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Thinking about my next unit, questions

EFH

New here
Hello everyone,

I have been playing guitar for a few years now and although I am not thinking about diving into recording and mixing just yet, some better quality and flexibility over the tones and voices of what I play would be a welcome upgrade. I play mostly over backing tracks.

I currently own a Zoom G5n and am considering either a used Axe FX II, Kemper or new Axe FX III, therefore I'd like to ask you guys a few questions before making my decision:

1 - As crazy as it sounds ( and I know I am pretty much asking to be roasted here ), I'd still like to ask anyway. Is the Axe FX III really miles ahead of a Zoom G5n in terms on how it sounds over a backing track? I am fully aware that the Zoom is literally 10 times cheaper than the Axe FX, but is it 10 times worse? ( think of law of diminishing returns )

2 - My main problem with the zoom is that it feels like all amps available sounds relatively close to each other. While some have different attributes and responses to a given situation, it often feels like the unit sounds like itself, not like the patches have much of their own personality. I know that the Axe FX works in a different way, but is its versatility as mind blowing as people say?

3 - My main goal for any amp or modeling unit is to reach 3 'core tones' that I apply over nearly all backing tracks I use. The most important, is to achieve is a very old school 80s voice to guitar. And this was only achieved by buying an actual Zoom 9002, an old FX unit that has the actual dark old sounding voice I've been looking for, but the quality of its output is so s**t that it's not really usable. Every other unit and amps for that matter sound very 'modern'. Is this something the Axe FX III would be able to provide?

4 - Quick but easy one. Can the Axe FX 3 provide a close tone to that of Malmsteen in the 80s? The very early neoclassical tone? I am confident it should be able to but it doesn't hurt to ask anyway.

5 - Can I plug it straight to my computer via a USB cable with a backing track playing via an AUX cable into AFX3 and have a quick and easy recording? My Zoom G5n does that but it does not include the backing track playing on its AUX input. ( again, I am looking for quick and simple uses for now, keeping it down to as few clicks as possible for enjoying my own simple recordings ). Or, can Axe edit offer a simple recording over what is played over a backing track?

6 - Is the publicly available database of custom user patches useful? If so, are they still tweak able anyway? For my G5n and Mustang amp most of the online content is pretty much useless, never sounds great.

7 - How hard is it to learn to use the unit? ( This goes for both AXF2 or AFX 3 )

8 - Are the unit controls decent enough to create and adjust patches without the need for a computer? Sometimes I like to just sit in my couch away from the computer and play with the G5n's settings. In that regard it does well. ( This goes for both AXF2 or AFX 3 )

9 - On another note, once hooked up to a computer, is its editor well laid out and easy to use?

10 - I understand that in the hands of someone who knows they're doing, amazing results can be achieved. But is it easy to create new patches from scratch for people who are not experienced musicians? For people who are not sound engineers, does it come with so many adjustable attributes for each new module in the effects chain that you need to twist at least 50 knobs just right from the beginning to make it sound any decent?

11 - What do the software updates usually do? Just minor bug fixes or actually enhance the potential of the unit?

12 - Everyone knows that one of the few surefire ways to make the guitar sound bigger is to record several tracks and add them simultaneously. For someone who does not have the time to do that and mix them up, can Axe FX do that artificially somehow, like a Mimiq pedal?

13 - I understand that older presets can be converted to Axe FX 3. However, once done, do they retain the same quality they had if used in its original unit?

14 - Is it actually worth to lay the extra bucks and get AFX3 over a used AFX2?

Thanks everyone, any clarification and additional observations would be hugely appreciated.

Erik
 

fractalz

Veteran
Great questions! My short answer is to buy a used II and don't look back. It'll do all that you want and more and sound terrific. Once you learn it's depths and limitations (which will take you a few years) then you can update to the IV :)
 

pauly

Fractal Fanatic
Hi Efh,
My advice is save up, and get the three. It’s way better than your current unit, and the only thing you will regret, is the time it takes to decide. If you get the two, you will save a little money, however it’s at end of support and will not be improved further. It’s a great unit, don’t get me wrong ( I had 2 of them), but the three is another factor ahead. It’s also much better editing away from the computer which you mention is important to you.
Regarding the software updates - they continue to improve the unit by adding both features (like extra amps), and fixes.
Really - get the 3 - it’s the best advice you will get.
Thanks
Pauly
 

bradlake

Axe-Master
Hi Efh,
My advice is save up, and get the three. It’s way better than your current unit, and the only thing you will regret, is the time it takes to decide. If you get the two, you will save a little money, however it’s at end of support and will not be improved further. It’s a great unit, don’t get me wrong ( I had 2 of them), but the three is another factor ahead. It’s also much better editing away from the computer which you mention is important to you.
Regarding the software updates - they continue to improve the unit by adding both features (like extra amps), and fixes.
Really - get the 3 - it’s the best advice you will get.
Thanks
Pauly
What he said
 

