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My honest review

Discussion in 'Axe-Fx III Reviews' started by dupere11497, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. dupere11497

    dupere11497
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    So my new Axe fx III arrived this afternoon. For the record, I'm quite familiar with almost all Fractal's product. I had a Standard, an Ultra, then the II when it came out, the XL and the AX8. So, I have good references to compare this big guy with. Have I've been a loyal Fractal's customer over the years? No! I confess!

    I had a Helix for a couple of days. I absolutely hated it. For the last 6 months, I had a Kemper which was honestly pretty good.... but only for certain things. The amps sounds good, but there's a kind of signature sound you can hear and feel no matter what profile you use. And the effects are obviously the weak point of the Kemper.

    So, with fresh ears, being away from an Axe fx for a couple of months, after listening to some clips here on the forum and on Youtube, I've decided it was time to give this new baby a try.

    Out of the box, the AF3 looks fantastic. As expected, it's rock solid. The screen is really cool. I'm use to work with the front panel as I've almost never use Axe edit with my other Axe fx before so I was not lost over the process.

    I have several guitars, but when testing a new unit, I always use my USA Fender Strat with a Dimarzio super distortion in the bridge. I'm only playing at home in my small home studio through Pressonus Sceptre S6 monitors. I always go first for the Plexis models. So I went with the 70, choose a 4X12 cab, the Angle (2-382) and BAM!!! It hit me right in the face!!! What the hell happen?? That was IT!!! The tone I had in my head for all those years that I was never completely able to achieve was there, on this machine. Wait a minute. It can't be! So I give the Friedmans a try! Same things! It smokes!!! I can almost smell the heat of the burning tubes inside!!! Yeah, there must be tubes in there, this has to be the secret from this evil Cliff!! So next, I choose an amp model I didn't like in the XL, but I wish I'd like, the Cameron CCV. Guess what? Yeah, it's jaw dropping!!! Thight, mean, and agressive like the real thing.

    I am in shock! I mean how can it be? This is just a bigger version of the II right? With more RAM and power but still it's almost the same modeling......NOT!!! No placebo effect here, I swear! Like I said, I know how an Axe fx sounds and feel and this is by far the best experience I had pluging my guitar in a processor ever, period!!

    Don't get me wrong, it's not a night and day compare to the XL. The amps sounds similar, but to me the big difference is on the frequencies precision. On the XL or the AX8, I had to low pass and High pass a big deal of frequencies on all my patches. So far, on the AF3, I have not touch any EQ in the cab section. I like to test a patch playing over a backing track to see how well it sits on the mix. Well, I have to say it sits damn well! All it needs is some tweaking on the amp eq and that's it. The lows are tight, not flubby at all. And the highs are silky smooths, it was a struggle with my XL, not anymore.

    The effects are stellar, especially the reverbs, they sound big and natural. This was the weakest part of the Kemper. The pitch shifter sounds awesome too. I love the tri-chorus being a 80's die hard fan regarding guitar tone.

    The clean tones are amazing! The high gain tones are to die for. There's so much things inside that box I don't think I will live long enough to explore them all! It's the beginning of a great journey and I know, as perfect this unit sounds and feel for me right now, that M.Chase will somehow find a way to improve it yet again.

    It's truly a great era to play guitar. A big thank you to the Fractal team. You hit it out of the ballpark with this one! You will make a lot of guitar players happy! Cheers!!!
     
  2. Rick

    Rick
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    So, did ya like it? o_O

    I’m in the same boat. I don’t know exactly what’s different, but it’s more of all the stuff I thought was already topped out. It just plays better to me.

    Enjoy your new obsession!
     
  3. jsletner

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    Totally agree. Hard to put my finger on it, but something's going on. At first, I thought it was eq because it sounds so clear, but I think it just has more detail. I think the II is awesome, but the III has got a little extra magic. Also, I love all the new options. If you want to know how convinced I am of the quality of this product this is my first post in a couple of years. I've never stopped being an all-out FractalAudio supporter, but I've just been super busy and mentally focused elsewhere. Some difficult life circumstances changed all that and it caused (or maybe allowed me) to jump from the II to III. Super happy with the III. FractalAudio, keep up the superb work, you are killing it.
     
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  4. don_joe

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    Did they improve the pitch shifter finally? Latency? Feel?
     
  5. 80sMetalDude

    80sMetalDude
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    Bwaaaahahaaa
     
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  6. ∞Fractals

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    yes
     
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  7. ML SOUND LAB

    ML SOUND LAB
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    So glad to have people who feel the same way. At this point it's not at all about measuring our d... devices capabilities. It's simply "does this sound just like my real tube amps do" and sadly right now there's no other modeler out there that I would compare to the Axe-Fx accuracy in modeling. I've given them all real chances but I'm very familiar with how most common amps like JCM800s, Mesa amps, EVH react when you play them. It's really hard to find any modeler that can imitate all of them. I would agree that the #2 spot goes to the Kemper but just like you said, it's incapable of sounding like a variety of amps. It sounds like one amp sim on the Axe-Fx on default settings with a tone match block with post EQ. That's how I feel about it and I own one so I'm not trying to diss it. That's just honestly how it feels to me. I'll spot writing before this turns into a rant.

    Fractal = #1!
     
