Blown away by fractal audio’s amp modeling

Shask

Well-known member
And that’s exactly why I won’t ever buy one. I don’t care how fake real they get. This fully admits that they sound like straight up ass without tweaking and everyone knows it.

What fractal needs to do is now pull back completely on all of the “tweaking”, make all of those parameters auto adjust when simple knobs are turned, or here’s a crazy concept - create a unit with knobs to turn instead of buttons to push. If they want to model an amp then quit making the GUI so old and beta version 1. Fractal is it’s own worst enemy. Early on you needed to have access to all of those parameters to make them sound remotely good. Now that they actually can sound great, they need to remove the need to adjust all of the amp specific parameters that need setting and just make the damn things adjust realistically as a real amp does in the room. I bet if they cleaned up their interface and got away from needing to use a fucking laptop they’d have a product that many of us non-tweakers would consider investing in. Until then I’ll keep playing the real deal because they just work. No tweaking needed.

I think the tweaking is something that draws people to Fractal.. No where else can you sit and mod your own amps in a million different ways to fine tune the teeny miniature things that you can't do on other units. I know I was recently messing with the Helix software, and it kind of bugged me that there was no way to change the basic character of the amps. You either like it or you don't.
 

mooncobra

Well-known member
This is what has taken over for me as my fav ever tone...my 72 with 2 stacked OD pedals. Just amazing when you can let it loose.
I don’t see myself departing the magic world and tons of the mighty power tube!! They make a big difference. I got a set of tubes from you a while back and my amp sounds, feels and plays better than ever in the most magical of ways!

VIVA LA POWER TUBES!!

VIVA LA GORILLA GANG!! May they live FOREVER!!!
 

Ventura

Well-known member
They really are incredible! And they are constantly upgrading to make them sound better, they have come a long ways in the last 10+ years
This was the other thing that drove me nuts - the constant frothing over latest firmware/v.updates
Of course - this sentiment was always met with the snark "no one's forcing you to update, you can keep your system as is, Cliff just wants to constantly evolve the product, make it betterer, don't be such a dick".

I have all the amps I need. I must be a dick.

That said the "effects" a la Fractal - now that alone *may* be worth the price of admission. Stack that rack at my desk and just line-in/out for pre and post FX??? That *is* something I'd ponder.
 

Tone Junkie

Well-known member
Tube amp junkie for a long time. Buddy has a fractal. Amazing.

Honestly I think Kemper feels more like a tube amp. Plus modeling.

If your a deep dive person Fractal. If your more plug n play Kemper.

In a band mix average Joe and even good ears will have a hard time telling which is which.
 

Elric

Member
And that’s exactly why I won’t ever buy one. I don’t care how fake real they get. This fully admits that they sound like straight up ass without tweaking and everyone knows it.
No, it's not like that at all on the current ones. You sound like some one who has not spent any time at all with one of the newer models and is actively trying to dislike/prejudge., TBH.

Some guys who would likely be having amps modded, etc, do the equivalent of that in the box. That's about it. There are enough models there and they are accurate enough that you don't have to mod anything, you just select a different model that has the properties you want.

There is some futzing around with levels etc in initial setup or with significant changes like with any analog rack rig and you have a number of options to consider when wiring a rig (most notably direct or cab) but it is not endless tweaking.

Then Gen 1 unit absolutely required significant deep editing to bring the goods, 2 a little less, the 3 even less so, to the point where I would say, for most players, it simply doesn't go beyond getting things hooked up and deciding on whether you are going to use direct or with a cab.

After that if you can understand Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence, Depth, you are good. Beyond that it is mostly dealing with all the choices in the virtual warehouse full of gear rather than adjusting sag and voltages in the virtual amps. I haven't touched that sh*t in forever.

They're incredible tools, people sleeping on digital are missing out. IMHO. You don't have to use them by themselves, either. They integrate really well with amps and traditional rigs.
 

