Show 185 – Fractal Audio Axe-FX II reviewed and more!

This week our guest Frankie Mariano tells us all about the Fractal Audio Axe-FX II guitar processor.

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13 thoughts on “Show 185 – Fractal Audio Axe-FX II reviewed and more!

  1. Haha guys, let’s definatly do a show with things that would normally upset people! Maybe with the illegal “B” word 😛
    Not sure there’s anything I don’t laugh at though, you’d probably have more laughing than actual content.
    Tip – tweeting pictures of your arse will get you more audio jobs. #Fact

  2. enjoyed the show per usual, thanks for putting out every week 😉

    I definitely know the feeling of getting to a point in a mix, saving, then coming back way later and hating it, but I also know the feeling of recording something, never having it sound right, and coming back loving it. Sometimes creativity of right now doesn’t jive with what you want later. But art is art man! The days I get the most mixing compliments are the days where I feel like I’m really struggling to get it right and sometimes this is with label signed artists. Then again being a live sound guy and having recording as just a hobby gives me the advantage of never having to hear my work again.

    about that axe fx rig, the only thing missing IMO is the sound of the guitar interacting with the ambient sound. A guitar in a control room ported to an amp never sounds as good as a guitar in the room with an amp. Something is just missing without it. Because of this I prefer to do my DI recording with a cranked up stage monitor so the guitar is in the sound. It’s a world of difference when you track a song that way, then do a single overdub using the same gear but with headphones instead of the monitor. Sticks out like a sound guy placing a lapel mic. giggidy.

    much love,

  3. I have waited for a segment on the Axe FX II for a while now. I couldn’t wait to get home from school and listen to it. During the segment, Frankie mentioned that Periphery uses an Axe FX II through the power section of an EVH 5150 and out a Mesa cab live. They only did this for their second album. For live use they just go directly into the board. Actually, they have their backing tracks and patch changes all in one Pro Tools session so they don’t have to use pedal boards. I think it’s a bit risky using a Macbook as the heart of a live show, but it seems to be working well for them so far.

    If I remember correctly, Frankie mentioned Ola Englund. He did a shootout between the Axe FX II and a Pod HD Pro on Youtube. It’s pretty cool to hear that the Pod isn’t completely terrible. I know Paul Ortiz (aka Chimp Spanner) used one for his latest album, and it works in the mix. I’m definitely hoping for that improvement of amp sims within the coming years though.

    Thanks again for the awesome show!

  4. Oh, I just remembered. Ryan, you mentioned that you would like to have an ultra light Linux machine with Reaper on it. They actually have developed a Linux version, but I believe it’s on the back burner now. You can download it on Cockos’s website for pre-releases. I am not aloud to disclose the name, so you’ll have to do some searching!

  5. Guys, thanx for putting that creepy image of you guys leering away (slobbering perhaps???) as you ogle breasts, thighs, and other parts of the female (male????) body as you mount (no pun intended…) lav mics….I hope for your sake no talent you work with listens to the show…..they might not be so cooperative any more….. :^)

    As to making mono tracks “stereo”; here is a simple and somewhat elegant solution that works very well for most things. Leave the mono track centered. Make two clones of the mono track. Pan one hard left, one hard right. Then put a high pass filter on one side and a low pass filter on the other and adjust to suit. You can also put a band pass on the original mono channel, but that does make it a bit more difficult to get right and isn’t really necessary if you don’t have the ears to adjust the band pass filter.

    As to the AXE II, review, not suggesting this was the intent, but it seems a bit unfair to talk about the $2200 plus AXE II and amp sim plug ins in the same discussion, primarily because the AXE II IS an amp, but also because most amp sim software costs under $300!

  6. GSAA

    – “now we just need to reinvent the guitarist” – Frankie Mariano

    The guitarist has been reinvented…
    I was speaking with my cousin’s child the other day and she told me that she learned to play the guitar. Naturally i was stoked and said we should get together and play some time. She said “Great!” and then followed up with the question: “Do you have a WII or Xbox.” This was yet another milestone in my life where i suddenly felt self conscious about my receding hair line…

    Who needs to ride then chicken when you can play chicken hero and never have to learn the intricacies of bridling and mounting our foul friends.

  7. Howdy,
    You recently made mention “again” of vocal absorbers and as I had just purchased a pair of Prime acoustic VOX Guard kits my ears perked up to hear what you would have to say. I hadn’t yet used them so didn’t have any real opinion myself. John didn’t sound too sold on the concept and mentioned them to actaully make mics worse on occasion… well i just finished a session with a vocalist who came back in to re-track some vocals. Holy cow, what an improvement. Using the same Mic (AT4050), cable, pre-amp (DBX 386), compressor (DBX 1066) etc…there was a noticable difference, but not really in ways that i expected. My live room was already treated and has served me well for cutting vocals, I had made this purchase for cutting two vocalists in the same room to try to help isolate performances but with the VOX Guard i was able to push the compressor as I tracked heading into the DAW harder and didn’t pick up any unwanted room noise that tends to creep in as you increase compression. I much prefer the quality of my outboard compressor to a plug in so this was a real bonus! The other two things I didn’t expect were, less EQ correction on the voice in the upper mids, say 2-5k range and a an overall warmer more intimate vocal sound that was much easier to sit in the mix. Lastly I was able to use less ubermod to get the same effect…weird, i know, can’t explain this last one. Just thought I would throw in my two cents…and aside from my recent lava lamp score, at $99ea this is probably the best money i’ve spent in the studio to date. Love the show, stay young at heart! Jason

