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Old 12-26-2012, 08:46 PM
adamqlw adamqlw is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 493
Default After six weeks or so with the Axe FX II...

My experience with the Axe has been overwhelmingly positive, just a couple of observations below (that may or may not be useful):

1) I miss the front panel of the 11R. When it comes to tweaking a straight up amp, having all the knobs right in front of you is just fantastic. I assume the Kemper is something like that. The quick knobs on the front of the Axe work, but it's just not the same. Having said that, the Axe isn't significantly more difficult to navigate in that regard. I does require that little bit more effort, but not a monumental effort.

2) This is more than compensated by the fact that the Cab/IR block is so damn powerful. Custom IRs and the general flexibility that is built into it is what totally seals the deals. It's really what makes or breaks the tone for me, and with the new IRs coming up, I am super excited. This is what puts it head and shoulders above the 11R for me.

3) I was worried that the Matrix config would be too confusing. It was a little, at the start. Now I realize that it's immensely powerful, and with a little forethought and the scenes function, I've really nailed down my live rig with gapless changes. I usually sketch out on paper an idea of what tones/effects I will need and then map out a virtual rig in the matrix. This brings me beyond programming a single-tone patch, I approach each patch as a complete rig (with multiple amps/effects). It's had an amazing imact on streamlining my patches for live use, on volume matching, and also on having a more consistent tone across a set of patches. I LOVE this function, and it was added in firmware 9. An absolute bonus.

4) Auto-engage makes me weep tears of joy...

5) An extension of the matrix in point 4, start simple. There are plenty of amps in the Axe FX and they seriously have their own distinct character. And like to be paired with different cabs. You probably will never use all of them, but spend a little time getting to know them. It's dead simple to do "basic" patches on the Axe, and once you're familiar with that, bringing those individual components into the matrix is where the power of the unit really explodes.

6) I didn't get the MFC, it's a solid looking pedal but too big for me. I have a Keith McMillen softstep. While the software is not the most intuitive (and uses a ridiculous amount of RAM...), I have been able to program it in standalone mode to do just what I need. I have one patch that switches presets. Another patch that selects from the 8 scenes, AND leaves me with 2 buttons to increment/decrement scene volume. Another patch that lets me cycle through presets in sets of 4, select 4 scenes, and with the increment/decrement function. And a last one that controls the loopers, tuner and patch volume. It's brought all the essential MIDI messages to my feet in a package that fits into the back of my 2U rack... a lethal combination, IMHO, of power, flexibility and weight. Granted, the pad-like buttons are not for everyone, but if size is a concern and you don't want to sacrifice programmability, you'll be hard pressed to do any better than that.

7) I used to have a VG99. I spent hours tweaking that. My tweaking-to-playing ratio was worse than 1:1 in favor of tweaking... and I was never happy with the sound. With the Axe it's a lot less, things generally "sound good". I still do tweak, but more because I want to explore new things (pitch shifter, ducking reverb, more sophisticated scenes within a patch). I can stop anything I want and just play and feel pretty damn satisfied with my tone. Tweaking with the Axe is not "I have to, to get decent tones", it's "I want to because it adds to what I can do with my sound". To me that's an important paradigm shift, and the one that really makes the purchase feel justified.

Best money I ever spent on gear. Period.
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Old 12-27-2012, 02:29 AM
Holyoli Holyoli is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Belgium
Posts: 82
Default Re: After six weeks or so with the Axe FX II...

Thank you adamqlw !

A few more questions : how do you compare the feel and dynamic ?
How does it take pedals (boost, distortion in front of the unit )

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Old 12-27-2012, 03:09 AM
adamqlw adamqlw is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 493
Default Re: After six weeks or so with the Axe FX II...

Hi Holyoli,

I can't comment about how it takes pedals, I literally have none in my setup (and that's one of the primary reasons I wanted to Axe, for the all-in-one package). I can say that it takes different guitars very well. Guitars really retain their character. The input is unitary gain, meaning there's a digital trim that you set to minimize your signal to noise ratio, but this is compensated for internally once it hits the effects processing stage. It's also got impedence matching if you want it, so taking all those things into consideration, I'd say it would take pedals well. But that's just my conjecture!

Regarding feel and dynamics, I don't think it is head and shoulders above the ElevenRack. I didn't do a side by side, but I was never disappointed with the ElevenRack's responsiveness/dynamics to begin with. I'd peg it as both operating such a high level that it doesn't matter.

That said, when it comes to the overall tone/EQ-curve(?), which I view at separately from the "feel" side (which I see as more of responsiveness to how hard I dig in, whether the gain sounds rich and complex or thin and raspy, how it cleans up with the volume knob), it has far more options than ElevenRack, and in a way, it's far more intuitive. With the ElevenRack I find myself reaching for the paraEQ *all the time* to tame the boominess in my patches, and to add a low pass filter. I attribute this to the cabs/IRs. The tweaking process then becomes, to me, counter-intuitive. With the Axe FX I find that just selecting a good cab+mic combo gets me 80% there. A little high-pass filter if it's boomy. And a handy graphic equalizer in the preamp stage if I want to get just that little bit more specific. None of these require an extra slot by the way, they are all handily provided as parts of the amp/cab block. I really appreciate how well thought out those bits are, and it makes editing much more manageable.

Sticking the graphic EQ between the amp and the cab seems to work better for me than the para EQ after. With the 11R routing, that's simply not possible.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:49 AM
Vercingetorix Vercingetorix is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Rural NSW, Australia
Posts: 1,006
Default Re: After six weeks or so with the Axe FX II...

Ok, as soon as I have a 'spare' $3,295.00 AU ($3,421.55 US) I'll be sure to drop it all on an Axe FX II.

But I can't see that happening any time soon .
You're validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.

Schecter Hellraiser 7 Diamond - Ibanez RG7620
Eleven Rack w/ ERXP
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:29 AM
adamqlw adamqlw is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 493
Default Re: After six weeks or so with the Axe FX II...

I was expecting to be raped on price/shipping since I live in Singapore, but the distributor here is doing pretty much US prices converted straight up with no hidden charges. I almost shat my pants with joy when I found out. A strange analogy, but when you hear news that good, bowel control goes out the window!
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:08 PM
jsp0511 jsp0511 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2
Default Re: After six weeks or so with the Axe FX II...

Originally Posted by adamqlw View Post
4) Auto-engage makes me weep tears of joy...
Priceless! My 11R was out the door on Monday and my Axe-Fx II arrived yesterday. Only had time for an un-boxing but plan to play tonight. Also sold my GCP and GCX to move to the MFC-101. Looking forward to diving into this thing!
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