Opinions Please: New Pedal board vs Fractal FX8?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by rsm, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. rsm

    rsm Member

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    Looking for opinions...

    I've been considering a new pedal board for some time now, but what has stopped me is the upcoming release of the Fractal FX8. If the current projected FX8 price remains the same, the costs are very close.

    The FX8 will have up to 8 effects per preset (with a few limits) and will have many more effects / types than my planned pedal board, and the ability to go deep by using advanced parameters. (I've been in tweaking "hell" before, not a big concern). The ability to have presets and scenes is very powerful. Size, flexibility, usability and capability win for the FX8. I'm waiting to read the manual before deciding...the complexity is in the programming of presets, once done, it is simple to use.

    My new pedal board will have 10-12 pedals (to start!), will be "easier" to dial in especially when working on various combinations of effects together. Then there's finding a board/case the right size, mounting and wiring the board, etc. Simplicity and ease of use win for a pedal board.

    I also considered getting both! This way I'd have the pedals to model in the FX8, however this is not practical for a few reasons...

    What other considerations have I missed? What are your thoughts, opinions and perspective? What have I not thought about?
     
  2. ummohyeah

    ummohyeah Member

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    Screw it, you only live once, get both and die warm and happy in your bed one day.
     
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  3. sleewell

    sleewell Member

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    the thing with a pedalboard is you have extras besides just the pedals that add up quickly: pedalboard, power supply, case, and patch cables. so if you plan to have 10-12 pedals i don't think price would be the same.

    i have tried lots of multis in the past, granted not the fractal, and have always gone back to pedals. maybe the fractal is really awesome, i dunno, but for some reason i always go back to pedals.
     
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  4. rsm

    rsm Member

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    Thanks. Agreed. Why I'm on the fence between a pedal board and the FX8. The FX8 manual not being available and no user reports since it is not shipping means I have to wait. Using my TCE Nova System for now...

    FWIW I have patch cables and power supply, the added non-pedal cost would be the board and case...which I would need for the FX8 as well.
     
  5. Stanley

    Stanley Supporting Member

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    I have also been tempted to go the FX8 route however I've noted many people appear to use the Axe FX with their overdrive pedals which kinda defeats the point if trying to slim down. Its a great unit but I notice friends who have the Axe still prefer the odd real OD / Fuzz and even Whammy to go with it.

    I decided not to compromise as I have specific favourites that I would be sad to miss and have gone the RJM Mastermind PCB route (small pedal MIDI switcher with 10 loops built in, line mixer, tuner, tons of saveable presets and display that allows you to enter song titles etc) This way I can keep my Cornish ODs / Fuzz etc but also control my mod FX such as Eventide H9 / Strymon fx with midi to have the same kind of control as the AXE i.e. no tap dancing. Also I can still swap out / demo new pedals / new FX etc when i have gas for the latest and greatest.

    More pricey prob overall and it would be great to just have one unit at my feet however I prefer to choose specific effects rather then finding close modelling versions!

    I notice in the latest Edge / U2 thread he has 4 Axe FX II's however still has two rack draws of pedals and other rack units, kinda sums it up for me. its not quite the ultimate solution (yet)
     
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  6. rsm

    rsm Member

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    @Stanley - do you have your pedals in a rack or on a pedal board?

    I'm not sure on the dirt either, though I have/use digital dirt (Source Audio). I get the sense that sometimes it's easier to use a pedal if you have one you dig than trying to tweak a model especially if there isn't a direct model of the pedal in the MFX.

    The FX8 seems so close, but will it be close enough? Why I'm stuck on the fence, and asking for opinions and thoughts.

    I almost ordered pedals yesterday, and I'm on the FX8 wait list as of this morning...
     
  7. Stanley

    Stanley Supporting Member

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    Hi

    Ive gone from a Skrydstrup full MIDI switching rack (TC2290s, Eventides, Korg Racks with many Pedals in 2 sliding trays) to a pedalboard with ODs and the Strymon units.

    After using a full midi system I really missed the whole "build complex presets", "song titles" and was not happy with tap dancing etc. Im guess I was spoilt due to my rack. I checked out these MIDI pedalboard controllers like Musiccomlab etc but was on the fence until last week I saw the RJM Mastermind PCB which is expensive but does everything I want. Ive now ordered one, ripped my board apart and am awaiting for its arrival along with 2 H9's (replaced Strymons for now)

    Have to wait 10 days until my MIDI controller arrives but I'm currently feeling like a kid waiting for Xmas. I think I will be practically set once this arrives and my rack will be torn apart and flogged!!

