Always consult the official Owners Manuals first!
January 2024: all pages have been checked and are up-to-date

Expression pedals and external switches

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Remote control of Fractal Audio devices

Fractal Audio's processors can be remotely controlled in various ways. This includes the use of expression pedals such as Fractal Audio's EV-1 and EV-2 pedals, (see below) and/or external switches, either connected directly to a pedal port on the device, to a MIDI controller or to Fractal Audio's FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers.

The number of ports, as well as support for a single switch or dual switch, varies per product.

Read the following pages for more information:

Fractal Audio expression pedals

EV-1 expression pedal

The EV-1 is the large version of Fractal Audio’s expression pedal/analog volume pedal.

Product information:


The EV-1 is an all new EXPRESSION PEDAL, perfect for use with all Fractal Audio Systems products (and many 3rd-party devices). Unlike most expression pedals it has a true linear response with planetary gearing and a long, smooth pedal throw. The EV-1 doubles as an analog volume pedal, with separate IN and OUT jacks connected to an audio-taper pot. It features a sturdy cast metal housing, comfortable non-slip rubber tread, and is available in Black.

Specifications:

  • Planetary Gear Drive
  • High-quality dual potentiometer rated for 1M rotations
  • Durable cast aluminum chassis
  • Adjustable pedal tensioner
  • 3 jacks at the front: In, Out and Expression. In and Out are for volume
  • Requires TRS-to-TRS cable when used as an expression pedal
  • Not spring-loaded
  • Built-in analog volume pedal (500K high-impedance)

Read the Product Guide for more information.

FRACTAL AUDIO QUOTES


The planetary gear drive solves the dead zone problem.

[1] They also work as a traditional volume pedal. There are two ganged pots inside, one is a high-impedance log-taper volume pot and the other is a low-impedance linear-taper expression pot. The design is our own.

[2] We make tour-grade equipment. The potentiometer in the EV-1 has a conductive plastic element with IP67 ingress protection. It is rated for 1,000,000 rotations and probably costs 10 times what the pot in other products cost. The housing is cast aluminum which is then powder coated for extra protection. You're getting something you can give to your grandchildren.

The EV-1s are fully made in China except for the pots which are made in USA as nothing in China or Japan met our lifespan requirement (1 million rotations minimum).

(May 2021) The EV-1 expression pedal will be manufactured in black only going forward.

EV-2 expression pedal

The EV-2 is the smaller version of Fractal Audio’s expression pedal/analog volume pedal.

Specifications:

  • Planetary Gear Drive
  • High-quality dual potentiometer rated for 1M rotations
  • Durable cast aluminum chassis
  • Adjustable pedal tensioner
  • 1 jack at the front: expression
  • In and Out jacks at the sides for volume (analog, 500K high-impedance)
  • Requires TRS-to-TRS cable when used as an expression pedal
  • Not spring-loaded

See the Product Guide and Layout Drawing for more information.

Dimensions

EV-1, Ernie Ball and Mission pedals:

Exppedals sizes.png

EV-1, Mission and EV-2 pedals:

Pedals.jpg

Expression pedal

Connect a pedal

The requirements for an expression pedal are:

  • linear resistance taper
  • max resistance of 10-100 kOhm
  • TRS-to-TRS cable connection (stereo jack)

From the Owners Manual:


TRS stands for TIP-RING-SLEEVE and describes the configuration of a 1/4" end plug or jack with three connectors. Normal guitar cables are TS (Tip-Sleeve) since they lack the ring required for a third contact. Expression pedals require TRS cables because full control voltage is transmitted to them on one contact (the tip), while less than full voltage is returned to on another (the ring) so the host device is able to sense and utilize the pedal position. The third contact (sleeve) is connected to ground.

Configure a pedal

Pedals which are connected directly to the Fractal Audio device can be configured and calibrated on the Pedal page of the I/O menu.

