Axe-FX ULTRA and Presonus Firebox Shenanigans ...


FFaF Guitarist/Producer
Oct 2, 2009
Washington DC
Hey peeps,

Basically, here's how I've had mine set up for a while:

Axe-FX Ultra Output 1 XLR, balanced (left and right outputs) > 2x Female XLR to Male XLR cables > Presonus Firebox front XLR/Instrument ports

I run the Axe-FX in stereo mode and using the Firebox mixer, I pan the L and R channels hard left/right and link the two. When I record rhythms or bass, I set up a mono track in Cubase and record per normal (My rhythm patches are always center panned on the Axe-FX) and I later pan as needed with Cubase's pan faders. When I use clean patches or other tones with reverb/delay/chorus/etc effects, I set up a stereo track in Cubase and record per normal.

This all seems basic and well enough, but a thought occured to me if I've been going about this the wrong way.

My questions:

1) Should I be doing the balanced XLR to XLR method (which essentially sends the audio through the Firebox's preamp) or should I be doing balanced XLR to TRS into the balanced 1/4" line in on the Firebox rear (essentially bypassing the Firebox's preamp)?

2) Am I going about tracking right? Even though the Axe's output is set to stereo, having a center panned tone essentially makes the output mono since the same sound is going through hard L/R, canceling the stereo field and becoming mono right (I may have worded that wrong)? Would I actually have phase issues that I may not have realized were there (since I've been doing it this way since day one, thus only hearing it one way and assuming it's the correct way) by doing this? Should I just track in mono (using Axe-FXs summed output vice stereo) and add any reverb/delay/etc in post processing?

3) Am I retarded for asking all this and for possibly doing it the "wrong way" this whole time (nearly a year now)?

I dunno ... I'm having one of those facepalm-ey kind of days :(

Thanks for anyone's input on this!

O HAY GUY! I'm starting to post here as you can see :D I would have done, but I'm at work and these government comps just don't do Skype, FB, or any other social network-type shtuffs.

Anywho ... so ... like ... am I dumb? I was just reading some stuff online and it got me thinking and this domino effect started and now I'm about to jump in a cold shower fully clothed and cry myself something silly
1. I'd keep it either XLR or TRS. Only using those "XLR to TRS"-cables if I didn't have any other option. I got no experience with firebox and its preamp though.

2. No, no phasing occurs since it is the same source on both L and R channels.
So number two has been answered (cheers Plankis) ... as far as number one goes, I know there won't be any loss in audio quality with a balanced XLR-TRS cable so it's an option, but I've noticed the signal is way harder to control with the XLR-XLR. The preamp is normally pretty good, but I noticed what I hear being played through the Axe-FX doesn't sound the same tone-wise once played back in the recording (yes I've checked bit and sampling rates, buffers, etc etc etc). It just seems like some of the tone is lost in the conversion process when using the front XLRs ... I'm just hoping for someone to tell me if I'm right or wrong haha. Thanks for the input!
Stupid question, during playback do you have anything on your master bus ?

or it could just be a placebo because when you're listening direct you're already hearing the axe fx through your mic pre's etc etc so... all i can think is that its either a placebo or the face that you're not using Pro tools (everyone knows pro tools makes all sounds boom).

In all seriousness i have no clue. What i can offer thou is to load your patch into my axe fx along with a DI and re-amp it and see what the result is. This would allow you to see if its something your end playing up or if you're just hearing things.

Thoughts ?
George, you're forever trying to get me to send you some DIs haha ... we'll have to do a side-project or something for when I actually get a DI box since if I just send you some bypassed tracks, they wouldn't be the best quality

I don't have anything on the mastering bus, but I'm wondering if it may be the placebo affect as well. I didn't get a chance to try out the different line input last night to see since I passed out extremely early, but I plan on recording a riff using both ports and then A/B them just to see if there's a difference.
More DI's = More tone ;)

Let me know what happens dude. You know where to find me if you need a hand.