Comparing the Axe-Fx III to the Axe-Fx II
What's new or changed
For more information, read the Owners Manuals. Both manuals contain a summary of features.
- The unit is taller, at 3U instead of 2U, but shallower, at 11.5” deep instead of 12.9”.
- There are 4 independent stereo outputs instead of 2, plus auto-switching front/rear instrument input (with "Secret Sauce IV") and 3 stereo inputs. INs and OUTs can be used in the usual ways, or paired to insert outboard gear in up to 3 stereo loops.
- The red Output LEDs in the front panel meter bridge now light at -1 dBFS.
- Inputs 2, 3 and 4 support guitar impedance.
- The nominal level of Outputs 1 and 2 can be switched between -10 and +4 dB.
IMPORTANT: The III defaults to -10 dB, so its output level is lower than the II's!
- Instead of a RECALL screen, the Axe-Fx III has a HOME button. The new Home menu provides access to preset and Meters pages, with soft-button access to the tuner, layout, controllers, and setup menu.
- Instead of a LAYOUT button, the Grid is accessed from a soft-button in the Home menu, or by pressing ENTER or VALUE while on the Home page. The Grid has new features like Zoom, CPU meter, and a mini tuner.
- You can use old familiar workflows with the NAV buttons and VALUE wheel, but you’ll move much faster through editing if you try to use the five Push-knobs under the display.
- New blocks: Plex Delay, Ten-Tap Delay, Multiplexer, Realtime Analyzer, Scene MIDI block.
- Authentic Tri-chorus type in the Chorus block.
- 4 instances of Drive.
- 4 instances of Delay.
- 2 instances of Feedback Send/Return.
- Pitch block: 4 voices. Pitch block has its own pitch detector.
- Improved Reverbs.
- More Looper time.
- Tone Matching in UltraRes.
- Tuner: improved tracking, works on any input.
- Compressor: "RMS" is the same as "Fast RMS" in the AX8 and Axe-Fx II. "E-L Panel" mode added. Filter parameter has been replaced with EQ-ing tools.
- Drive: higher oversampling ratio and double-precision filters in some places.
- The output level of some effects / effects types has been changed, such as Resonator and Studio Compressor.
- Vocoder has 24 bands.
- Some effects have their own envelope follower, such as Plex Delay.
Modifiers and controllers:
- The Controllers block has 4 channels, so the Envelope Controller can have 4 different settings per preset, for example.
- 4 Scene Controllers.
- Damping is replaced with Attack/Release.
- To control the bypass state of a block using a modifier, you no longer modify the Bypass Mode parameter, but a dedicated Bypass parameter.
Presets, scenes, blocks and channels:
- 14x6 grid.
- 512 preset slots.
- More CPU available per preset.
- Inputs and Outputs must be placed on the grid as blocks.
- Each Scene has its own customizable name.
- Up to 4 Channels per block.
- Presets no longer default to Scene 1 but now load whichever scene was selected when you saved them.
- Scenes do no longer store the level of the output mixer.
- "Ares" amp modeling.
- Some parameters have been added. “Character” parameters are gone.
- Pre-EQ controls have been added.
- Mixes up to 4 different IRs at once.
- Output level is automatically normalized.
- Mic modeling has been removed, but "Proximity" remains.
- Speaker Size parameter is gone.
- There are now Factory 1, Factory 2, User 1 and User 2 banks, each with 1,024 IRs, and a Legacy bank containing all 189 IRs from the Axe-Fx II, and 16 Scratchpads.
Editors and foot controllers:
- Editor software and foot controllers share control, updating each other seamlessly without re-sync issues or paused communications.
- FASLINK II connects the Axe-Fx III to the new FC controller(s).
- Axe-Edit III scales to hi-res displays.
- Up to 8 MIDI PCs or CCs can be transmitted upon scene changes.
- A PC can be transmitted upon preset changes.
- The "Send Realtime SysEx" parameter is gone.
- A PC can be sent through the MIDI OUT port upon preset changes.
- No driver required for Mac computers.
- 8x8 USB Audio.
- Faster MIDI-over-USB.
- USB communications do not increase CPU load.
- The MFC-101's "Axe-Fx Mode" is no longer supported.
- X/Y switching.
- Swapping presets on hardware.
- Recall Effect.
- Global blocks (will be added later).
- Quad Chorus block.
- Multi Delay block.
- FX Loop block.
- Cab block parameters: Mic modeling, Motor Drive, Speaker Size.
- Amp block parameters: Character, Pick Attack.
- MIDI phantom power.
- USB Adapter Mode.
- Output level per scene.
Comparing the blocks
The Axe-Fx II and Axe-Fx III cannot share presets electronically, but you can transfer sounds by re-creating them on the grid and entering parameter values, which match up identically or very closely.
Comparing sound quality
"III is a little punchier. I really notice it when I A/B between the III and II (or the AX-8). If you plug into one and then plug into the other it's not as noticeable but if you use an A/B switch it's a more marked difference." source
”Everything sounds better. I think a big part of it is the quality of the I/O. The I/O measures flatter and less distortion than my $2000 interface.” source
"It actually does sound a little better. The extra DSP horsepower means that we didn't have to make compromises in some of the algorithms. The amp modeling algorithm is very similar but there's a few places on the II where we had to make compromises to get the algorithm to run within the allotted time. Also the III has a higher internal oversampling rate and a higher bit depth on some calculations (64-bit vs. 40-bit)." source
"Better algorithms, higher upsampling, better analog I/O design."