Always consult the Owners Manuals and the FAQ first

Channels

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Available on which products

  • Axe-Fx III: yes
  • FM3: yes
  • Axe-Fx II: no
  • MFC-101: no
  • AX8: no
  • FX8: no

What are channels

Most effect blocks in the Axe-Fx III and FM3 have multiple channels. Channels can be regarded as mini-presets in each block. Each channel provides a unique set of parameter values. Switching between channels is instantaneous and pretty seamless and can be done manually (on the hardware or with a foot controller) or automatically when changing scenes. Channels can also be switched via MIDI for applications requiring automation.

Channels provide quick and easy switching between sounds without the unwanted side-effects of preset changes (due to grid reordering). For example, set the Amp block so that Channel A is a “Deluxe Verb” model, Channel B is a “Plexi”, Channel C is a “Recto” and Channel D is “FAS Modern”. Then change channels almost instantly at the touch of a button.

Channel-switching is the successor of X/Y switching, a feature of the Axe-Fx II, AX8, FX8 (and MFC-101).

Channels do NOT run simultaneously. They also do not crossfade. If you need crossfading, use the Multiplexer block which can crossfade between input sources, or use a Scene Controller.

More explanation in the Axe-Fx III Owner's Manual

"Channels are the cat's sphincter. Many blocks, including the amp block, have four channels. Channels switch instantly." source
"Channels save all settings for a block. A channel is like a preset within a block." source
"Channels can be thought of as a preset for an individual block. For example, you can think of the Delay block as being a stand-alone delay pedal (or rackmount processor) with four presets. Scenes store the bypass state and channel for each block. By using scenes and channels you can use a single preset for an entire song, an entire set or even the entire show. Since the routing doesn't need to change things switch fast and smooth. When switching presets the processor has to assume the routing might have changed and therefore has to clear all the buffers, mute the audio, etc. which takes time and interrupts the audio." source
The Axe-Fx III was designed so that single preset can be thought of as an entire rack full of processors. Each virtual processor has up to four presets. So if you were trying to do spillover in a rack you would use two reverb processors. source
"The Control block has four channels." source

Which effect blocks have channels

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And read this:

How to switch between channels

To switch between the channels of an effect block:

  • on the hardware
  • in the software editor
  • through presets
  • through scenes
  • with the FC-6 or FC-12 controller
  • through MIDI: assign a MIDI CC in Setup > MIDI/Remote > Channel, and specify a value to select a specific channel:
0 = A
1 = B
2 = C
3 = D

Switching channels can cause an audio gap

Switching an effect between channels may cause a short gap in the sound, which is as short as possible. The gap is caused by the necessity to briefly mute and unmute the sound.

"The "gap" is arbitrary and is simply the time to fade down the old amp and fade up the new amp. You HAVE to do some ramp-down and ramp-up or you'll get artifacts as the gain can be completely different. If you just instantly switch from a clean amp to a distorted amp or vice-versa you'll get a pop. That's just basic signal processing. About the shortest you can make ramp-down/ramp-up without introducing clicks and pops is 15 ms so the total time is 30 ms (plus 5ms as a safety margin)." source
Demo "Feels seamless to me (and faster than any of my channel switching amps) but everyone has different definitions." source
"Any faster than that and you risk pops or clicks if the levels and/or gains are markedly different. You can't change the laws of nature." source
(firmware Ares 5.00) "Improved Scene/Channel change logic. Only the wet data is muted when changing scenes and channels now leaving the dry data intact which results in smoother transitions."

More explanation about audio gaps when switching channels

Channels and CPU usage

CPU usage is calculated based on the currently selected channel of an effect. When switching channels, CPU usage may change.

Channels and modifiers

If a controller is assigned as a source to a parameter in a modifier menu, you can choose between applying it to all channels of that block, or to just a single channel.

Note: a parameter allows only one modifier, not multiple.

Read this: Modifiers, controllers and Control Switches

Copying and pasting channel settings

On the hardware, channel settings can be copied and pasted within the same block (Layout > Tools).

To copy channels between blocks and to/from other presets, use the software editor.

Resetting a channel or an entire block

Defaulting the parameters of an effect block resets the channel parameters to their default values.

Resetting applies to the current channel only. To reset the entire block, switch to the other channels and repeat the process, or use the software editor to reset the entire block (all channels) in one go.

Read this: Resetting blocks

Using channels to compare sounds and parameters

Channels offer an easy way to compare sounds when tweaking. They also allow you to quickly detect non-default settings by resetting one channel to default settings and then comparing the channels.

An alternative approach to comparing sounds is saving a preset as a Snapshot in the editor. Select Revert to get the original sound back. Then drag and drop the snapshot file into the editor.