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Top common mistakes when setting up the Axe FX??

bluesmostly

Inspired
I have had this problem with sound guys on a few occasions. what does "make sure they pad it down' mean?


Number one rule- MAKE SURE THE FOH CHANNEL YOU ARE IN IS SET UP FOR LINE LEVEL. If not make sure they pad it down. You may want to snag a direct box to carry yourself in case the venue can't handle line level.

If you barely have the level out up and the sound guy keeps yelling at you to turn down, he doesn't have you set right (and most likely doesn't know what the fuck he's doing). BE SURE to correct this fast and don't let him bully ya into believing it's your unit.

Had this happen to me twice- even told the sound guy(s) REPEATEDLY to pad me, they just couldn't wrap their heads around it. Had to step out to FOH & do it myself. Then they look at you and go "ooooohhhhhhh".
 

Greg H

Inspired
I have had this problem with sound guys on a few occasions. what does "make sure they pad it down' mean?
A lot of mixing boards have an attinuator built into them to adjust an input channel to either microphone level or to decrease the input sensitivity to line level. This is usually around 25 db of signal reduction. These attenuators used to be refered to as "pads" (they also used to be seperate devices inserted into the cable) and an engineer would refer to it as putting a 25 db pad in-line. Now it is just the push of a button on most boards. The switches on the Peavey mixer I currently have here in the shop are labled "Pad". Padding it down would be pushing the pad button (or switch) on the mixer.
 

Funeral

Fractal Fanatic
If you plan on using both sets of outputs on the Axe-fx and you haven't before, make sure OUTPUT 2 Echo is set to OUTPUT 1. In firmware versions pre 12.03 it was called “Copy Out1 to Out2”.
This option is in the I/O menu Audio tab.
*NOTE*
This is for FRFR guys NOT using an FXLoop Block.
If you are using the FXLoop block in a preset to insert other hardware, it will change what the OUTPUT LEVEL 2 knob does and OUTPUT 2 Echo will not work while the FXLoop block is in the preset.
:)
 

teddis

Power User
Does this not depend on "where" your OUT signal is at . On the AF2 there is NO indication..... I use a sliver of tape...crude.


Most mixers have a -20db "Pad" button. It reduces the signal down 20db so you're not blowing their gain staging. The Axe FX sends a really hot signal.
 

chris

Legend!
Does this not depend on "where" your OUT signal is at . On the AF2 there is NO indication..... I use a sliver of tape...crude.
kinda, but this has more to do with Line Level vs Mic level. only a little to do with where the volume knob is positioned.

the axe sends a Line Level signal out of the XLR outputs. put that into a XLR input on a mixer set to Mic level and it will be very hot, probably distorting the input.

to compensate for this without relying on the sound guy knowing anything, i set my Global Graphic EQ gain to the lowest setting (i think it's -12dB) and it usually takes care of it. when i'm in control of the mixer, i just don't turn up the gain knob at all, just the level slider - you're allowed to do that ya know!
 

teddis

Power User
I just would love to see a visual reference OUTPUT point " for OUT 1 + 2.
That's all.....



kinda, but this has more to do with Line Level vs Mic level. only a little to do with where the volume knob is positioned.

the axe sends a Line Level signal out of the XLR outputs. put that into a XLR input on a mixer set to Mic level and it will be very hot, probably distorting the input.

to compensate for this without relying on the sound guy knowing anything, i set my Global Graphic EQ gain to the lowest setting (i think it's -12dB) and it usually takes care of it. when i'm in control of the mixer, i just don't turn up the gain knob at all, just the level slider - you're allowed to do that ya know!
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
I hear a big difference in my tone if I don't adjust input levels for each guitar. My Strat is dialed up to near 90 while my Les Paul is around 25. This may not be as important for high gain sounds where your compensating for input level and SN ratio in the signal chain but, based on my experience, it's absolutely necessary for clean tones. I've fiddled with putting null filter and/or clean drive blocks in the front of the signal chain to compensate for different input levels. It's not the same. Your mileage may vary.
If your I/O settings change your tone aside from SN ratio, then you probably dialed in extreme settings and some compression occurs.
Changing the I/O gain does not change anything in terms of tone aside from that.

