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Should I keep bothering with the Axe-Fx II XL+?

Discussion in 'Axe-Fx II Discussion' started by Liviu, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. Liviu

    Liviu
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    Hi all,

    I've got the XL+ for a week now and the more I dig in it the more disappointed I get.....
    I hear about many people who got this first impression and changed it eventually.....1 year later. Somehow spending one year tweaking to get a just decent tone doesn't sound worth 2 grand so maybe some of you can understand the frustration...

    Basically I need a simple amp + cab setting. I don't use many effects as they're not my main concern. With me if the raw amp tone isn't good nothing added above will help (except EQ which is anyway included in both amp and cab blocks).

    I want a bright semi-crunch rhythm tone. The kind you can change from clean to drive just by picking harder. I LIKE it fizzy, with a lot of top-end and a bit of warm bass, but not too punchy.

    So far the starting presets sound boomy and overcompressed. Brightening them up is a pain without loosing dynamics. I'm using a Gibson SG with Lindy Fralin pickups. I tried some stratocasters at a friend who has the ax-8, it's not quite as muffled but still far from what I want.

    I tried global eq, low and hi-cut knobs on both amp and cab, bright switch is almost always on around 1-2k uF (to bring the sound from the other room to the one I'm in). Changing the mic proximity from zero only makes the sound more muffled to my ears.

    So far the best tone I got out of it was close to a 5-watt combo I have (through it's speaker, not the PA). The worst part is it doesn't seem to track my pick attack correctly, like there's a bit of delay and the sound "swells" in instead of being sharp. This felt the same through the guitar cab. It also sounds like I'm hitting a wooden plank.

    I'm not a tone purist, I've been playing a Wampler pedal with a Parametric EQ through a Mooer Baby Bomb for the past year (due to easier lugging around). It's not quite a cheap digital processor but it's far from any real amp. And still more usable than the Axe so far, it's a bad tone with plenty of dynamics and presence as opposed to a muffled bad tone with almost no dynamics.

    So, what am I missing here? Do i need to know by heart every button in the axe-edit to get a decent tone, like there's a latency parameter or a "remove blanket off speaker" switch? Or do I really need to switch to full analogue and break my back to get what should be an ordinary crunch tone?
     
  2. yek

    yek
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    New or 2nd-hand?

    Start with resetting the system parameters (Utility menu).

    What are you using for amplification?

    Double-check your cables. If you have an active guitar, check the battery.

    Plenty factory presets should get you the tone that you're looking for. Try Plexis, Trainwrecks (Wrecker) etc.

    The II has no latency that you can notice.
     
  3. oson00

    oson00
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    Do you use a Guitar cabinet or a FRFR cabinet?
     
  4. lqdsnddist

    lqdsnddist
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    Buy Austin Buddy’s pack of 700 presets, each one is a tweaked amp and cab combination that sounds fantastic. Basically he did the work so you can just turn a dial, select an amp, and play
     
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  5. Lax

    Lax
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    Honeymoon lasted a year for me with the axefx2xl+ and I would only leave it for an axefx3...

    First you have to check everything cable, driver and version wise, and factory reset your axefx.
    Then you start again setting I/O and general parameters in it through front panel. Page after page.

    For the tweaking part, I don't know the caracter of your SG but you know the basic equation is :
    -Guitar pickup
    -Amp block (and drive block before if needed)
    -Cab block

    They all have caracter, color...
    And it's not death to find the edge of breakup point of an amp !

    I understand your frustration but it's probably a chair/computer interface issue :D

    Take Yek's amp guide at the page of a model that is known for the use you want, copy all the settings.
    Then open cab's list in "auto audition" mode and play scrolling them all.
    When you feel the blanket is not here anymore or nearly, you've got it :)
    And then you fine tweak !

    Cheers, courage, happiness is not far once the axe is home !

    DISCLAIMER : If you're not monitoring the axefx with loud volume on a PA system or studio monitors, don't try :)
     
  6. Liviu

    Liviu
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    Second hand, it had firmware 6 or 8 when I got it. First thing I updated the firmware and checked the guitar input/output. Everything seems flat and ok, like no one ever really used it. Maybe he also got bored of it and sold it to me. It hasn't got a scratch on it, I doubt it's some hacked model (can that even happen? lol)

    I used it through the mixing desk into active monitors at rehearsal. Everything flat obviously, though I can agree they may not be the best monitors. However, I also tried straight into a Yamaha DXR10, which I heard has great reviews and there is no noticeable difference in sound. I don't intend to carry a guitar cab with this, I want to make it work via PA. I only use passive pickups and a normal guitar cable. Going out via XLR to mixer, both cables work fine. My home speakers are also pretty flat but the volume is too low to make any assessment. The AX-8 sounds the same to me with the factory presets, I got some time to try out both home and at the friend who has it (the strat guy). We can't both have faulty units and he is amazed by what he hears from it. I can't possibly understand why anyone would play with the default presets, but he seems to like them.

    I heard there is a parameter that controls pick attack but I never used it, I'll try to find it when I get home. It's just strange from a unit who doesn't have a Swell effect (which I am using occasionally) to have a small form of it constantly on the pick attack. It's not that the sound comes later, it's like someone is turning up the volume from 0 as soon as I pick, and a part of the attack can't be heard.

    FWIW I'm not into Marshalls, they have a bit of that low-gain crunch but they're overall too warm and mid-emphasised for me, I need a sharper brighter model. I've tried working around with some ENGLs and Oranges but it's like the amp doesn't matter, there are some differences but it's the same muffled type of sound
     
  7. Liviu

    Liviu
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    Honestly, I got the Axe since it I got the offer and due to many recommendations, but I never heard ONE review of a guitar with humbuckers that I liked on youtube or w/e. I'd love to hear a demo of the brightest existing xl+ setup.
     