Shaw

Inspired
Hi Efh,
My advice is save up, and get the three. It’s way better than your current unit, and the only thing you will regret, is the time it takes to decide. If you get the two, you will save a little money, however it’s at end of support and will not be improved further. It’s a great unit, don’t get me wrong ( I had 2 of them), but the three is another factor ahead. It’s also much better editing away from the computer which you mention is important to you.
Regarding the software updates - they continue to improve the unit by adding both features (like extra amps), and fixes.
Really - get the 3 - it’s the best advice you will get.
Thanks
Pauly
+1
 

2112

Fractal Fanatic
The Axe sounds like a mic'd amp and cab - whether you want to cop vintage tones or create sounds you've never heard before, it's pretty much a tonal sandbox. The II and AX8 are incredible but the III edges them when it comes to feel & depth of functionality.

Here's a few vids which should address a few of those questions.


 

∞Fractals

Forum Addict
@Mark Day Is your man for a 1980s rock toanz. When I bought my axefx2 in 2015, there were plenty of YouTube videos by Mark to look at.

I would also throw in with the others that the three is hands-down the best of all the options.

Good luck with your decision and let us know which way you choose. :)
 
Hi EFH,

I'll try to answer few of your questions. I am playing bass, but I also have and play guitar. I have now Axe FX III, Axe FX II, BOSS BR 8000 and Korg Pandora. Guys in my band have also Axe FX II and Helix LT. So,:

1. Axe FX III is miles ahead Zoom, Boss, Korg and similar stuff. It is on top shelf with Kemper, but Kemper is just a modeller... Helix is a bit lower. I have my III since december last year, there was not huge difference in sound but huge in performance, that has changed with firmware 4. II has an Ares, but there is a major difference.

2. Yes, versatility blows the mind. Actually it is diffcult to say if it is real amp or Axe. Axe does not sound itself, so no "baggage" from the unit is on the output signal.

3. There is lot resources how to get such tone in the forum, you can also download patches from Axe-Change (user preset exchange). There is 8 scenes in the patch so you can modify amp settings, switch effect blocks so 3 main tones are no problem.

4. Could be at Axe-Change. I am sure you can create.

5. It works different way. You can use multitrack software with backing track playing through USB input of Axe FX, or use additional input 2,3 or 4 to pass backing track to USB output to PC. Input 2 is XLR, inputs 3 and 4 are TS. Axe FX does not offer recording. Axe fx is actually HQ USB audio interface with 8in/8out.

6. Oh yes... Ther is a lot of great patches that does not require any tweaking.

7. You have to understand the way how it works and navigation (could be tricky in the beginning). The rest is easy, for me it is enough to play with regular parameters as on regular amps or effects. I have never modified advanced amps or effects parameters.

8. Unit controls have some limitations due to screen size or buttons and knobs amount. But there is absolutely no problem to play with all functions of the unit from the panel. FX III is better in that case.

9. With Axe-Edit it is much easier and faster.

10. I was also affraid of that especially dealing with multi effects in 90's (Korg A2, Digitech ValveFX). Here it is like in real life - you choose an amp, a cab, "wire" them together, tweak as real amp, then put and "wire" effects and so on... Like in real life if you put 20 stomps in your pedalboard you will have to deal with approximately 80 knobs. Another great difference is the flexibility : you do not have block chain as in zoom or boss or other stuff - you can put blocks wherever you want, "wire" them however you want and get interesting results - only your imagination is the limit.

11. Each new main firmware number is enhancement of functionality, the revision (.xx) are bug fixes or small wish list modifications. FAS team does a great job here.

12. I do not know Mimiq, but assume it works like sophisticated chorus. You can do that with i.e. out 1 as main signal and other outs with "shifted" signal to create big sound. I have never considered that as always used to record several tracks. But definitely there are possibilities to do it on Axe.