TheGreatGreen

Well-known member
I have a room full of tube amps and I love my Axe-Fx. Love it. Do any of its models sound identical to my specific amps? No. Do a lot of the models sound and feel just as good as my specific amps through apples-to-apples comparisons (Axe-Fx amp modeling and IRs into FRFR vs tube amp into reactive load into those same IRs and FRFR, or Axe-Fx into SS poweramp and cab vs tube amp into that same cab)? Yes.

However, if you're going to try it, there's a few things you need to know:


1. You'll need to build your own patches. Other people's patches will never, ever, ever sound as good as patches you build from scratch. Don't expect to dial up a factory preset or even some other person or celebrity's patches and expect them to sound good. You might get lucky once in a blue moon but most of the time they just won't work because they were built around a different guitar, different player, different context, etc.

3. If you're going to play through an FR/FR setup, you ABSOLUTELY NEED to find a great IR or mix of IRs you love, FIRST THING. The IR's you use will absolutely be the most influential element that shapes your overall opinion about the Axe-Fx (and probably modeling in general). You'll go through a lot of IRs, and you'll probably not care for 95% of them. That is normal and ok. Eventually you'll find something that works for you. Getting this part right is the key to unlocking the entire Axe-Fx, or any modeler at all, and once you do, you'll probably find more amazing tones than you could ever use.

4. FR/FR sounds and feels fundamentally different than amp in the room tone. It's just physics. Anybody who hasn't played an Axe-Fx through a quality guitar poweramp and guitar cab and tells you it can't give you good "amp in the room" tone does not know what they're talking about, and their opinion can be safely dismissed. The Axe-Fx absolutely can do that, but again, you have to know what you're doing.
 
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TheGreatGreen

Well-known member
And that’s exactly why I won’t ever buy one. I don’t care how fake real they get. This fully admits that they sound like straight up ass without tweaking and everyone knows it.

What fractal needs to do is now pull back completely on all of the “tweaking”, make all of those parameters auto adjust when simple knobs are turned, or here’s a crazy concept - create a unit with knobs to turn instead of buttons to push. If they want to model an amp then quit making the GUI so old and beta version 1. Fractal is it’s own worst enemy. Early on you needed to have access to all of those parameters to make them sound remotely good. Now that they actually can sound great, they need to remove the need to adjust all of the amp specific parameters that need setting and just make the damn things adjust realistically as a real amp does in the room. I bet if they cleaned up their interface and got away from needing to use a fucking laptop they’d have a product that many of us non-tweakers would consider investing in. Until then I’ll keep playing the real deal because they just work. No tweaking needed.

I don't think Fractal needs to get rid of the advanced parameters, they've already put them in a different place than the "standard" parameters so you can mess with them if you want, but you never even have to see them if you don't feel like seeking them out. Especially because by default they're set the same as they are in whatever real amp they're emulating.

And you don't have to mess around with advanced parameters to make things sound good. I don't touch them when I'm A/B'ing my real amps with the models because I have never felt the need. However they're there if you want.

I think something people get turned around on is how advanced parameters are used. The simple fact that they're available means people are going to get curious and learn about them and what they do, then tweak them, and then because they find something they like, they talk about it. Some people interpret this as "advanced parameters need to be tweaked for modeling to work" but that's really not the case. It's best to think of the advanced parameters as more like a mod shop where you can put an amp on a bench and experiment with whatever you want more than a case of "you absolutely have to go tweaking B+ constants or whatever for hours to get something that's acceptable" because that's not really how it is, at least I've never found it to be that way. It's more like "I wonder what an SLO would sound like if I gave it the tone controls of a JCM 800, or a transformer that's twice as large or twice as small." That kind of thing.
 