    Heres my layout waiting for my goodies to arrive (will be 9 pedals and a MIDI controller)

    [​IMG]

    PS -personally I dont mind some modellers of OD, they get close enough but fuzz I don't think they have nailed the nuances and characteristics - especially the unpredictable type e.g. Cornish NG3 / Fuzz Factorys / DBA etc
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
  8. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've played with quite a few OD modelers including Line 6, Axe Fx, Zoom, Source Audio, Roland/Boss... And none of them FEEL right to me. So, I'm going to stay with analog ODs. At that point, I"m not sure the AxeFx would provide enough functionality to make it worthwhile, so analog board it will continue to be.
     
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  9. Cgkindler

    Cgkindler Member

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    One day I WILL grab another HD500x and just MAKE it work because I want to show myself I can. :)

    Maybe ONE OD pedal (either the KoT or Rook Royale)
     
  10. rsm

    rsm Member

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    @Stanely - Nice, top shelf too!

    Just looked at the Boss ME-80, not gonna work. Zoom G5 is ok, my Nova System is good for now, no fuzz though, until I can decide.

    I'm leaning more to the pedal board right now, slippery slope with pedal swapping etc. been there a few times lol. This way I'd have the actual pedals to model some day, I think (and hope) the FX8 will be the MFX game changer it promises to be.
     
  11. hippietim

    hippietim Silver Supporting Member

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    Regarding needing to use traditional pedals with the Axe. For me, early on with the Ultra I still used a Cry Baby and a Fulltone Dejavibe because I didn't care for the built-in Wah or Vibe at the time. Along the way Cliff improved them substantially and I switched to expression pedals.

    At this point, all of the pedals modeled in the Axe-FX II are as good as the real things IMO. Fractal has still not modeled every effect in existence but unless you have to have something that is not present already, I would say there will not be a need for other pedals with the FX-8 (this of course is based on the assumption that the FX-8 will sound as good as the Axe).

    When I build pedalboards, these days I always go for light and simple - 5 or 6 pedals max. Every additional pedal is another audio cable, another power cable, another point of failure, and another thing to have to tweak because the knobs always get moved around. My current go-to pedalboard is on a PT Mini. I don't ever want to go larger than a PT-JR again. I don't like when my pedalboard weighs more than my amp rig :)
     
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  12. rsm

    rsm Member

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    Thanks. Ideally, the FX8 manual will list the modeled effects...wondering if there will be new effects modeled in the FX8 that would find their way to the AxeFx in a future update...

    The thought of a pedal board (again) is daunting, I went to modelers to get away from that...but so far, I'm not finding MFX / Modelers providing what I want modeled, most have some models none have all which would be impossible; the FX8 looks like it will be the MFX with the most potential to have more models added over time, and the ability to tweak to get close to modeling existing pedals not present in it.
     
  13. jsytsma

    jsytsma Member

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    Fractal really needs to release some video demos on the FX8.
     
  14. u2streets

    u2streets Member

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    I currently use the Axe II with pedals. I've tried to make it an all-in-one solution and I just can't get it to a point where I'm happy with it, especially when it comes to boost/overdrive/distortion/fuzz and delays. YMMV of course, but my first question would be: Have you heard the FX in the AXE? If so, do you like them?

    As much as Fractal is touted as a "can-do-anything-and-everything" type of unit, it definitely has a sound. Take modeled tape delays for example... Strymon, Eventide, Pigtronix, etc. all do tape emulations in their pedals. While all of these do "tape", each has it's own flavor of tape. Fractal's effects definitely have a flavor. You may or may not like that flavor. One man's Hi-Fi is another man's sterile.

    The second important consideration is workflow. I really prefer the workflow of pedals... tactile manipulation and limited options for tweaking. With most analog drive pedals, you can adjust gain, volume, and tone. If you aren't getting the right sound from these options, time to try another pedal. With Axe, you can edit on the computer or on the unit itself and have almost every conceivable parameter at your disposal for tweaking. The computer editor for Axe is well done, but I find it uninspiring to manipulate virtual pedals on a computer screen. Also, you can also go down a rabbit-hole tweaking and tweaking the plethora of parameters within Axe. I have spent HOURS trying to dial in a good analog delay tone and I still can't get anywhere near the tone and immediate gratification of my analog delay pedals.

