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My first month with the Axe-Fx III

Rekster

Inspired
I have been a tube amp user for many years, and due to some bad experiences with modelers in the past I was skeptical yet fascinated by the capabilities of the Axe FX. So I took a chance about a month ago and ordered the Axe FX III.

I was pleasantly surprised, well beyond expectations. This is an absolutely fantastic piece of technology. The effects and routing options are phenomenal. I love being able to tweak things, throw delay before or after the preamp with a click of the mouse. As I run stereo amps, this required rewiring things in the past - a major pain. Not any more! The high gain tones I was using with my Mesa tube amps are replicated perfectly, and I'm enjoying my tone better than ever. My drummer is even commenting on how much clearer my tone is now. I'm honestly blown away.

My tone is amazing through headphones. It's amazing through my Yamaha HS8 studio monitors. It also sounds amazing through my guitar cabs (I'm sending the output to the power amp of both my Mesa MarkV and TC100 tube amps via the FX loop return).

But here's my dilemma. When gigging I can't be dragging out two expensive tube amps just for their power amps. So I've been trying to use my Cerwin Vega CVE-12 powered loudspeakers as FRFR wedges. But the tone is just not there, and is beyond satisfying. The best way I can describe it is that it sounds boxy. Absolutely nothing like my Yamaha HS8 studio monitors.. I've even made sure the DSP on the Cerwin Vega's was set to 'Flat/Mix' and still doesn't sound good to me. It's boxy sounding and lacks mids... So I'm stuck now knowing what my best option is at this point. The way I see it is I have 3 options to try:

1) Pick up a tube power amp (such as the Mesa 2:90) and continue to use my guitar cabs.

2) Pick up a solid state amp (such as the Matrix GT1000FX) and continue to use my guitar cabs.

3) More ideally, (and to take advantage of the cab blocks), pick up some new powered wedges and see if they perform better than the Cerwin Vega powered speakers I currently have. From what I'm reading one of the better options is the Atomic CLR Neo MKII wedges. (Although it looks like they aren't available at the moment)

My problem is, if I won't hear a noticeable difference between the Cerwin Vega and the Atomic CLR that it will be a waste of money. (And I just purchased the Cerwin Vega speakers 6 months ago....)

I realize there's a lot of threads on the various options out there and trust me I've read most of them over the last few weeks. I've even subscribed to Cooper Carter's Axe FX III Master Class in an effort to learn more. And I do realize that FRFR is not the same as what you get from a guitar cab.

In any case, based on my specific situation I'd really appreciate some advice. I play a heavier crunch style of guitar if that helps direct me...

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Cheers.
 

ML SOUND LAB

Cab Pack Wizard
Vendor
First of all welcome to the Fractal family! :) This is a really good community so feel free to as any questions.

As for your options, especially if you come from a long tube amp background I highly recommend the 2:90 route. That power amp (the best power amp by the way!) will make the Axe-Fx III sound and feel just like a real tube amp with real cabinets. Solid state and FRFR is where I feel people have the most difficulties adjusting even when it might be more convenient.
 

bdrepko

Power User
I have been a tube amp user for many years, and due to some bad experiences with modelers in the past I was skeptical yet fascinated by the capabilities of the Axe FX. So I took a chance about a month ago and ordered the Axe FX III.

I was pleasantly surprised, well beyond expectations. This is an absolutely fantastic piece of technology. The effects and routing options are phenomenal. I love being able to tweak things, throw delay before or after the preamp with a click of the mouse. As I run stereo amps, this required rewiring things in the past - a major pain. Not any more! The high gain tones I was using with my Mesa tube amps are replicated perfectly, and I'm enjoying my tone better than ever. My drummer is even commenting on how much clearer my tone is now. I'm honestly blown away.

My tone is amazing through headphones. It's amazing through my Yamaha HS8 studio monitors. It also sounds amazing through my guitar cabs (I'm sending the output to the power amp of both my Mesa MarkV and TC100 tube amps via the FX loop return).

But here's my dilemma. When gigging I can't be dragging out two expensive tube amps just for their power amps. So I've been trying to use my Cerwin Vega CVE-12 powered loudspeakers as FRFR wedges. But the tone is just not there, and is beyond satisfying. The best way I can describe it is that it sounds boxy. Absolutely nothing like my Yamaha HS8 studio monitors.. I've even made sure the DSP on the Cerwin Vega's was set to 'Flat/Mix' and still doesn't sound good to me. It's boxy sounding and lacks mids... So I'm stuck now knowing what my best option is at this point. The way I see it is I have 3 options to try:

1) Pick up a tube power amp (such as the Mesa 2:90) and continue to use my guitar cabs.

2) Pick up a solid state amp (such as the Matrix GT1000FX) and continue to use my guitar cabs.