Pedals which are connected through another connected device, such as FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers or MIDI controllers, must be configured in the configuration menu of that device, including calibration. For the FC controllers, use the FC controllers menu in the Setup menu.

Always calibrate the pedal before use. This makes sure that the pedal's full sweep range is being used.

You can assign the pedal directly to parameters in the preset. Or you can assign an External controller to that parameter, and then assign the pedal to that specific external controller. The latter option provides more flexibility.

What happens if the pedal is not connected

If a parameter is controlled by a switch or pedal, and that pedal or switch is not connected at startup, the processor needs to know what value to use. Disconnecting a pedal that operates as a Volume pedal should not mute the device, for example.

For parameters that have been assigned to an External controller, the desired initial value can be set in the MIDI/Remote menu under Initial Value.

This does NOT work:

  • when a parameter is assigned directly to a pedal port on the hardware, or
  • when a parameter is assigned to an External controller which is assigned to a Pedal port.

In those cases, the effect's bypass state after powering on depends on multiple factors such as the PC RST parameter in the parameter’s modifier menu and the Auto-Engage setting.

Read Wah not bypassed on unit boot in the forum for more information.

Factory presets and pedals

Many factory presets let you use an expression pedal, for example as a Wah. Search the Factory presets page in the wiki for "External".

Create a volume pedal

To set up a volume pedal in a preset, read Volume/Panner block.

To set up a global volume pedal that works across all presets, read the section in the Owner's Manual.

Create a Wah pedal

Read Wah block for more information.

Create a Whammy pedal

Read Pitch block for more information.

Control the amount of Delay and/or Reverb

You can use an expression pedal to control the amount or delay or reverb. Assign the pedal as an External controller to the INPUT GAIN parameter in the Delay and/or Reverb Block.

Morph between clean and dirty tones

Watch the video below.

Display the tuner at heel down

Read Tuner for more information.

Auto-engage an effect

Read Auto-Engage for more information.

Use a pedal for multiple tasks

You can dedicate a single expression pedal to multiple tasks, within a single preset. Below are various examples to accomplish this.

Control either Wah or Whammy:

  1. Insert a Wah block.
  2. Insert a Pitch block, directly above or below the Wah in a parallel row. Connect it back to the main row.
  3. In the Modifier menu of BOTH effects (Wah:Frequency parameter, Pitch:Control) set Source to External 1. Enable Auto-Engage.
  4. Add a Mixer block to the main row, just after Wah and Pitch.
  5. Edit Mixer: enter the modifier menu of the Gain parameter for the row that connects to the Wah. Set Source to another External controller (which will be attached to an IA-switch to switch between Wah and Whammy). Set Start Value to 100% and End Value to 0.
  6. Do the same for the row that connects to the Pitch block. But: set Start Value to 0% and End Value to 100%.
  7. Program an IA switch to switch between Wah and Whammy, using the Mixer rows. Use the CC of the external controller that you specified while editing the Mixer block, and send "127" for the Wah, and "0" for the Whammy.
  8. Moving the pedal should activate both the Wah and the Pitch block. But thanks to the Mixer block you'll only hear one of these effects. If you're hearing the Wah and the Whammy effects simultaneously, you need to press the IA-switch to get the Mixer block to work.

Control Volume and Wah: (source: Bakerman)

  1. Place a Volume block on the grid.
  2. Assign an IA switch to an external controller's CC.
  3. Assign another external controller the Wah and Volume control knobs.
  4. Set the first external controller as a Bypass modifier for both blocks and reverse the slope of one (start 100, end 0).
  5. Now the IA switch will toggle between Wah/Volume and the pedal will control both.

Using Scenes and channels:

  1. Put Wah and Pitch and Volume in one vertical column.
  2. Assign an external controller (pedal) to the effects. Enable Auto-Engage in Wah and Pitch.
  3. Configure channel A, then copy it to channel B.
  4. In Wah and Pitch turn down Level in Channel B.
  5. Scene 1 is for Wah. Set Wah to Channel A, set Pitch to channel B, bypass Volume.
  6. Scene 1 is for Whammy. Set Wah to channel B, set Pitch to channel A, bypass Volume.
  7. Scene 3 is for Volume. Set Wah and Pitch to channel B, engage Volume.

