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Is the II Leaps and Bounds Beyond the Standard?

Josh O

Member
I've had my Standard since '08 and it still blows me away for direct record purposes and I like using it live as well. I've been eyeing the II but other than some of the nice upgraded features like assignable control knobs, bigger screen, headphone jack, USB, ethercon connection with MFC, etc are the amp models and cabinets THAT much more realistic and dynamic to justify dumping my Standard and shelling out the $2200 for the II? Not trying to start a battle or anything, I'm just curious if I'll get that same fall off my chair feeling like I did the first time I jacked into my Standard or will be like, yeah it is nice and the upgraded features are cool but did I really get my money's worth?
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
I'm in the same situation also. I love my Ultra and I don't think there's anything I can't do with it, but sure I'm gasing for the Axe-II in a huge way. I just feel like I'm not sure if the Axe-II will give me anything in return for the money I'd invest in it. F.ex. Periphery guys are still gigging with Axe-Fx Ultra's although they used the Axe-II in the studio. If Axe-II was "that" superior how could they live with using just Ultras... and how can it be about the money since Misha buys or gets a 4000€ guitar every week. :D
 

Beefcake

Inspired
How could anyone answer for you? I have both generations in the same room, but the Standard stays tucked away in a closed rack. I loved the Standard just like you, but the II is so good I don't know if there will ever be much of a point to a III. (Probably there will, though, and probably it'll do something amazing again.)

Try it and see.
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
The standard and Ultra are great. IMHO, the II is far more realistic in terms of sounding like a tube amp but that doesn't mean it sounds "better". The original Axe-Fx had it's own vibe that proved to be very popular for certain musical styles.

So I think it depends on what types of music you play. If you do the drop-D chugga stuff then it may not be much of a tone improvement since the original Axe-Fx kind of became a benchmark for that tone. If you do stuff that requires vintage sounding amps or a wider range of styles then perhaps the upgrade is worth it.

Personally I never use my Ultras anymore. The I/O stuff, Tone Matching and built-in IR capture are, for me, invaluable. I've also found that I can dial in any Ultra tone on the II but the converse is not always possible.
 

Josh O

Member
I do mostly gravitate more towards the higher gain stuff and switch between the Uberschall, Orange, Shiva Lead and lately the Soldano X99 has been my go to. When I direct record, I really do favor the 4x12 cab with V30.
 

GM Arts

Power User
As you've already pointed out, the Standard, Ultra and II are all pro-quality kit capable of replacing your entire sound-processing rig and easily delivering a wide variety of great tones and effects.

As for what you might be missing with the II, other than the tech specs & features, I think many folks, including me, find it has more authentic dynamics (the touch & feel of playing through an amp), but that's not something that's all that obvious to a listener or on a recording.

Don't forget that whichever model you have, you also have a choice between the sounds of different firmware releases. I preferred 10.05 on my Ultra, and still vastly prefer v6 on the AxeFX II.
 
I was a long time Ultra user. For me the biggest change was that the II is more plug and play. I spent over a year tweaking with the Ultra and the sounds I got were great but with the II I dont have to tweak near as much. I'm lazy so the II was worth it.
 

bkrodgers

Inspired
BMW 3 series: Very nice car.
BMW 5 series: Nicer car.
BMW 7 series: Even nicer car.

BMW 3 series, after looking at the 5 and the 7: Still a very nice car.

** Side note: Metaphor aside, I just bought a new car. I looked at the 3 series (not 5 or 7, I don't make that kind of cash), but decided I'd rather spend the $10K + difference between that, equipped as I'd want it, and a Sonata on the Axe II, an RCF, a nice foot controller, and a PRS custom 24. I bought the Sonata and all of that gear and still have several grand left over. I think I chose wisely. :)

But back to my original point, all 3 products are great, from what I've heard. Each is better than the previous, but they started from a very, very good place. I started with the Axe II so can't personally speak to the Standard as a player, but I've heard artists who play it live and record with it. I think it sounds damn good. When you're talking about upgrading, you have to decide where you want to put your resources.
 
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I promise.. promise.. promise.. I've spent 2 days with my new Axe Fx II.. The tones out of the box are 10x's better than anything I created on the Ultra over a 2 year period.
 

luke

Fractal Fanatic
I had the Ultra for years, was never thrilled with it. Got the II and was less pleased until 5.03. Currently I'm more pleased with 7.0 than 8.01a.

All things considered I may revert to 7.0 and stop chasing this dragon, as it's great and certainly good enough for my needs.
 

Axisman5150

Experienced
If you're still "falling off your chair" when you plug into the Standard, Then replace the chair not the Standard. ;-)

I been back in forth on this too, but my Ultra still brings a smile to my face. Plus, I don't have $2,200 to put a bigger smile on my face.
 
