Axe Fx Ultra/Standard in the current herd of modelers?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by idk, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. idk

    idk Member

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    How does the Ultra compare to the current modelers out there, HD500x, Kemper, Axe II(not sure what else is out there), is it still up there in terms of quality and tone and second only to other Fractal products or have other companies caught up in terms of processing, at least in amp modeling? How about the standard? I love that theyre going for a much more affordable used price now, and I know its because theres new Fractal products but is it still head and shoulders above everything else besides that?
     
  2. RackFiz

    RackFiz Member

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    It depends on what you want to do, but, I contend these products hold up very well. Many of the tones you can dial in are equally as good as anything you can get out of the Axe FX II.

    Of course the II is easier to use and provides more range, but do not discount the first gens. Especially with firmware 11. Great tonal platform.

    I'd argue the Kemper is a better platform for sure, but the Std/Ultra will beat it with effects options.

    You can't really go wrong with any of the options you mention, it's a great time to play guitar.
     
  3. nicolasrivera

    nicolasrivera Silver Supporting Member

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    The Axe FX Std/Ultra is still killer! and continues to be more relistic then most current modelers.

    We recently tried some presets that where tone matches to many killer amps and we where just blown away that such units can produce such realistic tones.

    The best thing is that you can get the standard under 1K, a total barging.
     
  4. RackFiz

    RackFiz Member

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    Yeah, I stll track with my Ultra quite a lot and it's never let me down.
     
  5. tomaburque

    tomaburque Member

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    The thing about ego and materialism is sometimes you can't just enjoy something because you know there is something better somewhere else. I was one of those people who bought a Ultra about 6 months before the Axe Fx II came out. The thing about buying the Axe Fx is the idea that you have The Ultimate®, the best you can get. And then the new and improved next generation ultimate thing comes along and your ego says "Crap, I just spent $2000 on this box and it's no longer The Ultimate®." So I sold it intending to upgrade to an Axe Fx II or a Kemper but unexpected expenses and S-Gear came along so it took 2 years. Looking back I should have kept my Ultra and saved a lot of money. This upgrade cycle to constantly have the best is getting expensive. I'm in my 50s and this Kemper sounds really nice. So this should be the last digital guitar amp wonder box I will buy, I say to myself. But that should have been the Ultra. For a hobbyist like myself gear of this quality is a luxury. But people spend $2k+ on bicycles and golf clubs, so whatever your thing is.

    Standards and Ultras still sound fantastic and have held their re-sale value very well. They are built to pro-gear standards and should last for many years. I really wish I had kept my Ultra.
     
  6. Elric

    Elric Supporting Member

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    Wise words.

    Same thing happened to me except I never had to sell mine. Was extremely unhappy about the II after all the hype the of the AF1 and all these vocal long-time advocates immediately bailed and jumped on the net trin and started hyping it. Ate me up for a long time until I finally caved, had the inevitable argument with my wife, and bought a II.

    The two is kick ass, of course. So many brilliant improvements and new features. Best things are probably ultra-rez and the extra IR slots. The II is the cutting edge, so yeah, if one goes it is an easy call.

    But honestly, I had my base tones nailed with the Ultra already. I didn't NEED the upgrade like I thought I did.

    The Ultra functions better than any real tube preamp I ever ran, TBH. It tracks direct as well as any device in a mix. To me it still feels a million times better than any plugin, POD HD, SS Amp, or tube preamp+cab emu. I strongly preferred it to my old real tube amp before I sold it.

    Here is the ONLY fault I can find with the AxeFx Ultra: it is not an AxeFx II.

    It's fully dialed in and backed up. Covers everything from extreme metal to ambient space music. Good tone is good tone. The Ultra can be a 'final solution' even if you have expensive tastes. But it is important to remove yourself from the psychology of materialism (as per the quote above) and the slippery slope of tone chasing. That was my mistake.

    Tone chasing and GAS can be fun but it can be pathological, too. Queue someone "saying X KILLS the Ultra" as if there is an objective standard for this and as if there are not over 100 varying models on it some of which compare more favorably than others.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
  7. db9091

    db9091 Member

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    The ULTRA is below the FXII and Kemper on amp tones. It's got some better and some worse effects than the Kemper. On the effects end, the ULTRA is a-may-zing. With loaded presets by fremen, it is a unit that kills anything below it's price range (on avg about $1200) in the market. That would be anything Line6, Avid, Boss, DigiTech, VOX, etc. and certainly anything software related (i.e. amplitude, bias, etc)

    I have not checked other hardware modelers not listed above.

    If you bought a used ULTRA, and loaded fremen's presets on it, you would be in third place heaven and STILL have deep equity for re-sale if you decided to UP to the big boys: FXII or Kemper or whoever puts out something of similar quality in the future.

    I could see someone being quite happy with the ULTRA by itself entirely. Great unit.
     
  8. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    You can still get the same world-class sounds from the 1st-gen Axe-Fx models - both Standard and Ultra, which sound identical - that you could when they were still being made.

    Of course. Would you throw away a tube amp because somebody has come out with a "new, improved" version? Does the existence of the new version have any effect on the sound of the older one?
     