Using the Multiplexer block:

Read Multiplexer block for more information.

Control Volume and Wah with an expression pedal that has a switch:

  1. Put the Wah and Volume blocks on the grid.
  2. Configure both blocks to be controlled by the pedal. Set the Wah to Auto-Engage.
  3. Attach the pedal's switch to the Bypass parameter of both blocks. Set Min/Max in the modifier menu in one block to 0/100 and in the other block to 100/0.
  4. The switch now switches between Wah/Volume duty.

External switch

Connect a switch

The FC controllers and FM3 support a dual-button switch per port when using a TRS cable, or a single-button switch when using a TS-TS cable.

The Axe-Fx III and FM9 limit each PEDAL port to a single switch (TS cable).

Configure a switch

You can connect external switches to the device or to FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers to expand switching possibilities. External switches can perform the same tasks as "local" switches on an FC controller, FM3 or FM9, like:

  • use Tap Tempo
  • engage the Tuner
  • switch Presets
  • switch Scenes
  • switch Channels
  • engage or bypass effect blocks
  • increase or decrease volume and save the preset
  • duplicate the function of onboard switches on the FM3, FM9 or FC controller
  • and more.

Configure the switch(es) in the Setup menu.

Switch Behavior 
determines how an external switch operates. With the default setting of "Follow Hardware" a switch behaves as you might expect. If you want a momentary switch to behave like a latching/toggle switch instead, use the "Virtual Toggle" option. Now, every time you tap the switch, its state on the Axe-Fx or FM3 will flip from ON to OFF, or OFF to ON. Note that if you accidentally apply the Virtual Toggle setting to a physical latching switch, you'll need to tap the switch twice for it to toggle.
Switch Polarity 
allows reversing the polarity of any connected switch. The option Normal assumes a momentary make switch. Use the option Reverse when using a momentary break switch, or for creative applications.

An external switch can operate globally as a copy of an onboard switch in any layout by assigning it as a Stand In switch. It's an exact surrogate for the onboard switch, and can even be used with per-preset functions. Momentary switches are preferred for use as stand-ins, because they more closely mimic the behavior of the on-board switches.

You can assign the switch directly to parameters in the preset. Or you can assign an External controller to that parameter, and then assign the switch to that specific external controller. The latter option provides more flexibility.

Scroll through presets

A single button switch, connected to the pedal port, can be used to scroll through the first bank of presets. This works fine if you have just a few presets to switch between. And if the processor has more than one PEDAL jack, you can assign one to increment and the other to decrement.

Engage and bypass an effect

To engage or bypass a specific effect, using an external switch, assign the switch to the effect block in the I/O menu.

Maintain bypass state when switching scenes

You can use an external switch to maintain the bypass state of an effect when switching through presets and scenes.

  1. Connect the switch.
  2. Assign the Bypass Mode parameter of the effect to the switch through an External controller.
  3. Repeat this in each preset which you want to control.
  4. Now the switch will control the effect's engaged/bypass state, regardless of the effect's saved state per preset or scene, and stay in sync.

Tips, tricks and troubleshooting

Pedal ports: ADC levels

The Axe-Fx III, FM9 and FM3 let you to check the ADC (Analog-to-Digital Converter) levels of the pedal ports in the Utilities menu.

Zipper noise

If moving the expression pedal creates choppy sounds or zipper noise, increase the Damping parameter in the modifier menu.

Pedal operates only for a part of the sweep

If an expression pedal only seems to operate for a part of its sweep, make sure that it's connected with a TRS-TRS cable and that it has been calibrated properly. Also, make sure that it really is an expression pedal and not a volume pedal.

Videos