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AX8 vs FM3+FC6

bradlake

Axe-Master
Being one of the few lucky ones who got to check the FM3 out at the Fest last week, even in its firmware infancy, I’m pretty confident that there is very little not to like here, ..and the obvious speedy evolution of the FC FW (speedier than delivery rates, sadly) have already answered several early issues/requests. I say, well done FAS
 

stdout

New here
I just posted this as a follow-up to a post in the announcement thread and thought I’d cross-post here.

Each footswitch on the MC6 has an associated preset. You can get 1 primary and 3 alternate actions from one footswitch. When the primary is combined with a toggle function you have 5 actions. (I'm using the term primary to indicate a function that would normally be associated with a label on a scribble strip.) In practice using a primary and one alternate action on a switch is probably the most useful. Each bank on the MC6 has 2 pages. When you select a bank you are presented with the first page which gives you control over 6 presets. By using an alternate action on a switch you can toggle to the second page. This gives you access to 6 more presets. Using the conservative approach of only assigning a primary and alternate actions to each switch and using an alternate to toggle between pages, you have control over 12 primary and 10 alternate actions per bank (2 alternates are taken for the page toggle). If you are using a primary that can be toggled, that gives you control over a possible 34 actions. Each action is associated with a message set, where a message set is comprised of one or more messages. Each preset can contain up to 16 messages. It is really quite powerful.
 

Bigeclipse

Regular
It seems that since the announcement of the FM3 there has been a general disappointment about the form factor. 3 buttons is not enough for a lot of people and the FM3 + FC6 is requires a pretty dang wide board, especially if using an expression pedal. There are also some really cool new improvements the FM3 has that give it an edge over the more feature stripped AX8.

Being a big gear snob, I want to make sure I have the absolute best possible gear solution. Before the announcement about the FM3 I was confident that I had the best solution for my needs. The following will be my thought process analyzing which is better for me personally maybe others will look at this and it will help them decide which unit they want.

Here is a list of “requirements” that I have for my amp system.

1. It needs to sound really good. Obviously both the Ax8 and FM3 will meet this requirement. Dual amps and reverbs would be an improvement in this area but my next requirement rules out the AXE-FXIII.

2. I need to get my entire rig (two guitars and my amp rig) from my car to the stage in one trip with minimal effort. I also don’t want to unpack and hook up any extra cables so both my modeling unit and expression pedal all need to be securely fastened to a board of some kind. I want to but my board on the ground connect it to the PA and start playing. The AX8 has a bit of an edge here because it is 6” narrower and close to 2 lbs lighter than an FM3+FC6 setup.

3. When playing a set I need to be able to switch to any of my sounds with only 1 footswitch tap I don’t want to do any tap dancing at all. Currently on my AX8 all of my sounds are one click away, each song has a preset with scenes set up for all my sounds and I have a switch set up to increment up one preset so when one song ends I only have to hit one switch to be ready for the next song. I usually have 6 sounds set up per preset using scenes. Both the AX8 and FM3+FC6 would meet this requirement but the AX8 has two extra switches left over for FX switching if need be.

4. My performance presets need to be flexible enough that if something changes in the set list I can still get through the songs sounding great. This is kind of where the FM3+FC6 starts to really shine, with the AX8 I’m pretty much stuck with whatever I had programed in the 6 scenes plus whatever I have assigned to the two extra switches. With the FM3+FC6 I can hit a switch and go from a board that controls scene selection to a pedal board type layout. Despite the fact that the FC3+FC6 has less switches than the AX8 it still has better switching capability due to the fact that you can change the switch layout so easily.

5. The overall layout of the switches needs to be easy to use while playing. The FM3+FC6 has the lead here as well, it looks like all the switches are easier to access than on the Ax8. With the Ax8 the top row of switches was kind of hard to get at if wearing boots because you had to avoid the protection bar. The design of the FM3+FC6 eliminates this hassle. Another benefit of the FM3+FC6 is that you could have your expression pedal in between the two units, this means less movement between hitting a switch and getting back to the expression pedal.


Another think the AX8 wins at is price, It was a little cheaper than an FM3 + FC6. For me this isn’t really a big deal, if they came out with a floor version of the Axe-FXiii Id buy it for 2500, but for some this may be a big deal.