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mortega76

Fractal Fanatic
As some who's compared the Ultra to high end high gain amps many times over... It was always hit or miss with the Ultra... With the Axe II it's not even a question for me anymore. The II just sounds and feels like an "amp" now. The Ultra never did (at least not for me).
 

Scott Peterson

Global Moderator
Moderator
I recently used an Ultra with a client and it was great to revisit it again. It sounded great, no question. But speaking in terms specific to the amp modeling.... the Ultra is not a II by any real measure in terms of feel, response, accuracy of tones and dynamics. IMHO. That does not mean the Ultra sounds 'bad' or 'worse' at all. It means the II is just that more... everything.

The II is everything the Ultra is/was and adds - IMHO - a lot to the equation. It is worth - many times over - the added premium in price IMHO. That's why I have a II and not an Ultra.

BUT...
...is it worth it to you? The *only* way to really know is for you to try one.

If you are happy, do not sweat it much. Not much in life actually makes us happy, if you have something that does make you happy... hold on to it. Tightly.

All IMHO, YMMV.
 

schlagdog

Inspired
I know the the A2 is way advanced from the Ultra but most of the bigger touring guys that made me want to get an AXEFX are still on tour with the Ultra. I still talk to guys that like the ultra better but I think it's just due to that's what they have played forever. Even though some of the updated throw all my patches off atleast it's a product that is constantly advancing. You are pretty well stuck with the Ultra the way it is.
 

paulmapp8306

Fractal Fanatic
I had my Standard since 08 as well. i made the Jump to the AFX2 around Firmware 3. At the time i though there wasnt much in it - the AFX2 being a little more alive but that was about it - the Caveat being im an Amp/Cab player so the IR improvement along with more options to tweek wernt being used. However, there have been a couple of very important FW releases since then - and at FW 8, the amp sims themselves are now much better thant he standard IMO. not so much in tone I guess, but there more open sounding, much more dynamic and touch responsive. i recently sold my Standard as I really couldnt see me using it any more - even as a backup. That sounds a bit odd maybe - BUT originally the standard would dep for the 2 if the worse happened, but the 2 has moved on so much (and the Fractal units are generally very reliable) that I decided Id be just as well served with something else as a backup - so I picked up a POD HD used for practically pennies and sold the Standard. Yeh the POD isnt as nice as the standard - but for the use the units would/are getting its no biggie - and I had money left over thats going towards a something else (either a passive FRFR cab OR some new studio monitors).
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
As far as amp realism goes I don't know if there's a lot I'm missing in the Ultra. After match EQ the only differences I hear are in the uber-high frequencies and you can't hear that in a mix afterwards. I consider myself a person who's standards are quite high, meaning that I tested the Kemper f.ex. and to me the match wasn't close enough to the real thing while professionals like Andy Sneap at least commercially say they use the Kemper. I just finished recording an album with my band and half of the songs are recorded with my Orange Rockerverb 100 through an Orange cab, half of the songs are done with Axe-Fx with match EQ and I can't remember which songs we're a real amp and which are not since I can't tell the difference and neither can anyone else in the band.

Mid-gain amps might be where the differences become bigger and I do play some of that genre too: That's my Orange rig though.
 

vAmp

Fractal Fanatic
For me "leaps and bounds" because of...
- the introduction of feel starting from fw5 and better dynamics (which I found mostly absent on G1 and is more like an extremely good Pod ;))
- the "organic living tone", forgetting you're playing a "model", feeling like your fav guitar player on stage, etc. The many epiphanies have sure added up to the more "static" feel of G1.
- more amps & user IRs
- much improved fragile harmonics ;)
- all the other extras, but the first two rule

Don't underestimate the difference ;) You might feel silly upgrading so late.
 
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yek

Moderator
Moderator
No doubt about it, the II sounds way more authentic, dynamic and organic. II-specific features like global blocks, X/Y and USB-connectivity are very valuable timesavers for me. And MFC-integration is better with the II.

But if necessary, I could switch in no time to a Standard or Ultra with fw 11, gig with it and have a great time too. The Gen1 units contain great amp models. They can use external IRs which is very important. And I don't use ToneMatch much and don't capture IRs.
 

Ant Music

Power User
II-specific features like global blocks, X/Y and USB-connectivity are very valuable timesavers

Dig it. I always had problems with Axe Edit which gave me the utter shits. No more of that thanks to the USB connectivity. Also I had to make a -5 dB change to all my acoustic guitar patches (12 or 15 of them) the other day as I noticed I was getting some clipping whilst jamming. Now that I have global blocks it is soooo easy. I just changed one block and they all correspond automatically. I love it.
 
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