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Information about the FM3 is being added, it's preliminary and not final until release

Axe-Fx III

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References

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Forum discussions:

Reviews:

Pictures of Axe-Fx III rigs

Owners of an Axe-Fx III proudly show their rigs

About the Axe-Fx III

Platform

"It's a new platform. It will grow over time. It was time for an updated platform. TigerSHARCs are discontinued, the interface was dated, etc. The III is what the II would be if we could've upgraded the hardware via a firmware update." source
"Remember it's a lot of work migrating stuff to a new architecture. The III is a brand-new platform. Just as the II had dozens of firmware update the III will receive many updates and there's so much power there that we can improve everything over time." source
"The Axe-Fx III was designed so that single preset can be thought of as an entire rack full of processors. Each virtual processor has up to four presets. So if you were trying to do spillover in a rack you would use two reverb processors." source
"These Keystone processors chew through data like a hot chainsaw through a sorority girl. The Axe-Fx III is a beast. I don't think people realize how powerful it is. It has the equivalent power of 8 SHARC chips, at least. And that's just the DSP. The memory bus is 3-4 times faster than other stuff." source
"The only product more transparent than the FX-8 is the Axe-Fx III." source

Specifications

Dimensions and weight:

  • Width: 19.00" (482.60 mm)
  • Height: 5.16" (131.10 mm). That's 3U
  • Depth:
    • 11.530" (292.87 mm) including front handles and rear jacks.
    • from the faceplate to the rear jacks: just under 10" from the mounting face of the faceplate to the edge of the jacks. source
  • Weight: 15 lbs 2.4 oz (6.87 kg)
"Large screen meant we had to make it 3U. But it's much shallower than the II." source

Processors:

  • Two 1.0 GHz floating-point “Keystone” DSPs (2.8 times faster than the TigerSHARC DSPs in the Axe-Fx II)
  • Video display processor
  • 500 MHz 16-core XMOS USB microcontroller:
    • Supports 8x8 audio at 48 KHz, 24-bits
    • MIDI-Over-USB is about 10x faster than an Axe-Fx II

Memory:

  • PC1600 DDR3 memory
  • Hundreds of MB of FLASH memory
  • Enough non-volatile memory for over 4000 IRs

LCD display:

  • Custom-design full-color 800x480 TFT display
  • Specifically designed to provide animation

Analog I/O:

  • Audiophile-quality components

Backup battery:

  • CR-2032
"You can install the battery yourself. It's a standard CR2032 motherboard battery." source

Output:

  • 20 dBu maximum

Fan:

(about fan noise) "Actually the problem was the lock nuts were too tight. The fan is mounted on rubber bushings but the nuts were too tight compressing the bushings." source

More information about I/O

Manufacturing details

Product information:

"The audiophile-quality signal path features Burr-Brown SoundPlus and Analog Devices op amps, PPS film caps, a high-voltage bipolar power supply for low distortion and maximum headroom, and flagship-quality Cirrus Logic converters with fully differential input and output circuitry. A thoughtfully designed multi-layer circuit board features gold plating and extensive ground fill for low EMI and immunity to interference. This impressive level of engineering yields the most pristine sound quality, lowest THD, and lowest noise floor of any product we’ve ever created—by far."

"All knobs and buttons are backed by professional grade components with life expectancies in the millions."

"Internally, the unit features a DSP module that is made in the USA and mechanical design guided by years of experience designing dependable rackmount units for touring musicians."

Quotes:

"It was a monumental amount of work. The DSP board design was the most difficult hardware design we've ever done. It's a 10-layer board with all fine-pitch technology. Then migrating all the algorithms to a new processor architecture. The team did a phenomenal job." source
"The chassis and some of the boards are made in China. The DSP module is made in Merrimack NH, USA." source
"Roughly 50% (by cost) of the Axe-Fx III is made in USA. The chassis and simpler circuit boards are made in China. The DSP module is made right here in NH. source
"The Axe-Fx III is about 50% domestic content. source
"The front panel around the buttons is steel and covered with a polycarbonate overlay. The bezel is anodized aluminum." source
(about heat) "Less than an Axe-Fx II." source
"Designing a product is all about compromises. Do you want a phantom power mic input? Well that costs money. So either you have to raise the price of the product or cut costs somewhere else. For something that only a small percentage of people will use. Since we target the pro market our customers will likely use their own mic pre's like a Neve or API. So we don't include it and don't have to cut costs on other things." source
"The Axe-Fx III is assembled, programmed, inspected, and tested at our facility in New Hampshire." source
"FWIW the backlight in the Axe-Fx III is not PWM. I had the OEM change it to a circuit I designed. I eliminated PWM sources inside the unit wherever possible so as to keep EMI to a minimum." source
"In general I overdesign things. I.e. if a capacitor is used to filter a 5V rail most designers will spec a 6.3V part. I'll spec a 10V part. For electrolytic caps I always spec long-life and high-temperature parts. We always use ENIG (electroless nickel immersion gold) circuit boards with FR-4 cores, no phenolic crap or HASL." source

Processing and latency

"It's the equivalent of 15 inches. Most modeling products have latencies in the range of 1-2 ms which is roughly equivalent to 1-2 feet away from the speaker. Our products have less latency than most, if not all, competing products as that was a design goal from day one. The equation is ~1 ft per millisecond of latency." source
(comparing to the Axe-Fx II XL+)
"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
(about latency compared to Axe-Fx II)
"They are the same. The converters are the limiting factor. It's already way faster than anything else." source
"The digital signal is 32 bits." source
"The Axe-Fx III uses 32-bit floating point." source
"32 bit floating point mostly. 64 bit floating point in critical locations in the amp block." source
"64-bit processing is used in critical locations to minimize coefficient sensitivity." source
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Aliasing

Tests of aliasing performance

The display is a 800x480 LCD.

