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Deadpool’s FM3 Review

Deadpool_25

Experienced
I will try to post a couple of updates over the next week or two.

14 Apr 2020, Day 1
UPS dropped off the FM3 and FC6 around 1:00. Interestingly, and a bit annoyingly, the EV-2 wasn’t delivered even though Fractal shipped all three units the same day. Apparently a couple more days til that arrives.

I wiped down the boxes (crazy it’s come to that) then unboxed. Everything was well packed of course. I’m glad I was prepared for the form factor of the FM3. It’s bigger than my very first impression from when it was first announced. It’s certainly not too big in my opinion. I like how it sits next to the FC6 of course. I was thinking I might take off the end caps but maybe not. We’ll see

My overall plan is to run the FM3 through the FX loops of two of my amps, but initially I wanted to explore the presets through my HS7 monitors. So I placed the FM3 (not the FC6 yet) on the desk and went to hook it up, quickly realizing I didn’t have the right cables. Sam Ash: closed. Guitar Center: closed. Fry’s Electronics: out. Desperate, I found a guy selling some on Craigslist and drive the extra 45 minutes to pick them up.

When I got home I immediately hooked up the FM3 and a guitar (Warmoth Tele with the Dimarzio Joe Duplantier set—fantastic guitar and pickups). Over the course of about an hour and a half, using the Nav and “A” knobs, I made my way through the first 30 presets and all related scenes. Annnnndd....

Wow. The feel and sound are absolutely phenomenal. I actually quite liked them all. I mean it...ALL of them. There are all kinds of amps represented, and I could definitely see a use for any of them. Well done, Fractal.

I really wasn’t expecting too much using the monitors instead of using real cabs but I was shocked at how great they sounded. Like...so good I’m not sure I need to run through the amps (I will though, for sure).

Although I knew I’d like the HBE and a few of my other favorite models from my old AFX2, I found I really liked everything. Also the feel is perfect as far as I can tell. So far, sound and feel get a 10/10 from me.

It’s also built like a tank as far as I can tell. Buttons and knobs and footswitches are high quality. It has a nice beefiness to it but isn’t too chunky or heavy. Form factor and physical appearance: 8/10.

So that’s my first impression. More to come as I work my way through more presets and eventually dig in a bit and start making my own patches. Also when I connect it to my real amps.
 

Deadpool_25

Experienced
Day two:
One of my questions was how to setup a function similar to the EHX Freeze which just captures a time snippet of sound and holds it (basically). After a quick try with the delay block’s hold function (worked but there’s kind of a “click”) I tried using a reverb block and its hold function. Well, mission accomplished. That was easy.

Next up was trying out the synth block to see if it could maybe render my SY-1 redundant. After just a few minutes and only very minor and basic tweaking I realized it could probably get the job done. The only question will be how much CPU I’d use in a preset with normal amp tones AND the synth stuff. Although I didn’t test that, I suspect I’d run out of CPU. I might be able to do something using two presets and a looper block though.

I also did a quick play through of the different reverbs. Yeah. Fractal nailed it. I was just getting lost in those lush ambient washes and marveling at how great they sounded. Then I remembered something and quickly glanced at Axe Edit...wtf, those are on “normal”? Ridiculous.

I took a quick peek at the plex delay as well. Yet another super cool block and again I only barely scraped the surface of that block.

The power of the FM3 is just amazing and my initial impression holds. It seems to me the primary limitation will be CPU but we shall see. I’m sure it doesn’t need to be an issue for me unless I really want to go all out on a kitchen sink preset. Likely there are ways around that though.
 

honeypat

Inspired
For the freedom of cpu usage,how about couple H9 to send/return block in stereo mode since those reverbs eat much processing resources. Cheers and stay safe...
 

Deadpool_25

Experienced
Day 4:
Finally got around to trying it through my real amp FX loops. California Tweed combo on the left, Super Kraken head and California Tweed extension cab on the right.

I started out running XLR-to-TS cables from output 1 to the amps’ returns and noticed a bit of hum. It wasn’t horrible but it was noticeable. I just played through that and worked it out afterwards by using regular TS cables from output 2. I have some Humbuster cables laying around and tried those for the fun of it but there’s no difference between them and the TS cables—both were silent.

I created a patch with just an amp block and tried a few amps: Shiver Clean, Friedman BE, Dizzy VH4 Blue Ch3, Plexi 100 Jump, and Super Verb Normal. These all worked flawlessly. I tried with power amp sag on and with it off and got excellent results both ways. My amps both had fairly low master volume settings so aren’t really adding much of their own color. The feel is outstanding. I want to do a little more testing but I’m incredibly happy with the sounds.

Menu diving to get to things is still a minor annoyance but it’s to be expected. I just don’t see reasonable any way around it with products like these. I found I was getting used to it quite quickly so maybe any annoyance will pass as I get more proficient at editing on the FM3 instead of using FM3 Edit.

The next test will be building some “kitchen sink” presets to see how I am with the CPU’s limits.
 

Deadpool_25

Experienced
For the freedom of cpu usage,how about couple H9 to send/return block in stereo mode since those reverbs eat much processing resources. Cheers and stay safe...
Not a bad idea but I’d much rather minimize any external equipment. If I really had to I could just throw maybe the BigSky or Mobius into the mix. I don’t think I’ll need to though. We’ll see.
 

Deadpool_25

Experienced
Day 5:
After some screwing around building presets I’m pretty satisfied with the CPU limits. I can get to the CPU warning but I have plenty of blocks in my presets by then...probably wouldn’t need that much most of the time anyway.

