Both Axe Fx II and KPA has left the building

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by tubiux, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. tubiux

    tubiux Member

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    Some of you might have read my thoughts on the Axe & KPA on this forum. I sold my Axe FX II partly because its fiddly editing GUI. It sounds great, but the KPA sounds just as great, only different. Although the KPA isn't even close in terms of effects. I've had the KPA for close to a month now. I've done some thorough A/B testing, profiling, gigging, rehearsing, recording etc. I've come to the conclusion that I will return the KPA and get a full refund.

    It came down to two things for me finally, and to be honest, I could have told you this before the KPA was even conceived. I like gadgets, and I desperately wanted to try both the Axe and KPA. After my time with both these two units, it'll probably be many years before I look back in that direction, and this is why from my perspective.

    #1 - How many amps do you really need? I have a few at home, and I find myself using mainly two of them, one for sound, the other one for convenience. I'm sure there'll be 10000000 profiles within a year or two, but what's the point? The profiles remain two dimensional in regards to the "real" thing. Wading through a bunch of profiles, like you can do straight out of the box on the KPA, leaves me cold. I liked a few, the rest was just fluff for me. The keyword is convenience, nothing else. Nothing beats having a real amp in the studio, which you can alter, and mic in different ways. Now, what if you require a Fuchs/Dumble/... and they're out of your reach? Tough luck? well, it's not the amp that makes music, so get you favorite sound out from one of the amps at your disposal. Everyone else has been doomed to do that before the dawn of the digital era. I do not personally require tons of different sounds from the amp, so the KPA is really redundant from the outset. It sure worked great on the gig, and saved my back. I might buy a new amp now that the KPA has left the building, but that would be just for the sake of having another sound at my disposal, just like another preset in the sea of presets.

    #2 Effects - Combining fantastic amp models with great effects is kind of like nirvana to most of us who hang around here. Well, with the amp models out of the picture (read #1) I turned to the effects, which I worked in detail with for the past week or so. They are good, but not great. Once again, everything about the KPA, is about convenience and ease of use. It's very quick to dial in good sounds, and alter them on the fly, on the gig. It gets the job done in flying colors, no doubt about it. To be fair, the KPA isn't marketed as a great FX unit, while the Axe partly is. Needless to say, the Axe FX is leaps and bounds ahead of the KPA FX-wise. The next natural Q would be, do you need all the bells and whistles? I don't, and especially not at the price, where basic operation becomes obstructed. Yes, I know that I should have lived with the Axe a lot longer, to overcome the slow start, but I've had that discussion in another thread, so I'll leave it at that here.

    Conclusion:
    If I'm only going to use 2-4 profiles, and then mostly use the KPA as an effect unit, it's simply not worth it, and quite frankly, the effects aren't even close to what I can get if I go out and buy a selection of boutique pedals, which is just what I'm about to do. I'm not here to rip on any of the units. Both the Axe and KPA are incredible pieces of gear, they just don't fit the bill for me, and I'll go back to pedals, but leaving the rack effects behind for now. Many of my gigs for the past 6 months has been with electro acoustic guitars (I own three Godin Multiacs). It's a waste having the best amp profiles on the market, which I don't use, and then coupling the acoustic guitar with effects that aren't optimal. I can get a better sound, and that's just what I'm about to get. The gigs that requires electric guitars will work fine on my Mesa amps, or fender depending on the type of gig.

    Well, that's my story. Everyone's different.
     
  2. Earl Mobile

    Earl Mobile Member

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    yep these units are not your thing! but i do not understand your problems with the KPA-fx

    but IMHO the effects in the KPA are awesome, i like the drive models more like the ones in the axe fx. the FX are so easy to dail in and sound so great, i cant think of any "better".
     
  3. DADA

    DADA Guest

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    My compliments on your honest explanation and decision. Nice to hear from people who do not get caught up in the modeling madness.
     
  4. guitarnet70

    guitarnet70 Member

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    Fair review, thank you for sharing. On 1 point I personally agree with Earl Mobile: the FX are top class (for me). I use to own Lexicon, Eventide, Alesis, Rocktron and many other rack units and the FX in the KPA are at least as good. But this is just my opinion, YMMV (and actually it does! ;))
     
  5. paulmapp8306

    paulmapp8306 Member

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    Agree - neither unit are for you.

    I came to the AFX(a few years back) with the intention of using it as an FX only device. I prefer Rack units for modulation FX and my old TC G-Maj had died. I wnated someting better and it was between the AFX and an Eventide.