To sum up, the FM3+FC6 is a better unit in all respects but size and cost. Pretty much the only reason you would want to go with the Ax8 vs the FM3+FC6 is either because you can’t afford the difference or because the extra 6” of width is a deal breaker.
I understand where you are coming from but some of your points are pretty laughable such as point 2, not trying to be mean but come on. I mean it is one thing to say "I hate carrying a very heavy tube amp, pedal board, amp cabinet....etc" but to say oh man, I MUST make the trip from care to venue in one trip seems a bit crazy to me. I mean how lazy are people getting this day and age? You can build a very small amp rack for the fractal axe III if you really wanted. So you make 2 trips to have the best sounds imaginable still in a very light weight rig setup. Now all that being said...your point about tap dancing buttons. It is truly not hard to get a LOT out of the new FM3 with very minimal "tap dancing". Switch 1 can be set to be scene 1, click and scene 2. Switch 2 can do scenes 3/4. Switch 3 could be scene 5 and tap tempo. Switch one could be click and hold for change presets. Switch 3 could be click and hold for tuner....etc. I would say MOST people could do many songs and shows with 5 scenes. If you use stomps, you could do similar as above. And learning to do this without feeling like tap dancing is truly not a big. Heck, learning to program your ax8 was likely 100 times harder than it would be to learn how to do these switches. Just saying...
 

ksandvik

Veteran
a) FM3 in a guitar bag with some cables and a lightweight self-powered speaker
b) trolley
c) bribe your kids or boyfriends/girlfriends to be your roadies (tough luck, I've tried)
d) hire a roadie or two
 

200man

Veteran
for many of my gigs, i must have it all in one trip. there's no loading zone, the parking lot is across the street in a tourist-heavy area. i have to roll it there in one trip. granted these places have a "pa system" so i'm not bringing speakers or lights. but i need my guitar on my back, and one rolling case with everything i need. i have my ax8, ev2, all the cables and power strips i need, hard wired IEM setup for 2, Touchmix 16 mixer all in a small rolling suitcase, then on top of that i have a fan/blower to move air, my small mic stand by portastand latched on there, and i have a free hand to carry a small CP8 speaker if i really need it, or just to like, open doors and stuff. i've spent years getting a setup like that, and people are SUPER jealous haha.
I would love to see a pic of your setup. Sounds cool!
 

lwknives

Veteran
I understand where you are coming from but some of your points are pretty laughable such as point 2, not trying to be mean but come on. I mean it is one thing to say "I hate carrying a very heavy tube amp, pedal board, amp cabinet....etc" but to say oh man, I MUST make the trip from care to venue in one trip seems a bit crazy to me. I mean how lazy are people getting this day and age? You can build a very small amp rack for the fractal axe III if you really wanted. So you make 2 trips to have the best sounds imaginable still in a very light weight rig setup.

Now all that being said...your point about tap dancing buttons. It is truly not hard to get a LOT out of the new FM3 with very minimal "tap dancing". Switch 1 can be set to be scene 1, click and scene 2. Switch 2 can do scenes 3/4. Switch 3 could be scene 5 and tap tempo. Switch one could be click and hold for change presets. Switch 3 could be click and hold for tuner....etc. I would say MOST people could do many songs and shows with 5 scenes. If you use stomps, you could do similar as above. And learning to do this without feeling like tap dancing is truly not a big. Heck, learning to program your ax8 was likely 100 times harder than it would be to learn how to do these switches. Just saying...

UM... OK I guess I'm lazy because I don't want to make an extra trip to my car. Before I got my Ax8 I had an Axe-FXII and MFC-101 setup and to be honest getting rid of the rack has been very nice. I suppose thats just because I'm lazy though.
I mean if the Axe-FXIII actually sounded noticeably better than the Ax8 it would be one thing but the only thing it would really offer that I cant get with the Ax8 is having two reverbs and retaining stereo imaging with delays before two amps in the signal chain.
Before Fractal I had a Mesa dual roadster with a large pedal board I had set up in 4CM I gigged three times a week with that setup. The Axe-FXii was a big step up from that convenience wise! Now I have one trip and my setup time is about 2 Minutes. Maybe its laziness, maybe its convenience, maybe I would rather play guitar than setup gear...

