The Fractal Thread

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peteripeteri Frets: 914
edited November 2017 in FX

As my AX8/Helix journey ended significantly earlier than the thread, which I have to say I'm pretty proud of.

So I thought, in response to a few comments - why not start a thread with a better title to exchange more views.

'Original' thread here:


http://thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/114002/my-ax8-vs-helix-lt-journey#latest


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  • peteripeteri Frets: 914

    And to start with some more details.

    Went FRFR this weekend - got a really good deal on a Yamaha DXR10 on Black Friday.

    Was originally looking at a few monitors, but this was a good deal - with an easy return (I live about 5 minutes walk from Yamaha on Wardour Street) so I gave it a shot.

    Very happy, much more bass and depth to the sound compared to the Tannoy Reveal monitor I was using before, partly I think because it's not at ear level - but happy.

    And incredibly loud!

    After struggling with the Plexi models, now I've sorted out my IR phasing - it's really one of my go-to models. I'll experiment with a 'do it all' patch with a Deluxe for clean and the Plexi for dirt.

    Can anyone recommend a nice set of Fender IRs? Ownhammer don't seem to have that many.


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  • @peteri good plan, can we open this up to other Fractal product oweners too please? [nudge to change the title ;-) ]
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  • peteripeteri Frets: 914
    Good shout! @jonathanthomas83, thread title changed!
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  • Legend, thank you! :-)
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  • peteri said:

    And to start with some more details.

    Went FRFR this weekend - got a really good deal on a Yamaha DXR10 on Black Friday.

    Was originally looking at a few monitors, but this was a good deal - with an easy return (I live about 5 minutes walk from Yamaha on Wardour Street) so I gave it a shot.

    Very happy, much more bass and depth to the sound compared to the Tannoy Reveal monitor I was using before, partly I think because it's not at ear level - but happy.

    And incredibly loud!

    After struggling with the Plexi models, now I've sorted out my IR phasing - it's really one of my go-to models. I'll experiment with a 'do it all' patch with a Deluxe for clean and the Plexi for dirt.

    Can anyone recommend a nice set of Fender IRs? Ownhammer don't seem to have that many.


    Don't you rate the IRs in the AX8 that highly then? 
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  • In my limited time with the AX8 I've found it more natural sounding to have a clean patch with an overdrive pedal(s) for dirt. Changing from a Fender DR to a Plexi seems too much of a difference. Anyone else have any experience of this?
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2115
    Don't you rate the IRs in the AX8 that highly then? 
    The IRs that come with the AxeFX and AX8 include IRs from multiple sources: some which Fractal Audio shot themselves, some from Ownhammer, some from other sources. IMHO the recent Fractal IRs are as good as Ownhammer’s, but recorded and processed differently. That wasn’t the case a year or so back.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2115

    In my limited time with the AX8 I've found it more natural sounding to have a clean patch with an overdrive pedal(s) for dirt. Changing from a Fender DR to a Plexi seems too much of a difference. Anyone else have any experience of this?
    On the whole I agree with minimising the number of amps. It’s easier for the listener if the sound isn’t jumping all over the spectrum. The same applies for speakers. I use two amp types, plus the Studio Pre Amp for acoustic simulation, and two speaker types, a 2x12 for humbucker guitars, and a 4x12 for single coils.

    When it comes for changing sound for a solo I use a whole range of methods:
    • Turn up the guitar
    • Add a mid boost
    • Add a drive pedal
    • Change amp settings
    • Change amp type


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  • Roland said:
    Don't you rate the IRs in the AX8 that highly then? 
    The IRs that come with the AxeFX and AX8 include IRs from multiple sources: some which Fractal Audio shot themselves, some from Ownhammer, some from other sources. IMHO the recent Fractal IRs are as good as Ownhammer’s, but recorded and processed differently. That wasn’t the case a year or so back.

    That's interesting. Is there a way of identifying the better ones without trawling through them all?
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2115
    firepaulmusic said:

    That's interesting. Is there a way of identifying the better ones without trawling through them all?
    You can focus down quite quickly based on analogue world experience. Eg, do you want 4x12, 2x12, 4x10, 1x12. Also, the newer IRs tend to have the higher sequence numbers. 

