FC-6 and FC-12 controllers
- 1 Product information
- 2 Interaction and compatibility
- 3 Connecting
- 4 Setting up
- 5 Operating the FC controller
- 6 Specifications and manufacturing
- 7 Tips and tricks
Fractal Audio's FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers let you control the Axe-Fx III. They operate through a proprietary protocol and the FASLINK II port (XLR cable) which also provides power to the first FC.
The only difference between the two controllers is the number of available switches.
Interaction and compatibility
FC controller <> Axe-Fx III <> Axe-Edit III
The FC controller and Axe-Edit III are both clients. Switching stuff on one client will automatically update all other clients.
"We rewrote everything using a client-server approach. You can have any number of clients attached, even multiple editors, and they all update automatically when something changes (even if changed from the front panel). The foot controllers are essentially clients as well." source
Not compatible with previous Axe-Fx generations
The FC controllers can't be used with the Axe-Fx II. The communications protocol is completely different, and they can’t connect through FASLINK 1, MIDI or Ethernet/EtherCON.
The FC controllers don't have MIDI ports and can't be used by themselves to control MIDI devices directly.
However, the Axe-Fx III has a MIDI OUT port. The FC controller can initiate MIDI operations on the Axe-Fx III.
"The system has a MIDI jack. It's on the Axe-Fx III! Actions on the foot controller can cause MIDI to be transmitted to downstream devices." source
FASLINK II is the bidirectional communications and phantom power protocol that links the Axe-Fx III to the FC controllers, with an XLR cable. Read more: FASLINK.
"The communication protocol between the III and the FC's is proprietary and not MIDI-based. The FC's are sort of "dumb terminals". All the they do is tell the III "button #3 was pressed" and the III responds by saying "light LED ring #3 blue" or "display 'My Preset' on the main LCD". This way all the configuration data is on the III and when you backup you backup the foot controller as well. It also means if a foot controller fails you don't have to reprogram a new one (which is a big deal for touring acts where the gear gets hammered on and last second change-outs are common)." source
"It's not standard MIDI. The Axe-Fx III uses a proprietary communication protocol. Devices can communicate over any physical layer by wrapping and unwrapping the comm protocol. Theoretically you can control it over MIDI, Ethernet, WiFi, RS-232, AppleTalk, Sneakernet, etc. The MIDI basics are there, of course, but to access the tuner, etc. you need to wrap and unwrap the protocol layer." source
Daisy-chaining multiple FCs
You can daisy-chain up to four controllers through their FASLINK II ports.
The first FC controller gets its power from the Axe-Fx III through the FASLINK connection. Additional FC units have to be powered separately through their 9V ports.
"They are phantom powered. You can daisy-chain up to four. Any daisy-chained units need their own power supply. IOW only the first unit in the chain is phantom powered." source
Expression pedals and external switches
The FC controllers provide 1/4" jacks to connect up to four expression pedals and four external switches, allowing additional control.
On the Axe-Fx III you can assign functions to these pedals and switches, separately from the expression pedal ports on the Axe-Fx III itself. Calibration and configuration of the pedals is done through the FC Controllers menu.
"Future expansion. Currently it does nothing but in the future we may enable it so it can be a "USB MIDI Controller". source
Configuration on the Axe-Fx III
Use the Setup > Foot Controllers menu and the Controllers > Per-Preset FC Settings menu on the Axe-Fx III to configure the FC.
"All configuration data is stored in the Axe-Fx III. There is no management software needed for the FC. Configuration is done via the Axe-Fx III (or Axe-Edit)." source
‘EZ Mode’ in Setup > FC Controllers lets you tap a switch and then configure its Tap and its Hold functions. Use other tab pages in this menu for advanced configuration, copying and more.
Things you can assign to switches:
- select presets (several ways)
- scroll banks (several ways)
- select scenes (several ways)
- turn on/off effects
- switch effect channels (several ways)
- tap tempo
- looper controls
- Control Switches. See Modifiers and controllers
- utility stuff.
Control Switches can operate in latching or momentary mode.
More information in the Axe-Fx III Owner's Manual.
The Setup > FC Controllers menu lets you reset an FC controller to its default settings.
Backing up and restoring
Use Fractal-Bot to back up and restore the settings of the FC controller(s).
Firmware for the FC hardware is updated with Fractal-Bot, using FASLINK II.
The functionality of the FC is part of the Axe-Fx III's firmware.
Operating the FC controller
Tap and Hold
The switches support two types of action: Tap and Hold.
To engage the Hold function, tap-and-hold the switch.
The Hold function of a switch is not indicated on the mini display. To see what's there, assign a switch to Reveal Hold.
The FC controllers provide 8 layouts. Similar to "pages" and "layers" on other controllers, layouts re-map the physical switches, allowing the use of the available switches for multiple tasks.
You switch to a different layout by pressing an assigned "layout" switch in the current layout or by using the Master Layout Menu (MLM).
The Master Layout Menu (MLM) shows all layouts on two pages. Recall the MLM by holding the bottom right switch and tapping the switch above it (this can be disabled). The FC-6 can display only 6 layouts at a time, so press the MLM combo switch a 2nd time to reach the remaining layouts. So even if you forgot to program other "layout" switches on your current layout, you can still "get out" of the current layout by engaging the MLM.
You can also assign the "MLM" switch to any (tap or hold) switch.
"The FC series are like 12 foot controllers in one. The FC foot controllers feature 12 "layouts". Each layout has a unique, user-assignable set of switch functions. For example Layout 1 could have five preset switches, five scene switches and two switches assigned to bank up/down. Press and hold the bottom right switch and the then tap the switch above it and you enter Layout Select mode. Then tap a switch to select a new Layout. This new layout could have six channel switches and six bypass switches. Etc." source
"You can actually assign a button to Layout so you can get there with a tap. You can also assign a button to bring up a specific layout so you could have two layouts each with a button that switches to the other layout. And the way the Layout press-and-hold works is that you press one button and while holding it tap the button above. IOW, you press the bottom button with your heal and then tap the button above. Each tap (while holding the bottom button) brings up a new layout." source
The layouts (described above) are global, meaning that they apply to all presets.
If you need preset-specific switches, you can program these in the Controllers > Per-Preset menu. This menu allows you to override "global" layout switches.
Displaying preset and scene numbers
You can configure whether preset names and scenes are preceded by a number in the main display or not.
Specifications and manufacturing
The mini displays show up to 11 characters.
"They are graphic displays so the number of characters depends on the size of the font." source
"The scribble strips are black/white." source
"The foot controllers use "transflective" displays that work in any light. The LED rings will wash out in intense light, no way around that. We tested them outside and they were pretty visible even in bright sunlight though. They have adjustable intensity." source
"All the displays are transflective so they don't wash out under bright light." source
"Inverse is reserved for the HOLD function." source
"The LED rings are different colors based on function." source
FC-6 — 11.2″ x 9.2″ x 3.5″ (283mm x 233mm x 88mm). Weight: 6.7 lbs (3 kg).
FC-12 — 20.2″ x 9.2″ x 3.5″ (512mm x 233mm x 88mm). Weight: 11 lbs (5 kg).
"The FC-6 is roughly the size of a sheet of paper." source
"The switches are 3" apart on the FC's" source
Tips and tricks
- The bottom right switch can not be configured as a momentary Control Switch.
- If you don't like the Master Layout Menu combo switch (bottom right + top right buttons), disable it. But make sure to program a Layout switch in each of your layouts to prevent gettng stuck.