IMAGE: GUI for Fractal's Axe-Edit™ software.
Chris Buono has been working closely with me on video and recording projects for several months. You've seen some recent examples, with more to come. The single biggest issue we have struggled with is capturing the sound of my guitars...as my ear hears them.
Filming is always intense, even more so than studio recording, because there is no fix it in the mix. Visual medium represents a one-take live performance: essentially documentary.
Our experiences with Axe-Fx™ or live mic'ing vintage amplifiers encountered obstacles. First, it is extremely difficult to achieve live sound capture in the same room where we are monitoring. Headphones do not have enough isolation, and standing waves (even in a treated room) usually translate to unwanted frequency buildups when it comes time to mix.
Second, there is no time to dig deeply into the parameters of Axe-Fx™ on the day of shooting. Which means Chris has to take his best guess at a sound that will work — and that I will like — often on a totally unfamiliar guitar he has never played before.
In discussing this recurring situation, we realized the best solution was to get me onboard with Fractal Audio. Having my own hardware system would allow time to develop presets in advance of recording, and for us to exchange those sounds remotely via Axe-Edit™ software.
Chris can prepare for our session by getting comfortable with the preset(s) using his own Axe-Fx™ rack-mount unit.
On the day of filming, our tones will have already been established, so we can focus on cameras and achieving a great take of his playing. Even better, using Axe-Fx™ direct to DAW via USB recording, there is zero signal loss. I can bring my laptop and leave with pristine audio.
Chris introduced me to Matt Picone, Director of Corporate Development at Fractal Audio. Matt liked what we are doing, and now I am exploring the new Axe-Fx™ II XL+ system. To give Matt a glimpse into my world, I had Gabe Lopez ship him the Sunburst Spearfish™ seen at NAMM.
Just opened it.
WOW WOW WOW
What an impressive and wonderful instrument!
It's pretty overwhelming!
A total work of art.
I would say the same thing about the Axe-Fx™ in kind, as the unit is exceeding my expectations on every level.
I quickly realized the real magic lies beyond the factory patches. Preset creation is where to create sonic transparency matched to the extended frequency response of my guitars. Steve Blucher (DiMarzio) proved surprising as a friendly tour guide...
Very happy to see you’re going to get an AxeFX. I never really got into it with you because I thought you might not want to get distracted by the complexity of the unit. It isn’t necessary to get stuck in the rabbit hole of the advanced programming, but I know you can be a perfectionist about details, and it‘s really easy to get lost for hours crafting a single tone. That said, I’m very confident the unit will allow you to fully experience a lot of things your guitars are capable of that would be impossible to experience with any individual tube amp I’m aware of. I’ve been into it full time since 2008, so please feel free to bounce any questions off me you might have.
(a few days later)
Checked out your preset. Want to make it more clean and open? Remove the input noise gate by reducing the threshold to off, in the amp block reduce input drive to 1.73, activate the bass cut, and reduce the supply sag to .78. Could also switch the tone controls to active. (Steve Blucher)
I am delighted to be working with Fractal Audio. Like DiMarzio, Fractal is leading edge technology designed and manufactured in USA. Kind thanks to Chris, Steve, and Matt for making all of this possible.