Axefx Standard and Ultra Owners Unite! (A Fractal Gen-1 Users Gathering)

JasonE

Member
Messages
699
I posted this in the Fractal forum whilst watching the teeth gnashing and wrist slitting from folk who feel that their M3V1 has become redundant.

I can feel their pain a bit on this. I felt that way with my Ultra. I bought mine in late 2010 not knowing that the second version was not too far off. I didn't get nearly as long on the updates as those that got in at the beginning. I felt slighted that my unit was sort of cast to the side to focus on and support the new shiny unit. I understand the need to focus on the new stuff to advance it. I still feel like at the cost of these units it would have been nice to have longer support for those that bought in closer to the release of a new unit. I stayed away from Fractal after that and had a bit of an attitude about the whole thing.

Fast forward to this year...they announced the FM9 and that unit looks like it will really work for me. I know they have made a lot of advancements in their software. I am going to buy one and give it a try. I am buying this with the expectation that it will get some improvements but at some point will be what ever it is when they stop supporting it. That is how I feel about my Ultra these days. At least this time I understand the game and have an appropriate expectation going in. I may actually sell my Ultra if I really like the FM9 and feel that it will do all that I want it to do.
 

chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
I discovered another pad/boost type trick for getting the d/a hiss down in 4cm. Running the input pretty hot gets you more signal so you can turn down out 2 (feeding the tube Amp) which reduces hiss from the conversion back to analog.

Clipping Distortion on input 1 is quite mild even when you clip it. Running the input 1 hot means you have less headroom to boost the fx send block so pick your poison.
 

chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
I'm talking to myself here perhaps- I continue to explore the my Ultra while the Axe-FX III sits quietly.

There is a lot you can do with the existing amp models. I like to take the Top Boost model and change the tone stack to "Plexi" and a few other tweaks and it makes a nice brit-style crunch similar to what I would want if I dialed down the input gain on a Friedman BE model on a later Fractal.

Taking the JTM45 and tightening up the low end with the low cut and a few other little tweaks and it seems to get to Dirty Shirley territory.

There's no sat switch in the Ultra, so it figured that my beloved "Atomica" model from later units is out of reach... I took the Brown model and dialed up the depth control, tightened up the low end again, rolled back the presence... it was in the ballpark of the Axe-FX III Atomica. Close enough for me to enjoy.

Going by the posts on the Fractal forum about swapping the early and late reverb levels, I found the Ultra does a fine "room ambience" effect.

There are things I really miss- input trim and master trim wouldn't have likely been CPU-expensive for the Ultra, nor would having "input select" on more blocks. Alas- this is the biggest pain of the Ultra: you have to use multiple blocks for things you could easily do in a single block on the II or III. At least you don't have a hard block limit like other devices so that the stacking is an option.
 

rkbrock

Member
Messages
268
Chris, keep it coming. I for one am enjoying all your musings on the ultra. Tomorrow I'm going to try a couple of the settings you mentioned about replicating the "Atomica". Good stuff!

I love mine and keep thinking maybe I should get a newer unit, at least until I plug in and let it rip. It still sounds and feels great.
 

chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
Chris, keep it coming. I for one am enjoying all your musings on the ultra. Tomorrow I'm going to try a couple of the settings you mentioned about replicating the "Atomica". Good stuff!

I love mine and keep thinking maybe I should get a newer unit, at least until I plug in and let it rip. It still sounds and feels great.

I'm glad someone is enjoying it other than me :)

I have known about the tone stack swapping for years and rarely did it. I am into the Randall/Synergy/Egnater modular preamps and I remember reading where Bruce Egnater seemed to be suggesting that the tone stack is a major factor in the Vox sound. I figure the reverse is also true. I never use the Active tone stack in the Fractal products- I don't know why... Head trash. There are probably some great tones to be found with that. I remember some of the Peavey tube gear had an active tone stack so you could make radical tone changes.

Years ago, I'd hoped that we'd eventually get a "recipe book" for making knockoff versions of amps that maybe weren't in the Fractal natively. As far as I know, it never happened but the tools are still there.
 

JasonE

Member
Messages
699
I am reading. I appreciate the posts. I just haven't had anything to add. I haven't turned my Ultra on in a very long time. This thread is renewing my interest in it though, while I wait on the FM9 list.
 

