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FM3 vs AXE-FX III-Main Differences?

DFauvre

Inspired
I own an Axe-FX III which I've extensively used to make several rock guitar albums and I recently bought an FM3. I'm going to be traveling most of the coming year and just updated the FM3 and transferred over all my custom presets and cabs from the Axe-FX III.

What is the main qualitative difference between the two units?

Is there a sonic quality difference between the two units? Does the same preset sound different/better on one than the other?

Besides being rack mountable, why would someone buy the Axe-FX III over the FM3?

I don't use complex presets. My main presets are highly customized amps and a cab going into a DAW where I add the typical effects like reverb, echo, phaser, etc. I don't like printing with those effect on the guitar.

Any comments in particular if the Axe-FX III SOUNDS BETTER than the FM3 would be helpful. Does it? Or do they sound the same?
 

TSJMajesty

Power User
Besides being rack mountable, why would someone buy the Axe-FX III over the FM3?
For me, it was because I wanted the flagship model (a bit of bragging rights so to speak, I'm not ashamed to admit), and I had the means. But if you don't really need the extra features, imo the FM3 is money much better spent. You get a LOT for 1100 bucks.
 

2204JCM

Inspired
For me, it was because I wanted the flagship model (a bit of bragging rights so to speak, I'm not ashamed to admit), and I had the means. But if you don't really need the extra features, imo the FM3 is money much better spent. You get a LOT for 1100 bucks.
Yeah the FX3 is really over kill.
it’s that over built.
I went with the FM3 as I don’t like effects -especially multiple ones on at once. But from what I’ve seen it still does a lot.
Even the option of dual heads (FX3)
isn’t much of a draw.
The FM3 will do two different cabs. But even that isn’t critical to me.
When I hear complaints about not enough CPU in the FM3 it makes me wonder if these guys play guitar or just tweak effects all day?
 

AJ Vargas

Experienced
To me the biggest difference is how well the Axe FX III integrates into a modern recording studio. Both units are equally capable of recording and live performance, that's been proven. But the magic of the Axe FX as a modeling and effects powerhouse capable of countless routing options for recording and adding effects in the studio whether is in the recording or mixing process is where this beauty shines.

If you want it for playing live, and your recording needs are pretty much standard, the FM3 is A LOT of a bang for the buck option. But, as always if you can afford it, going for the flagship wouldn't hurt. :)
 

DFauvre

Inspired
So there is NO sonic difference? I've loaded the same preset into both and run the same guitar in both at the same time and they sound different on their output. I would assume the AxeFX III has something to make is sound better, better converters or something. Hard to imagine twice the price just for more routing options. Anyone else who has both notice a tone difference?
 

DFauvre

Inspired
This is from the wiki, 'Aside from modifications designed to optimize CPU on the FM3 (see below), the FM3 runs the same algorithms and therefore sounds the same when identical settings are used.' I'll have to double check my test set up. Allegedly they should sound identical.
 

Rex

Legend!
So there is NO sonic difference? I've loaded the same preset into both and run the same guitar in both at the same time and they sound different on their output.Anyone else who has both notice a tone difference?
Nope.

That's never happened to me, except for presets that didn't translate properly because of some compatibility issue, such as a two-Amp-block preset when the FM3 only has one Amp block available.

If you have both units available and running current firmware, pull up the same factory preset on both boxes. What difference to you hear?
 

DFauvre

Inspired
Turns out I had the AxeFX III going out through the humbuster output and the FM3 going out of the main out. When I went out of the humsbuster out of the FM3, they sound identical. Thanks for the help!
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
So there is NO sonic difference? I've loaded the same preset into both and run the same guitar in both at the same time and they sound different on their output. I would assume the AxeFX III has something to make is sound better, better converters or something. Hard to imagine twice the price just for more routing options. Anyone else who has both notice a tone difference?
I have both, and on the same preset, exported from the FM3 on Cygnus, to the FX3 on Cygnus, I can't tell any difference. And, that's Fractal's goal.
 

Kruegmeister

Experienced
That's one of the CPU differences, and they're working on fixing it; It's been mentioned in the forums that they're reducing the difference.

More than just CPU difference, it does not work as good. (Different Algorithm)
They are working on fixing both issues, but the AxeFX III capo is allegedly excellent. For Cleans the FM3 one isn't good enough to be usable & the reason for the HXStomp in my FM3 Loop currently.
 

Ugly Bunny

Experienced
There is minimal sound difference. On the FM3, the amp block lacks the input dynamics which may or may not affect your experience. There is also an Input Gain parameter in the Setup > I/O menu in the Axe III that is not on the FM3. While the FM3 does have the A/D scaling option available via the Input Pad preset values, it's not as fully customizable as the Axe III. There are several other things; like the compressor knee settings are not identical (I can't remember exactly which model it was, but the FM3 had only 3 settings, soft, med, and hard, whereas the Axe III had two additional settings, med-soft and med-hard I think).

Then there's the Virtual Capo. Not sure how much you use this, but let's just say it will be the happiest day of my life as an FM3 owner when it gets the Axe III's Virtual Capo.

Overall, it's about, I'd say 98-99% the same in terms of tone or ability to recreate mirrored presets, but you'll want to work your Axe III presets and Setup settings to make sure you're not doing anything on your Axe that you can't recreate on your FM3. Unfortunately, there is no complete list of the difference between the units' blocks, parameters, or setup menu options, but there're quite a few; again, nothing too earth-shattering, but they're there. regardless, I think you'll be very happy with the FM3 and find it easy to adapt. This is what I did. Feel free to PM me or reply here if you have any specific questions.
 

IronSean

Experienced
@austinbuddy has noted in the past the changes he had to make to presets to get them to sound identical between the units. Since he's re-doing his packs for Cygnus now he might have some more insight.

They're very very similar, barring the advanced knobs which didn't make it to the FM3.
 

austinbuddy

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Now that Ultra Res has been implemented for Cabs in FM3, there is NO sonic difference that I can hear for amp/cab block only presets between the FM3 and the Axe-Fx III using the S/PDIF digital output on each and comparing side by side in my Universal Audio console.

Can’t speak to all effects, there may be some bugs (I know of one FB Studio compressor one).

But amp/cab tone - they are the identical sounding across units now, to my ears - which is fantastic. That was not the case last summer.
 
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