Is the Fractal Axe Fx II worth it?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by RocknPop, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. RocknPop

    RocknPop Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2009
    I'm considering the Eleven rack and the Fractal Fx II.

    I have a Mesa Transatlantic TA-15 which I might sell, but I think I could use mic'd in my studio. I'm having a hard time digesting the extra $1,700 for the unit. Is it THAT different from the 11R?
  2. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    only you can or should decide that. many options of modelers that sound great and can be made to sound especially great imo. dont rule out profiling amps either.

    on a budget or in a cover band? anything from $60 j station, to gsp1101 or pod hd500 is plenty to do that.

    at home player? scuffham sgear on computer is great and sounds as good as high end modelers.

    there are clips and examples all over demonstrating what other gear can be made to sound like including eleven rack.

    there is kemper for more raw amp sound (imo) and there is axe fx for plenty other options. both come with hefty price tag.
  3. CyberFerret

    CyberFerret Member

    Feb 25, 2010
    Darwin, Australia
    ^^^ What mattball826 said.

    It's something you are really going to have to try out for yourself to see if it suits you. Perhaps put a call out on the Fractal and Kemper forums to see if anyone has a device near you that they will allow you to play through.

    In any case, if you dont get the chance to try them out and you end up buying one and not liking it, you won't lose too much selling them on the Emporiums here I shouldnt think...
  4. stratzrus

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

    May 16, 2006
    Philadelphia, PA

    It is that different from the 11R.

    Certainly only you can decide if it's for you or if the price difference is worth it, but without question the Axe FX II is significantly different than the 11R.

    We could talk at length about what that difference is but it's all been discussed at length here. Regarding the decision of which to buy, check out the differences and decide whether or not what the Axe FX has to offer is what you need or are likely to use.

    The 11R is a pretty sweet piece of kit but it is a distinctly different preamp than the Axe FX. The differences between these two and other units are not limited to tone. Workflow, routing, editing, effects, proprietary footswitch control, and other factors should be considered when deciding whether or not the extra money is worth it to you.

    The differences are absolutely not purely subjective.
  5. RayRay

    RayRay Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2009
    West Coast
    Having owned both, yes, the Axe II is that different and justifiably so.
  6. rcl

    rcl Member

    Feb 20, 2007
    Chicago area (Cary)
    I'd be a little hesitant to put money into the 11R at this point, since it doesnt seem to grow much. I had one and it is a good unit with some good sounds in there. That said, it NEEDed the expansion pack, and being locked into protools as a management tool is ugly. I get the motivation, but I don't appreciate it.

    The first thing you need to do is figure out how you need to use the unit. Then, think about any way you might want to use the unit down the road. What the AXE does better than anything else out there-is flexibility. If you get an AXE2, and make ONE patch IN-AMP-CAB-OUT and plug out1 into a home monitor-and only use that patch= you probably didnt really need to drop the cash. If you want to run something much more complex, maybe it is for you.

    When buying any modeller-think about the rest of the needs. Do you want to control it-what control options are available and what are the costs? Where are you going to play it? That will drive the power needs and their costs.

    One shopping list may look like this:
    Matrix 1000GT-$$$
    2-1x12 EV12L cabs-$$$

    Or, if you are studio only, then maybe you don't need anything but the axe2. Which would knock about half off the price of the above list. Ahh, but then the other questions arise. Bag the power and speakers and grab an FRFR monitor? Just us the power section and speaker of a guitar amp you have laying many options...

    This is getting long. I'll cut to the chase. For my money, if you don't need all the flex but want a great sounding unit with much more development in the works-I'd go Kemper. Still a very young platform with years ahead of it by the looks. I love mine. The biggest problem with it-there are just toooo many free profiles. A good problem to have.

    Coming in well under the 11R price you have all those modellers with the control built into them, which is killer. Some have loopers and drum machines etc. The G5 I just got is a pretty fun unit. I need to get into it more. Boss, Line6, others. No end to that ~500 price point. It seems to be a sweet spot in the market.

    No easy answer bro. Looking for someone to justify a larger purchase? TGP has helped talk many a poor soul into some piece of gear or another. If you get the axe2, I dont think you'll lose a ton of money on it if you don't bond with it. I'm starting to play with the idea of getting a second one!
  7. Geek USA

    Geek USA Member

    Jun 7, 2010
    I sold mine. It's worth the money, but has many drawbacks that are rarely mentioned.

