Gear used in this article:
Axe-Fx II – Full Range setup
The Axe-Fx II has a bunch of outputs that we can use to send to various places, like the PA system, a personal monitor, or any other speaker setup. There are different ways to do this, and this article focuses on Full-Range systems like PA speakers, Studio monitors or full PA systems (as opposed to a guitar amp head and guitar cab).
Out 1 XLR & 1/4″
The simplest way to get the Full Range Axe-Fx signal to the Front-of-House (FOH) mixer and to on-stage full-range monitors is to use both XLR and 1/4″ outputs from Output 1. Most sound engineers are expecting a 1/4″ jack to go to a DI box, so you can give FOH the 1/4″ outputs and you can use the XLR outputs direct to your powered speakers or power amp. However you can also give FOH the XLR and use the 1/4″ outputs for your powered speakers if you’d like.
With this method, the Output 1 volume knob on the front panel controls both the FOH feed and the on-stage monitors. So using this knob to turn your monitors up when the band “suddenly gets louder after the first song” will send more signal to FOH and possibly clip the FOH mixer, making you sound bad. Of course, you can control your stage volume from controls on your powered speaker or power amp, but sometimes these controls aren’t easy to get to during the gig. There is a way to have separate volume controls on the Axe-Fx for FOH and your own monitors.
Output 2 Echo (Formerly Copy Out 1 to Out 2)
This method uses the Output 2 Echo function (formerly known as Copy Out 1 to Out 2, changed in Firmware Version 12.03). Using this method, however, means you cannot use the FX Loop block – the FX Loop block actually overrides the Echo function.
In the front panel I/O Audio menu, set Output 2 Echo to Output 1. This will copy the signal at Output 1 to Output 2. Make sure your presets do not have an FX Loop block in them. Now the front panel Output 1 knob controls Output 1 and the Output 2 knob controls Output 2. Output 2 only has a pair of 1/4″ jacks, so decide if you want to send the 1/4″ signal to FOH or your on-stage monitors as described above.
Let’s say Out 1 XLR goes to our on-stage monitors and Out 2 1/4″ goes to FOH via DI box. Now you can set Out 2 so the FOH mixer gets your level, then you never have to touch it for the rest of the gig. Turn Out 1 to 9 ‘o clock and then get the right amount of volume with your powered speaker or power amp. Now during the gig, you can use the Out 1 knob on the front panel to adjust your stage monitor volume up and down without affect the FOH signal. (9 ‘o clock is a suggested starting point on the Axe-Fx, as after 12 ‘o clock, the knob doesn’t change the volume as much.)
Note that you can also use Out 1’s 1/4″ jacks in addition to Out 1 XLR and Out 2 1/4″ jacks. So this method provides you with 3 pairs of stereo outputs – of course, Out 1 XLR and Out 1 1/4″ are both controlled by the Out 1 volume knob on the front panel.
FX Loop Block
A more complicated method of duplicating your output to Out 2 is using the FX Loop block. However, using the FX Loop block allows you to make changes to the Out 2 signal that aren’t present in Out 1’s signal. One way to do this is connect the FX Loop block in a adjacent row – NOT in series or in line with the main row. Whatever blocks you want present in the Out 2 signal have to be connected before the FX Loop block.
To make changes to the Out 2 signal that won’t be present to Out 1, you can place any blocks before the FX Loop block in that adjacent row. However, you must make sure that the FX Loop block does not get connected back to the main row or to the Output block on the far right – the Output block represents Output 1. Placing the FX Loop block in the last column will always automatically connect it to the Output, so avoid the last column. If you must place it in the last column, you can turn the Level parameter on FX Loop block Mix page down to -80dB; this isn’t completely muted, but is usually quiet enough to not cause problems. Be sure to turn up the Output 2 volume knob on the front panel.
This setup can be useful if you want to send reverb to Output 2 for in-ear monitors, but don’t want that extra reverb present in the FOH signal at Output 1. You may also want to EQ Output 2 differently than Out 1.
Remember, the Output block represents Output 1 and the FX Loop block used in this manner represents Output 2. Anything connected to the Output block will go to Output 1. Anything connected before the FX Loop block will go to Output 2. This is why it’s important to make sure the FX Loop block is not connected to the Output block, as the effects intended only for Output 2 will incorrectly be connected to the Output block (and Output 1).