  8. StickMan

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    I'd agree on the factory reset as the first step.

    After that, I think you really need to get a feel for what the IR's sound like.

    Here's what I'd do...

    Set up a new preset with amp + cab + reverb. Pick an easy amp to dial in, I like the Fender Concert model, and then set it up for a modest amount of distortion. Don't mess with anything other than gain and BMT. Pick an ambient type of reverb so that it doesn't just sound flat to you. Try the Medium Plate set to about 20% mix. Then go to the Cab block, click on the model select and then "Pin" the screen that comes up. Now you can audition the cabs easily, because the screen won't close when you click on a model.

    Just take an hour or so and go through all of the factory cabs. Don't mess with any settings, or try to make them sound better. Just get an impression of what they sound like. What I like to do is to change the colour of the models that I like or that I think are interesting. That way when you really do get to trying to set up a preset for use, you don't have to worry about hundreds of IR's, just the few that you liked.

    In particular, don't worry about the nature of the cab model, or what you think it should match well with. Just listen and decide if you like it or not. Go back and forth between two models and decide which one you like better.
     
  9. StickMan

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    That sounds like an overly aggressive noise gate. Do a factory reset.
     
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  10. lqdsnddist

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    I don’t know.... I’ve had a bunch of people come over, with a wide range of guitars, and they plug in, select a stock preset and are amazed at how great it sounds. Probably bad at least half of them go out and buy a FAS product next day.

    Plug in, go to HBE, play 30 seconds, “I’m buying one!”

    Never had anyone tell me they spent a year and still can’t get a decent tone.....

    To each his own but I’ve certainly not had trouble finding great tone clips. Anything Leon has posted has sounded awesome. Anything Mark Day, Burgs etc play sounds awesome. Larry Mitchell’s clips etc, all massive tones, IMO
     
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  11. TravisG406

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    Can you post a recording?
     
  12. Lax

    Lax
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    Reset input block (the big block on the left of the grid in Axe edit)

    Did you download a July-August direct preset on axechange to try too
     
  13. Liviu

    Liviu
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    How exactly do I reset it to factory settings? I tried the restore System button in the Utility menu. Pressed enter, did nothing and in just two seconds later said restore complete. Is it supposed to work that fast?

    @StickMan The issue I'm talking about happens with the noise gate OFF. It's more obvious with it on, but not by much. I already went through the cabs and settled on the Uber V30 (RW) 4x12 which is the brightest without sounding thin. It's hard to tell when I'm at home since at low volumes it sounds decent even to me, but keep in mind I'm also hearing pick attack from the actual guitar strings, I can't turn it loud enough to not hear the guitar itself, so I'm not sure a recording would help much. Maybe I'll try some tomorrow night. At home I'm plugging it into a Scarlett 18i20 which goes out into a valve amp (i think it has 3 watts it's a small hi-fi amp) going out into a pair of floor speakers.

    I'll try playing with the Friedman and give it one more go at rehearsal.
     
  14. axel

    axel
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    I've never liked any of the presets made by others "as is", no matter who made them. I only found the sounds I was looking for through experimentation. The most important thing for me, at least playing live, was obtaining a FRFR solution that was capable of accurately reproducing the Axe Fx tones. For me, that was the Active CLR. The JCM800 is my go to amp model, with a TS808 in front for drive (off for clean to crunch). This was one of the most widely used combinations in Rock music, and it holds true (at least for me) in the Axe Fx models.
     
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  15. jlynnb1

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    I just never understand posts like this...I feel like it literally takes 5-10 minutes to get great tones out of pretty much any amp in the box. confounds me...
     
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  16. Ethereal Guitars

    Ethereal Guitars
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    A couple of recommendations I would make in addition to those above (factory resets etc). What you are hearing the Axe through is critical to dialling in your tones. I bought top quality studio monitors (Adam A7X) and I have never looked back. It's the same as having a great guitar and a crappy little amp - the guitar won't bridge the gap. The speakers are what you hear - the Axe sends the signal - same as an amp. You can have a Dumble running into a crappy 1x12 it will sound, er, crappy.

    Second recommendation I would make is to have a look at the Celestion range of IR's. They were the game changer for me and I now use them for all of my presets. Who better to model Celestion speakers than Celestion themselves - they got it right I reckon - appropriate levels of brightness which you can then adjust with the amp settings. Real world stuff.

    Hope some of this helps.
     
  17. Jason Scott

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    So, you don't have a noise gate anywhere on the grid, and the Input Gate Threshold is set to OFF and the ratio is set to 1.00? If so, can you post a preset? Have you tried swapping your guitar cable?
     
  18. Martyntb

    Martyntb
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    Yes.... especially when big name acts are using it.... some people just can't make it happen I guess. Beats me
     
  19. Jason Scott

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    The frustration for some users comes from their being unaccustomed to the sound of a mic'd cab through flat speakers. That may or may not be the case here.
     
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  20. 666was999

    666was999
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    Enough volume? No pun, no BS!
    Most people don't crank the volume up with a modeller as much as they would with an amp. Instead they rise mids and highs to hear the details better, something they couldn't do with a real amp. With areal amp they would simply crank the volume up instead and so the details come out. With a modeler do it the same way: Turn it really loud before you start to tweak. With studio monitors you can get away with a bit less volume compared to stage monitors, but the basic idea is the same.
     
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