    If you're hesitant to spend another 1700 on the Axe FX II, then you should realize to make it a usable rig, it's going to cost even more money, like the poster above me mentioned. You're going to need a poweramp and cabinet or powered monitors, and a MIDI controller, maybe even expression pedals. That can easily cost much more than the Axe FX II itself.
  8. speedyone

    speedyone Member

    Jun 6, 2008
    Papillion, Nebraska
    but has many drawbacks that are rarely mentioned.


    Aside from the extra cost of power amp/monitors-speakers/footswitch, what are those drawbacks to you?

    I'm curious to hear, as sometime in the future I may consider an Axe II (or III by the time I have the money to get one!!).

    The biggest issue that I have heard, which seems to be the case with most modelers, is that there are so many parameters to adjust to....unlike a good amp (Bassman, Twin Reverb which simply sounds fantastic with no tweaking,) which means getting a great tone can take a long time.
  9. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Administrator ^/|\^ Co-Founder of TGP Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    Is it worth the money? IMHO, yes.

    Is it worth the money to you? Only you can answer and that's why there is a 15 day return policy.

    With the Axe-FX especially, I highly suggest seeking owners of the gear you are interested in and asking for a private demo to get a better handle on what the gear offers and how the other person works with it. Better yet, do a series of demos like that because no two folks will use it the same way.
  10. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    Yes, it is worth it to me.
    I've had every piece of gear mentioned in this thread, some thrice (that's 3x over) or more.
    You need to think about how you are going to use the device (any device) and think about your budget (and how comfortable you are within that budget) and then make an informed decision. Pretty simple really...
    If you are using this in studio only and don't have a DAW the II can be a fantastic all in one solution with Reaper (which is what I use). Constant development from Fractal and constant development from Reaper, all essentially free once you invest in said gear.
    The 11R has very slick integration into Pro Tools and it is essentially a guitar processor / dongle for Pro Tools. BUT, it's proprietary and once you are in you will spend to keep up with Pro Tools upgrades, 11R firmware upgrades (if any more come out), etc...
    For live play BOTH units need amplification (power amp + cab for a more traditional approach) or FRFR / studio monitors / headphones for a different approach). They both also need midi foot controller for live use as well. Here is my gear so you can get a reference on the full package, soup to nuts on a small(er) budget:

    AxeFX II (coupon price) = $2200 <worth it's weight or more in Gold for home studio use, low volume playing, live playing, etc... IMHO of course>
    EV112P Live (FRFR) = $500 new from Pro Audiostar on ebay. Can be used for any type of sound reproduction.
    Gator Shallow Rack and Furman MX82 power conditioner = $165
    FCB1010 midi controller with eprom chip (used) = $100 <awesome, I have another thread going praising this unit and listing how easy it is to program with AxeFX>
    Cables = ~$35
    TOTAL = $3000
    This rig should be able to handle any situation, anytime, any volume with a ridiculous amount of versatility and quality of tone. I can also carry it all in one trip from the car.
    Clearly you can drop the 11R in place of the II and have a killer rig as well. Will it be enough for what you want to do? Will the tones suit what you are after? It all depends. I have old YouTube video's of me testing the 11R and AxeFX through studio monitors. I have tons and tons of clips. When I go back and review every clip from every piece of gear I have made the II always wins. I'm like everyone else, no matter what gear I have I usually dial to taste what my ears want to hear and on playback, the best stuff is coming from the II.
    I haven't done any "advanced" programming with the II ever, period. I used several "tricks" to try and get the 11R sounding right (TO ME) including disabling cabs and using Red Wirez in the DAW, stuff in the FX loop, etc... and it never came close to what I can get from the II in about 5 minutes.
    But that is MY experience, yours may be totally different (as seen above by many others). When I step back and think about a $3K rig I often ask "Do I really need this"? I could play through a Champ and a pedal or two and get perfect tones at perfect volumes for many situations, but not ALL situations and not nearly enough versatility for what I want and no chance of silent direct to disk recording and on and on.
    My 2 cents, my own experiences. Hope this helps!
  11. tvegas99

    tvegas99 Silver Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    yes it is worth the extra $1700

    11R is a great piece of gear for the money but I no longer own mine

    the Axe 2 I own is worth every penny... can't beat a trial basis to own and then return it
  12. scorched

    scorched Member

    Mar 22, 2011
    S.E. Texas
    Once you go to an Axe II and really dig won't look back. It's so many tools in one box. All my old amps are gone and I don't even think of them anymore.

