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Please help me hear tone and not just frequencies! (metal tones)

drawn

New Member
Hey everyone :)

I have been using the Axe-Fx II for many, many years now. And until today, I have not been able to actually get a tone that has... well.. "tone" and not just frequencies. The Axe Fx sounds awesome when playing alone and when using it through a poweramp/real cab, but it never sounds right when trying to make it sit in a mix with direct recordings. It just lacks tone. The frequencies are there but not the meat behind all the distortion. I am talking about the crucial 125-500hz area. It just never sounds right. This area is always a boomy mud-fest or too thin when trying to cut it.. I like to scoop my tones since I think that the midrange from 500-1k is always honky and nasally sounding (especially for making it sit in a mix), so I dip a lot of 750hz (classic move for a metal tone). Though, without having the 125-500hz hz area right, the tone ends up being just fizz and low end boom and it`s super thin and useless in a mix because it lacks the low mid meat. Furthermore, you can`t boost that area because it will just introduce all kinds of artifacts, which you notch out afterwards until there is no tone left again.

I have tried all bunch of ideas within the Axe, fiddling with depth frequency, master volume, bass eq, pre-eq, post-eq, and trying a million different IR's but I can`t get it right.
And yup, I have great guitars, good cables, adequate playing technique and a good recording and I know how to dial in tones and how a great signal chain has to look like for a great metal tone. I just can`t get it right with the Axe-Fx. :(

Would love to hear how you go about that. Did I miss something? Is there a trick? Cliff, would you please help me out with a bunch of ideas? :)

Thanks!
drawn
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
considering how many A-list artists record using the AxeFx with none of the issues you describe, it's not the unit. Maybe it's your room, your monitors, who knows. There are no super secret tricks. Everyone has the same tools at their disposal. Most of the meat of a recorded guitar tone comes from the bass anyway.
 

drawn

New Member
Whatever an "A-list artist" is. But feel free to show me a recording with a top notch mix that actually sounds amazing (and not like these 1.5k 12db boost djent tones). Or show me one of your recordings. Curious about it!
I honestly haven`t heard any great tones from an Axe-Fx directly recorded in a good production. And I guess I know quite a bunch of those "A-list artist" who use Axe-Fx units, but they still get real amps and cabs to get their final album tones or at least hook the Axe-Fx up with a real cab and slam a mic in front of it.

I have a treated room and use Adam a7x monitors. I can monitor through my high end headphones and I hear the same issue, so that would at least rule my room and my studio monitors out.
And your argument regarding bass is just not true. That would mean you could take ANY guitar tone and make it sound amazing just because the bass is there. A great tone NEEDS the meat down there, otherwise it just does not deliver useful information for the mix.

Also, when I compare raw tones (not mixed tones) and my Axe-Fx tones, I can get close in balance and frequency response, but the real amp+cab tone always has way beefier low mids that make the tone thick and chunky but definitely not muddy.
 
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Griff_NZ

Member
So whats stopping you going through a power amp and cab and micing that up for recording?
Thats the sound I prefer also by the way. Havent got a direct sound I like just yet.
 

drawn

New Member
Thanks for all the replies, guys. Maybe I have a faulty unit, but I really doubt it.

No, I am not saying that nobody here has a clue what a good tone is or how to make the Axe-Fx sound good. Plenty of great advice from very knowledged people, otherwise I wouldn`t ask. There are a lot of great tones I heard, but those are usually clean/mid gain tones or high gain tones but with higher tunings. When you get into the area of heavily downtuned high gain guitars, the Axe-Fx struggles to get that right. And there is where my specific problem is.

When I use a cab and a mic along with it, I get that low end punch and the meat. You can sweep an EQ around and you actually hear that there is tone/meat/notes, not only one dimensional sounding frequencies. It is hard enough to make high gain guitars work in a metal mix - everybody who mixes metal knows this too well - but when you don`t have a three dimensional sounding meaty tone, then you can give up before you even start.
I just don`t have the option to set everything up all the time, hence I got the Axe-Fx in the first place.

