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Fractal Audio AXE FX Ultra

All the first-class amps and effects of the Axe-Fx, plus advanced studio and live effects including Vocoder, Crossovers, Multi-band Compressors, Synthesizers, Rhythmic Delays, Looper, Stereo Diffuser and much more. The finest digital processor available.

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Not too bad featured

Ease Of Use The interface is relatively dated looking considering that smart phones have full color screens of the same size. If Fractal wants to really be bleeding edge, they should hire some interface designers and take it to the next step with their GUI . After reading the manual, I was able to navigate through the settings with relative ease. If you don't read the manual, it will probably take about three times as long to learn the unit, so please read the manual. Every thing seems pretty sturdy, but I have the feeling that the click buttons they are using will wear out after time. Connections are abundant and provide the user with almost every I/O a guitarist would need.

Sound I'm using it as just guitar preamp and have it running through the power sections of a few tube heads/amps. The sound is really good and it's great for a digital preamp, but it still lacks a certain something. That difference is probably as small as a %3 difference, but that difference is like the Uncanny Valley in CGI. Enough to let people know that it's still digital. Like many Axe-Fx users, I have sat down with the unit and dialed in the settings for a 1:1 with the real heads. In my case, that would be a Mesa MK IV and a Soldano SLO. To be fair, I know this unit isn't meant to be a true modeler, but it definitely seems like one. It comes very close, but still no cigar. It is plagued by a slight lack of body artifacts that a real tube head has. Maybe it's something to do with it being run through a guitar head and this thing is really best in a FRFR setting. If I sat down for 20 more hours, maybe I could get it to sound like the real thing, but that is not my goal. A close approximation is good enough. On the opposite end, running it directly into a computer interface comes off as a homerun. It has a good body to it, less digital sheen, and comes the closest I've ever had to sounding like a real guitar rig without mic/cabs/amp. I'm running it into multiple interfaces (depending on where I take it too). Either a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 or an Apogee AD16X. I know many people would say to run it directly digital and bypass the extra DA-AD conversion, but I'm currently interfaced by firewire. The FX are outstanding. I have a Eventide DSP400 running with it on a loop swticher and the effects are pretty close. The Eventide still has a slight edge, but that's because the editing possibities in the DSP4000 are really ridiculous.

Reliability No problems yet and I've wheeled it around quite a few times.

Customer Support Everyone says they are great. They were excellent when I ordered the unit.

Liked about it 1-Handles on the front. 2-FX. 3-Direct Sound

Didn't like 1-Dated Interface. 2-Slight digital sheen. 3-Would like to be able to load IRs directly from a flash drive and not have to go through the computer.

Overall satisfaction:

By diek
Apr 17, 2011
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AXE-FX Ultra Beyond Expectations featured

Ease Of Use My advice is to read the manual, wiki and forums before your unit arrives. This is a tweakers paradise! There is a learning curve that is easy to master if you put some time into it.

Sound I had heard about it on HRI. Then I searched the web and read a interview with creator, developer and mastermind programmer Cliff Chase. I knew this was going to be something special. I knew how I was going to use it but when it got here, it changed everything. My dream tone was coming alive. I could actually dial in what I was hearing in my head and make it better. I initially bought this unit for the effects only and found myself building my entire set up around it. Currently my set up consists of the Power Conditioner + Ultra and Atomic Cabs. I got to say I did not want a "modeler", I had already dumped my POD PRO XT but the Axe-FX is way beyond that. I like to think of this unit as a DO ALL machine with endless possibilities.

Reliability This is a very dependable unit. Built very well and built to last. As with anything electronic, I feel it is responsible to keep a back up of something ready to go if your a pro or gigging musician.

Customer Support I have dealt with Fractal Audio and Atomic amp owners and support. They are by FAR the best customer support operatives out there. This gives me peace of mind when I spend this kind of dough on a product. It is "Value Add" and worth every penny!

Liked about it 1. Endless possibilities of tones and effects.
2. Customer support through Fractal and forum.
3. I really like how most of the updates to this box are directly influenced by customer input! They actually LISTEN!!!

Didn't like Not big issues at all but since I need to put something in, it might as well be a wish list.
1. The fan - easily replaced with a silent fan. Not a big issue but if you're in a recording environment it is one less thing to worry about.
2. A USB port.
3. Another set of XLR Left and right direct outputs.

Overall satisfaction:

By BluePill
May 27, 2010
Last updated: May 27, 2010
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Here It Is Folks. The Muti-Effects Unit To End All Mutli-Effects Units. featured

Ease Of Use The Axe-FX is actually very easy to use considering how complex it truly is. With endless options of amps, cabs, speakers for the cabs, mic types, every effect under the sun, etc you'd likely feel overwhelmed if not for the nice layout of the front face of the unit and the easy to understand LCD screen, as well as the large but well written manual. There's also a very large Axe-FX community out there that has written up tons of info for the Axe-FX should someone need more information on how to get the most out of the unit. All in all the Axe-FX is definitely a tweakers device. If you are a minimalist guitar player, with an amp, guitar and a couple stomp boxes, than the Axe-FX likely isn't for you.

On the computer end of things you can easily download the Axe-FX Axe-Edit software to be able to control all of the Axe-FX tweaking right from your computer. You simply hook your Axe-FX unit up to your computer via midi and start tweaking. The Axe-FX software has been in beta stage for ages now and there are a lot of bugs that Fractal needs to work out within it but it does get the job done.