    Best damn cure for amp gas, ever.
  13. cliffc8488

    cliffc8488 Member

    May 13, 2006
    The Axe-Fx II is a no-compromise product and that is reflected in the price.

    Most, if not all, manufacturers use, for example, TL074 op-amps for the analog I/O. Those are inexpensive, quad, FET input op-amps with okay performance. They cost about a ten cents each. We use high-end Analog Devices products that cost about a dollar for a dual. These are reference-grade amps.

    We use film capacitors where possible in critical signal path locations. Again, much more expensive but reference-grade performance.

    The A/D and D/A converters are reference-grade. Even the circuit board has gold-plated pads as compared to tin.

    If this kind of stuff doesn't matter to you then it may not be the right product for you. However, if you value quality, performance, etc. then it may be.
  14. BWebb

    BWebb Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    I'm a modeling whore. I currently own an Eleven Rack, Axe Fx II, and a Kemper. Not to mention a dusty POD XT somewhere and various software modelers.

    If you have the budget, the Axe Fx II wins everytime. However, the Eleven Rack is a very capable unit and a great bang for your buck...especially with the expansion pack. The one thing the Eleven Rack is better suited for over the Axe II is as an audio interface. It just performs better and is more solid in that respect. Tone, flexibility, routing, and support go to the Axe Fx.

    I just got the Kemper so I have to reserve judgment making comparisons just yet. But I am amazed at what it can do so far. I haven't even tried to profile my own amps yet because there are so many usable profiles online already. There is a 5150 profile (Merrow) out there that blows my head off everytime...all the while not even disturbing my wife as she watches Real Desperate Housewives of Compton upstairs. Truly amazing times we live in!

    Another great thing about the Axe II is that you can buy it, try it, and resell it if it's not your thing for absolutely no loss. I say go for it!
  15. 78deluxe

    78deluxe Member

    May 8, 2009
    Do you mean the Kemper or is there something else out there that profiles amps?
  16. iaresee

    iaresee Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2006
    Speaking of Peavey and minds being blown, the 5153 Red model in the Axe-Fx II:

  17. toneseek

    toneseek Senior Member

    Apr 9, 2012
    Hi Cliff - your equipment is fantastic and has so many options as well. I wondered if you have an opinion on the Kemper running a decent amp model compared to an equivalent amp model on the Axe II? The Kemper is much more limited in terms of what it can do and has a focus on modeling a live amp by the user and is very limited in terms of effects, routing, etc. But, aside from that, just in terms of equivalent amp tone, do you find it competitive just in terms of tone if optimally configured?
  18. pomfret

    pomfret Member

    Jun 25, 2007
    It depends on how you're going to use it. Just for occasional home-recording, late night practice, or jammin' with friends on weekends I think you can save a lot of money getting cheaper options. They'll NEVER be the same as Axe II, but you may be ok with that.

    And it also depends on how much effort/time/work it takes you to earn 1700 $. I had to sell my Axe due to financial reasons, but if I had the funds again I wouldn't hesitate for a second buying the II.

    Everything's in that black box, and once you start to play, money spent on it never comes to mind. With cheaper options, money spent always comes to mind again and again, and not in a good way.
  19. BWebb

    BWebb Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    C'mon...what do you think he's gonna say??
  20. RocknPop

    RocknPop Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2009
    I wanted to ask some questions about the system as I would appreciate getting facts from the company before jumping into the purchase. As a frame of reference, this is my setup:
    - Recording into ProTools using a Digi 003 control surface
    - Recording guitar either way:
    1) I own a POD XT (for sale though)
    2) Also a Mesa Transatlantic TA-15 with a Vox open back cabinet (I love the tone from the amp). (Shure SM57)

    - Besides the Fractal Axe FX II, which I understand is a tremendous step up from the POD xt and the Eleven rack, would the older systems be as large as a step up? I believe I read about a fractal Standard. Would the older systems have the same technology and yield as realistic of a performance/sound?
    - Does the fractal use any tubes for the modeling? If not, how does it achieve the tube-like sound?

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