3) More ideally, (and to take advantage of the cab blocks), pick up some new powered wedges and see if they perform better than the Cerwin Vega powered speakers I currently have. From what I'm reading one of the better options is the Atomic CLR Neo MKII wedges. (Although it looks like they aren't available at the moment)

My problem is, if I won't hear a noticeable difference between the Cerwin Vega and the Atomic CLR that it will be a waste of money. (And I just purchased the Cerwin Vega speakers 6 months ago....)

I realize there's a lot of threads on the various options out there and trust me I've read most of them over the last few weeks. I've even subscribed to Cooper Carter's Axe FX III Master Class in an effort to learn more. And I do realize that FRFR is not the same as what you get from a guitar cab.

In any case, based on my specific situation I'd really appreciate some advice. I play a heavier crunch style of guitar if that helps direct me...

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Cheers.
It gets even better when you really learn how to use it.

Edit: For live use I go straight into the PA. Sounds fantastic out front. For monitoring, I just use wedge monitors. This sounds good enough for me. Not boxy at all.
 

LucasLeCompte

Experienced
WElcome! My advice would be to get a tube power amp, that way you can have the best of both worlds. You can set it up to where one of your ouputs bypasses the cab block live that way it wouldnt effect your sound. I would also recommend dialing in your live patches with the power amp turned on and with a cab in the room, that way you know for sure how they will sound.
 

Rekster

Inspired
First of all welcome to the Fractal family! :) This is a really good community so feel free to as any questions.

As for your options, especially if you come from a long tube amp background I highly recommend the 2:90 route. That power amp (the best power amp by the way!) will make the Axe-Fx III sound and feel just like a real tube amp with real cabinets. Solid state and FRFR is where I feel people have the most difficulties adjusting even when it might be more convenient.
Interesting... I assumed that I'd be directed to go FRFR. The funny thing is, when practicing in my home studio (and also when recording) I just use my studio monitors now (with cab blocks engaged). The sound is perfect and no need to blow my eardrums out. I'm just looking for the live situation, mostly for personal monitoring on stage as I can send direct to FOH from the Axe FX III. I also like to play with feedback so I certainly need a speaker on stage for that. I don't know if I would be content with FRFR or not, depends on whether there's FRFR wedges that would be satisfying. The Cerwin Vega powered speakers I currently have are certainly not doing it for me. Perhaps you're right and I would be better off sticking with my guitar cabs and a tube amp for my stage sound.

Question - would there be a notable difference between a solid state and tube amp? I wish I had both to experiment with. :p
 

phil92

Inspired
I think in your position I would get the matrix gt 1000 fx (or 1500, so you're open to experiment with WDW set ups down the road...) and use your existing guitar cabs.
When you have the chance, try some FRFR cabs until you find one that you like. This way you are flexible to use either guitar cabs or FRFR and, if I'm not mistaken, take advantage of the power amp simulation in the axe fx (which you would disable with a tube power amp)
 

Tommy Tempest

Experienced
Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Cheers.
After I switched to the AXE FXII XL+, I tried FRFR, solid state amps, etc. It was always missing something in the live environment.
So I went back to my Mesa 2:90 running into 1 or 2 4 x 12 cabs. I sold the 2:90 and got a Mesa 2:50, because I never used anything but normal on the 2:90, and because of weight. I now have the AXE FXIII. These days my setup is AXE FXIII to either a Mesa 4 x 12 or 2 x 12. IMHO you will not miss your warm tube saturated tone this way. I also go direct to FOH instead of micing the cab.
 

Perdikament

Power User
Well I’ll offer you another viewpoint. If you like what you are hearing out of the HS8’s then this is easily a pretty straight forward easily thing to replicate only louder. Powered PA speakers. I used both a set (at different times) of the QSC KW152 & KW153’s and loved em. Not saying they have to be those, just as long as you get as best quality as you can possibly afford. Plenty of power, can put em up on stands if ya want or lay em down.. one on each side of the stage.. and the patches you work on with the HS8’s should translate pretty good barring any fletcher Munson effect. Or you could go with something like the CLR’s. I like being able to take advantage of the cab IR’s and also the CAB Block on the AFIII is absolutely amazing, so much tone shaping can be done in that block. If you’re running into a regular guitar cab you won’t be using that.
 

boyedav

Member
I use a Carvin DC1540L and a traditional guitar cab. I leave amp modelling on in the Axe, but disable cab modelling. I love it. I'm still kinda attached to the amp-in-the-room feel/sound, so it's a good balance that still gives me an incredible amount of power. I like the idea of using FRFR and the Axe's cab sims, but that'll need to be a more gradual transition for me.
 
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Rekster

Inspired
After I switched to the AXE FXII XL+, I tried FRFR, solid state amps, etc. It was always missing something in the live environment.
So I went back to my Mesa 2:90 running into 1 or 2 4 x 12 cabs. I sold the 2:90 and got a Mesa 2:50, because I never used anything but normal on the 2:90, and because of weight. I now have the AXE FXIII. These days my setup is AXE FXIII to either a Mesa 4 x 12 or 2 x 12. IMHO you will not miss your warm tube saturated tone this way. I also go direct to FOH instead of micing the cab.
So you're now using the Axe FXIII with a Mesa 2:50 and Mesa cabs? I read a discussion on another forum that implied the 2:50 was more neutral than the 2:90. Did you have that experience? Also, do you leave power amp simulation on? I leave it on with my tube amps currently and find it sounds good without having to disable it.
 