KHAN

Member
Messages
4,523
I gigged heavily with my Standard from 2008 to 2016. RedWirez IR's made a big difference for me then.
Over the last year I've been playing a lot at home thinking that I might want get something going again. I now have 7 York Audio packs, and they have transformed the Standard again. The biggest bummer is only 10 user IR slots.
If I do gig again, an FM9 is in my future. But for now the Standard is scratching the itch.
 

chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
I gigged heavily with my Standard from 2008 to 2016. RedWirez IR's made a big difference for me then.
Over the last year I've been playing a lot at home thinking that I might want get something going again. I now have 7 York Audio packs, and they have transformed the Standard again. The biggest bummer is only 10 user IR slots.
If I do gig again, an FM9 is in my future. But for now the Standard is scratching the itch.

The Gen 1 units force you to get creative. With only 10 IR slots, I'd probably use a PEQ to dial in the additional flavors I wanted. I had hoped we would by now have some "recipes" for familiar cabinet flavors. The Rivera Rockcrusher has some examples for its graphic EQ.

On the other hand, I'd never have more than a cab or two when playing with a real amp so I'm not sure how much of a problem it really is. On the Axe-FX 3, having thousands of cabs does not help me at all. If anything, it makes it worse because I'm toggling back and forth asking "Is this better or worse?"
 

KHAN

Member
Messages
4,523
The Gen 1 units force you to get creative. With only 10 IR slots, I'd probably use a PEQ to dial in the additional flavors I wanted. I had hoped we would by now have some "recipes" for familiar cabinet flavors. The Rivera Rockcrusher has some examples for its graphic EQ.

On the other hand, I'd never have more than a cab or two when playing with a real amp so I'm not sure how much of a problem it really is. On the Axe-FX 3, having thousands of cabs does not help me at all. If anything, it makes it worse because I'm toggling back and forth asking "Is this better or worse?"
Agreed. In some ways, 10 cabs is an embarrassment of riches. The improvements in modelling and use of scenes/channels etc. would make a big difference for live performance.
 
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chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
Agreed. In some ways, 10 cabs is an embarrassment of riches. The improvements in modelling and use of scenes/channels etc. would make a big difference for live performance.

That was the phrase I was looking for- embarrassment of riches.

Scenes and channels are cool but the Ultra has the original global amps feature which you can access via Sysex presumably, if your MIDI controller can do it. That would make it like a 10 channel amp block.
 

Lopp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
518
Thanks for this thread, as it encouraged me to fire up my 13 year old Standard, which I keep because they were still being hand built by Cliff back then.

It sounds just fine to my ears when compared to the AX8. Good enough that I entertained not getting the FM9 if it is a similar incremental advance in tone improvement. Then I set up a stereo dual amp preset on the Standard and was blown away. Dual amps is not available on the AX8 or FM3, but is on the FM9.

There, I just rationalized getting the FM9. ;)
 
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JasonE

Member
Messages
699
Thanks for this thread, as it encouraged me to fire up my 13 year old Standard, which I keep because they were still being hand built by Cliff back then.

It sounds just fine to my ears when compared to the AX8. Good enough that I entertained not getting the FM9 if it is a similar incremental advance in tone improvement. Then I set up a stereo dual amp preset on the Standard and was blown away. Dual amps is not available on the AX8 or FM3, but is on the FM9.

There, I just rationalized getting the FM9. ;)

I am all over the place with my decision on the FM9. It looks like it may have some issues doing what I wanted it to do. That brings me back to thinking about getting the Ax III. If I do that I will have to get the FC12 and rack it so I can gig it. At that point I would probably sell off my Ultra. I also have an Eleven Rack that I would probably move on as well. It actually suffices for my needs for the interface and some of the sounds it produces. It also interacts with ProTools very well. I have been all over the place with thinking about how to do this but I am probably not going to know anything until I get an FM9 and see if it will work for what I want to do. If it won't I will return it and then I may bite the bullet and buy the Ax III. I guess I will make that decision at that time if I have to.
 

chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
Thanks for this thread, as it encouraged me to fire up my 13 year old Standard, which I keep because they were still being hand built by Cliff back then.

It sounds just fine to my ears when compared to the AX8. Good enough that I entertained not getting the FM9 if it is a similar incremental advance in tone improvement. Then I set up a stereo dual amp preset on the Standard and was blown away. Dual amps is not available on the AX8 or FM3, but is on the FM9.

