The Axe Integrator
Axe Integrator – Instrument Preamplifier
Conceived at Pearl Music Studio in Hollywood and given birth on the bench at Rock It Science Audio in 2015, the Axe Integrator is an all-discrete FET input Class-A circuit instrument preamplifier with a Jensen output transformer. Designed to be transparent with tons of gain and headroom provided by it’s 36 Volt power supply, it has an input impedance similar to a tube guitar amp, and the ability to mildly saturate the transformer in a subtle way that enhances the responsiveness and playability. Simple to operate and built to endure constant use, the Axe Integrator is an ideal choice for recording straight into the A/D converters on your DAW. Once inside the computer, the signal exists in the virtual world of plugins and amp simulators. What happens to that signal next, is totally up to the user. However, afterward you have complete confidence that what you actually recorded to digital (pre-plugin) is a clean track, that can be redubbed later or punched-in with a new track that matches perfectly, when using the Axe Integrator.
Often confused with a conventional “direct box”, the Axe Integrator is actually quite different. A conventional direct box takes a high-impedance output from a guitar or bass and converts it to a low-impedance balanced output through the use of a transformer. The end-result is an attenuated signal that requires a mic preamp to bring it up to a nominal +4dBu line level. The Axe Integrator does the same thing without any attenuation. It just adds enough clean gain to bring the signal up to a healthy +4dBu line level and then balances it with a 1:1 transformer. Overall, a much more efficient and optimal process for handling a critical audio signal in the studio.
Axe Integrator exposed
Click to enlarge. Note: these shots are of a prototype unit and are not necessarily representative of the production models, although the circuit boards and components are the same.
The pictures of the Axe Integrator inside reveal a double-sided fiberglass PCB and a large Jensen transformer. All the components are premium quality including NKK switches, Nichicon Fine Gold Audio electrolytics, Neutrik connectors, 1% metal-film resistors and Wima and Panasonic polypropylene capacitors.
We made this commercial for the 2016 Superbowl. Unfortunately, we had a contractual dispute with our Godzilla look-alike (a total diva) and were forced to show the commercial on YouTube instead.
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Listen to Acoustic Guitar recorded with the Axe Integrator
Paul Offenbacher arranged and played this version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a vintage Martin Acoustic Guitar at Pearl Music Studio in 2014. Two channels were used to record the solo guitar. The first channel used an AKG C392 small diaphragm condenser microphone feeding a Rock It Science Audio custom-made preamp. The second channel took a direct output from the guitar mounted LR Baggs pickup and fed it into the Axe Integrator.
The original recording had the mic on the left channel and the Axe Integrator on the right channel for comparison reasons. With the launch of the new website, I decided to remix the audio for a better overall sound perspective. Applying just a smidgen of EQ and a touch of compression, I set up an MS mode recording, with the microphone placed in the Middle, and the Axe Integrator sent to the Sides. Enjoy.
Collectible Guitar Magazine Review
Axe Integrator promotional video
The story of the Axe Integrator and why every studio should have one.
Buy an Axe Integrator here
The Axe Integrator is available directly from Rock It Science Audio for $299 including free shipping in the U.S. and Canada. We accept payment through PayPal. The unit comes with a 2-year warranty covering parts and labor plus a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. As an added bonus we will pay your sales tax.
If you prefer: the Axe Integrator is also available from Reverb.com
Click the icon to go to the Axe Integrator page on Reverb.com