  8. Love the show guys! Keeps me from going insane at my soul sucking commute to my day job. I’ve owned the [vintage] Axe FX Standard for a little over a year now. Actually got it for $1,050 on eBay right after the Axe II was announced. It took me about 8 or 9 months of tweaking to get a sound I was happy with. Now, after an incredible amount of tweaking, I finally get sounds I really love (and I think my gear acquisition syndrome is temporarily cured). I know the Axe II is supposed to be easier to use right off the box, but still expect to put a lot of [at times frustrating] effort to creating your own sounds if you go down this road. Quick Tips: Play around with tube screamers [All of them!], experiment with distant mic impulses, and keep the pre-amp gain down while turning up the power amp section. Wait…these are things all guitarists should do. Again, thanks for putting out all these shows. Hope my little 10 dollar donation helps. I’ll be donating more soon. I’m infinitely better at recording/mixing/producing because of you guys! Cheers!

  9. Hi Guys
    Great show, I have been listening for a long time but never found the time to sit down and write a comment. Re show 184 and comment by Ricker and the red neck (we call it a bogan here in Australia ) iso box, I have actually built one of these using a old chest freezer called a Tuckerman. I have mounted a 12inch celestion vintage 30 on a back plate that slides into the freezer making an enclosed cab.

    I use it all the time as I own a couple of singe channel 60’s tube amps (Goldentone 20W reverbmaster and 30Wplaymaster) and I believe the technical term, in order to get a nice broken up tone, is ring the shit out of them. This can be really fatiguing in a domestic house so the box makes working with these amps the much more comfortable. As far as isolation it is awesome. I once recorded an improve prog/jazz band that did a 20min song where the guitarist played through Fender Deville, adjusting a delay pedal and looped feedback tone live so re-amping wasn’t an option. In a confined studio space I had the box 6foot from the kick drum and there was very little spill on either track or the drum OH’s.

    As far as tone goes there is a little compromise in the bottom end. It doesn’t seem to produce the same ballsy sound that my friends 4×12 can put out. I am thinking I might port the back plate, but I am wary of the eq can of worms that may open. At the moment I am happy to work around the compromise as I can now record guitars well into the evening without worrying about my neighbours calling the cops for noise pollution. I get heaps more work done with happy clients, as I work a day job and mainly record at night. I regard it as the same compromise I am happy to make by using GAP and Vintech pre’s instead of Neve’s and still own a car. If I owned a rack full of Neve’s I couldn’t even afford to ride the chicken to the day job. Cheers

    PS If you want photo’s or audio clips let me know am happy to provide.

  10. So we are all fully aware John hates the D112, but I’m not sure if this has been addressed: What is your favorite kick drum microphone? I have been using the Audix D6 but I’m up for some suggestions!

    On the topic of kick drums: I have been having issues in the mix with my overheads and room mics muddying the kick. If I take too many lows out, it really weakens the snare. Any tips?

  11. Holy huge page title guys! I guess I haven’t been around lately to see the new and improved site. Looks great!

    I’ve got a segment in the can on how M/S mic’ing works if you want it. It was on IHR a while back, but you’re more than welcome to have it – let me know.

    Regarding the question of using 3 mics to achieve the M/S technique Will it work? … well, yes and no. You’ll get something, but you’re not going to get the theoretical best image you can.

    The whole point of M/S is to be able to exploit the phase coherence and destruction of sound at a specific point in space. You’re already screwing things up with the minimal distance between the two diaphragms, but seeing as they’re on the same plane (the “y” axis relative to the source), then it works. Putting space between two “side” microphones on the “x” axis starts adding wrenches into what the M/S technique is trying to achieve.

    I guess THEORETICALLY, any multi-pattern condensor mic that you put in as a figure-8 would be messing things up too as there are two diaphragms at work, but the space between the two capsules in the mic is minimal and anything within our hearing range wouldn’t be affected by any phase issues going on.

    I think Jon hit it on the nose – what’s the point of faking the M/S technique with three mics? Seems to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth IMHO.

    Keep it up guys!

  12. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I was listening in the car with my 9-year old. Thankfully, the discussion on the podcast didn’t devolve into sexual innuendos that I’d have to explain during the segment we heard.

    He loved the discussion on making people THINK you’re changing something thru some bogus action. Thanks guys …. I can just see the note coming home that he tried that kind of thing on the next math test.

    New HRS Moto: Providing useful Public Service advice to kids of Audio Engineers around the world!

  13. Thanks for all the great shows guys. I have listened to them all over the last few years and every one is better than the last. I will finally pony up to the tip jar, should have a long time ago.

    Loved the segment on the Axe FX II. Personally, I’ve been using a Roland VG-99 for about 3 years now, and every time I turn this thing on, I am surprised at what it can do. It is so deep, you can spend weeks just finding out all it can do. I would love to hear a segment on it. The VG-99 community is great and it seems to be a missed gem in a guitar players toolbag. Here’s a link to the forum and if you want to know anything about the VG-99, ask someone there, I’m just not that bright.
    Keep the great shows coming

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