How is SNR an issue with clean tones? The noise floor of your guitar and Axe should not matter for clean tones. I always have the noise gate off for all my clean patches and never noticed any noise within hearing range. Maybe you should turn down the overall volume a little bit or search for some other technical issues like faulty cables.


Also, it really is a best practice to inform FOH that if you're changing presets, you're essentially switching amps between songs. They don't have to do anything with that information but they should know. If you're actually dialing in your gig tones at 105db as suggested above, you're going to experience a near immediate "threshold shift" in your hearing. That's your body switching to hearing protect mode. After that, your perception of volume changes and you may not be able to differentiate between volume A and volume B. Better to use a db meter and hearing protection at those levels if you're trying to equalize preset volumes.
Of course, you need to be careful when equalizing your preset volumes. But once that is done (hence I said dial in close to gig volume), it should be fine in 99% of the cases. The difference you are hearing might be the result of a different bass response of the PA system at the venue. Clean tones usually tend to have a lot more bass in them than highgain sounds. But it's nothing that can't be fixed beforehand.
I change between clean and distorted tones within seconds on several songs. It needs to be set properly right from the beginning; there's nothing the sound guy can do about it when it's caused by not properly leveled and EQed presets.

Besides, if you got a venue at 105dB, chances are the sound will be blurry as shit anyway. Tell the soundguy to fucking turn it down!
The maximum exposure time for 105dB before permanent hearing damage is done is less than 5 minutes! And a you are not going to play just 5 minutes, don't you? ;)

There is literally no reason for the on-stage volume to be that high. It's a slightly different story for the audience, as more people in the room suck away in levels. Still, 90% of venues tend to be way more loud than what is neccessary for a great show. You can have fun at 95-98dB without damaging your hearing capacity permanently.
 
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AndyOrr

Inspired
Of course our STAGE volume isn't that high. I never said it was. That's one of the main reasons we're 100% digital: better control of stage volume. FOH volume is why I say to tell the FOH guy if you're using presets. Luckily, we have our own engineer that moves the sliders at shows even when it's not our desk. But, even after using the Axe on stage for years, he will still tell me things like, "You're heavy trem patch was a little hot. I had to pull that down pretty quick." At which point, I make a note to adjust it back at the rehearsal room. This is especially true after a firmware update when all the levels may have changed. I'm not sure where you're playing but we played several festivals this summer where every band was going out at 103 - 105 db at the mix position at FOH. Yes, it can cause hearing damage. Ever heard of Pink Floyd or The Who? They tune up at 105db. I'm not sure of your experience level but it's hard NOT to be at 103 db stage volume when you're sharing the stage with a rock drummer.

My advice is the same; if you're using presets, ask the FOH guy to be attentive to your volume differences between songs. Thank me later.
 

AndyOrr

Inspired
If your I/O settings change your tone aside from SN ratio, then you probably dialed in extreme settings and some compression occurs.
Changing the I/O gain does not change anything in terms of tone aside from that.

How is SNR an issue with clean tones? The noise floor of your guitar and Axe should not matter for clean tones. I always have the noise gate off for all my clean patches and never noticed any noise within hearing range. Maybe you should turn down the overall volume a little bit or search for some other technical issues like faulty cables.
Nope. No extreme settings and definitely using quality cables. Please see 3.1 of your Axe FX II owner's manual, "Setting Levels". You may wish to present your opinion on trim levels to whomever wrote the manual. Personally, I hear an audible difference if I do not set my input trim optimally for each input source. If Eric Johnson can hear the difference between brands of 9v batteries in his pedals, it's certainly possible that I can hear when my Input trim is too weak. Besides, if it's as simple as you say, why not just set the trim at the factory for the hottest active pickups on the market and get rid of the cost and complexity of the input trim and the input LED's? That way, it's already adjusted for the hottest guitar. Why the fuss? Heck, we could patent this idea and sell it to every manufacturer of mixing consoles, A/D converters, recording interfaces, etc., They're obviously missing something by allowing users to dial in their own input trim if it's as unimportant as you state.

