Goodbye AA3 Hello AX8

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by FullHouse, Jan 13, 2018 at 11:28 AM.

  1. FullHouse

    FullHouse Well-Known Member

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    It is with a twinge of sorrow that I have sold my AA3 and moved on to the Fractal AX8. After 2 years with the AA3 and no major purchases in the period, the G.A.S. pressure had reached dangerous levels and in a fit of curiosity I took the plunge and ordered an AX8 from the good people at GU66.

    Having had the AX8 for about 4 weeks I can say that I don't regret the move, although the £1,445 price tag (damn that exchange rate!) was more than twice the cost of an AA12, which was an option I was seriously thinking about.

    So why do I like the AX8 more than the Amplifire?

    Amps/Cabs - OK, there are a lot more amps and cabs on the AX8, but strangely I am drawn to the usual favorites so no major difference in practice for me. The AX8 amps are more dynamic with greater detail in the low and low mids and better string to string definition. The cabs are better than the stock Amplifire cabs and you can run different cabs in stereo, which is nice. These differences my not be so great in the mix, but if you checkout Marco Fanton on youtube you get a good idea of what I am getting at. The amps have a massive number of options for tweaking although you don't need to go there to get a great sound and the presets are very good as they stand.

    Effects - no competition here, the AX8 has a lot more effects than the Amplifire and the ability to have dual drives and delays as well as more esoteric effects such as pitch, shimmer, rotary, ring modulation and synth open up more creative options for those who want them. The effects have a lot of parameters that can be tweaked, but thankfully there are preset options that get you into familiar territory for those who want an easier life.

    Switching - The AX8 has 8 preset/effects footswitches plus 3 function switches. The 8 footswitches access presets and turn on and off individual effects. If you access the scenes menu, can use the same 8 footswitches to turn on/off multi effects in the same way as the Amplifire. The AX8 goes one step further in that, by holding down any of the 8 footswitches, you can access a second version of any amp/cab/effect in the preset. This is really powerful, allowing you to setup separate clean and drive sub-presets and switch between the X/Y effects at any time as well as within a scene. With the preset selection menu, this means the 8 footswitches provided 32 different functions. Powerful stuff.

    Connectivity - There is no USB digital out but there is a SPIDF out. The usual XLR is provided for the mains out, and there is a second TRS output allowing you to go FOH and stage monitor separately . There are also 4 expression pedals jacks if needed and effects loops.

    Summary - The AX8 is a fantastic unit offering massive tonal options and connectivity in a well built and small package. The switching options and the ability to have X/Y versions of amps and effect is really useful and avoids having to change presets (this avoids the slight lag when changing). It is very expensive compared to the AA12 at over twice the cost; however I was planning on buying the AA12, pedal board and a decent power supply which would have set me back about £980 so the difference for me was not that much and I now have no need to buy other effects. The AX8 also has a looper as an added bonus and it has a mains power supply and switch so no wall-wart.

    I wish Atomic and all Amplifire users the very best, the AA3/12 are great bits of kit and I am sure will continue to provide their owners with great tones.
     
    dheran, Jaan Spirka, Andy and 2 others like this.
  2. dheran

    dheran Active Member

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    Hi mate! Really good post. It´s a good analysis/comparison of both units. I feel that maybe the AA12 isn´t chasing the same target as the AX8. I think it´s all about the size and weight, instead of all-feaatures-you-could-ask-for unit. I´d say that the Helix is a much more logical competitor for the AX8. It´s also half the price of the AX8, and has all that features you mention (more or less... I don´t know exactly). Also, both Helix and AX8 weigh double than AA12.

    I´m in the process of chosing an upgrade for my multi-fx (Zoom G5n), and even if I´d love to have all that features in the AX8 (Helix, in my case), I need more the smaller footprint and the much lower weight of the AA12. This is because of traveling and having to carry the unit in a cabin suitcase in the flights. There´s nothing in the market with that switching capabilities (12 switchs), in that size and weight. No matter the price tag... there´s nothing like that, sadly. But it´s true that the AA12 still lacks some important features which wouldn´t be hard for Atomic to add to the unit... so let´s see if they listen to the users who are making suggestions in this forum.

    So... congratulations, I think you´ve got maybe the best multi-fx in the market. I don´t know if you took a look also to the Helix, but anyway, it looks like now you have the best material available.

    Cheers!
     
    Wyatt McConnell likes this.
  3. FullHouse

    FullHouse Well-Known Member

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    Thanks dheran, Totally agree, the AA12 is the most compact option for the travelling musician, provided you don't need any other pedals. My advice to anyone deciding on whether to go for the AA12 of AX8 should consider what they ultimately need/want to see which is best value and compact.

    I've not owned the Helix LT, but did spend a few hours with one and still preferred the amp tones in the AA which seemed to me to be more realistic. The LT is bigger than the AX8 (but lighter) even when taking into account adding an expression pedal to the AX8.

    I'm sure Atomic will issue an updated firmware shortly, I hope it gives you all that you need.
     

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