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Thoughts 3 Months in...Ordered a second AF3 for the Bass Rig!


New Member
Hey Everyone! First Post! I can’t help but share a few thoughts after a few months with this monster:

After owning almost every modeller available over the last 20 years or so I finally took the Axe plunge in December and just pulled the trigger on another one today! I’ve been reading so many posts here I’ve got superlativitis so I don’t know how much I can add beyond this box is life changing! It is outrageously epic and just keeps getting better and better. What’s not to like?

I can’t believe how - for the first time ever – I’m not focused on how close the model is to reality (it’s so close the difference is irrelevant!) - that metric used to define my evaluation of other modelers. Here I’m blown away at how amazing this thing feels to play. To get this much dynamic range and touch sensitivity out of a pile of tube-less electronics and clever coding is mind-blowingly impressive. Wow. The fact that it sounds jaw droppingly amazing at everything is of course extremely impressive but the feel - wow.

Here’s an example of previous experiences with modellers: I buy this cool looking toy making wild promises and bring it home and play it for an hour or two tops. After that my ears feel sick and diseased and the only way to fix them is to fire up a real amp for a tube cleanse. Every time the list of flaws/shortcomings of said modeler are shockingly apparent after the first few notes of the tube cleanse. I’m sure it was like this for most everyone else in their pre-Fractal days.

Right from the start it was different for me with the AxeFx3 mkII – Instead of running to the tube amp after a few hours I spent two months without turning on a single tube amp! Two months! Wow!

So the big day comes and the 20th Anniversary XTC (6L6!) is all warmed up and I’m sure I’m going to be making a big list of all the areas where the AF3 falls short…but then the weirdest thing happened…when I started playing it all I could think of was how amazing the AF3 was! Getting back in front of the 4x12 felt awesome of course (vs. studio monitors) but there was no tremendous satisfaction of ‘getting back’ to the AITR feel/sound after ‘suffering’ with a modeller for 2 months straight. Instead, it all felt very familiar like what I'd heard/felt every day for the past 2 months and I realized then exactly how impressive the AF3 is.

The funniest thing is I haven’t even searched out the model of my favorite amp – see XTC above – I haven’t had time! It took me two weeks to make it past preset #15 I just kept getting sucked in along the way just having fun playing and tweaking everything to get a feel for it all… To this day I haven’t heard all the presets yet - I got bogged down on #37 Das Metall and just built my sound out from there. I don’t even know what amp model it is! Don’t Care! It sounds so fricking good.

I have bit of DSP programming experience… minor league stuff compared to Fractal but I learnt a few things building an iOS synthesizer app from scratch like how to successfully run an unsuccessful business! When I first fired up the AF3 I was immediately floored with the FX integration/final tone. My app was setup like a pedalboard: sound generator -> Fx1 -> Fx2 etc… so the app was mixing individual ‘sound engines’ for each component – like just about anything else out there.

It sounds to me like a very different and more mathematical approach is being used here and the end result is a more homogeneous and glued together sound than I’ve ever heard. Using multiple time-dependant FX together was an ear opener and then some. Sure, you can get similar and maybe ever so slightly better results with a TA and a pile of pedals, power conditioning, fancy cables and a ton of time but who cares the fractal way is so easy and so consistently awesome at everything why bother with analog hassles anymore?

I currently own the Helix and Green Toaster from Germany and they are both quite good but, for me, they fall way short of the Fractal standard. Hats off to Fractal for their business practices (Cygnus anyone?!) and take a bow for the DSP programming!!

It’s been a blast reading up on this forum there is so much to learn! Thanks to everyone!

PS Sorry the post is so long - Blame Fractal!! If their gear sucked even a teeny little bit I wouldn't have so much to say!!

I don't think I've ever used so many exclamation points!! will need therapy for sure LOL


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