Comparing Fractal Audio devices

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The information on this page supplements the official manuals.

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Contents

Axe-Fx II XL+ versus AX8

General

The Axe-Fx II XL+ is the flagship Fractal Audio product. It provides effects in a 4x12 grid, including amp/cab modeling, and extensive routing options in a 19" rack device. It features multiple outputs, an effects loop and various digital I/O. The MFC-101 foot controller is connected through FASLINK. It has all Fractal Audio effect algorithms and supports Tone Matching and IR Capture.

The AX8 is an all-in-one floor version of the Axe-Fx II, designed for the gigging musician. It provides Quantum amp modeling and UltraRes speaker cab sims, plus hundreds of effects and the familiar 4x12 grid, with the same quality as the Axe-Fx II. It differs from the Axe-Fx in that it offers only one instance per preset of amp, cab, and some effects blocks (e.g. Reverb, Flanger, etc.) Also, certain esoteric effects found on the Axe-Fx are not included in the AX8 (Vocoder, Megatap, etc.) It has multiple outputs offering Humbuster technology, S/PDIF out, and an effects loop.

The differences are discussed in the AX8 Owner's Manual.

Hardware differences

DSP:

Housing:

Expression pedals and switches:

Analog I/O:

Digital audio:

Hardware interface:

Headphones:

MIDI:

USB:

Effects and parameters

Axe-Fx II:

AX8:

User interface

Axe-Fx II:

AX8:

Editing shortcuts are different because of the hardware design.

Grid, presets and scenes

The AX8 and Axe-Fx II both support the 4x12 grid and scene switching. The AX8 lets you specify the default scene which is loaded after switching presets.

The Axe-Fx II and AX8 cannot share presets. But you can transfer individual block settings from one product to another using the software editors. It's also possible to convert presets with 3rd party software: FracTool.

The AX8 doesn't provide the Mixer block and Feedback Send/Return blocks.

When using the FXL block to create an AUX output, the FXL block must be placed in parallel rather than series. (Unlike the Axe-Fx II, the AX8 does not detect when a plug has been inserted into INPUT 2.)

AX8 versus FX8

General

AX8 and FX8 working together

Fractal Audio: "FX8 works very well in the FX LOOP of the AX8." source

Fractal's comments on the differences between the AX8 and FX8

"The AX8 is not "way more powerful" than the FX-8. The AX8 has one additional DSP that is DEDICATED to amp modeling. If you don't use the amp modeling the AX8 has the same power as the FX-8. The AX8 will not work as well as the FX-8 in 4CM. It is not designed for that. It will do 4CM, as will most digital processors but the FX-8 is the only processor of which I'm aware that is truly optimized for 4CM. That optimization requires a lot of expensive circuitry. The op-amps used are very expensive and there's dozens of them just to support the 4CM stuff. Add to that relays for true bypass, metal film capacitors, etc., etc., and you end up with an expensive design. The FX-8 and AX8 are built on the same code base. There is a single folder that is used to build the common elements for both products. Enhancements to one automatically enhance the other. All this work we've been doing for the AX8 will improve the FX-8. The AX8 will be much more popular than the FX-8. That should be obvious. Most people want the amp modeling. If you don't care about the amp modeling then the FX-8 is the better product and the whole reason for having two different products." source

"The AX8 and FX-8 uses the same converters (CS4272-CZZ) and op-amps. The circuit design in the FX-8 is necessarily much more complex to support true-bypass switching (without pops and clicks) and to optimize the outputs for use in 4CM. The AX8 removes the dedicated true bypass switching circuitry and simplifies the output design to save money. The cost savings is used towards an extra DSP." source

"The XL+ does not offer True Bypass, nor does it offer additional relay outputs for amp channel switching. The FX8 has additional circuitry optimized for 4CM. The True Bypass can be applied to the Pre stage, Post stage, or Both. Giving more flexibility when using 4CM." source

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