I could compromise and get through most of my set lists with three switches. I never said I couldnt get through a gig with only three switches, I said I don't WANT to have to hit more than 1 switch to get to my next sound, just my laziness showing again!
I'm not saying that most people couldn't get by with just three switches, it would a good bit of tap dancing for me though. I need to have immediate access to 6 scenes, this would completely fill up the tap and hold features of all three switches (assuming I wanted to move away from having scenes fire on the down stroke, yuck!!!) I could then use the master layout to access a page that had a preset increment foot switch. So yes, I could get through a set list but at the end of every song I would have to be changing pages so I could fire the preset increment to get into the next song (we don't have any gap between songs). It could work but its not what I want, plus I already have an AX8 that pretty much meets all my requirements anyway. Or I could get the FM3+FC6 and have access to all those sounds plus an extra layout for jam sessions, plus an extra layout for delay setup, plus a hybrid layout where I have 3 scenes and some stomps and tap tempo plus have big easy to hit switches so I never accidentally hit the wrong one.
Of course if I wasn't so lazy I could build and program my own MIDI controller to the exact size and specification I want.
 

lwknives

Veteran
Its honestly a really nice time to be a guitarist. 10 years ago these requirements would be impossible without having a crew to carry around a tone of gear. Now I can carry all of that with one hand and it is more reliable and easier to use. My hat is off to Fractal for making this happen for us guitarists.
 

thegrizman

Inspired
If I didn't already own an AX8 I would start with FM3+FC6. Then I could get a board and case to fit the new rig plus expression pedal. When I switched from my analog board to AX8 plus fractal expression I used my old Blackbird case and board. Add another $300 plus for the new board and case. You will get a lot of that back selling the AX8 and the old board/case. But for me I haven't even scratched the surface of the AX8 and it has been a proven road worthy unit.
 
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Handyman

Inspired
UM... OK I guess I'm lazy because I don't want to make an extra trip to my car. Before I got my Ax8 I had an Axe-FXII and MFC-101 setup and to be honest getting rid of the rack has been very nice. I suppose thats just because I'm lazy though.
I mean if the Axe-FXIII actually sounded noticeably better than the Ax8 it would be one thing but the only thing it would really offer that I cant get with the Ax8 is having two reverbs and retaining stereo imaging with delays before two amps in the signal chain.
Before Fractal I had a Mesa dual roadster with a large pedal board I had set up in 4CM I gigged three times a week with that setup. The Axe-FXii was a big step up from that convenience wise! Now I have one trip and my setup time is about 2 Minutes. Maybe its laziness, maybe its convenience, maybe I would rather play guitar than setup gear...

I could compromise and get through most of my set lists with three switches. I never said I couldnt get through a gig with only three switches, I said I don't WANT to have to hit more than 1 switch to get to my next sound, just my laziness showing again!
I'm not saying that most people couldn't get by with just three switches, it would a good bit of tap dancing for me though. I need to have immediate access to 6 scenes, this would completely fill up the tap and hold features of all three switches (assuming I wanted to move away from having scenes fire on the down stroke, yuck!!!) I could then use the master layout to access a page that had a preset increment foot switch. So yes, I could get through a set list but at the end of every song I would have to be changing pages so I could fire the preset increment to get into the next song (we don't have any gap between songs). It could work but its not what I want, plus I already have an AX8 that pretty much meets all my requirements anyway. Or I could get the FM3+FC6 and have access to all those sounds plus an extra layout for jam sessions, plus an extra layout for delay setup, plus a hybrid layout where I have 3 scenes and some stomps and tap tempo plus have big easy to hit switches so I never accidentally hit the wrong one.
Of course if I wasn't so lazy I could build and program my own MIDI controller to the exact size and specification I want.
Convenience is much more convenient than inconvenience! There's nothing wrong with wanting your rig to do exactly what you want it to do.
 

