AXE I/O Input Gain

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AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby Niquez » Sun Feb 09, 2020 3:13 am

Anyone else notice that the input gain on the AXE I/O is a bit weird?
I have a couple guitars with high output passive pickups and even when it's turned down all the way, it still clips when I hit the strings hard.
Any workaround for this?
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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby dlgebert » Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:52 pm

Niquez wrote:high output passive pickups

Any workaround for this?


Even though you have passive pick-ups, try setting the "PASSIVE/ACTIVE - Pick-Up selector" to [ACTIVE] and the "JFET/PURE - Preamp topology selector" to [PURE].

Check out this thread from a while back where the OP had an issue similar to yours:

https://cgi.ikmultimedia.com/ikforum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=22545

For my setup, I find if I keep the input level around -6db that keeps my input signal just about right.

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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby Niquez » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:03 pm

But if I do that isn’t it completely bypassing the Z-Tone circuitry?
What’s the point of even having it to begin with?

It’s like I paid extra for something that I can’t even use on a lot of my guitars... :cry:

On my previous interface (an Avid MBOX 3) it had a push-pull on the input gain knob...so if it was clipping when dialed down completely, you simply pulled it out and it dropped it down, I believe by another -10 dB (or so).

Another nice feature that unit had was an automatic clip control for the input gain, I guess like a built in compressor/limiter, so if you wanted it to be a hot signal, but not clip, you enabled that setting.

Too bad Avid abandoned it and probably won’t ever update the drivers for newer Mac OS versions :(
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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby dlgebert » Sun Feb 09, 2020 9:37 pm

Niquez wrote:But if I do that isn’t it completely bypassing the Z-Tone circuitry?


I re-read the User Manual on these switches and I see using [ACTIVE] mode bypasses the [JFET/PURE] setting and it says the [Z-Tone] has little impact on "Active" pick-ups, BUT, you don't have active pick-ups, so having the switch set to [ACTIVE] mode should attenuate the guitar input and Z-Tone should still work. The manual doesn't say that [ACTIVE] mode bypasses Z-Tone, just the [JFET/PURE] setting.

Try it, if it sounds good, then it sounds good. I like keeping the Z-Tone knob fully to the left because I like a more mid-range tone and I dial in the sound I want in Amplitube 4. Below are the three sections from the User Manual:

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2.2 JFET / PURE input (only for Instrument Input 1)

Thanks to the front panel selector it is possible to select two different preamp topologies for your connected instrument: JFET preamp type and Pure preamp type.
The discrete JFET (field-effect transistor) circuitry adds a tiny bit of color and harmonics to the signal, giving your instruments a bit of added warmth.
Pure circuitry results in a more linear response featuring the absolutely cleaner signal path possible, for best transparency and clarity.
Each amplifier topology offers complimentary sonic performance to the other, and both are widely used in professional recording and stage work. Note: this control only works when the Pickup selector is on the Passive position.


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2.3 Pick-Up selector (only for Instrument Input 1)

AXE I/O works perfectly with both Passive and Active guitar or bass pickups, having independent circuitry that suits perfectly both topologies. Passive electric guitar pickups exhibit significantly higher output impedance than the active counterpart, among other significant tone differences, but neither of the two is “better” or “worse” than the other: indeed they have different behaviors. To properly couple this diversity of guitar pickups in the
most musically pleasing manner, AXE I/O offers a pickup selector that allows the artist to select between Active (when using an active pickup) and Passive (when using a passive pickup).