My my hottest guitar is a 490/498 Les Paul Custom. My weakest is a 1956 Stratocaster. They REQUIRE different input levels for me to be satisfied with their tone. I may be hearing things but, I believe that's the point. :)
 

steve_k

Inspired
What sounds good at home in earphones or small monitor speakers isn't going to work out live. Test them out first and save the live/studio presets separately.
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
Of course our STAGE volume isn't that high. I never said it was. That's one of the main reasons we're 100% digital: better control of stage volume. FOH volume is why I say to tell the FOH guy if you're using presets. Luckily, we have our own engineer that moves the sliders at shows even when it's not our desk. But, even after using the Axe on stage for years, he will still tell me things like, "You're heavy trem patch was a little hot. I had to pull that down pretty quick." At which point, I make a note to adjust it back at the rehearsal room. This is especially true after a firmware update when all the levels may have changed. I'm not sure where you're playing but we played several festivals this summer where every band was going out at 103 - 105 db at the mix position at FOH. Yes, it can cause hearing damage. Ever heard of Pink Floyd or The Who? They tune up at 105db. I'm not sure of your experience level but it's hard NOT to be at 103 db stage volume when you're sharing the stage with a rock drummer.
Taking notes is a good advice, no matter what. Still, I'd say you can get pretty much in the ballpark when rehearsing at reasonable levels. I never experienced any sudden drop or jump in volume live after setting all my preset levels at rehearsal.
And of course, you have to take care of your levels after major firmware updates. Even when it's not written in the release notes, I always make sure I got at least one rehearsal between a firmware switch and a live day just to go sure everything works fine. Doing otherwise would be careless.

I don't care that there are big bands destroying their audience's hearing for decades like The Who or PF. I - as a musician and caring person - feel responsible for the health of my audience. They do not have control over the volume or dangerous high frequencies. But I have.
I don't want anyone to suffer from severe tinnitus after a concert and I feel that every other musician should do the same. It's just a medieval practice to turn it up to eleven.
Heck, it's 2014. And with the high quality Line-Arrays we got nowadays, you can get crystal-clear sound traveling over ridicolous distances at reasonable levels.

At the last festival I was, the international headliner went to insane 112 dB (measure with my phone, so well, take it with a grain of salt) - at a distance of more than 50 meters from stage.
The underdog local band playing two hours earlier scored a reasonable 97 dB. Do I need to say that the sound of the latter was much better? Maybe the reason for that was that people in the crowd did not need to wear earplugs and could actually hear the vocals...



If you need to tune up to 105dB just to hear your own playing over the drumming, then your drummer is doing something terribly wrong (especially since you "played several festivals", where I assume the stage is not the size of a parking cell, so you can keep a reasonable distance. And when playing smaller venues, it's a good advice for any drummer to discard the sledgehammer playing and go easy on those cymbals.

I played around with the I/O input level just to satisfy my curiousity and did not notice any difference in sound (I noticed a slight difference at 100%, though).

The input trim of a mixing console and the Axe are apples and oranges and you know that. No need to get snotty.
Even Cliff keeps telling the users to set it to the level of the hottest guitar and then never touch it again.
 
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AndyOrr

Inspired
When you play festivals, it is a cattle call. You have 20 minutes to load in, 10 -20 mins to sound check. There are bands all day long. Time is not a luxury you are afforded. The sound company usually wants to show off their new million watt system and you end up with an easy 105 db at the mix position. We have very little control over the mix volume. We had one instance last summer where there were multiple stages and the sound from the main was hitting a smaller stage a couple blocks away. Rather than turn down, the sound contractor changed the angle of the flying arrays so that they pointed down in front of the stage where the sound bounced off the concrete and right back on to the stage. It was absolutely brutal. Even the crowd couldn't get within 100 feet of the stage. Sometimes, you have no control.

The bottom line and most of my advice was to help deal with the kind of chaos that comes from playing strange stages with unfamiliar sound systems and engineers that don't know your music. When we use our system (GLD 80, I techs, JBL VRX & SRX) we monitor db levels consistently and try to stay below 95 db peak - which is easy to do when you're all digital (td-30 drums, axe fx on guitar and bass).

I've played many indoor shows with acoustic drums on stage where, in order to put everyone in the mix, the FOH volume is 105+ easily. I'm just the guitar player... If the venue wants to rock like that, who am I to complain?

