Always consult the Owners Manuals first

X/Y switching

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Available on which Fractal Audio products

  • Axe-Fx III: no (replaced with Channels).
  • Axe-Fx II: yes.
  • MFC-101: yes.
  • AX8: yes.
  • FX8: yes.

What is X/Y switching

Most effect blocks in the Axe-Fx II, FX8 and AX8 can be switched between two sets of settings: X and Y, without having to change parameters manually. For example, X/Y switching lets you switch between two different Phaser types within a single preset, by pressing a switch or switching scenes.

"The idea behind X/Y is that people often have multiple distortion/chorus/delay/etc. pedals on their board but they rarely have more than one on at a time. So rather than creating more instances of effects, which sucks up CPU, have each instance capable of more than one sound."

Sounds do not crossfade when switching between X and Y.

Axe-Fx III: Channels instead of X/Y switching

The Axe-Fx III replaces X/Y switching with Channels.

Effect blocks with X/Y support

Axe-Fx II Mark I and II: Amp, Cab, Chorus, Delay, Drive, Flanger, Phaser, Pitch, Reverb, Wah, Rotary.

Axe-Fx II XL and XL+: Amp, Cab, Chorus, Compressor/Dynamics, Delay, Drive, Flanger, GEQ, Gate, Mixer, PEQ, Phaser, Pitch, Rotary, Reverb, Tremolo, Wah.

AX8: Amp, Cab, Chorus, Compressor/Dynamics, Delay, Drive, Filter, Flanger, Gate, Multi Delay, Phaser, Pitch, Rotary, Reverb, Tremolo, Wah.

FX8: Chorus, Compressor/Dynamics, Delay, Drive, Filter, Flanger, Gate, MIDI, Multi Delay, Phaser, Pitch, Relay, Rotary, Reverb, Tremolo, Wah.

"Any blocks that have X/Y on the XL but not on the Mark II will not import the bypass state as that is stored differently. You need to manually adjust the bypass state after import." source

How to switch between X and /Y

Axe-Fx II: use the dedicated X/Y buttons on the front panel.

FX8 and AX8:

  • Hold a switch (1-8) to alternate between X and Y. If the LED is amber lit, Y is active.
  • Assign one of the three F-switches to "Single X/Y" or "Sticky X/Y", then press the switch which has been assigned to the effect.
  • Switch a block between X and Y on the grid, using a shortcut key:
  • AX8: SHIFT + 2x EDIT on LAYOUT page, or 2x EDIT in a block's editing mode.
  • FX8: 2x EDIT on CFG screen.

Scenes: the X/Y state of an effect can vary per scene. This is one of the benefits of using scenes.

Editors: press the "X" key on the keyboard to switch a block between X and Y in the software editor. The X/Y-states of the blocks are displayed in the software editor, without needing to select the block first.

MFC-101 and other MIDI controllers: there's a dedicated "X/Y switching" MIDI CC for most blocks (not all) that offer X/Y switching. They are listed in the manuals. Assign the CC to a switch to alternate between X and Y.

You can configure X/Y effect blocks to engage the effect in either X or Y mode. Example: (source)

  1. IA Switch 1, ON message: DELAY 1 ON, DELAY 1 X (CC#47:127, CC#106: 127)
  2. IA Switch 1, OFF message: DELAY 1 OFF, DELAY 1 X (CC#47:0, CC#106: 127)
  3. IA Switch 2, OFF message: DELAY 1 ON, DELAY 1 Y (CC#47:127, CC#106: 0)
  4. IA Switch 2, OFF message: DELAY 1 OFF, DELAY 1 Y (CC#47:0, CC#106: 0)

Or use a MIDI controller's "group" or "linked switches" feature.

On the MFC-101 X is green, Y is red. If you prefer the default state to be green, use Y as the default state.

Not all effect blocks that support X/Y have a specific MIDI CC available for that task. The FX8 lets you assign CCs to those, the Axe-Fx II does not. There's a way around this. Use a MIDI Monitor to view the MIDI sysex command that switches the block between X/Y. Then program a switch on the controller using that data.

Visual indication of X/Y state

The visual X/Y state of effects blocks is shown in the software editors.

Axe-Fx II and FX8: the current X/Y state of the selected block is shown in an effect block's EDIT menu (not on the Layout page).

AX8: the current X/Y state of the selected block is shown at the bottom of the Layout page.

CPU usage

CPU usage is calculated using the current block state (X or Y). When switching an effect between X and Y, the preset's CPU usage may change.

Copying and pasting X/Y settings

X settings can be copied to Y, and vice versa, on the front panel of the Axe-Fx II by pressing X or Y twice quickly. There's no equivalent shortcut on the AX8 and FX8 hardware.

The software editor can be used to copy and paste an entire block or just the X or Y settings within the preset or to another preset.

Swapping X/Y settings

Swapping the X/Y settings of a block requires use of the software editor.

Block resetting and X/Y settings

Resetting an effect block on the hardware resets the parameters to their default values. This only applies to the current state: X or Y.

To reset the entire block, switch to the other state and repeat the process (or use the software editor to reset the entire block).

Modifiers and X/Y settings

When a modifier is assigned to a parameter, it always applies to X and Y. It's not possible to have different modifier settings for X and Y, the architecture doesn't allow this. source

Recall Effect and X/Y settings

Recall Effect (copy block settings from another preset) always imports both X and Y settings. Use the software editor to copy only X or only Y settings.

X/Y switching can cause a short audio gap

Switching an Amp block between X and Y causes a short gap in the audio. This is especially important with the AX8, since it has a single Amp block.

Other effect blocks do not suffer from this.

Forum member Bakerman provides a trick to speed up the switch.

Using X/Y to compare sounds and settings

X/Y switching offers an easy way to compare sounds when tweaking. Axe-Fx II example:

  1. Go to an AMP block, state "X".
  2. Double-click "Y" on the front panel to copy the "X" settings into "Y".
  3. Select X or Y and adjust settings.
  4. Now alternate between X and Y to see and hear the differences.

You can also do this in the software editor.

This also offers an easy method to quickly see non-default settings, by resetting one side to default settings.

An alternative approach to comparing sounds on the Axe-Fx II: save a preset as a Snapshot in the editor. Select Revert to get the original sound back. Then drag and drop the snapshot file into the editor.