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2.4 Variable impedance (Z-TONE™) control (only for Instrument Input 1)

All passive pickups (being them single coil, humbucker, split, etc..) have a certain sound character that is also determined by the loading impedance. The Z-TONE™ front control allows you to change the input impedance on the instrument input 1 therefore allowing for a very creative way of shaping the tone of your instruments.
The beauty of this system is that it allows you to discover tonal shades from your instruments that you never heard before, by shaping the tone right at the source, within the pickups, instead of what is normally done with post-processing tools of any kind.
Feel free to experiment without rules with this knob! You will find your tone becomes generally more thick and bold by reducing the impedance (control is moved clockwise) and, on the other hand, more crisp and sharp when rotated counter-clockwise.
For example if you find your high gain tones to be too harsh, try setting this control at mid position, and you’ll experience what the Z-TONE can magically do.
If you’re recording a bass (with passive pickups) and find it sounds a bit thin, try the same. The sound will immediately feel more bold, solid and bigger.
The key here is experimentation! Feel free to check it out on your instruments, on various configurations, the possibilities are really endless.
Settings start from the highest impedance value (named “Sharp”) to the lowest impedance value (named “Bold”)
The Z-TONE circuit only works with passive pickups of any kind.
Using it on active pickups will not provide any significant useful change to the sonics of the instrument.
Note: AXE IO is very useful to feed analogue stomp boxes from DAW tracks using the AMP output.
The perfect way to get the Stomp signal back into the DAW is using Instrument input 1. This way the Z-TONE circuit will also be very useful because most vintage stomps can actually change the way they sound depending on the load impedance, so experimentation in this usage is very welcome as well.


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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby Niquez » Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:43 am

Thanks man.
I will re-read the manual myself to get a better understanding of this stuff.

EDIT: You are correct. When set to "active" mode, the Z-Tone knob still works. Turning it clockwise all the way rolls off the high end, and turning it counter-clockwise adds highs.

Do you know if IK has any video manuals for this that give a good explanation / setup?

Another pet peeve with this thing -- I wish there was some way to "save" settings for each guitar. That way when I get it where I like it, I could just recall the exact settings that worked every time I switch guitars. I asked them about that, unfortunately they said they can't do that, there's no digital controls for the analog pre-amp circuitry :|
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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby dlgebert » Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:49 pm

Niquez wrote:Do you know if IK has any video manuals for this that give a good explanation / setup?


I've only watched the promo videos, so I haven't seen any, but YouTube is probably your best bet for finding one.

Niquez wrote:When set to "active" mode, the Z-Tone knob still works.


Did setting it to "Active" mode stop the clipping? How did it sound?

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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby Niquez » Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:26 pm

Yes it stopped the clipping
Unfortunately, I just broke a string on my favorite guitar...so I'm using another guitar...and I'm at -4.3 even on "Active" with the gain set at the lowest possible position.
It's not clipping of course, but the whole idea of tracking at -6 is completely out the window.
I'm still wondering why I never had this problem with any other interface I've used :|
This guitar has passive seymour duncan pickups in it
I think I'm going to email the IK support folks and ask them what they think about this, something seems up here
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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby dlgebert » Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:36 am

Niquez wrote:I think I'm going to email the IK support folks and ask them what they think about this, something seems up here


That would be the next step to take. With my Epiphone Les Paul 100, I have to turn up the gain to at least 10 o'clock using the Passive setting to get to around -6db. If I play chords then it jumps a little higher.

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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby 56Alpha » Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:27 am

I have the same issue. I have Seymour Duncan passive Pegasus/Sentient humbuckers on a Schecter 7 string (Omen 7) and with the Axe I/O I have to set the selector to active and I can only turn the gain knob a hair over minimum. My 6 string has active EMGs and it can run colder with a higher gain setting than those SDs. Those suckers are hot.
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Re: AXE I/O Input Gain

Postby dlgebert » Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:23 pm

56Alpha wrote:I can only turn the gain knob a hair over minimum...
Those suckers are hot.


They must hot... :evil:

I've been using my Korg Monologue Analog Synthesizer in instrument input #2 of my AXE I/O with the Monologue's master volume on 3/4 and it's totally clean without any distortion. The gain on the AXE I/O is fully down though. That's pretty good considering the Monologue's output jack is probably considered "line level", but the AXE I/O line inputs are balanced and the Monologue's output isn't... The Monologue is monophonic, so the single instrument input works well.

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