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That1Guy

Active member
To be fair you need to spend a reasonable amount of time finding some IRs that work for you. After that though, you really don't need hours deep editing to get inspiring tones. If you're that concerned about spending time tweaking a modeler you should go play right now instead of responding in a forum. Just kidding but when did we lose the desire to learn about fundamentals that make desirable tones? That's all you're doing in a modeler really
 

TheGreatGreen

Well-known member
To be fair you need to spend a reasonable amount of time finding some IRs that work for you. After that though, you really don't need hours deep editing to get inspiring tones. If you're that concerned about spending time tweaking a modeler you should go play right now instead of responding in a forum. Just kidding but when did we lose the desire to learn about fundamentals that make desirable tones? That's all you're doing in a modeler really

Absolutely.

For me, by far the most "laborious" part of the whole modeling thing was finding my favorite handful of IRs. But now that I have, and now that I know how the Axe-Fx works overall, I can go from nothing to a fully working patch in about a minute, maybe two if I have to configure effects differently than my normal setup. And because I made a couple of template patches, I don't even have to place blocks on the grid and connect them anymore.

In my experience, all the extra work it takes to make modeling work for you over a traditional setup is something you really only have to do once.
 

JimAnsell

Well-known member
i tried to keep a kemper around because i thought it would be easier for recording, or low volume stuff. but what ends up happening is tons more time spend flipping through profiles, and trying to fight with the output section to figure out how to make it sound "Real". its a constant fight with digital, still.

i almost envy the people who are happy with their digital shit because it SEEMS so convenient, versatile, portable (by comparison to tube), etc... but it just doesn't deliver for me. even if its good enough for my idols to tour with, i just don't have the time or attention span to menu dive and tweak soft knobs to try and compete with the tube rig i've spent like 20 years honing to perfection by trying different things and comparing this, and tweaking that, etc.
 

ghosty999

Well-known member
I used an AxeFX 2 rack mounted on stage with a Palmer 402 running a 2x12 for stage volume. The main outs run to front of house.

Once your guitar signal path is ruined by the house PA/Speakers, no one gives a shit if it's Valve or Fractal source.
 

ZEN Amps

Well-known member
Once your guitar signal path is ruined by the house PA/Speakers, no one gives a shit if it's Valve or Fractal source.
I hear the 'audience couldn't tell the difference' argument a lot and feel it's almost completely irrelevant unless you're soullessly playing covers and/or gave up caring long ago. Gear is 99% for the player, always has been - always will be. The audience wouldn't know a Squier Strat from a '59 Les Paul either, or a student violin from a Stradivari.

There's a lot of guys out there that simply don't have a very enjoyable or inspiring playing experience when going digital, and frankly that's all that matters.
 

ghosty999

Well-known member
I hear the 'audience couldn't tell the difference' argument a lot and feel it's almost completely irrelevant unless you're soullessly playing covers and/or gave up caring long ago. Gear is 99% for the player, always has been - always will be. The audience wouldn't know a Squier Strat from a '59 Les Paul either, or a student violin from a Stradivari.

There's a lot of guys out there that simply don't have a very enjoyable or inspiring playing experience when going digital, and frankly that's all that matters.

Those same guys are unlikely to "come to life" if they change to an analog amp. I think your argument is more about stage presence and performance, which isn't a variable I was considering. But I totally agree, no one wants to see someone shoegazing at their Fractal floor control through a whole gig.

All I'm saying is the audience's audio experience won't change whether it's a Fractal or a 6k+ Valve Amp. Once pumped through 20+ blown club PA system with all the other instruments. I've never met anyone who's been able to tell in a blind A/B which is which live yet.
 

gibson5413

Well-known member
Love my amps and Axe-FX III. I would always prefer a real amp when I play but I think the Axe-FX (and Kemper) are great for what they do. I've owned both (still have the III and had the Kemper for 7 years). I have UA OX box on the way as well. Looking forward to hearing what I can do with my real amps. Great world we live in!
 

Tone Monster

Well-known member
Love my amps and Axe-FX III. I would always prefer a real amp when I play but I think the Axe-FX (and Kemper) are great for what they do. I've owned both (still have the III and had the Kemper for 7 years). I have UA OX box on the way as well. Looking forward to hearing what I can do with my real amps. Great world we live in!

My money is on you selling the III. Load boxes are the shit.
 
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