    After that you’re going to need to use your ears. I used a clean amp at bedroom volume, and worked through the IRs eliminating anything that I though reduced clarity. It took about 20 minutes. The survivors got played at volume. I have the luxury of being able to use rehearsal volume at home.

    FWIW I’m currently using factory IR 61: 4x12 Fractal V30 AT4047
    and an Ownhammer 1x12 IR: OH_112_DLX_J12-PR_SP

    I think @Clarky once posted that he was trying factory IR 103: 4x12 Basketweave TV mix. I’m not sure what he uses now.



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  • BintyTwanger77BintyTwanger77 Frets: 1237
    edited November 2017
    My Fractal journey (attempt 2) ended, and I'm afraid the FX8 went back to G66 (fantastic service). 

    I really wanted to love it more than my pedals, and in terms of ease, taking it on a step with an AX8 instead would beat pedals in terms of set up, what to take to a gig...I really wanted the FX8 to beat my current set-up...but I stuck to amps and pedals because I preferred how they sounded, but purely to my ears.

    I imagine one day I'll get fed up of the rewiring and carrying large amounts of gear and I'll look to an AX8 or the latest amp and effects floor modeller...if Strymon shock everyone and bring out something like an FX8 or AX8, then I'll sell the necessary internal organs to buy one.

    Despite that, I'm in awe of the tech behind Fractal gear. Unbelievable flexibility and it sounds great.
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  • I’ve never tried the FX8 but can categorically say that there’s absolutely no contest for me, the FX and drives in the Axe FX beat everything I’ve owned pedal-wise. The only thing I can’t get absolutely spot on is the El Cap. So can only assume that the FX8 doesn’t match up in some way. Maybe that’s due to the lack of amp modelling and the way the sounds interact. Digital FX probably don’t interact as well with analog gear as they do all in one digital box. That’s my theory anyway.
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  • simonksimonk Frets: 1157
    Love my FX8... that and a MkV:25 made such a great rig (or FX8 and a tiny Quilter head if I really wanted to travel light). Sadly I just can’t fall in love with the AX8 and much prefer the Helix, so much so that I’m struggling to imagine gigging anything else for the foreseeable future. We’ve got a couple weeks with no gigs over the Xmas period, so I’m going to knuckle down with the AX8 and see if I can get it to a place where I’d be happy to be seen in public with it.
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3030
    Roland said:
    firepaulmusic said:

    That's interesting. Is there a way of identifying the better ones without trawling through them all?
    You can focus down quite quickly based on analogue world experience. Eg, do you want 4x12, 2x12, 4x10, 1x12. Also, the newer IRs tend to have the higher sequence numbers. 

    After that you’re going to need to use your ears. I used a clean amp at bedroom volume, and worked through the IRs eliminating anything that I though reduced clarity. It took about 20 minutes. The survivors got played at volume. I have the luxury of being able to use rehearsal volume at home.

    FWIW I’m currently using factory IR 61: 4x12 Fractal V30 AT4047
    and an Ownhammer 1x12 IR: OH_112_DLX_J12-PR_SP

    I think @Clarky once posted that he was trying factory IR 103: 4x12 Basketweave TV mix. I’m not sure what he uses now.



    in the studio I use:
    left side: 103: 4x12 Basketweave TV mix
    right side: 102: 4x12 Basketweave AX mix

    in my "practice" presets these are in a stereo normal res cab block [cos it don't matter]
    when I record I'll still use those cabs but they'll be mono hi res [as I record the left and right guitar parts separately..