13. Sometimes in needs a little tweak, as Ares firmware has new modelling algorhytm. There is much more work if you convert II to III patch with ToneMatch block, in my case result was not satisfactory, but I found other amp in III that gave even better result.

14. IMO yes. II sounds great, but it became obsolete now. My patch for bass utilized over 90% of CPU in II and it was actually a limit harming USB inputs. In III I have exteded that patch and it consumes only 70% of CPU. I do not want to sell my II with MFC, I have it as backup and alternative rig. III is my main unit in live rig, I love amount of IO's (in1 - wireless, in3 - IEM stereo mix, out 1 - FOH and monitoring mixer, out 3 - IEM transmitter, out 4 - amp). And firmware is constantly extended and improved.

Hope I enlightened few things. Few years ago I got opportunity to get II, at that moment my band mate had one so I took and that changed a lot. Our second CD has been recorded completely on Axe FX (guitars and bass of course), we actually recording 3rd CD also on Axe. For the live solution you do not need to have amp and cab, especially when you have IEM.

The Tone Match is another great thing - you can match amp and cab that is not in Axe library, or even tone match acoustic guitar that gives great acoustic sound from electric guitar. I am using a patch that gives my fretless chello or violin sound.
 

Hoosierdaddy

Inspired
EHR- you will not regret going for the FX 3 , once you make the decision, order it ,and then while you are waiting on it , download the manual ,read all
and stay tuned to this forum.
..... this I can tell you, there is no question in my mind ,you will have a problem laying your guitar down .
You will have no regrets after you turn the switch on .
 

EFH

New here
Hello everyone, thank you very much for your replies.

@fractalz: AFX2 sounds like a much better deal price-wise ( about 1500 EUR vs 2800 EUR for AFX3 ), however, given what the others have said regarding the future-proof advantages of the AX3 and the recent announcement of the FM3, I am more inclined towards the newer units.

@pauly: Thanks, it seems to be the general opinion as well.

@bradlake: Yep

@Shaw: Indeed

@2112: Sounds interesting indeed. Makes me more inclined towards AFX3. I watched more of your content by the way. Excellent quality content.

@RandyVanMartini: Makes sense. Questions answered, satisfaction with the product and huge dent in my pocket, but seemingly worth it =)

@Fractals: Thanks! Will do!

@Wallygatorr1976: Thanks very much for your answers! Sounds good indeed, however, it seems that to make decent use of the unit it has to be connected to a computer, correct? Also, is there a way to hook a backing track to the AFX3 without a computer regardless? As I work full time and am completing bachelor's degree, time is of the essence. I would prefer not to take the time to deal with a computer and software for the backing tracks... just turning on the unit itself right away and jamming. Is there any possibility of that? The tone match function seems fantastic. I've just watched a video from Leon Todd about it. Hopefully I can get AFX3 to sound like my Zoom 9002, but with a few tweaks and possibly better quality.

@Hoosierdaddy: It will likely be the case, yes =)


==============================

Thanks everyone for the answers so far. Between a used AFX2 and a new AFX3, I am definitely leaning towards the 3, even though here in Germany it costs close to 3000 Euros. However... the announcement of the FM3 seems like a VERY interesting proposition! I wonder if the sound quality with be similar to that of AFX3. Tone match will probably not be available in that unit, but maybe I can send my Zoom 9002 to someone with an AFX3 to match it.

One question that stands out, as I wrote for Wallygator: Is there a way to hook a backing track to the AFX3 without a computer? As I work full time and am completing bachelor's degree, time is of the essence. I would prefer not to take the time to deal with a computer and softwarer when looking only into playing over backing tracks... I'd much rather just turn the unit itself on right away and jamming. Is there any possibility of that?

Greetings,

Erik
 

bradlake

Axe-Master
One question that stands out, as I wrote for Wallygator: Is there a way to hook a backing track to the AFX3 without a computer? As I work full time and am completing bachelor's degree, time is of the essence. I would prefer not to take the time to deal with a computer and softwarer when looking only into playing over backing tracks... I'd much rather just turn the unit itself on right away and jamming. Is there any possibility of that?
On the III you have myriad ins to plug any phone or MP3 player with the proper cable, but no onboard backing track option.
 