As for input trim level, I've been using the Axe for 3 yrs now. Maybe the advice on input trim has changed since Ultra v. 6 when I started using it. I don't follow this forum much so I have no idea what Cliff says. I'll try what you said about dialing for hottest guitar tomorrow but, I'm skeptical that it won't have any affect on my tone. I'll let you know.
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
When you play festivals, it is a cattle call. You have 20 minutes to load in, 10 -20 mins to sound check. There are bands all day long. Time is not a luxury you are afforded. The sound company usually wants to show off their new million watt system and you end up with an easy 105 db at the mix position. We have very little control over the mix volume. We had one instance last summer where there were multiple stages and the sound from the main was hitting a smaller stage a couple blocks away. Rather than turn down, the sound contractor changed the angle of the flying arrays so that they pointed down in front of the stage where the sound bounced off the concrete and right back on to the stage. It was absolutely brutal. Even the crowd couldn't get within 100 feet of the stage. Sometimes, you have no control.
I never played at a festival, so I can't give you any personal experience on that. And you are probably right, the larger the gig, the less you are in control.
I think there's something wrong with the mentality of the sound guys at major festivals. Maybe they don't care or maybe they just can't hear it themselves anymore. No matter what, I feel there's something that needs to be done about that.

I've played many indoor shows with acoustic drums on stage where, in order to put everyone in the mix, the FOH volume is 105+ easily. I'm just the guitar player... If the venue wants to rock like that, who am I to complain?
Think about this: if you - as the musician - do not complain, who else can? There's always people in the crowd that complain that it's too loud or too quiet - they will not be taken serious. You - as the musician - are problably the only one at a venue that can have a talk with the sound guy about that matter.
And I feel it's our responsibility to do so!
The point is that people going to a concert want to have a great time and not be in pain. I attended a lot of indoor gigs in my life and a lot of them passed the pain treshold (the 'official' treshold is around 125dB, but from my own experience, it's a lot lower in reality). That is not what I call having a good time. I want the audience to be relaxed and entertained, not stressed.

I got my own personal blacklist of "bands I will not go see live anymore". Some of them even are my personal favorites, like the Foo Fighters.
I just don't want to pay money just to get my ears destroyed, no matter how amazing they are live.


As for input trim level, I've been using the Axe for 3 yrs now. Maybe the advice on input trim has changed since Ultra v. 6 when I started using it. I don't follow this forum much so I have no idea what Cliff says. I'll try what you said about dialing for hottest guitar tomorrow but, I'm skeptical that it won't have any affect on my tone. I'll let you know.
I'd recommend to have a blind A/B comparison on that. Don't let your eyes fool your ears and decide for yourself if it's worth it or not.
 

swervedriver

Inspired
Zwiebelchen, do you not wear earplugs at concerts?

Personally I would never go to a concert without them. I'll buy some at the venue if I forget to bring my own, no way I'm exposing my ears to such levels of sound. Be it at band rehearsals, pub gigs, indoor concerts or outdoor festivals, I've always got stuff in my ears to protect them! And if the music hurts while wearing earplugs, it's time for new earplugs. ;)
 

Zwiebelchen

Fractal Fanatic
Zwiebelchen, do you not wear earplugs at concerts?

Personally I would never go to a concert without them. I'll buy some at the venue if I forget to bring my own, no way I'm exposing my ears to such levels of sound. Be it at band rehearsals, pub gigs, indoor concerts or outdoor festivals, I've always got stuff in my ears to protect them! And if the music hurts while wearing earplugs, it's time for new earplugs. ;)
I do; I value my health.
The point is: It muffles the sound and takes away from the experience. If they wouldn't turn it up into oblivion, I could enjoy the event without earplugs.
 

AndyOrr

Inspired
I stand corrected. The input gain is not as important as Previously thought - to a point. There was no noticeable loss in fidelity when I had my Strat turned up all the way but, did notice that things got a tad thinner if I dialed down my volume. I also discovered the input impedance dial and changed that on a few presets.

The Axe Fx is like an old couch. If you dig around in it for a few minutes, there's going to be some "change".
 
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