Axe FX III vs 2204; no IR (but iPhone...)

cardinal

Well-known member
Fractal Axe FX III Brit 800/Super OD or '79 Marshall 2204/SD-1

Not the best clip at all, but a lot of folks complain about comparisons with IRS so here's a real cab with an iPhone at least.

Same cab (1960AV). iPhone did not move
A:

B:
 

glpg80

Well-known member
I agree with others, B is better sounding to my ears. The open D has the Marshall bark that I love whatever it is.

A doesn’t sound bad. Both are nuts close and would work live.
 

cardinal

Well-known member
Should I have used more gain? On the real rig, I have the SD-1 level maxed but just switched to lower output pickups and sometimes add a few dBs of clean boost after the SD-1 to help saturate it.

Oddly the AFX has the OD level only around 6.5 here. If you max that out, it has outrageous gain. I guess Fractal thought to give more output than is available on the real pedal?
 

DanTravis62

Well-known member
Both sound good in different ways. I prefer A, at least through the iphone recording. Though B would be good for leads as it seems more compressed sounding. I probably only prefer A because I like more dynamic heavy rhythm sounds.

isn't it funny tho, how through a real cabinet, that it makes a noticeable difference, even though technically it should be the same "real life impulse response"? 🤔
 

cardinal

Well-known member
Both sound good in different ways. I prefer A, at least through the iphone recording. Though B would be good for leads as it seems more compressed sounding. I probably only prefer A because I like more dynamic heavy rhythm sounds.

isn't it funny tho, how through a real cabinet, that it makes a noticeable difference, even though technically it should be the same "real life impulse response"? 🤔
Yeah, my issue with the Fractal is that you have to try very hard to avoid an overly warm, compressed, rubbery tone. The useable range of the virtual master volume is very narrow.

I assume they do this because it makes people immediately think Oh This Modeler Is So Warm and Thick Sounding! But if you end up playing next to a real amp, I've found it sounds like a blanket is over the Fractal tone unless that master volume stays down pretty low. And even then, you can tell I wasn't able to get entirely to the real amp tone.
 

DanTravis62

Well-known member
Yeah, my issue with the Fractal is that you have to try very hard to avoid an overly warm, compressed, rubbery tone. The useable range of the virtual master volume is very narrow.

I assume they do this because it makes people immediately think Oh This Modeler Is So Warm and Thick Sounding! But if you end up playing next to a real amp, I've found it sounds like a blanket is over the Fractal tone unless that master volume stays down pretty low. And even then, you can tell I wasn't able to get entirely to the real amp tone.

That was exactly my experience with the axefx stuff. It's good quality, but for a use-case I don't fall into.

If I got one it would strictly be for the effects, ironically, not the amp models.

I think they could have gotten closer to the real sounds, but wanted that "whoa it's so tube like" reaction from people and figured that would help.

Either way, cool post - the IR thing does drive some of us nuts, and it's interesting hearing real-life testing.
 

cardinal

Well-known member
Finally had a chance to listen back to my own clips on a decent playback system.

In the room, the 2204 is almost somewhat clanky and sharp sounding. But the recording smooths it out some and I think it sounds pretty cool.

In the room, the Fractal has a chewy sorta sound that's real easy to play and sounds cool I think. In the recording though it seems too much. More Marshall than Marshall.

Both sound fine IMHO and the Fractal does what I need it to do, which is be fun to play here and there without having to fire up a 40 some year old amp.
 

Candiria

Active member
I'm borrowing my buddy's FM9, and the thing is amazing. It takes some googling and watching a few Leon Todd videos because out of the box it sounds like ass through a poweramp and cab.

I knew I was doing something wrong because no amount of tweaking the tone controls could fix the issues I was having with it. Turns out you just need to tweak it in other ways first.

I've A/B'd it through the same cabs using an amp switcher, and I've had a similar experience where it's been able to get close enough to a Splawn QR, Bogner Goldfinger, and Mark V.

The biggest difference I've noticed is in the "punch". I might just need the right poweramp, but it doesn't thump like a tube amp. It has plenty of low frequencies, but they're the kind that shake the house vs punch you in the chest.

Still, it's amazing how great it sounds, and there's times where I've preferred the tone of the FM9 vs the real amp. I wouldn't 100% ditch tube amps for it, but would definitely go down to just a couple favorites and this thing.
 

cardinal

Well-known member
I'm borrowing my buddy's FM9, and the thing is amazing. It takes some googling and watching a few Leon Todd videos because out of the box it sounds like ass through a poweramp and cab.

I knew I was doing something wrong because no amount of tweaking the tone controls could fix the issues I was having with it. Turns out you just need to tweak it in other ways first.

I've A/B'd it through the same cabs using an amp switcher, and I've had a similar experience where it's been able to get close enough to a Splawn QR, Bogner Goldfinger, and Mark V.

The biggest difference I've noticed is in the "punch". I might just need the right poweramp, but it doesn't thump like a tube amp. It has plenty of low frequencies, but they're the kind that shake the house vs punch you in the chest.

Still, it's amazing how great it sounds, and there's times where I've preferred the tone of the FM9 vs the real amp. I wouldn't 100% ditch tube amps for it, but would definitely go down to just a couple favorites and this thing.
I don't do any deep editing other than matching the virtual impedance curve to the cab I'm using.

The power amp does matter. I've been using a solid state power amp known in the bass guitar world for its "slam" and punch. It's often used to drive subs at clubs. (Its a Crest CA9). It's very deep and over 40 pounds I think, but it can hammer you for sure. I didn't like the AFX with any of the tube power amps I tried. It was way too warm and blurry IMHO.
 

glpg80

Well-known member
That was exactly my experience with the axefx stuff. It's good quality, but for a use-case I don't fall into.

If I got one it would strictly be for the effects, ironically, not the amp models.

I think they could have gotten closer to the real sounds, but wanted that "whoa it's so tube like" reaction from people and figured that would help.

Either way, cool post - the IR thing does drive some of us nuts, and it's interesting hearing real-life testing.
I agree with this sentiment.

I love the AXE FX tones and prefer them in recordings but I don’t have the time or patience to fuck with one and go through the hell of getting those tones. I’d much prefer to stick to tube amps, plug in, and go.
 

cardinal

Well-known member
You know, it seems to vary by amp model. The Fractal 2204 is a touch more compressed/thicker than the real amp (at least the one I have).

But I can't seem to get the Fractal 5150 to compress enough compared to the real amp. I dunno. I can try to do some quick clips of those two as well. The Fractal 5150 sounds fine, but there's a bigger gap between it and the real amp I think.
 

cardinal

Well-known member
for kicks, here's a direct recording with the Fractal with a York Audio Bogner IR

The tone did change quite a bit, but of course an iPhone vs a pro IR of a different cab would do that I guess.
 
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