    For me the remaining consideration would be application. Is this your only rig? A fly rig? While my preference would be to use pedals, I probably would consider an all-in-one solution like the FX8 for it's small foot-print and portability, especially for traveling.
     
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  15. datriani

    datriani Member

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    What all do you need this board to do? i.e. multiple presets (how many?); do you need volume, wah, expression controls; instant access; is size/weight a consideration; how many effects will you use at one time, etc. more detail on what you want and need would help define the right solution.
     
  16. Pat Healy

    Pat Healy Member

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    For me it's the FX8, no brainer.

    1. Flexibility. With the FX8 you can instantly reorder your pedals, run series/parallel, adjust mix levels, add a clean boost or EQ, control your amp, control other outboard gear, etc, all with one stomp. Duplicating that capability in a pedalboard would be a gigantic, expensive undertaking.

    2. Reliability. Every pedal on your board represents multiple points of failure - the pedal itself, cables, and the power connection. 30 points of failure if you have 10 pedals, more if you run them in loops. I am TIRED of troubleshooting endless signal paths. Granted, the FX8 is a single point of failure and you better have a backup if it craps out...but in 6+ years of using Fractal gear I've never had an issue.

    3. Future proof. No more saying "I can't get that sound," having to buy another pedal, and rejigger your entire board to fit it in.

    4. Cost. To truly duplicate the power of the FX8 in a traditional pedalboard, you'd need 30+ pedals and incredibly elaborate switching system. It would be the size of a desktop and cost $5,000.

    5. Audio quality. This is a maybe. Based on what Cliff has said about how hard they've worked to eliminate tone suck and make the FX8 sound great, I have to think it's likely to sound better than a big pedalboard with all those interconnects and many AD/DA conversions.

    Like I said, IMO it's a no-brainer.

    PS When will this damn thing start shipping?

    PPS It occurred to me that I'm banging the drum pretty loud for this thing...I think I've posted in every FX8 thread so far. I'll look pretty stupid if it sucks. :eek:
     
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  17. rsm

    rsm Member

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    I had an AxeFx Ultra; my current rigs: TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 (guitar processing is very limited); Nova System (no fuzz, modulation is limited to one effect type, e.g., cannot use chorus and phaser (I use phaser + detune as a work around), cannot get non-TCE flavors of effects); G-System (similar to Nova System, but I use my own dirt).

    The new board is not a fly rig, it is a main board, ideally no larger than a PT-2; for post-punk, ambient sounds (e.g., Cure, Smiths, Joy Division, Radiohead,...), with the following set of effects as a start:

    Wah, Tuner, OD, Dist, Fuzz, Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Tremelo, Delay, Reverb.

    Most of these I need to purchase again as I sold off my pedals when I went to modelers and MFX years ago.

    Not a deal breaker, but having presets / scenes to create virtual pedal boards would be great, but there are programmable pedal controllers that can provide this as mentioned above...
     
  18. nater9

    nater9 Member

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    I love my Fractal, but IMO nothing beats the real thing. If you need tons of flexibility and the ability to tap once and have 20 things change at once, then the Fractal is perfect. But IMO I'd rather have real pedals with their simplicity and authentic sound and feel.
     
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  19. rsm

    rsm Member

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    Thanks for all the replies and thoughts!

    Clearly, the right answer is to get both ha ha!

    As a digital modeling proponent / user for the last few years, I really dig MFX, and FX8 approach/concept. I've also found modeling is easier if you have a sound in your head or the actual real thing you are trying to model...or you are in for marathon tweaking and exploration sessions.

    Having the actual pedals will make them easier to model in the FX8, so I'm likely going to go for the pedal board, though I will give it a few days to be sure. I can also wait and see the experiences of FX8 early adopters , and have a chance to RTFM too.

    Still open to hearing more opinions and thoughts...

    Thanks all!
     
  20. Stanley

    Stanley Supporting Member

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    Reading this thread I think in summary it comes down to:

    How anal you are about replicating specific pedals (some people will be over the moon with the Axe, others will see it as a compromise)
    Cost which comes down to personal pref of FX (an Axe would be way cheaper then all my pedals)

    Requires a Cost Benefit Analysis lol

    I dont really buy the reliability thing, that comes down to how good you are cabling / choice of cable. Ive never had my rack (tons of path cables) or pedal board fail. Ive had pedal switches go dodgy on old pedals however also had rack units fail over time so I guess this could happen to both pedals and Axe
     

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