brokenvail

Fractal Fanatic
4. My performance presets need to be flexible enough that if something changes in the set list I can still get through the songs sounding great. This is kind of where the FM3+FC6 starts to really shine, with the AX8 I’m pretty much stuck with whatever I had programed in the 6 scenes plus whatever I have assigned to the two extra switches. With the FM3+FC6 I can hit a switch and go from a board that controls scene selection to a pedal board type layout. Despite the fact that the FC3+FC6 has less switches than the AX8 it still has better switching capability due to the fact that you can change the switch layout so easily.
This is not an issue for the Ax 8. I have not seen anyone run their Ax buttons like me. Let me explain what I do. I play an an environment where a lot of changes get tossed by way. My Ax is set up so that buttons 1-8 are all fx on and off (and amp xy) that way I have access to all my fx and my two amps and I can press and hold the button to switch an FX to Y state. Here is where things get interesting. When I long press F1 it kicks my Ax 8 into sticky scene mode. I actually live in sticky scene mode. I turn on my Ax immediately kick in sticky scene mode and I play my set. If a curve ball comes my way I click on F1 and I am in FX IA mode. I also have scene revert off so I can "edit" scenes on the fly as needed without actually saving them. Also since my main mode is FX IA mode if I am in sticky scene mode and I am on my scene 8 where I have a MTD working like a reverb if I want to switch to my MTD Y state which kind of shimmers I don't even have to switch to IA mode. I just hold down the button assigned to MTD and it can still switch the Y state.

I am getting an FM, not happy I will need to get an FC to get me close to my Ax and have the larger foot print. I refuse to get a larger board so my exp will now live on the floor next to my board. For now I will also be keeping my Ax because honestly it sounds too good and I can do much with it
 

lwknives

Veteran
This is not an issue for the Ax 8. I have not seen anyone run their Ax buttons like me. Let me explain what I do. I play an an environment where a lot of changes get tossed by way. My Ax is set up so that buttons 1-8 are all fx on and off (and amp xy) that way I have access to all my fx and my two amps and I can press and hold the button to switch an FX to Y state. Here is where things get interesting. When I long press F1 it kicks my Ax 8 into sticky scene mode. I actually live in sticky scene mode. I turn on my Ax immediately kick in sticky scene mode and I play my set. If a curve ball comes my way I click on F1 and I am in FX IA mode. I also have scene revert off so I can "edit" scenes on the fly as needed without actually saving them. Also since my main mode is FX IA mode if I am in sticky scene mode and I am on my scene 8 where I have a MTD working like a reverb if I want to switch to my MTD Y state which kind of shimmers I don't even have to switch to IA mode. I just hold down the button assigned to MTD and it can still switch the Y state.

I am getting an FM, not happy I will need to get an FC to get me close to my Ax and have the larger foot print. I refuse to get a larger board so my exp will now live on the floor next to my board. For now I will also be keeping my Ax because honestly it sounds too good and I can do much with it
When you change presets does it stay in sticky scene mode?
 

brokenvail

Fractal Fanatic
The trick to switch presets is to build them so you can step down through them instead of up. I only use F2 currently to step down one preset at a time. Doing it that way I can step down to the next preset and still be in scene model. Obviously if you have OCD and the thought of stepping down is annoying you can make F2 step up a preset
 

lwknives

Veteran
The trick to switch presets is to build them so you can step down through them instead of up. I only use F2 currently to step down one preset at a time. Doing it that way I can step down to the next preset and still be in scene model. Obviously if you have OCD and the thought of stepping down is annoying you can make F2 step up a preset
I want to be able to go both up and down. During rehearsal we jump around a lot.
I’m gonna have to look into this though! It would make it pretty much be like having two layouts.
 

brokenvail

Fractal Fanatic
I want to be able to go both up and down. During rehearsal we jump around a lot.
I’m gonna have to look into this though! It would make it pretty much be like having two layouts.
It is def two layouts. You can't do it in one press but with minimal presses you can do it. Also Ax has 4 pedal inputs so you might be able do to it with an ext button as well
 

lwknives

Veteran
It is def two layouts. You can't do it in one press but with minimal presses you can do it. Also Ax has 4 pedal inputs so you might be able do to it with an ext button as well
So I tried this out, I have F3 set as tap tempo and then hold for sticky scenes. It works great! It stays on the sticky scene mode even when switching presets which I accomplish with the F1 and F2 switches. This will make waiting on the FM3 much easier!!!
 
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