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And just like that, my AX8 is gone.

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by skinvoyager, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. skinvoyager

    skinvoyager Supporting Member

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    I've been gigging with my trusty AX8 heavily for more than two years (ever since they came out) and I truly love it. But recently I've been on a quest to return to some analog gear...not so much to replace modeling, but I just miss the feel of real amps. I have a nice Carol-Ann, but that stays at home.

    The Origin Effects Revival Drive caught my ear. The demos sounded exactly like my sound: old-school, raw, very alive. I'm one of those guys who literally uses one patch on the AX8 all night...an X/Y amp block and a handful of basic effects. So I figured the Revival Drive would be perfect for building a small board.

    When I got it, I first tried it in the loop of the AX8 using the Fractal's cab block. Damn, it sounded good. It got me thinking...the HX Effects has IR loading...it would be the perfect pairing for the Revival Drive.

    I bought the HX Effects and loaded my favorite IRs (I have a LOT). For some reason, I couldn't get it to sound as good as using the Revival Drive with the stock cabs on the AX8. Believe me, I tried.

    Next I thought I would return the HX Effects and go back to a bunch of individual effect pedals (delay, modulation, etc.) and get a stand-alone IR loader or cab sim. I tried many, many options. I won't mention the pedals, but I kept thinking that the HX Effects sounded just as good as these expensive pedals for the time-based effects. Really. So I decided not to return the HX Effects.

    Then, while researching cab sims, I saw the new Torpedo CAB M. I thought, holy crap, this is exactly what I need! Two days later, I had the following rig:

    Guitar > CryBaby Mini Wah > XP Compressor > HX Effects. In the loop of the HX Effects, I have the Tumnus Mini > Revival Drive Custom. The output of the HX Effects goes to the CAB M.

    Man, I'm in heaven. After spending more time with the Revival Drive, I can truly say it's amazing. It needs tweaking and exploration for sure, but man, it sounds like an amp. It has all the little sputters and noises, and everything that makes a cranked amp glorious. Using the Torpedo app with the CAB M, I found a Greenback cab that was absolutely perfect. I now have an entire direct-to-PA rig on a 24x12 board.

    Back to the AX8: I was pretty proud of my patches. I really dialed a few in over the years. But next to the new rig, they sounded thin and a bit hollow by comparison. I hate to say it, but they sounded digital. It was something I hadn't noticed because I think over the past two years I just got used to it. Believe me, this isn't a slam on Fractal...I think their modeling is the best. But my new rig feels so much more alive.

    Bottom line, I think I'm at the point where I've made the following conclusions (for ME):

    • Analog sounds better up front (preamp, OD pedals, wah, compressor)
    • Digital is the obvious choice for time-based effects
    • A good cab sim is better and more consistent than a mic on a speaker
    • The combination of digital and analog is the SH*T

    I sold the AX8 because I just don't need it. Having said that, if Fractal comes out with a smaller unit soon, I will snag one just to have it. I still think modeling has its place, especially for guys using multiple tones. But for a rock guy like me who just needs clean, crunch and lead, I couldn't be happier with the new rig.
     
  2. JiveTurkey

    JiveTurkey Trumpets and Tants Silver Supporting Member

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    That Revival Drive looks killer! Congrats on the successful rig blow-up!
     
    Madmax25 and skinvoyager like this.
  3. Lord N

    Lord N Member

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    Agreed. :aok

    It better be... for that price :p
     
    mbenigni, AbePhroman, zuel69 and 4 others like this.
  4. dmock66

    dmock66 Member

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    I think it's cool to hear these stories! There are so many great products on the market today. I think we tend to think we need to be analog OR digital - where there are nearly infinite combinations to get done what you want.

    I have a question around the Cab-M -- if you went after IRs that are stated to be where you landed within the Torpedo software can you get "the same sound" (realizing it may not be EXACTLY the same)? I had a Torpedo CAB several years ago - liked it a lot - but found that I didn't want to have to manage multiple devices consistently so moved to a product that would load IRs. After doing some experimenting I found IRs that got me to the same end result so I'm just curious.

    That being said - if it's working and you like it - GO WITH IT!
     
    ejecta, Eric Rowland and skinvoyager like this.
  5. madmarcus1960

    madmarcus1960 Supporting Member

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    The Two Notes stuff gives you way more flexibility for running pre amp/drive pedals into it vs. LINE6. You can pick your tubes and Class(A vs AB) and have adjustments for power amp presence and depth. Separate EQing, Reverb, and more IR variables via the software. I ran a Rocktron Pirahna rack preamp through one with very good results.
     
    In Absentia and skinvoyager like this.
  6. skinvoyager

    skinvoyager Supporting Member

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    You can use the CAB M as a straight I.R. loader. Or you can use their cabs, or use power amp simulation. It’s very flexible.
     
    yeky83 likes this.
  7. dmock66

    dmock66 Member

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    The Torpedo CAB had those features as well. I did like it!
     
    skinvoyager likes this.
  8. skinvoyager

    skinvoyager Supporting Member

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    Believe me, I didn’t want to like it. I wanted to get it out of my system. But it really, really sounds like an amp. It’s pricy, but it’s very flexible and very well built.
     
    Lord N likes this.
  9. mkr1

    mkr1 Supporting Member

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    I’m Torpedo ignorant and have been straddling setups this past year- Helix, HXFX into Amplifirebox, pedals>combos. Does the Cab M let you set a fixed xlr FOH level while using the top knob to control 1/4” volume to monitor, as the AFB does, or is there only a single volume parameter? I did my RTFM due dil and couldn’t find it outlined there.
     
    Primus DuPont likes this.
  10. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    Interesting change of approach - glad you found something that's inspiring. When you find something that works you know it!!

