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High end digital has gaps when you switch presets?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by JimmyM, Oct 8, 2017.


  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Was watching the latest Metallica gear rundown, and they've gone to Fractal Audio Axe-FX units for this tour rather than lugging around their usual stacks. They didn't show Robert's rig but they showed what James and Kirk are using, and their techs said they use two each, have the sound they're using in one with the preset they need next loaded up in the one they're not using, then switch between units manually so there are no gaps when switching.

    Watching this video, all I could think about is that. Well, that and how cool it must be to have a tech work your effects so you can just concentrate on playing! But you mean to tell me that these high end digital products like the Axe-FX, Kemper, Helix, and whatever still have gaps when switching presets? I have never been able to try out any of this next-gen digital stuff, so I haven't gotten to see for myself, but when I can get near-gapless switching with this old Zoom B2 I bought years ago, why are Metallica's guitarists having to switch between two of them to get gapless switching?

    If it's true you can't get gapless switching, that to me is a giant deal breaker. I barely accepted it in the Zoom because it was $100 new, and at the time that was the quickest switching digital FX unit I ever used. And even that got irritating to me and I quit using it as soon as I could get enough pedals to replace it. I'm not interested in having to time my switching and alter my playing so nobody notices the gaps. That's just crazy talk to me when forking over $2000 or more.

    So those of you who have these high end digital setups, is that true that there's still gaps?

     
    BrentSimons likes this.
  2. Johnny Mac

    Johnny Mac Riff-finder General Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2005
    Springfield, MA
    No personal experience with these units, but I've seen plenty of bands use them and have never heard any gaps between sounds. I think Metallica is probably just doing it as a failsafe/because they can afford it.
     
    BrentSimons likes this.
  3. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    There's a miniscule gap when switching entire presets - its only noticable if you're changing the modeled amp in use, and even then it's ever so barely just noticable. It's pretty similar to when you switch between channels on a 2 channel amp, going from like lo gain to hi gain (or vice versa). Metallica can afford multiple setups and a person to run it to have perfect crossfading and absolutely zero gap, so they do. It has never once been an issue for me on any of the many gigs I've used my setup, or my bandmates in using theirs.
    Effect switching and switching scenes is effectivly gapless.
     
    BrentSimons likes this.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Was hoping you'd chime in! Metallica does do a lot of amp switching, so maybe that's the gaps they're talking about. Probably would affect me much less so I guess that makes it more acceptable, but even still, why wouldn't they be able to switch between amp models seamlessly? Guess that's a question more for them than you, but you know an awful lot about these things so I'll ask you anyway :D Also, do the FX8 and AX8 have gapless switching unless you switch amp models?

    Would also like to know about the other ones out there besides Fractal, too.
     
    BrentSimons likes this.
  5. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    It's pretty much the same for the Helix - the other one I use. The Helix feels slightly slower to me, but it isn't -- when I first starting messing with it, I did two recordings of each setup and the "'gap" time was almost identical between the units. I can't speak to Kemper at all, sorry :).
    FX8 doesn't have amp modeling at all, so it can't hit that wall. AX8 is exactly the same as the Axe-Fx II series in that regard.

    It's a lot of data to load and the DSP can only work so quickly. It's not terribly much different from a laptop or desktop... apps don't open instanteously. It's actually improved over the years in firmware, and we're at the point where IMO it isn't something that can really be brought out as a negative. If I get time, I'll record a quick thing of my Axe-Fx II just to show the "worst case" delay, where I'll switch two amp models between presets, plus different FX models and FX states (on/off). It'll likely just be me playing whole notes with me switching the preset right in the middle.
     
    superheavyfunk and JimmyM like this.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That would be great, bro!
     
  7. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Hey JimmyM... I went ahead and did it with my Axe-Fx II. Don't have time to go out, grab my Helix, set it up yadda yadda. But, the gap is very similar on it as the Axe-Fx. The AX8 can't do the dual-amp modeling, so it is never as "bad" as the worst case demo'd here:


    The first three gaps you hear are big preset switches. In these switches, I change two amp models, two cab models, and two FX models. This was done to demonstrate the worst "gap" I could manage.

    The last gap you hear is a "gap" that I typically have - this is what it sounds like when you do a scene switch, or a preset switch where you don't change amp/cab models.
     
