Comparing the Axe-Fx III to the Axe-Fx II
What's new or changed
For more information, read the Owners Manuals. Both manuals contain a summary of features.
- The III is taller, at 3U instead of 2U, but shallower, at 11.5” deep instead of 12.9”.
- The III has 4 independent stereo outputs, instead of 2, plus auto-switching front/rear instrument inputs with "Secret Sauce IV" and 3 stereo inputs. INs and OUTs can be used in the usual ways, or paired to insert outboard gear in up to 3 stereo loops.
- The red Output LEDs in the front panel meter bridge now light at -1 dBFS.
- Inputs 2, 3 and 4 support guitar impedance.
- The nominal level of Outputs 1 and 2 can be switched between -10 and +4 dB.
IMPORTANT: The III's output level defaults to -10 dB (lower than the II)
- Instead of a RECALL screen, the III has a HOME button. The new Home menu provides access to Presets, Meters, with soft-button access to the Tuner, layout grid, controllers, and Setup menu.
- Instead of a LAYOUT button, the layout grid is accessed from a soft-button in the Home menu, or by pressing ENTER, or pressing VALUE while on the Home page. The grid has new features like Zoom, CPU meter, and a "mini" tuner.
- You can use old familiar workflows with the NAV buttons and VALUE wheel, but you’ll move much faster through editing if you use the five Push-knobs under the display.
- The hardware and editor now optionally prompt before changing presets if the current preset has been edited. This prevents users from losing edits.
- New blocks: Plex Delay, Ten-Tap Delay, Multitap Delay, Multiplexer, Realtime Analyzer, Scene MIDI block, IR Player.
- Authentic Tri-Chorus type in the Chorus block.
- 4 instances of Drive.
- 4 instances of Delay.
- 2 instances of Feedback Send/Return.
- Pitch block: 4 voices. Pitch block has its own (faster) pitch detector. Latency and stability has been improved. New Virtual Capo mode.
- Improved Reverbs.
- Looper: more looping time, better control.
- Tone Matching in UltraRes, no difference between Offline and Live modes.
- Tuner: improved tracking, works on any input.
- Compressor: "RMS" is the same as "Fast RMS" in the AX8 and Axe-Fx II. "E-L Panel" mode added. Filter parameter has been replaced with EQ-ing tools.
- Drive blocks: higher oversampling ratio and double-precision filters in some places. GEQ added.
- The output level of some effects / effects types has been changed, such as Resonator and Studio Compressor.
- Vocoder now has 24 bands.
- Some effects have their own envelope follower, such as Plex Delay.
- Improved noise gate in the Input block, now also includes EMI filtering.
- Stereoizer mode in Enhancer block.
- Improved Multiband Compressor.
- Wah has an GEQ.
Modifiers and controllers:
- The Controllers block now has 4 channels, so the Envelope Controller can have 4 different settings per preset, for example.
- 4 Scene Controllers instead of 2.
- Damping (modifier menu) is replaced with Attack/Release parameters.
- To control the bypass state of a block using a modifier, you no longer modify the Bypass Mode parameter, but a dedicated Bypass parameter.
- A modifier can now be attached to either a single channel of an effect block, or to all its channels. You can't use a different modifier on a single parameter per channel.
Presets, scenes, blocks and channels:
- 14x6 grid instead of 12x4.
- 512 preset slots instead of 768.
- More CPU available per preset.
- Inputs and Outputs must be placed on the grid as blocks.
- Each Scene has its own customizable name.
- Up to 4 Channels per block (Multiplexer: 6).
- Presets either default to a specified scene upon loading, or to the scene that was active when the preset was saved (global option).
- 8 Global Blocks per effect block instance. Some blocks (like Multiplexer) do not support Global Blocks.
- Switching scenes is much faster.
- "Ares" amp modeling.
- “Character” and "Pick Attack" parameters are gone.
- Pre-EQ controls have been added.
- "Boost types" have been integrated into the Amp block: Neutral (same as former Boost), T808, T808 Mod, Super OD, Full OD, AC Boost and Shimmer. These act as clean boosts replicating the oft-used “Drive on 0, adjust Level as desired” boost technique. This allows boosting the Amp block without requiring a separate Drive block. The "Boost Level" parameter controls the amount of boost.
- Output Mode lets you switch between FRFR and SS Power Amp + Cab.
- New Speaker Compliance parameter controls nonlinear behavior of the virtual speaker.
- Mixes up to 4 different IRs at once.
- Output level is automatically normalized.
- Mic Modeling has been removed, "Proximity" remains.
- Speaker Size parameter is gone.
- There are now Factory 1, Factory 2, User 1 and User 2 banks, each with 1,024 IRs, and a Legacy bank containing all 189 IRs from the Axe-Fx II, and 16 Scratchpads.
- Two "IR Player" blocks.
- Different Slope settings for Hi Cut and Low Cut.
Editors, foot controllers:
- Editor software and foot controllers share control, updating each other seamlessly without re-sync issues or paused communications.
- FASLINK II (XLR-to-XLR) connects the Axe-Fx III to the new FC controller(s).
- Axe-Edit III supports hi-res displays.
- Up to 8 MIDI PCs or CCs can be transmitted upon scene changes.
- A MIDI PC can be transmitted upon preset changes.
- A MIDI PC can be sent through the MIDI OUT port upon preset changes.
- The FC can send additional MIDI commands through Control Switches (similar to those on the FX8 and AX8).
- The Bypass state of an effect can simply be toggled (no need to specify "0" or "128" when sending a MIDI CC), which is useful with MIDI controllers that don't send values along with MIDI CCs.
- No driver required for Mac computers.
- 8x8 USB Audio interface.
- Faster MIDI-over-USB.
- USB communications do not increase CPU load anymore.
- When powering on, the unit reads all user cabs. This happens in the background.
- The USB subsystem needs some time to settle down after powering on. It's recommended to wait a minute or so before launching the editor.
- The MFC-101's "Axe-Fx Mode" is no longer supported.
- X/Y switching (replaced with Channels).
- X/Y Quick Jump (soft knob on the Home page lets you jump to the Amp block).
- Swapping presets on hardware (requires editor).
- Certain hardware buttons like Effect Bypass (replaced with soft knobs).
- Recall Effect function.
- Quad Chorus block (now available in the Multitap Delay block).
- FX Loop block (replaced with Output blocks).
- Cab block parameters: Mic modeling, Motor Drive, Speaker Size.
- Amp block parameters: Character, Pick Attack.
- MIDI phantom power.
- USB Adapter Mode.
Comparing the blocks
The Axe-Fx II and Axe-Fx III cannot share presets electronically. Use FracTool to convert presets.
"III is a little punchier. I really notice it when I A/B between the III and II (or the AX-8). If you plug into one and then plug into the other it's not as noticeable but if you use an A/B switch it's a more marked difference." source
”Everything sounds better. I think a big part of it is the quality of the I/O. The I/O measures flatter and less distortion than my $2000 interface.” source
"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
"Better algorithms, higher upsampling, better analog I/O design."