    I went for the AFX because at the time the standard was £200 cheaper (in the UK) than the eventide and offered the amp sims for home recording/low volum levels. Ultimately I sold my amps (should have let them all go though - I still have pangs for one when money permits) and used teh standard for everything. For my use (pub gigs, function gigs and home playing/recording) it was enough. iu fiond the AFX2 better.

    Id love to try a KPA, but I have the same feeling regards the FX side of things. It strikes me (and I havent played with one so I may be off) that there "work horse" FX (with the exception of the compressor and gate which I understand are excellent) but not up to most Rack units in terms of flexibility (of routuing as much as anything), quantity and quality (fior the most part). For me while the AMP part of the KPA may be the best - Id still need another outboard unit. That for now rules the KPA out. hopefully I can get one to try- or fine one in shops (when they reach them) to demo. Im seriously interested from an amp sim POV - but currently the rest of the package isnt up to my needs.

    As always - every bit of kit can provide something to someone. Some bits provide a lot to most but NO piece of kit is perfect for everyone. you pays your money and takes your choice.

    Glad the OP has made a desision (I REALLY struggle to make one with music kit - u=inevitably keeping stuff I fdont use and taking an age if I have to choose betweem two things which are often for completely different purposes). Now get on and make music with the NEW kit :)
     
  6. stratzrus

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

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    You gave them both a try and neither one turned out to be your soul mate...at least you actually worked with both units and know from empirical evidence what does and doesn't work for you.

    Regarding the number of amp models, I pretty much feel the same way. I'm an Axe FX user but doubt I'll use more than 5 or 6 of the amp models with any regularity. So far I'm only using four on the whole. I do expect that to change over time, but probably not by much. Recently I've just been dialing up a clean preset and having at it...pretty much like I would have with my Super Reverb in years past. (As an aside, I was on the phone last night raving to my former bass player about how great the Axe II was and he said "What about that amp next to your TV, are you selling it?" and I said "No, the Super Reverb isn't going anywhere...ever.")

    For me, it's not about the number of amp models, but the quality of tone. What the number of models provides me with is the opportunity to pick out the few that I like best. If it only had four models, chances are that the Fryette Deliverance 60 wouldn't be one of them, and it's one of my favorite high gain tones on the Axe II.

    While I'm actually pretty conservative with effects most of the time, I want to explore some of the more adventurous effects for seasoning, particularly to provide some ambient textures during the piano solos and for interplay with the horns, so for me, yes, the Axe II is a kind of nirvana that enabled me to avoid buying a G-System. I would have had to buy one or the other and the Axe II offers things the G-system does not.

    I think your understanding of your needs and what you want are sound and thanks for the honest assessment of the good and not so good of each unit. While all of this is subjective your comments evidenced no blatant bias for one against the other which I really found refreshing. As I said on the other thread, I wish you had given the Axe more time, but that doesn't mean you'd feel any different.

    Best of luck going forward...I could easily live with a great amp and a few pedals as well. When push comes to shove and you step out on stage it's all about the music and the gear, if it's the right gear for you, becomes an afterthought.
     
  7. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

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    :agree

    Makes me wonder if I'm on the right path sometimes...
     
  8. xjojox

    xjojox Tardis-dwelling wanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Agree with stratz... I don't use a ton of models with the axe and I've really tweaked the ones I do use. But I never try to clone any particular tone or feel, I just go after what is in my head, which is what I do with any rig.

    Regarding fx, I think like a producer when I play live. Obviously I want the tone and feel to be right, but I want the sonic footprint and ambience to be right for the audience also. And spillover between patches is an absolute must for me. It's subtle but it drives me nuts if I create the mood of being in a certain space and it gets interrupted when I change my tone or gain structure. I'd love to just play thru a sweet amp and let some engineer do all that...but it ain't gonna happen in a bar. Axe is working at the moment.
     
  9. burningyen

    burningyen Member

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    Very helpful review, thanks.
     
  10. zentman

    zentman Member

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    I was just mentioning in a PM to someone looking at the axe II the other day about excessive amp models. The Axe has seventy something and in three years I have maybe played with 20. In gig life I use about 6. It's fun to have but once I set them up they end up pretty close anyway.
     
  11. Galo

    Galo Member

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    tubiux I understand.

    When I first got the Axe-Fx, I actually bought it to be used as a back up, I had a bad experience in a south America tour with backline so I needed a carry on in airplane backup.