    I tried the newer ultra res cabs... plus a million other cabs..
    even shot many of my own mixes with cablab
    just kept falling back to these.. it's pretty simple.. they work for me and are not dissimilar to my real cabs..
    I use them for clean, riff and soloing tones..
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • simonk said:
    Love my FX8... that and a MkV:25 made such a great rig (or FX8 and a tiny Quilter head if I really wanted to travel light). Sadly I just can’t fall in love with the AX8 and much prefer the Helix, so much so that I’m struggling to imagine gigging anything else for the foreseeable future. We’ve got a couple weeks with no gigs over the Xmas period, so I’m going to knuckle down with the AX8 and see if I can get it to a place where I’d be happy to be seen in public with it.
    Is the sound letting you down or is it features? How long have you had it?
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  • peteripeteri Frets: 914
    I’ve never tried the FX8 but can categorically say that there’s absolutely no contest for me, the FX and drives in the Axe FX beat everything I’ve owned pedal-wise. The only thing I can’t get absolutely spot on is the El Cap. So can only assume that the FX8 doesn’t match up in some way. Maybe that’s due to the lack of amp modelling and the way the sounds interact. Digital FX probably don’t interact as well with analog gear as they do all in one digital box. That’s my theory anyway.


    As per my other thread - that was the same for me.

    I went from a G2 with Strymon, Wampler etc.pretty quickly into FRFR with AX8.

    Sounds are immense, easily as good but with much more flexibility to tweak and zero GAS anymore, I've even stopped watching That Pedal Show ;)

    Obviously everyone is different, but as a long time 'try and return' modeller - meaning every generation disappointed me - the Helix/Fractal generation has nailed it.

    I find the gear interacts well, apart from into an amp - too many tone stacks? Then things just aren't quite 'right'

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  • simonksimonk Frets: 1157
    simonk said:
    Love my FX8... that and a MkV:25 made such a great rig (or FX8 and a tiny Quilter head if I really wanted to travel light). Sadly I just can’t fall in love with the AX8 and much prefer the Helix, so much so that I’m struggling to imagine gigging anything else for the foreseeable future. We’ve got a couple weeks with no gigs over the Xmas period, so I’m going to knuckle down with the AX8 and see if I can get it to a place where I’d be happy to be seen in public with it.
    Is the sound letting you down or is it features? How long have you had it?
    I’ve had it 6 months or so.
    There’s nothing that I particularly dislike about it apart from perhaps the interface. The sounds are good, form factor is good. The Helix is such a usability wet dream though I struggle to find the motivation to power something else up. For live use I’ve become heavily dependent on snapshots too.
    As I say, I’ll spend some time with it over the holidays and try to rekindle some FAS love.
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  • Jonathanthomas83Jonathanthomas83 Frets: 1029
    edited November 2017
    @simonk I can see why you'd say that, the usability is good on the Helix. For me, nothing trumps sound though, and for me, it's a no-brainer between the two. I know that's subjective though and say it whilst hiding behind my sofa!

    Good luck over the holidays, hope you manage to make it work for you.

    peteri said:

    Sounds are immense, easily as good but with much more flexibility to tweak and zero GAS anymore, I've even stopped watching That Pedal Show 

    Ha, me too! 
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  • Jonathanthomas83Jonathanthomas83 Frets: 1029
    edited November 2017
    What software are you guys using to mix IRs? £49 for Redwirez software is a bit steep for me atm

    Going to shave a few percent off the CPU usage by mixing down a couple of IRs rather than using two in stereo.
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  • FarleyUKFarleyUK Frets: 460
    What software are you guys using to mix IRs? £49 for Redwirez software is a bit steep for me atm

    Going to shave a few percent off the CPU usage by mixing down a couple of IRs rather than using two in stereo.
    I'm using CabLab 3 - does the job very well indeed. Should be available on the Fractal store.
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  • FarleyUK said:
    What software are you guys using to mix IRs? £49 for Redwirez software is a bit steep for me atm

    Going to shave a few percent off the CPU usage by mixing down a couple of IRs rather than using two in stereo.
    I'm using CabLab 3 - does the job very well indeed. Should be available on the Fractal store.
    Brilliant, thank you mate
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  • Yeah CabLab is good for mixing IRs.

    Since you can load 8 at once it is also handy for flicking between a bunch of favourites, plus it integrates well with the hardware.

