I'm really intrigued by the Variax - especially now there's a model with a Floyd. I play through an Axe FX II and in a hard rock / metal band which requires a lot of various tunings (E, Eb, Drop-D, Drop-Db, C). I'm able to get by with multiple guitars and occasional use of a fixed harmony pitch shift block via the Axe. Problem is the slight latency when utilizing a fixed harmony pitch block. My question is for those with an Axe FX II and a Variax, does the Variax represent an improvement to this approach? How convincing are the tones - especially the nuances (palm muting, pinch harmonics, etc.) when playing via the modeled pups in various tunings? I'm fortunate enough to have many guitars so the guitar modeling isn't as important to me as are the tunings. The thought of bringing one guitar to band rehearsal's (instead of several and selecting the tuning on-the-fly would be very cool.
Oz kinda nailed it on the head.
The Variax has pretty high quality pitch shifters, not the best, but pretty awesome.
Variax's pitch shifter mechanism has a bit of formant preserving in it's algorithm, or at least compared to a very basic pitch shifter, it does.
Since the Variax pitch shifts each string individually, the tuning will sound a LOT better than pitch shifting all 6 strings at once with 1 pitch shifter.
As for latency, there will always be latency when it comes to pitch shifters, as it needs to read a bit of the input's wave before it can determine what the algorithm needs to do to make it sound like the correct pitch it's shifting to.
Latency never seemed to be much of a problem with me on the Variax, and I hate latency.
Like I said before, the quality is pretty good. Downtuning doesn't sound like muddy garbage with cut off highs, it actually keeps a lot of the tonality when the pitch shifter is on. Like I said, I think it has some formant preserving going on in the algorithm, which helps make it sound natural.