Rekster

Inspired
Well I’ll offer you another viewpoint. If you like what you are hearing out of the HS8’s then this is easily a pretty straight forward easily thing to replicate only louder. Powered PA speakers. I used both a set (at different times) of the QSC KW152 & KW153’s and loved em. Not saying they have to be those, just as long as you get as best quality as you can possibly afford. Plenty of power, can put em up on stands if ya want or lay em down.. one on each side of the stage.. and the patches you work on with the HS8’s should translate pretty good barring any fletcher Munson effect. Or you could go with something like the CLR’s. I like being able to take advantage of the cab IR’s and also the CAB Block on the AFIII is absolutely amazing, so much tone shaping can be done in that block. If you’re running into a regular guitar cab you won’t be using that.
My Cerwin Vegas are actually powered PA speakers... I just find they sound drastically different than my studio monitors and I don't like the boxy tone.
 

Rekster

Inspired
I think in your position I would get the matrix gt 1000 fx (or 1500, so you're open to experiment with WDW set ups down the road...) and use your existing guitar cabs.
When you have the chance, try some FRFR cabs until you find one that you like. This way you are flexible to use either guitar cabs or FRFR and, if I'm not mistaken, take advantage of the power amp simulation in the axe fx (which you would disable with a tube power amp)
If only I could have them all to experiment with. :) I actually leave power amp sim on when running through the tube amps and it sounds better that way to me.
 

electronpirate

Moderator
Moderator
Look around in this section I've moved this to. Plenty of experiences to read about.

There are very many options you have here. The easiest are the CLR and other powered cabs. A bit more complex is a Matrix (or like) and your cabs.

Everyone is different, so try a few and see what fits your ear. As you've found, not all PA/FRFR speakers are alike.
 

chris

Legend!
My Cerwin Vegas are actually powered PA speakers... I just find they sound drastically different than my studio monitors and I don't like the boxy tone.
You can try to adjust the Global Graphic EQ to take the boxiness out of the speakers. It’s in the Global menu. Cut frequencies one at a time until you learn what each sounds like, then try to adjust it to your liking.

Also realize that the sound will change when you turn up to gig volume. So adjust it at the gig if you can as well. Then leave it set for that.
 

Perdikament

Power User
My Cerwin Vegas are actually powered PA speakers... I just find they sound drastically different than my studio monitors and I don't like the boxy tone.
Well are they boxy sounding compared to your HS8’s when you’re listening to music?
Could just be the Vegas and not that they’re powered PA speakers. They’re not all created equal ya know. The QSC’s or something even better are going to make a markedly big difference in what you hear.
 

khvMX

Member
As some already pointed out, most probably the problem is the volume. Since you like the monitored sound and even the sound from headphones, as I read about "lacking the mids" I immediately thought of Fletcher-Mudson curve. Crank the volume on your HS8 to the gig level and I bet you won't like it as well.
Solution: dial in the tone on the gig level and preferably with a gig speakers.
That being said, I am also using yamahas at home and opted for a Fryette 2/50/2 power amp with real guitar cab for rehearsals and live.
 

666was999

Power User
When your presets are good on the HS-8 you are almost there. Check them on some more systems and tweak them to fit everywhere. Since they should translate on many different PA systems too, that's a logical target anyway.
When you think about it the other way round, how can it sound good on all different kinds of PAs when only a CLR was able to satisfy your needs?

After enough tweaking you are not limited to certain gear anymore and you can use whatever you want to enjoy your sounds.

How to get there? It's a bit of a way...
 

pauly

Fractal Fanatic
Hi Rekster

Again - welcome ;-)

If you could find stage monitors that sound like studio monitors, you’ll be set! Then, there will be no coloration between the axe fx and what you/foh/any other outputs. If you find some, let me know please - I’m sure they’ll be expensive but which piece of your favorite gear isn’t?
Thanks
Pauly


Interesting... I assumed that I'd be directed to go FRFR. The funny thing is, when practicing in my home studio (and also when recording) I just use my studio monitors now (with cab blocks engaged). The sound is perfect and no need to blow my eardrums out. I'm just looking for the live situation, mostly for personal monitoring on stage as I can send direct to FOH from the Axe FX III. I also like to play with feedback so I certainly need a speaker on stage for that. I don't know if I would be content with FRFR or not, depends on whether there's FRFR wedges that would be satisfying. The Cerwin Vega powered speakers I currently have are certainly not doing it for me. Perhaps you're right and I would be better off sticking with my guitar cabs and a tube amp for my stage sound.

Question - would there be a notable difference between a solid state and tube amp? I wish I had both to experiment with. :p
 
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