  9. fuzzyoctaves

    fuzzyoctaves Member

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    I think that the interesting comparison is between 1st gen AxeFx vs. Amplifire. (and very timely as I have a Standard and I just got the Amplifire email)

    The Amplifire has ultra res IRs and you are not limited to 10 user IRs. That's kind of a big deal. I don't know the rest of the comparison yet, so any input would be appreciated.

    Also, note that there are some downsides to jumping into a complex product like the 1st gen AxeFx this late in the product lifecycle. When the AxeFx was first released, the user community provided a ton of support because the product was complex and so you got the "best and brightest" working on the guides, patches, tricks and tips which completed the promise of the product. Now that there are new generations of product, the smart folks are putting their energy on the new. While there are still guides, patches, tricks and tips online, many things are now very hard to find (fractal changed their messageboard and so all the old links are dead). I am also stuck using the old and unsupported AxeEdit software as well (which hasn't been too much of a problem really).
     
  10. Melodyman

    Melodyman Member

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    Definitely agree and taking advantage of that psychology is how businesses keep consumers on the hamster wheel especially in the digital markets with the relentless replacement cycles.

    Kudos to anyone that can resist not wanting the latest tech, but I believe many more are affected by this condition than not, as evidenced by the pandemonium that ensued when the II was announced...imo.
     
  11. prinspatrick

    prinspatrick Member

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    Very interested in your opinion on the Axe-FX I vs Amplifire.
     
  12. Tybalt

    Tybalt Member

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    If the Amplifire's touch sensitivity and dynamics are on par with the Axe-FX II/Kemper, as early reports are indicating, then it would seem pretty logical to assume that the Amplifire exceeds the Std/Ultra in that regard. This is focusing on core amp tones, obviously the Std/Ultra would still have a leg up on the Amplifire in terms of effects and routing options.
     
  13. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    No. The Amplifire has 1024-point, 48kHz samping rate IRs. Exactly the same as the Standard.

    I disagree. I've never needed more than 5 or 6 IRs to cover a huge range of cab sounds.

    Most of that information is still there. I will point out, however, that, if you really need to rely on others to "complete the promise" of any modeler, you probably made a bad choice to begin with.

    There's also the significant advantage that, since there have been no firmware "improvements" beyond 11 in the 1st-gen products, presets that were built four years ago will sound the same now as they did when they were first constructed. Good luck trying to get an old preset for the II to work with the present FW. The work the "best and brightest" did to build and share presets based on old FW is without value once you've updated....
     
  14. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    "Exceeds" covers a wide area of consideration.

    I'd expect each one to have it's strengths and weaknesses. Is every amp tone on the Amplifire better than every amp tone you can get out of an Ultra? Probably not.

    It's up to a given player to decide which tones and features are most important to him or her and to base decisions on that individual criterion, not just rely on sweeping "one "exceeds the other" type statements.
     
  15. Tybalt

    Tybalt Member

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    Fair enough, although I suppose I'm emphasizing the feel of the amps more so than anything else. I had the Ultra and couldn't quite bond with it the same way I do the Axe-FX II and that primarily has to do with the dynamic response of the amps.
     
  16. fuzzyoctaves

    fuzzyoctaves Member

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    Thank you so much Jay! Not sure how I missed that.

    Hmm - I use all 10 slots in my Standard now and seems like it would be nice if there were more just so I could line up specific amps with its optimal cab, but, to your point, I certainly don't need them.

    Ok, I'll respectfully disagree here. I think you are discounting the value of community support. I wouldn't have bought the Axe (or would have flipped it) if resources like this didn't exist (And to my earlier point, it is full of dead links to Fractal's old forum). I am not an early adopter customer - I am a 2nd waver and I suspect that much of the target market is even more conservative than that. Isn't it clear that people like Yek, Scott, yourself and of course Cliff were instrumental in increasing the market penetration of the Axe by creating a visible knowledge base and interaction space so that 2nd wavers like me would feel that they weren't going to get cut on the bleeding edge?

    Yep - being on the cutting edge can get bloody. That said, I have never downloaded a preset and instead have relied on reading through countless trials and tribulations of getting this stuff to work the way we individually want. And yes, I did RTFM when I got my Standard, but it was inadequate without supplementing with Yeks guides.
     
  17. fuzzyoctaves

    fuzzyoctaves Member

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    From an Amplifire thread:
    "Effects loop - must choose between having a loop or using for expression pedals if you so choose to use them"

    Well, that made the choice easy for me. If anything, I wish the Axe had two effects loops for more routing options with pedals.
     
  18. Tonekat

    Tonekat Supporting Member

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    Well said, I bought my Ultra in 2008, then waited and waited for the MFC to be produced. Of course as soon as I could afford to buy my Mark II MFC, they came out with the Mark III.

    I love my Ultra, and am still discovering what it offers all the time. But I refuse to get on the never-ending chase for the latest in the digital realm. At least not according to the Fractal schedule.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
  19. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    Same here.

    Once I get something I like I stick with it.
     
  20. jdalf

    jdalf Member

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    I was watching a video of Johnny A in his studio, he has an Ultra in it and uses it.
     

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