I tried both as well, and own the HD Pro. The tones and models on the Axe are indeed more robust, and has much more models, effects, ways to route and tweak. But the differences tonal quality are really subtle
in reality, and the only ones who are actually going to notice the difference are us uber-critical guitar nerds sitting in our bedrooms/home studios. In a real live situation within a full band context and particularly if there's another guitarist grinding away - no one in the audience
is going to hear a difference, or care really.
As much as I love many of the killer sounding amp models in the AFX, and I wish there were more in the HD (there are more coming a rep told me), another aspect I liked better about the front panel on the HD was it's immediate user-friendliness. The front panel on the AFX is too busy, and for an old-school coot with rapidly degrading vision like me who quickly wants, say, more bass right now
- I can just turn an actual knob that says 'Bass', instead of trying to locate it and tap-tap-tap-scroll-scroll through this NASA control panel quickly, without having to go and put my glasses on...which isn't very metal, is it?
And it's about 1/3 the price. You can score it, an FBV Shortboard controller, and a reasonable rack power amp for the same price as an AFX 2. Good enough for me