Always consult the Owners Manuals and the FAQ first

Firmware

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About firmware numbering

"Major revisions occur when there's a substantive change to the modeling algorithms." source

Checking the firmware version

Go to the Utility menu to see the version of the installed firmware. The Axe-Fx III also displays it on the Home page.

Fractal-Bot displays the current version upon connecting.

Downloading new firmware

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Installing new firmware

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Firmware is installed using Fractal-Bot, through USB.

In some case Fractal-Bot needs to operate in a special mode. Press CTRL (Windows) or Command (Mac), and click the dropdown menu to reveal and select the hidden “Utility” option. Then select the output port.

Updating firmware does not erase the presets.

Firmware release notes

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Read the release notes for present and previous firmware versions:

Updating the editor

After updating the firmware, the editor's definitions needs to be refreshed. If the editor doesn't recognize the updated firmware automatically, do it manually.

Sometimes a new version of the editor has to be released and installed to support the new firmware feature. Software editor updates are provided once a new, non-beta, firmware has been released. Editor updates usually lag by no more than a couple of business days.

Auditioning presets after updating

Updated firmware may cause changes in your presets. Read the firmware release notes and verify your presets.

About changes in amp modeling:

  • if new firmware includes changes in amp modeling, these are often implemented under the hood. As an user you DO NOT need to do anything, UNLESS the firmware release notes instruct otherwise.
  • sometimes the firmware itself can't (or won't) enforce fixes or improvements and leaves it to the user to implement these. In such cases the release notes will tell you to "deselect-and-reselect" a specific amp type in existing presets (aka a "soft reset").
  • if the new firmware includes major changes to the modeling, re-selecting every amp type in your presets is recommended, as will be stated in the release notes. It's a chore, but necessary to take advantage of improvements.

About resetting the Amp block

Troubleshooting

Emergency boot recovery

Built-in backup firmware in the Axe-Fx III, Axe-Fx II XL and XL+, FX8 and AX8 allows quick recovery in case of complications during or after updating.

Axe-Fx III — hold down PAGE LEFT and PAGE RIGHT while cycling power

Axe-Fx II XL/XL+ — hold down Page Left and Page Right while cycling power until the Emergency Utility menu appears

FX8 — hold down SETUP and power the unit on. Hold the button for about 1 second beyond the power up, then release. The unit will now allow you to install firmware using Fractal-Bot

AX8 — hold down SHIFT and power the unit on. Hold the button for about 1 second beyond the power up, then release. The unit will now allow you to install firmware using Fractal-Bot

If the unit sounds bad after an update, try this: Reset hardware settings

"There's multiple levels of error checking. First the USB endpoint is a bulk endpoint so it has guaranteed transmission. Then each packet has a checksum. Then the entire image has a checksum. Finally the image written to the FLASH is compared to the downloaded image byte-by-byte. It's virtually impossible to have corrupted firmware image." source

Loading a preset on older firmware

If a preset shows up empty, it was probably created with firmware that is more recent than loaded on your hardware. Update your unit's firmware.

Will repeating the installation of firmware fix issues?

The official response to this is that reinstalling the same firmware will not fix an issue resulting from installing new firmware.

FAQ

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(from the Axe-FX III Owner's Manual)

Q: How do I know the upgrade worked?
A: Check your firmware version anytime by pressing the SETUP button (Push-knob E) on the Home page. The version is displayed at the top of the Setup menu.

Q: Can I skip versions to go from a very old firmware version to a much newer one?
A: You can upgrade from any version to any other version. When you skip versions it is recommended that you also read the Release Notes for all interim versions, all of which are included with every firmware release.

Q: Will updating my Axe-Fx II firmware upgrade my factory presets?
A: Updating firmware does not upgrade Factory Presets. Updated Factory Presets, when offered, are released as a separate update on our web site support page. Fractal-Bot can be used to transmit this update in the same way it is used to update firmware.

Q: Will updating my Axe-Fx II firmware erase my customized presets?
A: Firmware updates do not erase customized presets. However, firmware updates may alter the sound of existing presets. Always read the Release Notes included with a given version before updating. Saving presets after a firmware update can render them incompatible with previous versions. It is always wise to back up your Axe-Fx II using Fractal-Bot before a major update.

Q: The firmware update failed mysteriously. What should I do?
A: If the Axe-Fx still boots normally, just try the update again. If successive failures occur, please delete and re-download the update file before trying again. Trying a different USB port or cable can also solve issues.

Q: After updating, my Axe-Fx will no longer boot normally.
A: See Emergency Boot Recovery below.

More information

The Axe-Fx firmware is coded in C and assembly. source

"The Axe-Fx II can be reprogrammed at least 100,000 times." source
"Most DSP compilers include library functions for common signal processing functions. However every library I've seen makes the same mistakes in several important and oft-used functions. I can't disclose what functions and what those mistakes are but because of this we use our own hand-coded assembly functions for our own libraries. The results are measurable and audible especially when dealing with the special requirements of amp modeling. I should add that these libraries are low-level functions like FFT() and such. You're not going to find a library that implements a Tube Screamer or even something more granular like a diode clipping circuit. That all has to be developed in-house." source