There, I just rationalized getting the FM9. ;)

What does the routing look like- which amps are in that stereo rig? I've never really locked in on a dual amp preset. I've seen them in the stock presets but never hit one that floored me.
 

Lopp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
518
I am all over the place with my decision on the FM9. It looks like it may have some issues doing what I wanted it to do. That brings me back to thinking about getting the Ax III. If I do that I will have to get the FC12 and rack it so I can gig it. At that point I would probably sell off my Ultra. I also have an Eleven Rack that I would probably move on as well. It actually suffices for my needs for the interface and some of the sounds it produces. It also interacts with ProTools very well. I have been all over the place with thinking about how to do this but I am probably not going to know anything until I get an FM9 and see if it will work for what I want to do. If it won't I will return it and then I may bite the bullet and buy the Ax III. I guess I will make that decision at that time if I have to.

Good call trying the FM9 to see if it does the job. If it doesn't, you can return it within the return window for a full refund or sell it for a profit. ;)
 

Lopp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
518
What does the routing look like- which amps are in that stereo rig? I've never really locked in on a dual amp preset. I've seen them in the stock presets but never hit one that floored me.

The stereo rig uses a Recto 1 and a Das Metal. Made it quick and dirty by adding a second amp block below the other amp block and panning one left and the other right. I also selected different left and right speakers in the Cab block.

gsDk8z9.jpg
 

chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
I've been planning a MIDI SysEx controller for years now- I built a footswitch that could control Axe-FX II amp block knobs. I was super annoyed to find that Fractal removed that capability in the 3.

Now that I've got an Ultra rig again, I think I'll go ahead and build that controller. I've got 1U in my rack open which would be perfect.

The old RAC12 was cool, but I found I didn't particularly like using it in practice. I will probably just make a set of dedicated pots and a few switches. Its annoying that the pots aren't motorized (and they can be in the wrong positions compared to the current amp block state) but I think I'd rather have that than have the rotary encoders- turn turn turn turn turn turn turn turn

The alternative would be something like the ADA-MP1, which I have considered. If the knobs will always be in the wrong position, I might rather have one knob and a bunch of buttons to pick what you want to edit.
 

Lopp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
518
The alternative would be something like the ADA-MP1, which I have considered. If the knobs will always be in the wrong position, I might rather have one knob and a bunch of buttons to pick what you want to edit.

That sounds interesting.

Using an ADA-MP1 preamp just for selecting which parameter is active for changing, such as pressing the bass button so you can quickly edit bass, mid button so you can quickly edit mid, etc? Add a rotary encoder to change the value or use the up/down buttons on the MP1?
 

chrishurley

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
945
That sounds interesting.

Using an ADA-MP1 preamp just for selecting which parameter is active for changing, such as pressing the bass button so you can quickly edit bass, mid button so you can quickly edit mid, etc? Add a rotary encoder to change the value or use the up/down buttons on the MP1?

Not literally using an MP-1 of course... Just an example of the control style.

I will probably have a set of amp knobs and a switch to dictate whether or not to force their position to the axe-fx in regular refreshes so that the controller will be authoritative. I may then have a single controller (either up/down, pot or encoder) with some way to pick which parameter that changes.

I know axe-edit for the Axe-FX II could send increment/decrement messages. I don't know if that works on the Ultra or not. I need to sniff the MIDI traffic and see I guess.
 

Lopp

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
518
Not literally using an MP-1 of course... Just an example of the control style.

I will probably have a set of amp knobs and a switch to dictate whether or not to force their position to the axe-fx in regular refreshes so that the controller will be authoritative. I may then have a single controller (either up/down, pot or encoder) with some way to pick which parameter that changes.

I know axe-edit for the Axe-FX II could send increment/decrement messages. I don't know if that works on the Ultra or not. I need to sniff the MIDI traffic and see I guess.

Ah yes, you did indicate "something like" the ADA-MP1.

Just looked up that RAC12. Looks very helpful for reaching out and quickly tweaking, like on the AX8.

As an aside, I miss the Axe-Fx nav buttons on the AX8, even though it has some amp block controls. Using the nav buttons seems more intuitive when editing on the unit without using Axe-Edit. All of the most recent units have the nav buttons along with the A-E knobs that can be assigned to the different amp block controls.
 




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