    For mixing (as in recording/mixing, not mixing IRs), I like Karzog's Recabinet, it has a simple interface with list menus and loads .wavs which is handy as it means you don't have to convert things.  I don't actually know if it can output the blend as a new IR, I've never checked.  I won't be able to check today, but I think there's a demo.  http://kazrog.com/products/recabinet/


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  • Thanks both, really appreciate it. So I invested in Cablab and really glad I did, really good with the hardware isn't it!?! Love that I can mix up a bunch of IRs and within seconds it's in the Axe FX ready to roll! 

    Contrary to popular opinion, I've never been able to make Ownhammer IRs work for me, no doubt they're great but they don't sound right for my purposes and tone tastes. Before I switched Axe FX, I almost exclusively used Redwirez for my three main cabs, clean (Hiwatt), crunch (Marshall) and high gain (mesa), so I've been using Cablab to do nice mixes of popular mic placements, using an R121, SM57 and an MD421 and I must admit, it sounds better than I had it before with my old setup. I've since started using the MD421 for a bit more clarity and it seems to have brightened things up a bit to the point of where I like them.

    Natively mixing the correct bitrate files to 24/48 too, don't know if it helps, but it feels neater for the end product being the Axe FX. 

    Can't recommend this approach enough. I've gone from stereo hi-rez cabs don't to mono hi-rez and have saved roughly 10% CPU by doing so. This could be useful for Axe 8 users too, who have limited blocks (is the cab block limited?). Allows you to mix as many IRs as you wish into a single file!

    Also, cannot  recommend Redwirez IRs enough either, they're superb for my needs and sound great, Their three pager PDF about optimum mic placement is a superb place to start too - http://www.redwirez.com/ir/DialingInYourTone.pdf
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  • The thing with IRs is everything makes a difference.  Speakers themselves are inconsistent, mics are inconsistent.  The rooms make a difference, and that's before you even get down to the actual mic technique and taste of the person making the IRs (which will be the biggest factor really).

    That's why it's worth getting a cab you're familiar with from a vendor you're interested in, to see what vibe they go for.  I find OH covers what I want from the cab, and I like their file system, it just works for me.  I've got IRs from multiple different companies though, I can't remember buying an objectively bad guitar IR from a reputable company but there are different vibes from each company for sure. 

    One of the biggest factors for me is organisation actually, if there are a lot of IRs it can really help if the file system makes sense so you're not just randomly clicking stuff hoping to get a sound.  Ideally you click on one and have a reference from the file system where to go next (so with OH it is the number system, with Celestion it's the descriptive words used, RW list the actual positions etc)
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  • Well, I feel like a bit of an idiot now. Seems Redwirez have been gone for a while now and none of their cabs are true Ultra-Res. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I want the best there is, so am now on the hunt for something as nice sounding with the definition of the Redwirez IRs, but which is true Ultra-Res. 

    After doing a lot of reading on the Fractal wiki about the benefits of a longer IR, it doesn't seem like the Redwirez IRs are long enough to capture seemingly vital frequencies. 
    The hunt continues! 
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  • FarleyUKFarleyUK Frets: 460
    edited November 2017
    I have a love / hate relationship with IRs. Brilliant to have tons of options, but it's also a complete time-sink; I swear I spend more time trying to find 'that sound' than I do actually playing

    Personally, I'd recommend the OH Heavy Hitters 2 collection; some great stuff in there, and I'm using a mix of either the Zilla 212 M25 and V30 or my own mix of the 2 Zilla H70 (using 121) and M25 (using the FRED SM57) cabs.

    EDIT - They're also Ultra-Res!
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  • peteripeteri Frets: 914

    Not sure if people have seen this? But about halfway through the video he walks you through the patch - setup in a way I wouldn't usually do, but really like it:


    https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/ax8-high-gain-scenes-demo-q9.132565/


    Had some time last night, and came up with a 'do it all patch' I'm really happy with.

    'Clean' sound (which is only clean with the guitar volume down is a Tweed Deluxe into a factory Twin Mix IR

    Dirty is the 1959SLP, which I really like, that's going into one of the factory 4x12 mixes (the green mix).