    Interesting that you opted for no amp modeling at all in your new signal chain. The two sound demos I found of the RevivalDrive both demo it by running into a Fender Twin and a Deluxe Reverb.

    Before you sold it did you try and re-dial in the AX8 to get it closer to the Revival setup?
     
    BigBadOrange likes this.
  11. Lord N

    Lord N Member

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    I got their Cali76 compressor and i like it very much. Probably the best pedal compressor i played.
    So i'm sure their drive is great too. I'll check it out as soon as i have the possibility.
     
    Primus DuPont and skinvoyager like this.
  12. skinvoyager

    skinvoyager Supporting Member

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    Absolutely I tried. I obsessed. I got the tone very close. It was more of a feel issue (I know that's mystical to some), but even so the AX8 just sounded slightly hollow by comparison (and again, I LOVE the AX8). My other guitarist noticed it too. Actually, the biggest difference was the clean channel. With the RD, I get a much fuller and more responsive, dynamic clean tone. My analogy is this: I can eat a Hershey bar and be happy with it. I can eat one every day for years and love it. Nothing wrong with a Hershey bar. But once I try the Belgium chocolate, the Hershey bar just won't do. The RD is my Belgium chocolate. :p

    As far as the Fender amp demos, I tried running the RD into my amp. While it sounded good, it sounded much better into the effects return, and even better into an FRFR. There's a switch on the RD to select what type of amp you're going into to that dramatically changes the EQ. I run mine in the "power amp" setting.

    And in a way, I'm still using modeling. I consider the CAB M a speaker modeler.

    Here is a really great video showing the RD with IRs and no amp. I'm getting very similar tones.

     
    Madmax25 and Guitardave like this.
  13. BigBadOrange

    BigBadOrange Member

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    Huh, maybe you have started a whole new thing. Amps, Modelers, and now ...neither? Overdrive direct into IR. Weird that this is the first I have heard of this approach. I wonder how many different OD's there are that will sound good straight into an IR.
     
    skinvoyager likes this.
  14. Promit

    Promit Member

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    So basically the heart of your sound now is an analog solid state preamp. That's cool and I'm glad it works for you, but I would never ever go down that road myself.
     
    fretworn, yeky83 and Elric like this.
  15. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    I'm with you on the Hershey bar analogy. The RevivalDrive reminds me a bit of the Ethos OD - that sort of quality but it isn't focused on being a Dumble clone.

    Loved the example video running direct!! It sounds excellent and really "natural" - and like all things in person it's probably even better.

    I'm not all that surprised it works without any amp modeling going on. I've got a Nux Cerberus and have tested it for running direct as a backup. It allows an IR load and it sounds pretty decent running direct with no amp model. The Revival into the Torpedo is just a much nicer version of that approach. I use a little EQ pedal in front of it for tone shaping for cleans.

    Paging @JiveTurkey - the Revival/Torpedo might be a nice alternative option.
     
    skinvoyager likes this.
  16. skinvoyager

    skinvoyager Supporting Member

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    I certainly didn't start this approach, but it works and quite well. The CAB M has power amp models in it as well, so you can take any good preamp pedal, or even an OD pedal or EQ, and get a great tone. It really works.
     
    TrueFifth and JiveTurkey like this.
  17. skinvoyager

    skinvoyager Supporting Member

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    Never ever? That sounds dismissive. I understand you might be happy with your way, but why never ever?

    Also, if you believe the designer of the Revival Drive, all the components of vintage amps are represented in the pedal, using transistors instead of tubes.

    I had an AX8, and I still have a Carol-Ann Tucana 3 (my favorite amp of all time) and the Revival Drive into the Two Notes sounds every bit as good if not better.
     
    ChampReverb likes this.
  18. guitarman_1

    guitarman_1 Silver Supporting Member

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    You aren't alone in your line of thinking. After 10 years in the all modeling world. From Fractal to the last 5 with Kempers, I took a different road too. I wanted a change,and came up with my current rig. Fractal fx8 into a pair of tube amps in a wet dry set up.
    It truly is the best of both worlds, analog and digital. I have to say. Its just insanely killer.
    At ay volume. I had a revival drive too, its the best amp like OD I've ever played, but more than I needed. I do use a cab sim at the end to go to the board, Its a lot more consistent than mikes. I can say, I don't miss the Kemper at all, other than the size/weight factor, but i'll take my new rig tonally all day long, and that's not a slam on the Kemper. It does its thing better than anything else I've played digitally, but the tube amps, and fx8 are another thing.
     
  19. BigBadOrange

    BigBadOrange Member

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    at this point it actually makes sense. Even the modelers sound like crap until you put them through an IR (built in or external) so it makes sense that one can take the crappy tone straight out of an overdrive into an IR would sound, at the very least, a whole lot better than straight into PA.
     
    skinvoyager likes this.
  20. Baba

    Baba Member

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    I understand where the OP is coming from, before I bought my Helix, I was running an AMT SS-11a tube preamp pedal into an ADA GCS3, and I ran that for 2.5 years, with excellent results.

    When I first got my Helix, I just wasn't getting as enjoyable a tone, until I decided to put the AMT/ADA in a loop of the Helix so I could tone-match it, but even so, the feel is different. Now, I stayed with the Helix because I've gotten the tone pretty much dead on or better, and more importantly, I like gigging the Helix more because it's all in one, no patch cables to go bad, no tapdance, and it's nowhere near as noisy as my old pedalboard could be with the distortion + boost + wah pedal all engaged.

    So that's where I am now, but yes, you can get glorious tones and feel with a tube preamp of some sort, and a good speaker sim/IR device, most certainly.
     

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