    In my studio I recorded my personal tone with my favorite amp the Fuchs ODS100...MAN DO I LOVE THAT AMP!!!..anyway, I recorded my personal dial in tone and then decided to try and do a patch as close as I could...well I did get real close but to be fair is not exactly the same but real close. So I decided to keep messing with the Axe-Fx and got to really like it...Anyway business was very slow and I had to sell some stuff to get ahead in my bills...I had to make a choice...do I sell my amp or do I sell the Axe-Fx...if I didnt have a recording studio I would had sold the Axe-Fx first and not the Fuchs amp...by the way again because of finances I did also sell the Axe-FX after to a buddy and ended up buying it back from him for half of what he paid me...

    What am I saying!!!! Every body gets to crossroads that we need to take. Do we settle with tone or do we go tone hunting and spend thousands of $$$$ trying to get there and never do!!! Tone is like a song, some days you hear a song 6 times straight and the next day you dont even think about it...For years now I have learn to settle and make wise choices. Do I miss my Fuchs "YES" can I get away with the Axe-Fx for now..."YES"

    It's what ever works at the time...I think you are making a good choice if its covering your needs.
    Adios
     
  12. greiswig

    greiswig Member

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    Are you listening, Fractal folks? Because I think if you are you might realize that although there are a lot of us (myself included) who are willing to work through the difficult UI to get a great tone, there is a probably larger market that isn't as willing.

    Sincere respect for Fractal here: great product, great updates, great technology. But as we say in the Usability business: if it isn't accessible, it isn't there.

    As a Usability professional, I find myself naturally biased toward "making it better" when I look at a UI, finding fault. But the thing is, I'm clearly not the only one with this opinion. If you guys ever want help in making this great tool more usable, let me know. Because I think you may get to a point soon where that really becomes the key market differentiator for you, in either a good way or bad way.
     
  13. stratzrus

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

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    I wouldn't call it excessive...

    Even though I only use a few, it's nice having the particular ones I want available. For me, that's Fender, Marshall, Suhr, and Fryette. For others it may be an AC30, a Bogner, Engl, or some other amp.

    To me, the large selection of amps increases the probability that the few that I want will be there, not that I need to use bunches of them.

    Would you want to go shopping for a suit in a store that only had three to choose from? Greater selection can help to ensure that you'll find that one that's right for you.
     
  14. zentman

    zentman Member

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    We were talking about having thousands of amp profiles at the time. That might be excessive.
     
  15. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel Silver Supporting Member

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    I understand completely, The thing that is hard for me to grasp is SO much Money so much tweaking and effort to mimic the sound of a $500.00 Amp with 3 knobs.
     
  16. stratzrus

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

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    He said the "profiles". I think he was referring to the KPA not the Axe II.

    Or perhaps more accurately that tonal preferences are subjective and as a result there is no absolute truth that is agreed upon by everyone.

    If someone who is used to state of the art effects finds them lacking in a particular unit it's hard to question his opinion, particularly if he's had an opportunity to compare the units side by side.

    @Guitarnet70: I hear you, but so far you are the only person I've heard say this. Most have said the effects on the KPA were good, but I haven't seen anyone post that they were as good as the Lexicon and Eventide time based effects.

    In the quote I was replying to it seemed that you were saying that the seventy in the Axe FX were excessive.

    I would personally never hear "thousands of amp profiles". It took me a couple of weeks to audition the 380 presets in the Axe FX and half-way through it was no longer a labor of love but just a labor. I'm glad I did it, but it's really not how I want to spend my time. On that, we're in total agreement.
     
  17. steadystate

    steadystate Member

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    Based on Cliff's interviews/posts, it is clear to me he is not interested in a "larger market". He is doing what he wants, how he wants, and is overseeing a long waiting list because he can't keep up with the current demand. I think a simplification of the UI is highly unlikely and not desired by most owners.
     
  18. ibanez270

    ibanez270 Member

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    Of course ! If I played acoustic on most gigs I wouldn't want a modeler either.

    But, many of us are in cover bands playind ROCK. After using modelers for so many years I can't go back to amps. It's just to limiting. I have tried... Can't do it.

    Of course the YMMV stuff.
     
  19. zentman

    zentman Member

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    Considering what you can do with just one amp model in the axe with tone stacks and HF res and stuff, seventy is huge. As to the Kemper and thousands. If/when I get one I will probably seek out the top hundred and whittle it down to like twenty then make patches from there.
     
  20. Galo

    Galo Member

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    I can play with one tone (patch) all night...but if I get 500 extras for the same price...WELL GREAT!!!

    If a person needs to keep editing the patches after they dialed it in, is not the gear is the person...
     

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