    I then have a Dimension 1 for chorus set as in the thread above.

    Phaser before the amp, giving Phase 90 and Univibe

    Cry baby wah

    Trem after the amp

    Drive before the amp - FET Boost or quite a hot TS808

    Drive before the amp (not footswitchable) Esoteric Boost

    GEQ before the amp for a solo boost

    Two delays after the amp, one is taking the place of reverb - barely audible, the other is more obvious, these are in parallel, the 'reverb' delay has a gate to reduce the impact of the tails a tiny bit.

    Using the delay instead of reverb means I can run the cabs ultra-res, which I did notice on this patch (haven't in the past)

    This gives me:

    Scene 1 - 'Clean', just deluxe and 'reverb'

    Scene 2 - Same, but with DMM delay and trem - bit soupy

    Both of these on one footswitch S1/S2

    Scene 3 - AC/DC, 1959SLP + Cab + 'reverb'

    Scene 4 - Rock - 1959SLP + Esoteric Boost + DMM Delay

    Scene 5 - As above, but with a GEQ before the amp boosting mids and gain a tiny bit

    So that's the bottom footswitches used.

    Top row reads:

    Phaser, Chorus, Drive, Delay - and I switch in if I like, Delay Y is a tape delay with tap tempo if I like it, Chorus Y is a CE2.


    Again - this is running comfortably within CPU (low/mid 80's), and sounds absolutely great. Really enjoying the Deluxe at the moment, and the Plexi matches it well.


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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7132
    edited November 2017
    Have you considered you might prefer the Redwirez because they’re shorter?

    I find the differences are most noticeable in the low end. It might be the tighter more immediate nature of the Redwirez is what you prefer. 

    I’m surprised you find the Ownhammer IRs lacking definition, them being well balanced and defined is why I generally like them. I tend to stick to the low numbers for tighter and brighter sounds.

    But thing is, one size does not fit all and the big advantage of these digital units is you can tweak it to what you want to hear.

    Personally I wouldn’t worry about IR length if you like the sound.
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  • FarleyUK said:
    I have a love / hate relationship with IRs. Brilliant to have tons of options, but it's also a complete time-sink; I swear I spend more time trying to find 'that sound' than I do actually playing
    This is me all over. It's ridiculous! I'll checkout the Heavy Hitters, thank you, mate!
    Have you considered you might prefer the Redwirez because they’re shorter?

    I find the differences are most noticeable in the low end. It might be the tighter more immediate nature of the Redwirez is what you prefer. 

    I’m surprised you find the Ownhammer IRs lacking definition, them being well balanced and defined is why I generally like them. I tend to stick to the low numbers for tighter and brighter sounds.

    But thing is, one size does not fit all and the big advantage of these digital units is you can tweak it to what you want to hear.

    Personally I wouldn’t worry about IR length if you like the sound.
    I think you're on to something there, could be that the old IRs are more suited to my needs. And yes totally, I've noticed the  low end is very different in the new OH IRs that I've tried.

    I guess 'definition' is the wrong word then, maybe the RW IRs are just brighter and less midrange-y compared to the OH IRs I've tried. Maybe I just need to keep trying them. They sound darker, to my ears, even at the brightest setting. Either that or I'm doing things wrong. I'll try a single mic in isolation rather than using a mix and maybe I'll get closer to what I'm after.

    I feel like I'm learning a lot through this process though, mic placement and what speakers I like and dislike. The sound I'm aiming for etc. My biggest worry is that I lack the experience to know if it's a sound I like or a sound that others will like too and a sound that will slot into the mix nicely.

    You may be right in saying that maybe I should stick with RW if I like the sound. I must have come back to them for a reason and like @FarleyUK alludes to, it's going to start to feel like I'm chasing my tail if I spend too much longer on it.
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  • FarleyUKFarleyUK Frets: 460
    What I've done with the HHC2 collection is to JUST use the mixes, so I don't spend hours playing around with each separate mic placement etc.

    Might be worth a go?
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