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  8. #8 yngwie1993, Sep 8, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
    yngwie1993

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    Very good review!
    Right after reading it, I placed my order for an AXE III,best move ever:sunglasses:
     
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  9. #9 Dimi84, Sep 10, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
    Dimi84

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    I get the point, but I tend to think it (kemper) involves more than just one amp sim with eq matching added. There's cases where no amount of tweaking on axe fx has let me achieve a tone as well as a kemper -- up until I used a better suited amp sim in axe. If Kemper has one amp sim only, then Jesus, it can adapt to do many different tones.

    All that said I still feel there's a bigger difference between different axe amp sims vs direct profiles of similar amps. It could be said this is due to axe fx exaggerating the differences between the real amps. I tend to think it's more about Kemper homogenizing tones, myself.

    For whatever reason there's a "feel" with Kemper that indeed just seems to be there most of the time. Axe fx doesn't quite suffer from the same on this level imo. That is why I enjoy axe fx as much. It doesn't simply sound like different Amps, enough so to fool people in a mix, but there's attention to detail, small tonal nuances that can alter the "feel" quite a bit. It's often what makes the Amps unique to begin with... Something that I often feel is not there with other modellers or Kempers, ect, ect.

    About the new axe.. I compared to ax8 .. and honestly, the differences were often hard to hear in an A-B-X test. However they became quite apparent while playing through the units. Whether the new axe fx is more faithful to the modelled Amps or not, I must say I preferred the feel over ax8 and axe fx 2. This was enough to make a meaningful difference to me. I probably play a bit different on the new axe too because of this.
     
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  10. FractalAudio

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    The kemper has seven base amp models. It chooses the one closest based on an initial measurement.
     
  11. BBN

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    That's pretty interesting!
    Obviously one of them is a Marshall Plexi, because the Friedman/Marshall tones are all just how I believe they should be.

    I have an AX8, Axe III and a Kemper in my hands right now.
    I'm very new to having a Kemper in my possession and I was surprised how nice it sounded.
    But man, I fired up my Axe III last night, and loaded Camilo's Plexi patch and tried all his different scenes (all different Marshalls)...turning the drive block on and off for more gain. I could gig with every one of those, they sound awesome!

    While I do think the Kemper sounds excellent when you find the right profile, I am certain the Axe III is going to leave it in the dust.
    The features on the Axe III seem to be expanding daily (IR Player Block, New Looper features, etc.)....it's just crazy to think where this product is going.
     
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  12. acroberts

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    @FractalAudio - first time I've heard this theory, and scratching head as a Kemper owner (in addition to Fractal). Might explain why amp builders, who would seemingly have cause for lawsuits, haven't legally taken on Kemper.
     
  13. Karl Houseknecht

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    Funny, I've been saying this exact thing for years and was ridiculed by Kemper forumites because of it. And hey, I own a Kemper and love it just as much as my Fractal and Line6 gear so it's not like I was putting the platform down.
     
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  14. Dimi84

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    I find myself doubtful of the theory that kemper only has 7 amp sims. Profiled some really weird stuff that I perhaps wouldn't expect to work well with kemper if this is how the device worked.

    I'm more inclined (and it is an opinion) to think profiling produces some of the same inaccuracies over and over again... and considering how close many tubes amps anyway sound, it's not as surprising that "killing off" more nuances, especially in a consistent manner, results to a more similar "feel" between different profiles.

    Like I said, for me axe fx is special in that there's variety of tonal nuances that alter the "feel" more than most (well, all I've tested) units.. It's something that does matter to me. Otherwise may as well use a couple of great tube amps with loadbox + IRs, and some eq matching where needed, which has been my standard recording set-up anyway.
     
  15. Karl Houseknecht

    Karl Houseknecht
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    It's not a theory.
     
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  16. Dimi84

    Dimi84
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    I'd suspend judgement on that end till I saw what the evidence is, which I'm not familiar with.
     
  17. Warrior

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    +1

    It's just better. Don't know why but it is.
     
  18. Mohi

    Mohi
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    I never had any Axe FX unit before but kind of feel the same. For the last couple of years I tried to avoid to purchase any HW unit, by exploring the immense universe of SW plugins, and was never totally satisfied with the exception of the Mercuriall products, that are fantastic but more expensive than the Axe Fx (if measure their cost per model). and some amps on S-Gear.

    So pulled the trigger on the AxeFx III, and to me the greatest surprise has been how easy is to get a great tone without having to spend too much time tweaking (that is an option anyway), contrary to many opinions I read on the internet before, and that really scared me a bit I have to confess. If want something like the Friedman, is there, Fender, same, Marshall ... no EQ or double amp artifacts, just the chain you have in mind from the real world into the machine, end of story.

    So I guess in my case the quest has already ended, luckily (and for now :p)
     
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  19. GotMetalBoy

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    I agree! I've always thought my tones sounded muddy but as soon as I powered on my Axe-Fx III on the first Factory preset, I couldn't believe my ears. The notes have so much more definition and dynamics. I still have my Axe-Fx II XL+ and I'm going to try tone matching my Axe-Fx III, so I can use it as my live rig and the Axe-Fx III for recording.
     
  20. hippietim

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    I was at my local GC the other day and they had a Kemper. I was hooked up to a QSC K12. I grabbed a Strat and gave it a test drive. I had a KPA when it first came out and end up returning it. Not because it sucked, but because the Fractal offering then was superior. Nothing has changed in that regard - the Fractal offerings are still superior in every way. Don't get me wrong, the KPA sounded pretty darn good but no way is there a reason for me to consider switching.

    I don't know how anyone that uses a KPA could be critical of the Fractal UX. I'll admit that the screen on the KPA is nicer looking than the Fractal green screens. However, the UX workflow on the KPA blows.
     

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