I am absolutely open to get convinced by a high quality downtuned guitars metal mix recorded with the Axe-Fx going direct in, but apart from Ola Englund I haven`t heard great stuff (even a lot of his demos are nothing compared to when he uses real amps/cabs). I talked to quite a few producers and great mixing engineers about it (Ermin Hamidovic, Tue Madsen, Jacob Hansen, Will Putney...) and you know what? They all said the exact same thing. And I am not biased by their opinion because it was me who asked if they also experienced the same thing.....Their answers were usually: "use a real cab and mic" or "use the Kemper". I have the Kemper, but I love the Axe-Fx about as much as anyone of you, but I don`t try to defend it at all costs just for the sake of it. I'm sure the simplest reaction to my post now is "maybe the Axe-Fx isn`t for you" which just seems like a defensive and dodging move.

Based on your reactions, I start to feel really sorry and you make me feel very bad that I struggle to get what I would like to out of the Axe-Fx (which is kind of silly, but that`s how it makes me feel now). I feel like I have to apologize for not being satisfied with the Axe-Fx...... :/
 

paranoid

Fractal Fanatic
When you have the tone you like with your real cab and mic, why don't you try to shoot your own ir of the set up and see if that helps your direct tone. When I first got the axe fx several years ago I had a hard time also until I found an ir that gave the tone I wanted to hear.
 

drawn

New Member
When you have the tone you like with your real cab and mic, why don't you try to shoot your own ir of the set up and see if that helps your direct tone. When I first got the axe fx several years ago I had a hard time also until I found an ir that gave the tone I wanted to hear.

Thanks for chiming in, paranoid.
I haven`t fiddled with shooting IR's so far. But that actually might be worth a try!

May I ask whiat IR you ended up using?
 

paranoid

Fractal Fanatic
May I ask whiat IR you ended up using?

I am using a mix I made with cab lab. It is a couple of close mic ir's from cabir.eu 1960ax cab a 57 ,and a 906, and 1 room mic of the same cab. this is an ir mix of the real cab I would use.
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
So what sort of down-tuned tones are you trying to cop, because literally have the Fractal artist roster is that type of music.
 

drawn

New Member
I am using a mix I made with cab lab. It is a couple of close mic ir's from cabir.eu 1960ax cab a 57 ,and a 906, and 1 room mic of the same cab. this is an ir mix of the real cab I would use.

Cool, thank you. I haven`t tried to blend in a room mic yet. Will give this a try!

So what sort of down-tuned tones are you trying to cop, because literally have the Fractal artist roster is that type of music.

I attached a file I got from Francesco Filigoi. It`s a raw reamp tone done with an EVH amp by Eyal Levi. Have a listen to the low end and the beefy low mids. That is TONE, you can clearly hear the note definition and the actualy notes behind all that nasty high gain. It's boosted like crazy but still has definition and meat. Put that file into your DAW and seep around from 80hz - 500hz, you will notice that there is a lot of beef and you can boost it, cut it, do whatever you want with it, but it will never sound thin in the mix and has lots of useful information down there to work with.
Now make a tone with the Axe-Fx. Try to get close. And if you nail the overall frequency spectrum, then record it and do the same with your tone. Boost around. What you will get is a noisy mess of useless low end bumps with a ton of ringing going on that you will have to get rid off, because it only adds useless junk to the mix. If you get rid of it, then you are left with a wimpy, thin and lifeless tone.

I honestly don`t care who's part of that Fractal roster. Most of them do not use the Axe Fx in the studio but solely for playing live. I think you just don't understand the point here or lack the experience regarding these kind of tones and studio work. Not trying to be offensive, it's just that you don't add anything constructive to this thread but keep defending something that "others apparently can do with the Axe Fx because they said so".

Link to download: https://we.tl/t-bxqG4r39YZ
 

chris

Legend!
Now make a tone with the Axe-Fx. Try to get close. Chances are you can't.

