THE CURRENT FIRMWARE 3.0 IS THE MOST
FAR-REACHING UPDATE YET RELEASED FOR THE AXE-FX II.
REASON ENOUGH FOR US TO GIVE YOU THE
RUN DOWN ON WHAT'S NEW.
The first firmware version of the Axe-Fx II was already well appointed with amps. Nevertheless since it appeared earlier this year eight new amps have been added, including a Mesa Boogie Lone Star and a Fender Princeton 5F2-A. A few models that were available on the Standard/Ultra, but were as yet missing from the II, have likewise been added.
INSIDE THE TUBES
But the main news is that the amp modelling has been even further improved, mainly through increased attention to minute details in the simulations. The fine-tuning possibilities now include the materials inside the tubes. There are new algorithms for pentodes and triodes. While all this may seem very theoretical, there are practical implications aplenty:
High gain sounds have more kick and the point at which cleaner sounds start to break up can be more delicately adjusted.
Many of the previously hidden parameters are now user-adjustable, but thanks to Cliff Chase's brilliant work the need to actually adjust these settings is becoming ever rarer.
All of the amp models have been reworked, some of them extensively, so that they now sound so good in their default settings that you will often not want to adjust anything at all.
All the parameters relevant to speaker impedance and the improved speaker load modelling have now been grouped together on an extra page in the Amp block. This page shows a speaker impedance graph, which greatly improves the ease of adjustment.
A new 'Amp Voicing' parameter enables quick adjustment of the amp to suit different mixes. The simple turn of a knob provides different voicings by automatically adjusting the tone in the same way that a sound engineer would.
While the standard 'Neutral' setting provides a raw amp sound, the other voicings offer mix-ready tones without the need for time-consuming EQ adjustment.
There has been more than a little movement in the cabinet department, too.
All the microphone models have been reworked. There is now a proximity parameter to allow adjustment of the virtual distance from mic to cab. Thanks to 'cabinet size warping' the relative size of the speaker can now be adjusted as long as the cabinet is in one of the mono modes.
But the absolute highlight of Firmware 3.0 is a very tasty treat indeed: there is now an IR capture feature, which enables the properties of any desired loudspeaker cabinet to be captured and analysed quickly and easily. All you need is a power amp and microphone. Both should be reasonably linear, as the whole signal chain is then cloned and can be saved as a user cab in the Axe-Fx II.
You can see how it's done in this short Video There is also a short instruction sheet included in the firmware download.
You can then call up the cabinet sound any time you like. So, if your favourite cab isn't included in the Axe-Fx II it's really no problem: hook it up, let it be analysed and in less than two minutes your Axe-Fx II will have 'learnt' how to reproduce it.
Just imagine it for a minute: the audio characteristics of any cabinet you care to mention can be measured and analysed in a matter of minutes and then stored by the Axe-Fx II. Meaning that your favourite cabinet is always available, whether you have the room/strength/energy to take it with you or not. Borrow your dream cabinet and copy its sound into the Axe-Fx II – completely legally!
Many other modules have also been reworked and extended. The spring reverb modelling has been improved and a drive parameter added. Many more parameters in various blocks can now be controlled remotely with modifiers.
The Rotary block now has an extra parameter that adjusts the rate of the low-frequency drum in relation to that of the high-frequency rotor. The Volume block is now more versatile in its control options. The Pitch block has received a low-cut parameter and the Quad-Chorus a high-cut. The sequencer has been extended to comprise 32 steps.
Handling and user-friendliness has been further improved, whereby Cliff Chase has stuck to his usual route and listened to the many wishes and suggestions from the world-wide user community.
When selecting patches the value wheel now 'wraps around' from slot 384 to slot 1, but pauses at the last slot, so that the jump is not so easy to miss.
The X/Y function has also been improved; a double-click now copies settings from the one to the other. When switching via midi the bypass setting will now be saved.
The screen now draws graphics faster, improving the display under heavy CPU loads.
Axe-Edit has simultaneously been given the once over and, as with the firmware, can be downloaded either from us or Fractal Audio.
Due to the many changes that affect internal structures your patches may well sound slightly different after the update. In this case the first step is to reset the amp parameters to their default settings. You can do this by temporarily changing the amp type and then changing back to the desired type. The release notes included with every update contain useful information and should therefore always be read carefully to ensure that you can make the most of the new firmware.
MANNA FROM HEAVEN
Along with all our customers we are happy to see that this firmware update is once again completely free, despite the number of new features it offers. And if you have ordered an Axe-Fx II and are more-or-less patiently waiting to join the community of owners, you can also be happy in the knowledge that we will install the very latest firmware for you before we deliver your unit.
IR Capture Guide English