    CameronJohnson likes this.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Very cool, Ray...thanks a lot! That gap with just changing scenes sounds pretty acceptable to me, at least I think it would in a gigging situation. Not so much with the amp model changes, but for me I doubt it would be so much of an issue. I totally get why Metallica is doing it the hard way, though. I'm kinda sorta floating the idea of going digital for fly gigs. Right now it's kind of a push for me whether scaling down pedals or using digital is the way to go.
     
  9. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Yeah, I agree. I save the big preset changes (with amp/cab model changes) for inbetween songs. I've yet to encounter a song that called for such a giant tone change that I couldn't manage with scene changes. Even on guitar, where going from complete, grindy heavy disortion to crystal clean tone. The scene changing is unnoticable entirely. Some folks claim they can't get by without a gapless, major preset change and for them, the modelers won't work... but I can't imagine what their live rig must be that they feel they can't live with out haha.
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  10. That's actually an incredibly useful demo, thanks a lot! It's nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be, even the "worst case" gaps are completely fine since, as you say, those kind of major amp sim changes are only likely to happen between songs in 99% of cases.
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Doing some more research, I've found that the new Headrush board has about the same gaps or lack thereof. Haven't researched the Kemper much, but since all these others can do gapless on scenes, I imagine it would be about the same. Doesn't seem like they'll save me any suitcase room on fly gigs, though. They all look pretty darn large, actually. I think scaling back to bare necessities will still be the order of the day for me. It's not all that important for me to have every effect under the sun on my gigs anyway.
     
  12. Yeah they're deceptively large. I remember the first time I saw a Line 6 HD500 a few years back being surprised by the bulk of it and thinking it looked smaller in pictures! That was long before I embarked on my effects journey. I'm currently running a Pedaltrain Classic 2 which is fairly similar in size to these boards (I'm looking at a Helix in particular) so it'll be perfectly manageable for me.
     
    JimmyM likes this.
  13. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Yeah. The AX8 is smaller than the Helix, but not much.
    For fly gigs, I just take my bass and B7K. Super happy with that hah. For local shows though, the AX8 is awesome... I can setup in less than 5 minutes.
    Put up bass stand
    Open gig bag, put bass on stand
    Open HSC for pedal board
    Plug in power strip
    Plug in XLR for FOH
    Plug in XLR for QSC K12
    Plug in KSC Power, XLR
    Plug in bass

    Done. Super compact setup, and extremely consistent night to night for FOH. I still like plugging into big rigs, but, when it's me carrying, setting up, tearing down, and transporting, I'll use that rig everytime.
     
    smittybass33 and JimmyM like this.
  14. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    Texas
    Thanks for the demo(Helix user).
    Evolution, for digital gigs, has been Line 6 BassPODXTLive > HD500X > Helix.
    The main thing liking in the Helix is it "feels" and reacts like a real amp when set up correctly.
    In the 1970's, the old SVT would make a bass "play itself" once you got the volume(no Master volume back then) up to about 10:30 or 11 o'clock. With the Helix, that lovely zone is there.
     
    wyrtti and JimmyM like this.
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    So I went and visited with my bandmates in this prog-jam trio I do on the side for the first time since the hurricane hit us, and I find out that our drummer (who also plays a pretty good guitar and bass) bought an Axe-FX-II and switcher 3 months ago! He never told us because he was pulling some sort of practical joke on our guitarist, who's a Mesa tube amp purist. His verdict is that he absolutely loves it and can't tell a difference between its Mesa Mark V model and his own Mark V. I didn't get to play with it, though, as it was a social visit and not business. But next time we get together, I'm going to demand it.

    But we discussed the switching thing and he said the same thing Selta said...the DSP's for the amp models are pretty heavy duty in taking up resources and require a brief adjustment period to reset, and that's why you get the gap with presets but not scenes. I think our guitarist should consider at least getting the FX8. He's got a Pedaltrain Terra 42 all loaded down with a MIDI switcher, two or three Eventide Factor pedals, and a bunch of other assorted pedals that goes into a Mark V and a 412 or 212, and he's always cursing at it because he hooks up something wrong. Seems like he could tidy things up nicely with something like that. Would take him some work because he does some complex stuff sometimes, but he figured out his big board, so I think he's capable. I'm still not feeling it, though. I can scale down to 5 pedals in a worst case scenario with that band and still do everything I need, and even fewer with the oldies band. Besides, my Zoom B2 still works fine after 9 years. Same thing.

    :D
     
    CameronJohnson and Blu bro like this.

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