I honestly don`t care who's part of that Fractal roster.

I think you just don't understand the point here or lack the experience regarding these kind of tones and studio work.

Not trying to be offensive
just for some perspective, these sorts of comments are possibly making it tougher to help you out.

the clip definitely helps us know what you're talking about though, now we have a reference.
 
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paranoid

Fractal Fanatic
What do you use for guitar, and strings to go that low tuned. string tension I would assume has a great effect on the tone that low.
Drop c is the lowest I go and I know my tone goes south if not using heavier strings then on e tunings. of coarse I go for a hair metal tone, not quite the same as you are looking for.
 

drawn

New Member
I apologize. I'll try to back off a little. I know that I am very sensitive when it comes to forum people who contribute nothing constructive.
Sorry, Jlynnb1!

I use a RG1077XL. It has a 27" neck and I use a .68 for the low G. Pickups sound pretty good and tight on my amps, but not when using the Axe-Fx. I use a fairly high action and have a strong pick attack to get clarity and punch in my tone. Tried all bunch of concepts.. Nothing helped.

I am thinking about selling the Axe Fx II and either just try out a III - although I doubt that it's a solution - or just go stick with the amp/cab route.
So far, I honestly have to say that I haven't gotten better tones with the Axe-Fx than for example with Softube's Metal Amp Room (which I own since 2008....).

Maybe the Axe-Fx II (at least the Mark I or II which I have) does not work well with low tunings? It sounds alright when using drop C, but lower than that has left me without any luck.
 

jlynnb1

Fractal Fanatic
Cool, thank you. I haven`t tried to blend in a room mic yet. Will give this a try!



I attached a file I got from Francesco Filigoi. It`s a raw reamp tone done with an EVH amp by Eyal Levi. Have a listen to the low end and the beefy low mids. That is TONE, you can clearly hear the note definition and the actualy notes behind all that nasty high gain. It's boosted like crazy but still has definition and meat. Put that file into your DAW and seep around from 80hz - 500hz, you will notice that there is a lot of beef and you can boost it, cut it, do whatever you want with it, but it will never sound thin in the mix and has lots of useful information down there to work with.
Now make a tone with the Axe-Fx. Try to get close. And if you nail the overall frequency spectrum, then record it and do the same with your tone. Boost around. What you will get is a noisy mess of useless low end bumps with a ton of ringing going on that you will have to get rid off, because it only adds useless junk to the mix. If you get rid of it, then you are left with a wimpy, thin and lifeless tone.

I honestly don`t care who's part of that Fractal roster. Most of them do not use the Axe Fx in the studio but solely for playing live. I think you just don't understand the point here or lack the experience regarding these kind of tones and studio work. Not trying to be offensive, it's just that you don't add anything constructive to this thread but keep defending something that "others apparently can do with the Axe Fx because they said so".

Link to download: https://we.tl/t-bxqG4r39YZ
actually many if not most of them do use them in the studio for recording. I'm not trying to argue with you, just trying to see what the disconnect is when so many have had success.
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
Post a clip of you using a preset. Post your preset. Post another clip of tone you like. You’ll get useful advice. Give people a random, moving target to aim for by describing sound with inadequate words and you’ll get...a circus.
 

mr_fender

Fractal Fanatic
Moving from the II to the III, I've seen noticeable improvement in my tones happen in the low end in particular. The III seems to have a tighter, more balanced response in the low end compared to the II. I frequently had to use the low cut switch or use a high pass filter before the amp block to control the low end and keep things from getting muddy or flubby, especially on heavier sounds. Since moving to the III, I don't seem to have that issue nearly as much. I do less tweaking than ever with the III. YMMV but if you have a chance, try out a III.
 

Billbill

Power User
I struggled in this same area just a few years back! Could never get the satisfying sound I heard coming out of my cabs to sound even close when recording direct. I gave up lol. Busted out my ever so trusty SM57!
 
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