well at home and in small venues where PA is reserved for the singer.

For anything bigger, it does not get any easier than plugging straight into the house PA and having the sound guy give you your guitar in the monitor. That's my go-to choice that continues to prove its worth to me over and over, from fifty person bars to 3,000 person outdoor stages.

But if you're not ready to go FRFR, your head and cab will be a perfectly good option. I've used that setup as well and it's absolutely killer. But I'll take my FRFR monitors any day.


Fractal Fanatic
I second CC on the FRFR setup. I am using a powered FRFR monitor, and loving it. The ease of setup and moving versus big amp rigs can't be overstated to me. As for volume, you basically set up for what you need... anything from a single speaker to as many as you can tolerate. I go to the mains with output one, and to FRFR with output 2 so I can change my stage volumes when I want without under or over driving the front end of the house PA. I can also bring more of my guitar through the monitors, but I don't need it.

Most of us downsized (a lot!) when we went to the Axe Fx, but you can actually get bigger and more powerful if you need to... FRFR can be a rack of power amps and some huge PA speakers too. It really is up to you. And of course, it can be set up into a normal preamp type configuration to a power amp and guitars cabs, or in the loop of a amplifier as well.

Many, many options. Welcome to the wild and wonderful side of guitar amplification, and to the forum!


If you are a loud playing 100w tube head player, I would start with:

AxeFx II -> Matrix Power Amp -> your existing 4x12 cab(s)

Essentially replace the head with the AxeFx + Matrix.

I think FRFR is a great way to go, and volume with FRFR is available too.

But if you want the same stage vibe as your 100w stack, IMO, pwr amp -> guitar cab is the way to go.

If you want to reduce your schleppage or just want to go a new direction, FRFR is the way to go.



Question. Let's say you're setting up a home studio rig. Can you run the Axe through a mixer without any problems? or is a power amp required to run the thing properly?


Power User
I'd tweak a Preset I go into basic and adjust, go into power and play with power amp low and hight cut,Fx to taste.I.m running bx52 monitors and head phone (and a course more gain if you need):D


Question. Let's say you're setting up a home studio rig. Can you run the Axe through a mixer without any problems? or is a power amp required to run the thing properly?
It works just fine feeding straight to a mixer. A lot of people do exactly that. As chrisallen8888 noted above, "A power amp never goes into a mixer." :)


MetalGarret said:
Question. Let's say you're setting up a home studio rig. Can you run the Axe through a mixer without any problems? or is a power amp required to run the thing properly?
You can run the Axe direct to powered monitors if you don't need a mixer for anything else.


It works just fine feeding straight to a mixer. A lot of people do exactly that. As chrisallen8888 noted above, "A power amp never goes into a mixer." :)
HAHA i know a power amp never goes into a mixer. But I was thinking power amp to Axe to mixer. (or is it the same regardless?) Either way, that's good news for me. Means I dont have to spend another 500 dollars or so on a power amp. Unless I go live with my rig which I dont have planned at the moment. Thanks for the info.


Using simple terms, any power amp sends higher voltage through the cable with the audio signal. This higher voltage (increased amplitude) "drives" a speaker so it is loud enough.

You wouldn't put a high voltage signal into the input of the axe... There is no need to really and the axe isn't meant to handle it, just the audio signal. Same with a mixer. This powered signal is really only meant to feed a speaker.

Always think of your signal path from start to finish and connections should be simple: guitar - axe - mixer - power amp - speaker.


Hey Morty welcome! I side with the minority here in saying use a power amp and guitar cab. Going FRFR made me go out of my mind at the beginning. If you can get a solid state poweramp (doesnt need to be so expensive, just loud) and run into your existing cabs you'll feel a lot of joy a lot faster, because all the cab sims/mic sims are tough to figure out. You will lose a drop of versatility but IMO its worth it at first. You will also need to learn how to insert the fx loop in the chain before your cab sim (that lets output 2 go to the guitar cab and 1 go to the pa), but that's later.


Running into a power amp and cabs you will loose the benefits of FRFR which are the cabs which have been stated here as being 80-90% of the "tone". When i was running through my cabs, a lot of the amps sounded really similar. Make no mistake it will take some getting used to not using cabs, almost liken it to using ear monitors vs wedges. You are listening to a mic'd up rig, vs just hearing what is coming out of the speaker.

I'd almost suggest borrowing a powered monitor, or get something with a decent return policy and try it out before committing either way.

Jay Jordan

I am running the Ultra direct into the mixing board and listening to the guitar strictly on in ears (as is the rest of the band - we like to keep stage volume low). But of course you lose some of the dynamics, playing and otherwise, of having an amp on stage. Is having an FRFR powered speaker a big enough improvement over what I am getting in my ears to justify the expense and another piece of equipment to haul? Personally I think standard wedges designed for vocals are just awful so I'd like to have something for shows where backline is provided but the sound guy has all his auxes tied up and can't or won't send me an in ear signal.
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