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FC controllers

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Under construction - This page will be updated when the feature set of the announced FC controllers has been released

Fc-series.jpg

Offical product information

Fractal Audio:

  • "A guitar processor as powerful as the Axe-Fx III deserves an equally powerful foot controller. While the Axe-Fx III is fully MIDI-capable and can easily be controlled from a traditional MIDI controller or computer, our next-generation control system combines plug-and-play ease, built-in intelligence, and the flexibility that working musicians demand. An FC controller connected to an Axe-Fx III provides complete remote control of banks, presets, scenes, blocks, channels, and more.
  • Two models provide a range of options for musicians with different sized needs. The FC-6 has six footswitches and is small enough to fit in many gig bags, while the larger FC-12 has 12 switches. Each FC Series controller is housed in a rugged steel enclosure and features a large, bright, transflective main display designed for excellent readability under adverse lighting conditions. Our new FASLINK II connectors provide power and 2-way communication over a single XLR cable. You can connect up to four expression pedals (such as the Fractal Audio EV-1 or EV-2) and four external switches to each FC controller. Through our flexible “modifier” system, pedals and switches can control an incredible range of functions on the Axe-Fx III. Best of all, every function of the FC series controller is programmed right from the Axe-Fx itself, so no programming of the FC is required.
  • Each FC controller can have up to 12 different “layouts” with each layout featuring your choice of control functions. Default factory layouts are provided to get up and running quickly while advanced users can program their own custom layouts to fit their individual performance needs.
  • A layout can contain any combination of functions including Preset, Scene, Channel, Effect Bypass, and more. Each switch can also perform multiple tasks with functions assignable to both TAP and HOLD. Need more switches? Up to four FC series foot controllers can be daisy-chained for up to 48 switches at once!
  • For large venues, any two controllers can be paired using “Clone Mode”. This allows one controller on stage for the artist and one off-stage controlled by a technician.
  • Each footswitch combines three physical elements:
  1. A rugged solid-state switch with no mechanical contacts to fail
  2. A mini display which dynamically shows the function(s) of the switch
  3. A color LED ring which helps identify footswitch state and category at a glance."

Interaction and compatibility

FC controller, Axe-Fx III and Axe-Edit III

Switching an effect's Bypass state or channel on one client (Axe-Fx III, foot controller or editor) will update all other clients automatically.

"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 do not work with the Axe-Fx II. The communications protocol is completely different, and they do not support FASLINK 1, MIDI or Ethernet/EtherCON.

Connecting

FASLINK II

FASLINK II is the bidirectional communications and phantom power protocol between the Axe-Fx III and the FC controller, via 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

The FC controllers don't have MIDI ports.

Daisy-chaining multiple FCs

You can daisy-chain up to four controllers.

"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 jacks to connect up to four expression pedals and two external switches, allowing additional control.

On the Axe-Fx III these controllers can be assigned directly to functions, seperately from the ports on the Axe-Fx III itself.

Setting up

Configuration on the Axe-Fx III

Use the Setup > Foot Controllers 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

More information in the Axe-Fx III Owner's Manual.

Resetting

The Utility menu lets you reset an FC controller to its defaults settings.

Backing up and restoring

Use Fractal-Bot to back up and restore the settings of the FC controller(s). A FC-only backup file will have "-fc" appended to the resulting .Syx filename.

Updating firmware

The FC has a USB port and can be updated via that or FASLINK. source

Operating the FC controller

Tap and Hold

The switches support two types of action: Tap and Hold.

Switch layouts

The FC controllers provide "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 switch in the current layout, or holding the bottom right switch and then tapping the switch above it (Master Layout Menu).

"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

Displaying preset and scene numbers

You can configure whether preset names and scenes are preceded by a number in the main display or not.

Transmitting MIDI

To make a FC controller send MIDI commands, Control Switches are provided, similar to those on the AX8.

Specifications and manufacturing

Mini displays

The mini displays are limited 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

LED rings

"The LED rings are different colors based on function." source

Dimensions

"The FC-6 is roughly the size of a sheet of paper." source
"The switches are 3" apart on the FC's" source

FC-6 technical.png


FC-12 technical.png