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Impressed with Axetrak
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doncaparker
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#1
23rd November 2009
Old 23rd November 2009
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Impressed with Axetrak

I see some so-so comments and some negative comments about the Axetrak here on GS. My recent experience is very positive, so I thought I would try to balance things out a little bit with this thread.

Of the iso cabinets out there, I think it is the best engineered for the tool's intended purpose. In other words, you want the recorded sound to be as much like a close-mic'd cabinet as possible, you want to use your own amp, you want it to be relatively quiet in the "real world," and you don't want it to cost an arm and a leg.

This little box is really well made. The small speaker (something to be skeptical about, understandably) does a great job of putting out the frequencies that an electric guitar is meant to put out, and the mic does a great job of picking them up. With the most recent version, the mic can be tilted from on axis to slightly off axis. This is pretty helpful in terms of pinpointing the right tone.

I have not heard the other iso cabinets in person, but from what I have read, they don't do as good a job of isolating the sound as the Axetrak does. So, if quiet is key for you, this is the winner.

I was concerned about the fact that the box was initially designed to mainly handle hi gain, heavily distorted signals. I don't do as much of that as I do clean and slightly breaking up sounds. Well, this box actually does the clean and slightly dirty stuff very well, too. When you get down to it, it really is just a speaker and a mic inside a box, so whatever sounds you can get out of your amp, you can get them out of this box, too.

If portability is important to you, this box is the clear winner. The others out there are the size of a small fridge. This one is the size of a breadbox.

If you are looking for folks that are stable and easy to work with, I cannot speak highly enough of Jeff Harris at Axetrak. I bought my Axetrak used over the Internet, and the guy who sold it to me misled me. I thought it was a current version, but it was actually an old bass version. Jeff agreed to rehab it to current specs (guitar version) for me and to keep the price to what I would have paid total, if I had bought one new. Easy to deal with, prompt shipping, just a great person. Not to trash anyone, but from what I've read here on GS, stability and business ethics from small companies should not be taken for granted. With Jeff, you know you are going to be treated well.

Finally, the price is right. A Rivera Silent Sister costs around $1,000, and you have to provide the mics. This box costs a little over $400, and the mic is included. I'm sure the Silent Sister is nicer, but I'm not sure it is that much nicer.

Look, these boxes are all a compromise. If you have a room in which you can crank your amp, you aren't looking for one of these. But, for those of us who have to worry about blasting out the family and the neighbors, this is a really good solution.
#2
6th December 2009
Old 6th December 2009
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dorfmeister is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by doncaparker View Post
I see some so-so comments and some negative comments about the Axetrak here on GS. My recent experience is very positive, so I thought I would try to balance things out a little bit with this thread.

Of the iso cabinets out there, I think it is the best engineered for the tool's intended purpose. In other words, you want the recorded sound to be as much like a close-mic'd cabinet as possible, you want to use your own amp, you want it to be relatively quiet in the "real world," and you don't want it to cost an arm and a leg.

This little box is really well made. The small speaker (something to be skeptical about, understandably) does a great job of putting out the frequencies that an electric guitar is meant to put out, and the mic does a great job of picking them up. With the most recent version, the mic can be tilted from on axis to slightly off axis. This is pretty helpful in terms of pinpointing the right tone.

I have not heard the other iso cabinets in person, but from what I have read, they don't do as good a job of isolating the sound as the Axetrak does. So, if quiet is key for you, this is the winner.

I was concerned about the fact that the box was initially designed to mainly handle hi gain, heavily distorted signals. I don't do as much of that as I do clean and slightly breaking up sounds. Well, this box actually does the clean and slightly dirty stuff very well, too. When you get down to it, it really is just a speaker and a mic inside a box, so whatever sounds you can get out of your amp, you can get them out of this box, too.

If portability is important to you, this box is the clear winner. The others out there are the size of a small fridge. This one is the size of a breadbox.

If you are looking for folks that are stable and easy to work with, I cannot speak highly enough of Jeff Harris at Axetrak. I bought my Axetrak used over the Internet, and the guy who sold it to me misled me. I thought it was a current version, but it was actually an old bass version. Jeff agreed to rehab it to current specs (guitar version) for me and to keep the price to what I would have paid total, if I had bought one new. Easy to deal with, prompt shipping, just a great person. Not to trash anyone, but from what I've read here on GS, stability and business ethics from small companies should not be taken for granted. With Jeff, you know you are going to be treated well.

Finally, the price is right. A Rivera Silent Sister costs around $1,000, and you have to provide the mics. This box costs a little over $400, and the mic is included. I'm sure the Silent Sister is nicer, but I'm not sure it is that much nicer.

Look, these boxes are all a compromise. If you have a room in which you can crank your amp, you aren't looking for one of these. But, for those of us who have to worry about blasting out the family and the neighbors, this is a really good solution.
How are you feeling about this after a couple of weeks. I am just about ready to pull the trigger.

The Grendel Dead Room looks nice but there are too many horror stories to even consider buying that. The Madison has a great price but seems like it may be a poorly thought out design. Same with Randall. The other options are just too expensive for me.
doncaparker
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6th December 2009
Old 6th December 2009
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I like it even better than when I started the thread. It has a very good sound to my ears.

A good example of why I like the Axetrak is how it sweetens up clean tones. If you use amp modeling software, or if you just record direct through a good preamp, you know that those cleans can be a bit abrasive, just a bit harsh and biting (not in a good way). Using the Axetrak lets me get clean tone from a low gain setting on a real tube amp, through a real speaker, into a real mic. This softens it, rounds it out a bit. I really like it.

As I turn the gain up just a bit to get some soft distortion, the Axetrak sticks right with it, letting it distort without being too buzzy. This is a hard balance for modeling software to hit, and forget trying to get it from straight DI.

And, of course, the Axetrak was designed for high gain distortion, so when you crank it, it does what it's supposed to do.

A few more thoughts:

I think one big shortfall that most of the other designs have is their use of acoustic foam inside the box. Well, as you will read time and again on GS, acoustic foam is not very effective. So, it should not surprise us to find out that the Randall, etc., don't isolate the sound very well. If I were going to build one of these from scratch, I would use OC 703, not foam. I don't know what Jeff Harris uses inside the Axetrak, but it works. I can really crank the amp, and the leaking sound stays at around conversational level. If I am recording a clean signal at modest volume, it barely leaks at all.

Have you checked Youtube? There are a few guys doing high gain stuff with an Axetrak, but there is also this guy called Gomente who does some really good stuff with clean and slightly dirty tones, all using an Axetrak. This helped me feel OK about taking a chance on it.

Seriously, if I didn't buy an Axetrak, I was going to build one of these, and I was going to make it a lot like a Rivera Silent Sister. It was going to be pretty expensive and it would have taken a lot of time. I took a chance that the Axetrak would do what I want it to do, and I lucked out.

I hope this helps.
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