"You can turn it down but you can't turn it off. There is no danger of burn-in as it's an LCD not an OLED." source

The logo's backlight intensity is not adjustable.

The third "I" in the logo may appear less bright than the other characters when viewed from an angle. Nothing to worry about!

Circuit board

More pictures of the circuit board

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Comparing the Axe-Fx III

To the Axe-Fx II

Comparing the Axe-Fx III to the Axe-Fx II

To the FM3

Read this: FM3

Axe-Edit III

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Read this: Editors

Firmware

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Read this:

The "DSP" firmware provides all the models and features. This firmware is frequently updated.

There's separate firmware for the USB subsystem of the Axe-Fx III. This needs to be updated only when Fractal Audio says so.

The features of the FC controllers are included in the DSP firmware. But there's also separate low-level firmware for the FC controllers. Again, this only needs to be updated when Fractal Audio says so.

Connections and levels

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Read this:

Factory presets

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Read this: Factory presets

Effects list

Click on the image below:

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Buttons, knobs, switches

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Navigate and operate

  • VALUE wheel, with push-button function (which can be disabled in Setup > Global)
  • NAV buttons. On the Home page these let you switch presets (left/right) and scenes (up/down)
  • PAGE LEFT/RIGHT buttons
  • HOME menu button
  • EDIT button
  • ENTER/EXIT buttons. ENTER also jumps to the layout grid from any screen
  • 5 rotary push-buttons (ABCDE) perform various functions in the GUI
  • Output level knobs for the 4 outputs
(assigning soft knobs to amp controls) "That is the plan but we haven't implemented it yet. The hooks are all there in the firmware. The idea is a "Performance" page where you select up to 10 global parameters that you can adjust at any time." source

Shortcuts

VALUE wheel:

  • Press to switch to the layout grid (unless disabled in the setup menu)

HOME page:

  • Press ENTER to jump to the layout grid. Press EXIT to return to the Home screen
  • Use NAV LEFT/RIGHT to switch presets
  • Use NAV UP/DOWN to switch scenes
  • Press push-knob "A" to enter the Amp block's Edit menu
  • Turn knob "A" to switch scenes

AMP block > Output EQ:

  • Press ENTER to flatten the bands, and NAV UP/DOWN to change bands

LAYOUT GRID:

  • Press-and-hold ENTER to create (or clear) a series of shunts

Block Edit menu:

  • Keep pressing EDIT to step through the Edit menus of all blocks in the preset (top-to-bottom, left-to-right)

GENERAL:

  • Press EDIT after storing a preset to go right back to where you were
  • If you navigate anywhere from the Home page, EXIT will return you to the first screen of that page

CONTROLLERS:

  • Press TEMPO to open the Controllers menu

SEQUENCER:

  • Press ENTER to randomize

Switch presets

To switch presets:

  • Value wheel or NAV right/left button
  • Foot controller
  • MIDI
  • Editor

More about Presets

Switch scenes

To switch scenes:

  • NAV buttons or soft knob
  • Foot controller
  • MIDI
  • Editor

More about Scenes

Switch channels

To switch scenes:

  • Soft knob
  • Foot controller
  • MIDI
  • Editor

Read this: Channels

Power cycling

There's no harm in leaving the processor turned on all the time. source

There is power transient suppression circuitry, so that the Axe-Fx III won't make any loud pops when powering on/off.

"The III has power on/off detection circuitry that mutes the outputs when it detects a power transient." source

The Axe-Fx III has a universal power supply. Power consumption is less than 40 watts.

When powering on, the III displays diagnostic messages during the first phase of the boot routine.

This includes "checking mailbox":

"Going all the way back to the original Axe-Fx I used a concept called a "Mailbox" to communicate between processors. Each processor has an inbox and an outbox. I'm self-taught in programming and computer science so it was just a way I came up with to send data back and forth. Turns out that mailboxes are actually a technique used in interprocessor communications. In this specific case the processor is checking the mailbox from the front panel to see if any buttons were pressed at power-on." source

System reset

Read this: Reset hardware settings

Remote control

FC-6 and FC-12 controllers

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Read this: FC-6 and FC-12 controllers

MIDI

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Read this: MIDI

Using other MIDI controllers:

Tips and tricks

Migrating from Axe-Fx II to Axe-Fx III

Read this: Comparing the Axe-Fx III to the Axe-Fx II

Use FracTool to transfer your Axe-Fx II presets.

Help, no sound

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Read this: Troubleshooting