Glenn Fricker Hilariously Hosts AxeFx II Vs. Tube Amp Blind Shootout

Glenn Fricker (of Cupping the Mic Works Wonders), the Lewis Black of metal production videos, has teamed up with GearGods to host the ultimate double blind taste test of AxeFx vs. Tube amp. The foul-mouthed Canadian metal producer and owner of Spectre Sound studios has some pretty strong opinions about amps and what should and should not take place in metal recordings, but it seems like he’s warming up to the AxeFx a little, thanks to the Tone Match feature that makes for a more realistic sound. But don’t even mention the little red kidney bean to him, unless you want to witness an apoplectic fit.


In the video we shoot out the Framus Cobra, what appears to be a block letter classic Peavey 5150, and a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier against their digital counterparts on the Fractal.

It’s a debate as old as time, or at least as old as Line6. Can a computer do it as well, or better? If you’re sufficiently fooled, does it really matter if it was an all-analog hand wired signal recorded to tape or an amp sim into Pro Tools? We leave the conclusion to you, because you won’t listen to us anyway.

Can YOU tell the difference?

Written by

As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.

Latest comments
  • Now this guy knows a good snare drum sound. God damn that snare is full and meaty!

  • The low end of the actual amps is definitely punchier than it is with Axe FX. Although, the Axe FX isn’t being run through a tube power amp. I wonder if doing that would make the tone as punchy as it is with the real thing. Either way, Glenn Fricker is right, buying a unit and a power amp is a rip in a half.

  • I got the first two right, but never having even heard a Cobra, I was a bit blind on that one. I think the AxeFXII is a step in the right direction for Solid State, but Tube gear will always avail. Though, I will admit, Solid State can produce some damn fine clean tones.

  • The Axe FX replicates the tone or the original amps well, but it lacks in the low end and the mid range of the overall tone compared of the actual amps.

    • “The Axe FX replicates the tone or the original amps well, but it lacks
      in the low end and the mid range of the overall tone compared of the
      actual amps.”

      very. much.

      listen through proper speakers and get back to me. What you mention can easily be patched in the eq. Digi FTW.

      If it sounds right, it’s right.

      If it doesn’t it’s all end-user psycho-acoustics, expectations and psychological shenanigans. Time to move on.

      From an old school analog fan.

      • That would completely defeat the purpose of doing a shoot out. There is no difference in EQ; the real amps are punchier because they are being driven by power tubes.

    • Thats EXACTLY what i heard. While the Axe FX2 was close, it always sounds thinner and more crispy.

  • Heavy rhythm tones are as easy to dial in as making a peanut butter sandwich, provided you`ve got decent gear (some $40 POS practice amp with an 8″ speaker probably isn`t going to cut it), and pretty much any amp modeler will get you something acceptable. The better the piece, the better the sound. But when you need a good lead/melody tone, it`s been my experience that modelers are shrill and brittle. I`m in an instrumental rock band (think somewhere between Tool and Joe Satriani), and my role as the guitarist is to basically be the vocalist. My lead tone is very important, and for it…I use a traditional tube amp setup and an Eventide H9 in the effects loop. If I were playing rhythm in a metal band I might consider the Axe FX for convenience but even then, for the money I could buy another used Bogner Ecstacy.

    • Dude, I’ve actually gotten some pretty br0074L tones out of a piece of shit $40 practice amp.

  • Sure, the Axe fx sounds pretty much identical to ‘the real deal’, but I feel like the hype about the axe fx is that it’s better than the real deal, and to me, that’s just stupid.

  • I am one of those local sound guys.. fuck you Glenn.. fuck you.. :L :L

  • Fake amps are the least metal thing ever and it’s mainly just shitty generic bands that use them. Emphasis on MAINLY

    • Steve Vai, Alex Lifeson form Rush, Guthrie Govan, all of Periphery, Jeff Loomis, marty Friedman, Dave Mustaine, Chris Broderick, Tosin Abasi all use AxeFX. You sir are incorrect.

      • ^was about to comment them. Tired of hearing “only fake musicians who can’t afford that many tube amps use axe-fx” because they can’t get over themselves and realize technology has advanced a FUCKLOAD since the original pod came out

  • tbh I couldn’t tell the difference,… It would be interesting to see the AXE FX performed live… I’ve heard/played some really well set up SS stuff that when matched against a tube amp just disappears in the mix…. Also its a valid point about the sound guys at the venues you will play… some are awesome, some are a pointless shower of shit but to regularly rely on them to sort your AXE FX out sounds like asking for trouble….

    • I saw Chelsea Grin(literally 3 guitarists and could clearly hear all) and Ice Nine Kills at warped, and we were right where it should normally would be distorted as shit(not meaning to) and I could literally feel and hear the guitar as if I was listening to the CD, for BOTH bands. I was legitimately excited just knowing they were using them and damn. They used them well. Then again, that’s a professional sound guy on Warped, so local shows are a different case. Still. Their tone was tight as shit.

  • Honestly what matters is the sound. I like the way that the axe fx sounds, thus I like the axe fx. The fact that it can accurately model multiple amps (especially with the XL) more than makes up for the price. You’d be spending more than that to get all the heads anyway. Also, Glenn compared the price of a new axe fx to a used head/cab. The used axe fx can usually be found for around $1500, which is pretty competitive. That said, i don’t think anything will ever replace the feel of a tube head and cab. There’s something special about being able to drown out a drummer.

    As far as the sound guy thing, Glenn is absolutely right. I’m guessing that a lot of local bands got the idea to plug their axe fx into the PA system from periphery. Here’s the logic flaw: periphery is an internationally touring band with their own sound guy who knows what he’s doing. Most local sound guys have never seen an axe fx before.

    • Maybe the axe ultra. The Axe FX II regularly goes for around 2k. Though I agree with you on the versatility and the inconsistency of his comparison. Get an Axe FX and a separate foot controller. That’s the answer to the price of the MFC-101

  • Wouldn’t mind this guys annoying attitude so much, if his mixes didn’t SUCK BALLS

  • If I had the money for an Axe-Fx I would still get a power amp/cabinet, or just use my current amp and run it straight into the FX loop. Seems easy enough and could still get good tone for some guys to make it work. Anyone with in-ears is golden tho.

  • The Lewis Black of metal production videos? Now THIS I gotta see

  • good review, but saying that buying a second hand 5150 is better value is bullshit. how many sounds can you get out of the axe-fx compared to the 5150??

    i own a kemper profiler, and its the best piece of studio kit ive ever bought hands down…..amazing value for money.

  • I got the first two right. Hadn’t really heard a Cobra before so I got that one wrong. The Axe has a weird sound to it that I don’t know how to describe.

  • Yeah the sound is good, but it’s the feel of an amp that is what is inspiring, I tried them all, I keep coming back to tube amps, the higher modelers and software is good enough that you’ll spend years being frustrated, but not quite able to place your finger on it, until you plug back into your tube amp.

  • This guys fucking spitty voice

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