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Fractal Audio FM3 vs AX8 | Raw Amp Comparison

Freds55

Power User
Hey guys,
in this video I compared the Raw Amp Tones of the Fractal Audio FM3 vs AX8!
I just loaded the factory amp models.
I used the same Factory Cab on all sounds. Sound was NOT tweaked before or afterwards!
In my opinion the FM3 feels and sounds much better and more real than the AX8. The AX8 is more scooped in the mids and more sizzling.

Signal path: Guitar ▶ Fractal FM3/AX8 ▶ Apollo x8 Audio Interface ▶ DAW (ProTools)
If you have any questions so far, please feel free to ask in the comments.

All the best and see you around :)
Cheers, Frank

Very cool and there are notable differences and they sound great.
Thanks for posting the video o_O:)
 
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Donnie B.

Experienced
Re: AX8

AX8’s sounds are superb, thanks to a great-sounding signal path and ultra-detailed models. The fat, three-dimensional tones have stunning dynamic range. Delicate playing sounds … delicate, with detailed, naturalistic decay. There’s no hint of the squashed, boxy feel you get from some modelers. On a clean setting, you feel every playing nuance, each subtle scrape of finger or pick. Many new users will strum a chord or two and think, “Yup, I’m convinced.”

The Verdict: AX8 is a landmark product release. The sounds are stellar. - Premier Guitar review December 19, 2016

Pretty sure with the right hands at the controls it can still sound 98% as good as anything today. 👍
 

Clockwork Creep

Power User
Both the AX8 and FM3 were modelled after the exact same real amp units.

As I understood, when modelling, Cliff does excessive comparisons between the model and the real amp he's modelling. So, out of the box, without any user tweaks, the model should sound pretty much like the real amp Cliff has, in both cases - Ax8 and FM3.

Unless Cliff has made changes to modelling, and defaults, without listening to the real amp: If A sounds like B, and A sounds like C, it logically follows that B sounds like C. Yet, as shown here B and C sound VERY different.
 

chris

Legend!
Both the AX8 and FM3 were modelled after the exact same real amp units.

As I understood, when modelling, Cliff does excessive comparisons between the model and the real amp he's modelling. So, out of the box, without any user tweaks, the model should sound pretty much like the real amp Cliff has, in both cases - Ax8 and FM3.

Unless Cliff has made changes to modelling, and defaults, without listening to the real amp: If A sounds like B, and A sounds like C, it logically follows that B sounds like C. Yet, as shown here B and C sound VERY different.
i don't think Cliff takes out all 250 amps every time he updates the power amp section for a x.01 update. i would guess direct amp comparisons are done at the initial modeling of the new amp, and possibly for a major update to that specific amp in the future.

i'd guess that's how you get the base model.

from there, changes and improvements to the power amp section or other parts of an amp can change the default sound of any model. there's no way he takes out all the real amps to verify it still "sounds the same."

the FM3 has progressed more than the AX8 with these sorts of changes. so it would make sense that the sound would be different. more headroom due to better hardware and changes in the power amp can easily explain the FM3 sounding less bright than the AX8 at default settings.

i honestly don't think the goal of the Axe products is to set the Amp to default settings and bam it sounds exactly like a real version of that amp bar none. that's probably impossible as real amps don't even sound the same between copies. the design of each amp's preamp and how it interacts with the power amp and cab etc. is the goal, and we have all the knobs we need to adjust things if needed. this isn't "profiling" amps so it sounds exact. it's modeling the components so we can turn the dials to make it do what we want. just like we'd do on a real version of the amp that sounds different than another copy of the same real amp.

it is exactly like getting 2 copies of a real amp, hearing they're different with the knobs all at 5 and saying "hmm i shouldn't have to turn that treble knob to make them match." just turn the knob.

i wouldn't expect the AX8 and FM3 to sound the same. the reason things change are to create differences. and from there, we can adjust many things to make the FM3 sound like the AX8 in that video, etc. the characteristics of each amp model are there, and we can adjust as needed. default settings are just that - a place to start.
 
Hey guys,
in this video I compared the Raw Amp Tones of the Fractal Audio FM3 vs AX8!
I just loaded the factory amp models.
I used the same Factory Cab on all sounds. Sound was NOT tweaked before or afterwards!
In my opinion the FM3 feels and sounds much better and more real than the AX8. The AX8 is more scooped in the mids and more sizzling.

Signal path: Guitar ▶ Fractal FM3/AX8 ▶ Apollo x8 Audio Interface ▶ DAW (ProTools)
If you have any questions so far, please feel free to ask in the comments.

All the best and see you around :)
Cheers, Frank

Hey man thanks for the vid
by the way, did you mention what youre amp/cab is, as I didnt catch that?

i have the axe 3, and i cant beleive I’m actually pondering if an FM3 as a backup/travel amp would be an option! FAS is going to bankrupt what little I have left! Lol
 

Rex

Legend!
Both the AX8 and FM3 were modelled after the exact same real amp units.

As I understood, when modelling, Cliff does excessive comparisons between the model and the real amp he's modelling. So, out of the box, without any user tweaks, the model should sound pretty much like the real amp Cliff has, in both cases - Ax8 and FM3.

Unless Cliff has made changes to modelling, and defaults, without listening to the real amp: If A sounds like B, and A sounds like C, it logically follows that B sounds like C. Yet, as shown here B and C sound VERY different.
Traditional slide film makes, on some level, an "exact copy" of what your eye sees. It looks strikingly realistic. And yet, Kodachrome and Ektachrome — both of which are slide films — produce noticeably different results.
 

