Always consult the official Owners Manuals and Guides first.
Information about the FM3 may be incomplete or wrong, it's being worked on.

Comparing the FM3 to the Axe-Fx III

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FM3-rear.png Iii-rear-transparent.png

Portability

  • The FM3 is a portable all-in-one device with built-in foot switches.
  • The flagship Axe-Fx III is a shallow 3U rack device. To control it by foot requires additional hardware (FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers, or MIDI controller).

I/O

Instrument:

  • Axe-Fx III: Auto-Switching front and rear instrument inputs with "Secret Sauce IV" Analog circuitry.
  • FM3: one instrument input with "Secret Sauce IV" Analog circuitry.
  • The FM3 doesn't support variable input impedance, the Axe-Fx III does.
  • For best SNR, the FM3 provides four fixed stages of input level padding, while the Axe-Fx III lets you finetune the value.

Headphones:

  • Both units have a headphones jack, though some of the first FM3 units do NOT have this feature.

Main output:

Additional I/O:

  • FM3: one additional I/O stereo pair designed for unity gain applications.
  • Axe-Fx III: three additional stereo I/O pairs, two designed for unity gain applications.

Digital I/O:

User interface

  • The user interface is the same.
  • The layout grid is 12x4 on the FM3, and 14x6 on the Axe-Fx III.
  • The FM3 has no Performance Pages (yet, source).
  • The Value wheel on the FM3 does not have a built-in push switch, the one on the Axe-Fx does.

Sound

  • Aside from a few modifications designed to optimize CPU on the FM3 (see below), the two units run the same algorithms and therefore sound the same when identical settings are used.

CPU

  • The processing power of the III is much higher, allowing more effects in presets.
  • On the FM3, the Delay block shares a core DSP with amp modeling.

Presets and scenes

  • The number of presets, and scenes per preset, is the same for each device.
  • Presets for the III and FM3 are compatible. When importing presets from the III, FM3-Edit tries to convert the larger grid to the FM3’s smaller one. Blocks which aren't supported by the FM3, can't be imported. Blocks on the far right columns or lower rows of the Axe-Fx III are put into the first available spaces on the left of the FM3 layout grid and are disconnected. Block files can not be exchanged at the time of writing.

Effects and channels

  • There’s no Vocoder, no Crossover, no Tone Match, no IR Capture, no Real-Time Analyzer and no IR Player on the FM3.
  • There are less instances of certain blocks on the FM3, such as 2 Drives and 2 Delays, instead of 4 each on the Axe-Fx III.
  • Effect blocks on the FM3 and Axe-Fx III have the same number of Channels.
  • The FM3 currently has no Global EQ for Output 2.
  • Reverb defaults to Normal Quality on the FM3 vs High Quality on the Axe-Fx III.
  • The FM3 provides less looping time in the Looper block than the Axe-Fx III.

Global Blocks

  • The FM3 doesn’t support Global Blocks.

Amp modeling

  • The FM3 provides a single Amp block.
  • The FM3 supports Ares amp modeling, with the same amp models as the III.
  • Some Amp block features are not available on the FM3: Bias Tremolo, Input Dynamics and Dynamic Presence/Depth.
(comparing the FM3's amp modeling to the Axe-Fx III) "They are the same quality. Certain features were removed to allow the algorithms to run including the bias tremolo, input dynamics processing (...)." source
"We removed all the superfluous stuff (bias tremolo, dynamic presence/depth, etc.) in order to get the core amp modeling to run on the slower processor." source
"The Axe-Fx III contains various algorithms that allow you to enhance the amp modeling that don't exist on a real amp. I.e. dynamic presence/depth, input dynamic processing, etc. These were removed to allow the core amp modeling to run on the lower-powered processor." source

Cab modeling

  • The FM3 provides a single Cab block with 2 IRs (vs two Cab blocks with 4 IRs each on the III).
  • The FM3 supports the same factory cab models as the III.
  • The FM3 provides 1024 user cab slots (vs 2048 on the III).
  • A limited number of Cab block features are not available on the FM3: Smoothing and IR Length.
  • The FM3 initially doesn’t support UltraRes IRs. This is expected to be added in later firmware (source).

Editor

  • FM3-Edit is the editor for the FM3.
  • Axe-Edit III is the editor for the Axe-Fx III.

Foot control

  • The FM3 has 3 built-in foot switches. The III requires a FC controller (FASLINK II) or MIDI controller for foot control.
  • The FM3 provides the Views feature for foot switch layouts (the Axe-Fx III does not, yet).
  • The FM3 and III both support FASLINK II.
  • The Axe-Fx III can support up to four connected FC Controllers. The FM3 can support up to two.

USB and MIDI

  • MIDI OUT and THRU are shared on the FM3 (1 port vs separate ports on the III).
  • The FM3 has a USB-A port, which is currently unused (the III doesn’t have a USB-A port).
  • The FM3 provides 4x4 USB Audio (vs 8x8 on the III).
  • The FM3 is NOT a USB MIDI Device. It uses “COMM over USB” channels for Fractal-Bot and FM3-Edit, but will not appear as a MIDI device in a DAW or other MIDI program.