Ease Of Use: 8/10

Sound The funny thing about the Axe-FX is that you can get basically any sound you want - from muddy spacey tones, to crystal clarity - but it all requires tweaking. Even though the unit comes with over 350 default patches you really have to tweak things to get great sounds out of the unit. The default patches are largely those typical "Here's the crazy crap that this thing can do" types that come with a lot of digital equipment, and frankly aren't all that impressive.

But, wacky and largely useless default patches aside, the possibilities of the Axe-FX Ultra are endless. You can even download cab IRs to load into the unit if you don't like the default ones. With every effect out there, tons of available cab sounds, mic sounds, power amps, parametric EQ, etc, there really isn't anything you can't achieve. The greatest thing about the Axe-FX is the fact that it does a genuinely great job of emulating true tube dynamics. The greatest downfall of any digital equipment is the missing dynamic elements that up 'till now where only achievable through expensive tube powered gear. The Axe breaks that tradition with precision.

Even greater is the available output source option that the Axe-FX creates. Since the Axe-FX has a full array of sounds covering the entire sound spectrum you can hook up your unit to a pair of high end monitors and get some truly inspiring effects flowing.

All in all the Axe-FX Ultra is one of those things where if you can afford the hefty initial price tag there's really no way you could be entirely disappointed. I just wouldn't believe someone if they claimed they were entirely unable to get at least a few great sounds out of their Axe-FX.

Sound: (default patches) 7/10 (patches YOU make with some effort and elbow grease) 9/10

Reliability This is where things get tricky. The Axe-FX is a complex computer. While it has yet to let me down what-so-ever there has been the odd story of people having their Axe-FX lock up seemingly out of no-where. A simple flick of the on/off button fixes stuff like that but you sure as hell wouldn't want that to happen during a performance.

The thing to keep in mind here is that the unit runs perfectly for almost everyone 99.9% of the time but you never know if you're going to be one of those unlucky bastards that has something odd happen to their machine while you're playing. It's kinda' the way it goes with advance digital equipment.

As far as the physical nature of the machine goes it's built very well. The buttons and dials feel good and the housing is top notch. The knobs could be stronger but they are the standard rubberized type that you would find on most stomp boxes, so there's nothing unusual there. The rear input/output jacks are very good quality, so you don't have to worry about input or sag issues. Also, being a rack mounted unit it's doesn't have the same things to worry about as, say, a stomp box would have; like falling down or being kicked or hit.

I should also note that the Axe-FX in constructed in America so the quality control is very tight.

Reliability: 8/10

Customer Support Fractal Audio is a very personally owned company so you can rely on Fractal to give you the best service and advice a company can. Quick e-mail answers,in depth knowledge to questions you may have, an official forum that the company owner posts at (and a few famous guitarists too!), etc. You really can't go wrong with Fractal Audio as far as customer support goes. Best of all Fractal Audio is constantly sending out free software updates.

Customer Support: 10/10

Liked about it Top three things I like about the Axe-FX Ultra:

1)Has just about every last thing you could need in an all in one guitar effects, modeler-type unit.
2)Ease of use, especially considering how advanced the unit it.
3)It's always been updated with better and better software which can easily be downloaded off of the official site.

Didn't like Top three things I don't like about the Axe-FX Ultra:

1)Axe-Edit software is buggy as all hell.
2)My version of the Axe-FX came with the soft press buttons instead of the now standard click feedback buttons
3)Relatively noisy CPU fan (can be replaced but not recommended unless you know exactly what you're doing).

Overall satisfaction:

By Johnny Two Tone
Jan 17, 2010
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All In One Wonder? featured

Ease Of Use After a few minutes the whole design of the AxeFx becomes very intuitive even if you only programm on the device itself. By the use of the new software and the Axe hooked up to my mac, programming new Presets became very fun and easy. Finding the right settings is very fun and community patches can be downloaded directly into the unit.
The only thing that was a bit tricky was to setup the floorboard (Midi Mate) as I was not used to some things that were required.

Sound The question that everyone asks of course is: Does it sound like a tube amp?
Yes it does. I used the Axe Rectifier Modell and did the settings like I am used to on my own (vintage 2 channel) and it sounded EXACTLY the same. Same dynamics, same gain, same sound. Also the Mesa 4x12 with SM57 setup was the same. The only thing you miss out in the Axe is noise...
Next test was with an original Fender Twin Reverb of my neighbour, again with SM57. Again the Axe delivered right on spot, with the added bonus that you can dial in sound (due to expanded EQ options on the Axe) that the Vintage modell misses. Same playing dynamics etc.
Same with the effects modells, this unit is spot on and mostly expands the options of the vintage effects it simulates. All in One.
The AxeFX Ultra therefore replaced in total 4 full tube amps, 14 stomp boxes (some vintage), 4 Cabs and all my Mics. Of course I have now even more sounds at my fingertips.
The unit still might not be for everyone, as some people simply feel better with tubes in their back.

Reliability So far very solid and no problems. Replaced CPU fan with something else though.

Customer Support Extremely nice and helpful.

Liked about it - Sounds
- Versatility
- Usage

Didn't like - Fractal should make their own floorboard
Nothing else.

Overall satisfaction:

By Tank
Oct 30, 2009
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