FSM

Member
Vendor
Hey man thanks for the vid
by the way, did you mention what youre amp/cab is, as I didnt catch that?

i have the axe 3, and i cant beleive I’m actually pondering if an FM3 as a backup/travel amp would be an option! FAS is going to bankrupt what little I have left! Lol

I used the cab from my FSM Favourite patch. I played this patch/factory cabs in the whole world live and studio and it always sounds awesome.
Cabs are 4x12 Fractal GB M160 and a 4x12 Basketweave TV Mix.

Cheers Frank :)

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-05 um 10.12.50.png
Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-07 um 09.46.16.png
 

Hubi

Experienced
Thanks for this comparison. It would be bad for Cliff´s hard work and steady improvement, if the FM3 would not sound better...and the AX8 ist still on FW Q 10 - not Ares. so this is more a firmware comparison?

I also think, these old factory cabs are not the best IR´s to show how good the AX8 can sound.
 

cnaufel

Experienced
Thanks for this comparison. It would be bad for Cliff´s hard work and steady improvement, if the FM3 would not sound better...and the AX8 ist still on FW Q 10 - not Ares. so this is more a firmware comparison?

I also think, these old factory cabs are not the best IR´s to show how good the AX8 can sound.
I have the same opinion. It’s more a firmware comparison (pre and post Ares). But in the end of the day is also an AX8 vs FM3 comparison.
 

aens

Experienced
At those settings, whatever they are. They still have depth and tone. Easily reduce the highs if needed.
I exagerrated on the ”AX8 sounds like Pod” part. I’ve had an AX8 and I think it was wonderful. Still, with these settings - whatever they might be - the difference is drastic when you compare the two. I’m having a hard time believing things have still been improving this much over the years. But it sure has...
 

JoKeR III

Power User
Thanks for this comparison. It would be bad for Cliff´s hard work and steady improvement, if the FM3 would not sound better...and the AX8 ist still on FW Q 10 - not Ares. so this is more a firmware comparison?

I also think, these old factory cabs are not the best IR´s to show how good the AX8 can sound.
I have the same opinion. It’s more a firmware comparison (pre and post Ares). But in the end of the day is also an AX8 vs FM3 comparison.
They are 2 different modeling platforms; AX8 - G3 or affectionately known as Quantum, FM3- ARES. It would stand to reason that through the evolution of firmware updates, enhancements are added that continue to "improve" the overall tone of the FM3. So yes, in a most basic sense, it's a comparison of firmware updates. But when it comes to the AX8, it's not a matter of simply adding the FM3 firmware to it. The modeling method seems to be the same; creating amps digitally at the component level, but the implementation of the method has changed due to the new platform and the AX8 doesn't have the processing power to run it.
 

karmakarmakarma

Experienced
Let me share a little of my experience on this topic. When we were working through the beta phase on FM3 development, the first thing I did was to replicate the main tones that I had used on my AX8 for years. I did this by using the same cab IR's and going through every parameter in the amp and cab blocks to set the FM3 as closely as possible to the AX8 (though some parameters are not exactly the same since the FM3 is more advanced). I was able to get those core AX8 tones I loved on the FM3 with the additional "life" (insert your own adjective) of the advancements of the more advanced modeling. Since that time, taking advantage of the FM3's capabilities, I further developed and refined those tones to make them more satisfying to my ears today.

Here's a good example... On the AX8, I used the Buttery model for a crunch tone. When I set that up on the FM3, the Buttery model used the 2x12 TX Star impulse curve by default (it's on the Speaker tab in FM3-Edit). On my AX8, the speaker impulse curve looked simpler with fewer resonant peaks. When I changed this curve on the FM3 to one that looked more like my AX8 (I picked the Brit 4x10 JM45 curve), the FM3 sounded more like the AX8. BUT, it turns out that I liked the 2x12 TX Star impulse better, and after trying some of the other curves, I switched back to that.

Bottom line, if you have tones in the AX8 that you have loved (like me) and want to dial them in as a starting point on the FM3, you can certainly do it. But I'd suggest that exercise will likely turn out to be just a starting point as you dial in your sound.
 

Tones2

Experienced
The main issue is the low end is missing in the AX8 here. Are you sure there is not sure global EQ setting that has been inadvertently tweaked on the AX8? I just tried some of these raw amps on my own AX8 and they sound way richer and bass-ier than here, although obviously not a direct compare. I can't believe there would be that much difference.
 
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jon

Fractal Fanatic
The difference goes well beyond 'sound'....there is a LOT more to the fm3/axe 3.....the huge dynamic range, the lower noise floor, the more 3d 'bloom', the 'chewiness' and rich harmonic content....

Sure they SOUND smiliar, but playing them is another story - the feel is WAAAAY different!

The AX8 and axe 2 sound like the amp, but the fm/axe 3 have gone much farther, so much more so now that I prefer the axe amps over the real amps now.

The AX8 was a top tier unit and still is!

But the FM3/Axe 3 smokes it!
 

Nathan M.

Inspired
I find it hard to believe that those are the exact settings and saying that they are the default settings is telling me that they are adjusted quite differently meaning that a particular amp has different default settings on the FM3 then the AX8.

Set the actual amp settings the same including all basic and advanced parameters in the two units and lets hear it.
 

OrganicZed

Experienced
It is amazing how brittle the AX8 sounded. Is this just an issue of the stock setting being different between the two, or is the sonic difference due to the updated amp modeling on the FM3?
 

Tones2

Experienced
Well some guy posted this on facebook. The volume and tone are not even the same for each. I'm sure the FM3 sounds better, but definitely not this dramatically better. :) And I'm NOT in any way implying any purposeful deception here - I just think there is something that is going unnoticed as a major difference here between the two that is not simply an A / B comparison.
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