So I was a little tired of reading everybody's "First Impressions" of the AX8 so I decided to write my own long winded initial ( and probably final) report.

As a bit of background: I have been using my HD500 for the last 3 years running it through a Behringer B212d ( Yeah...go ahead and laugh but this $200 dollar baby has served me well. ) I use the setup in bedroom/basement/mancave volumes and have never had an issue with the B212d contrary to popular TGP opinion. Is it FRFR? Who the hell knows! My basement certainly isn't acoustically neutral either so all I really care about is if I get a sound I like, not so much whether I am recreating the actual modeled amp ( since most of these I don't own and am really not in a position to A/B in any systematic scientific way)

Over the years, I have tweaked the hell out of the HD500. Even went to the point of putting a midi controlled Two Notes Torpedo CAB in the FX loop because I just didn't quite love the sound. Mind you, I've never quite love the sound of my tube amps frequently. ( Sometimes I even blame guitars for months at a time and make them sit in the closet.) I even tweaked the bias on my Fender Blues Deluxe RI to get it to sound the way I want...damn the suffering tubes.

I edited the HD500 mostly on the unit. I am not a fan, generally, of having everything talk to each other through some software interface that I may or may not have with me at the time. Besides the time lag for the HD500 software to communicate with the floor unit also bugged me. I don't want the correlation of obsolescence for my gear to be +1.

For the money, I never really had complaints about the HD500. ( nor with my RP500 before that) It's a lot of tech, a lot of fun and a lot of value. Never really perfect but then again, what can you expect for the price. It wasn't a Kemper or AXE-FX II, but it was pretty good for the money.

So back to the AX-8. A few things I really liked about it right away

1.) I was truly pleased with the included presets. There were well over 100 presets preprogrammed. I would venture to say that many people would be happy just grabbing a couple presets and modifying them ( or not) to taste and never need to be bothered with the technical intricacies of the unit. This surprised me a bit since coming from the HD500...well if you have one you know about the presets...

2.) It is pretty easy to navigate on screen coming from the HD500. It is different, but not really harder if you are trying to adjust similar parameters. Yes, you can go much deeper with the "deep edit" parameters...probably a bit too deep for my taste..but you can do it just by continuing to use the same page/scroll/enter technique as we've become accustomed to. However, you do have to know what all those other parameters do...well that is more of a challenge. The good thing the unit works great without ever needing them. I use my home computer all the time for the things I want without needing to learn assembly language, so I guess I can use the AX8 with using many of the options available. It's there if I want it but I can elect to stay out of the weeds...and it still sounds great and works great for me. I'll admit that I am pretty comfortable with technology...but I have no patience for cumbersome interfaces. I still can't even get the temperature probe to work on my home oven without fumbling through a few times.

3.) The rotary encoders ( i.e. knobs..whatever they are...) are great. Once a patch is setup I can tweak the floor unit just like the knobs ( real knobs) on an amp and it does what I expect. It is intuitive. If I need to tweak a pedal, then I just hit the edit button and the controls for that show up. Pretty straightforward as long as memorized the alphabet from A-E.

4.) Creating a new patch sounds pretty good right from the get-go. I use to spend endless hours tweaking the level and deep edit parameters of new patches for the HD500. I just don't feel COMPELLED to do any of this with this new unit. Sounds pretty good right away. I wouldn't be nervous about bringing this to a jam with friends. No need to fear getting sucked into analysis paralysis during the jam while everybody looks on as I sweat out creating a new patch.

5.) For headphone use and DAW capture, I just run it into my Scarlet Solo that I had lying around. (paid $60 new for it sometime last year) It works for me so far. The lack of USB audio out wasn't really a dealbreaker for me.

Overall,, nothing (yet) about this unit bugs me enough that I regret buying it or wish I had something else.

Oh...and my Behringer is still working fine.


2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy
Okay, OP, good review.

But you missed the part where in order to justify your existence to the world, you have to trash all the other products you didn't buy... Thank you for that...


Silver Supporting Member
Man that guy is OCD in the best ways!

True. It's like....say what you will about Apple and iPhone....they shook up the industry and spurred a design arms race of sorts that took Android from a rote BlackBerry clone to the juggernaut it is now. I think a similar fracas is happening in the high end modeler space, and Cliff's a big part of that.

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