I’m having a tough time finding something I dislike about this thing. Definitely considering selling off almost all my pedals now. I’d probably have to keep a few around just...well, because.

I did a quick little shootout with the Super Kraken’s Gain 2 (based on 5150II) and a 5150 block letter model (didn’t even see there’s a 5150 II model; oops). I ran the FM3 through the SK Return. The modeled preamp sounds just as good as the SK’s tube preamp section. I left power amp sag on at the lowest setting. The fractal models gave that immediacy and girth you get from the real amp.

Again, I’m trying to figure out why I need most of these other pedals around. The FM3 is just so damned good.
 

Gasp100

Experienced
Day 8: Inspired.
I tried running the FM3 into the FX return of my only tube amp (Dr Z Jetta) and did not like it at all...
The Jetta is a killer clean pedal platform and the loop (Metro zero loss?) is supposed to be the ultimate, but it really strange because it almost sounds exactly like running into the FRONT input of the amp?
Do you think maybe it is just how the loop is implemented?
I have run AX8 into: Dirty Shirley mini, Runt 20, Marshall SV20h, Marshall Silver Jube mini (as you can see I have a "thing" for mini amp heads) and it always sounded amazing. I cannot figure it out?
 

Randalljax

Fractal Fanatic
I tried running the FM3 into the FX return of my only tube amp (Dr Z Jetta) and did not like it at all...
The Jetta is a killer clean pedal platform and the loop (Metro zero loss?) is supposed to be the ultimate, but it really strange because it almost sounds exactly like running into the FRONT input of the amp?
Do you think maybe it is just how the loop is implemented?
I have run AX8 into: Dirty Shirley mini, Runt 20, Marshall SV20h, Marshall Silver Jube mini (as you can see I have a "thing" for mini amp heads) and it always sounded amazing. I cannot figure it out?
did you ever try running your AX3 into the amps when you had it ?
 

Gasp100

Experienced
did you ever try running your AX3 into the amps when you had it ?
No. I usually work on the one in one out rule so it's very rare for me to have a high(er) dollar modeling solution and a tube solution in the house at the same time.
When I had the III it was all in. The FM3 affords me to have both, but I just don't think the Jetta is a great fit in combination with the FM3. With analog pedals it sounds great, with digital not working well for me.
 

Deadpool_25

Experienced
I tried running the FM3 into the FX return of my only tube amp (Dr Z Jetta) and did not like it at all...
The Jetta is a killer clean pedal platform and the loop (Metro zero loss?) is supposed to be the ultimate, but it really strange because it almost sounds exactly like running into the FRONT input of the amp?
Do you think maybe it is just how the loop is implemented?
I have run AX8 into: Dirty Shirley mini, Runt 20, Marshall SV20h, Marshall Silver Jube mini (as you can see I have a "thing" for mini amp heads) and it always sounded amazing. I cannot figure it out?
You had cab sim off right? Also, was the amp so loud that its power section was distorting at all?
 

zenaxe

Fractal Fanatic
I tried running the FM3 into the FX return of my only tube amp (Dr Z Jetta) and did not like it at all...
The Jetta is a killer clean pedal platform and the loop (Metro zero loss?) is supposed to be the ultimate, but it really strange because it almost sounds exactly like running into the FRONT input of the amp?
Do you think maybe it is just how the loop is implemented?
I have run AX8 into: Dirty Shirley mini, Runt 20, Marshall SV20h, Marshall Silver Jube mini (as you can see I have a "thing" for mini amp heads) and it always sounded amazing. I cannot figure it out?
Almost certainly one setting or another. Levels are a thing with loops, cab sims, power amp sims, global settings, etc.
 

Gasp100

Experienced
You had cab sim off right? Also, was the amp so loud that its power section was distorting at all?
Actually the amp volume was moderate to low. The Jetta is very clean unless you really crank up the volume knob (and turn down the master).
I probably could have eq'd around it and spent more time, but I was surprised that with or without power amp simulation I really did not like it nearly as much as my experience with other amp FX loops (Marshall SV20, Mesa V:25, Runt 20, etc) and the AX8.
I'm certain FM3 into one of those amp's FX loop return would be fantastic.
Of course it sounds and feels killer into FRFR as well so....
Now I'm at the back of the list for the FM3 with headphones, but I really think that is the best choice for my purposes.
 

Deadpool_25

Experienced
Update:

GAS was starting to mess with me again. I went to GC and played through an EVH 5150 III 50w EL34 head into a Marshall 4x12. First I tried a PRS Silver Sky into the clean channel and it was surprisingly good. I didn’t think I’d like the clean that much. Next I switched to the rhythm channel and again it sounded really good. The lead channel sounded quite good but I’d probably never use single coils through that. I switched to a Les Paul. The clean still sounded good. The crunch wasn’t nearly as good sounding with the humbuckers. The lead channel sounded great. At that point I was somewhat tempted but managed to refrain.

I went home and plugged the FM3 into my Invective’s FX loop. I used a clean patch with just an amp block. First I grabbed a Strat and tried a few clean amps. With only very minimal tweaking (sometimes none at all) I was all smiles. Amazing. Next I grabbed a humbucker equipped guitar and tried a few higher gain amps. First up were the 5153 50w and 100w models. At this point I kinda laughed—wtf did I have GAS for?? Iswitched to a few of my favorite models and also scrolled through a few I’d never tried. Again, with almost no tweaking I was blown away. GAS officially cured. For now. I know I’ll never be100% cured; it’s an addiction.

Also, bonus, it’s a hell of a lot easier to control levels with the FM3.
 
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