EFH

New here
On the III you have myriad ins to plug any phone or MP3 player with the proper cable, but no onboard backing track option.
What do you mean by onboard in this case? Would the audio playing within a phone for example reach a headphone plugged into the unit, together with the guitar? For me it is not particularly important to have to play/stop manage the backing tracks in the phone during a quick practice session.
 

bradlake

Axe-Master
What do you mean by onboard in this case? Would the audio playing within a phone for example reach a headphone plugged into the unit, together with the guitar? For me it is not particularly important to have to play/stop manage the backing tracks in the phone during a quick practice session.
yes, you can do all that ,easily,...... by onboard meaning there is no internal MP3 player
 

Rick

Fractal Fanatic
If you want the best, most capable sound and functionality, it's the III. I could make do with much less, of course. But why? I've gone through all the other FAS units, except the FX8. The III is the one I don't end up wishing would do more. Buy once, cry once.
 

DaAxeMan

New here
Hello everyone,

I have been playing guitar for a few years now and although I am not thinking about diving into recording and mixing just yet, some better quality and flexibility over the tones and voices of what I play would be a welcome upgrade. I play mostly over backing tracks.

I currently own a Zoom G5n and am considering either a used Axe FX II, Kemper or new Axe FX III, therefore I'd like to ask you guys a few questions before making my decision:

1 - As crazy as it sounds ( and I know I am pretty much asking to be roasted here ), I'd still like to ask anyway. Is the Axe FX III really miles ahead of a Zoom G5n in terms on how it sounds over a backing track? I am fully aware that the Zoom is literally 10 times cheaper than the Axe FX, but is it 10 times worse? ( think of law of diminishing returns )

2 - My main problem with the zoom is that it feels like all amps available sounds relatively close to each other. While some have different attributes and responses to a given situation, it often feels like the unit sounds like itself, not like the patches have much of their own personality. I know that the Axe FX works in a different way, but is its versatility as mind blowing as people say?

3 - My main goal for any amp or modeling unit is to reach 3 'core tones' that I apply over nearly all backing tracks I use. The most important, is to achieve is a very old school 80s voice to guitar. And this was only achieved by buying an actual Zoom 9002, an old FX unit that has the actual dark old sounding voice I've been looking for, but the quality of its output is so s**t that it's not really usable. Every other unit and amps for that matter sound very 'modern'. Is this something the Axe FX III would be able to provide?

4 - Quick but easy one. Can the Axe FX 3 provide a close tone to that of Malmsteen in the 80s? The very early neoclassical tone? I am confident it should be able to but it doesn't hurt to ask anyway.

5 - Can I plug it straight to my computer via a USB cable with a backing track playing via an AUX cable into AFX3 and have a quick and easy recording? My Zoom G5n does that but it does not include the backing track playing on its AUX input. ( again, I am looking for quick and simple uses for now, keeping it down to as few clicks as possible for enjoying my own simple recordings ). Or, can Axe edit offer a simple recording over what is played over a backing track?

6 - Is the publicly available database of custom user patches useful? If so, are they still tweak able anyway? For my G5n and Mustang amp most of the online content is pretty much useless, never sounds great.

7 - How hard is it to learn to use the unit? ( This goes for both AXF2 or AFX 3 )

8 - Are the unit controls decent enough to create and adjust patches without the need for a computer? Sometimes I like to just sit in my couch away from the computer and play with the G5n's settings. In that regard it does well. ( This goes for both AXF2 or AFX 3 )

9 - On another note, once hooked up to a computer, is its editor well laid out and easy to use?

10 - I understand that in the hands of someone who knows they're doing, amazing results can be achieved. But is it easy to create new patches from scratch for people who are not experienced musicians? For people who are not sound engineers, does it come with so many adjustable attributes for each new module in the effects chain that you need to twist at least 50 knobs just right from the beginning to make it sound any decent?

11 - What do the software updates usually do? Just minor bug fixes or actually enhance the potential of the unit?

12 - Everyone knows that one of the few surefire ways to make the guitar sound bigger is to record several tracks and add them simultaneously. For someone who does not have the time to do that and mix them up, can Axe FX do that artificially somehow, like a Mimiq pedal?

13 - I understand that older presets can be converted to Axe FX 3. However, once done, do they retain the same quality they had if used in its original unit?

14 - Is it actually worth to lay the extra bucks and get AFX3 over a used AFX2?

Thanks everyone, any clarification and additional observations would be hugely appreciated.

Erik
It is literally like comparing a Ferrari to a Tricycle.
 
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