After what feels like millennia, Fractal Audio have announced the third full iteration of their Axe-Fx line – the Axe-Fx III! With a full-color display, more than twice the processing power of the previous model, and a score of I/O options, at first glance it’s looking like a pretty significant upgrade.
When we know more, you’ll know more. Until then, you can join the waitlist and pray your number comes up!
From the website:
Dynamic Color Display
Controlling all this power requires an interface to match. A large 800×480 color display features 30 times the resolution of our previous model. Custom designed to provide more brightness and contrast than “off-the-shelf” displays, this new display is optimized for readability in the most difficult conditions.
Driving the display is a dedicated graphics accelerator delivering dynamic, animated displays. Unlike the mostly static displays in other products, the displays in the Axe-Fx III feature moving knobs, meters, graphs and other dynamic content giving the user valuable visual feedback at a glance.
Sleek Front Panel
Five push-encoders plus a main encoder allow rapid data entry and parameter control. Editing is fast and easy with minimum keystrokes needed to access and edit parameters. A stack-based menu system is quick and intuitive with the most-used menus no more than a couple button pushes away.
Placement of the knobs below the display gives direct access to five on-screen parameters at once, plus five “push” functions at the same time. Dialing in sounds has never been faster or easier.
A front panel LED meter bridge provides instant visual status for the inputs and outputs. The effects layout grid also features an intuitive “Meters” display which shows the input and output levels of each effect block at a glance. Additionally a dedicated Meters menu shows all analog and USB I/O levels for quick and easy troubleshooting of connection mistakes.
Abundant I/O Provides Ultimate Flexibility
Vastly expanded input and output resources provide for ultimate flexibility. The Axe-Fx III features two instrument inputs: one on the front and one on the back with auto-switching capability. Inserting a plug into the front input jack automatically switches the unit to front input operation. Remove the plug and the unit switches to the rear input. Connect your wireless to the rear input and then plug into the front input to tune (using the new tuner display) or make quick adjustments. Unplug and you’re back to jumping around on stage with your wireless. Both inputs feature our Auto-Z technology which simulates the input impedance and subsequent pickup loading of typical stomp boxes.
An additional six analog inputs are available: one pair of balanced XLR/1/4″ combo-jacks plus two pairs of balanced 1/4″ inputs.
Analog output capabilities are similarly impressive with four fully independent stereo pairs: Output 1 features both XLR and 1/4” jacks for connection to FOH, monitors or other line level devices. Output 2 features a second set of XLR jacks and outputs 3 and 4 each offer a pair of Humbuster™ 1/4” jacks. Outputs 3 and 4 are designed for unity gain applications such as “the four cable method” or dual stereo inserts and can also be used as general-purpose outputs. Digital audio I/O is comprised of AES and SPDIF inputs and outputs. Clocking options include internal or external via SPDIF/AES input.
Two expression pedal inputs allow for expressive real-time control of parameters. Our new FASLINK II™ provides phantom power and bidirectional communications with the upcoming FC-6 and FC-12 foot controllers over standard XLR microphone cables. MIDI In, Out and a dedicated Thru provide easy integration with other gear in large stage rigs. Extensive MIDI support along with a dedicated MIDI block allows the Axe-Fx III to be the central hub of a MIDI-connected setup.
Input & Output Blocks
Routing flexibility is enhanced by unconstrained placement of input and output blocks anywhere in the routing grid. Want to insert different outboard devices at different parts of the signal path? No problem. Simultaneously process discrete stereo output for acoustic and electric guitars? Easy. Send stereo to front-of-house, plus a true “Wet-Dry-Wet” on stage while recording a DI for re-amping later? No problem! Each output pair also has its own dedicated front panel LEVEL knob for convenient control.
8×8 USB with Superior Performance
The Center of your Music Workstation
A 16-core, 500 MHz microcontroller provides 16 channels of flawless USB audio (8 in, 8 out) allowing the Axe-Fx III to be the center of your music workstation. The audiophile-grade signal path components and converters provide better audio performance than most dedicated USB audio interfaces. With 8×8 channels you can record multiple tracks of processed audio, DI signals, etc., while monitoring backing tracks, auditioning stereo reamps in real-time, and more. A USB audio sound source can even be placed on the grid with its own dedicated block. Windows 7/8/10 drivers are included, and the Axe-Fx III requires no driver on a Mac running 10.7.4 or newer.
USB In (from Axe-Fx III to Computer)
1+2: Output 1 3+4: Output 2 5+6: Input 1 (DI for reamping) 7+8: Input 2 (for general use)
USB Out (from computer to Axe-Fx III)
1+2: Routed to physical Output 1 L+R 3+4: Routed to physical Output 2 L+R 5+6: Routed to the Grid via INPUT 1 block when its source is set to USB 7+8: Routed to the Grid via the dedicated INPUT USB block