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Mark 1, 2, XL or XL+

Looking to buy my first Axe FX. I've been using a Kemper for a couple of years now. I do like it, but it can be hard to find consistent rigs that sound representative of the amp model I am wanting to hear. Once you do find one you like, you can manipulate the amp within a limited window. Anyway I really like the organic sound of the new Quantum firmware and wanted to know:

1 - Does it sound any different amongst generations of the Axe FX 2?
2 - Would you buy the latest and greatest new or buy, for instance a used XL or even a Mark 2
3 - If buying used are there any issues with reliability of used equipment (e.g do any of the components have a natural shelf life)

I apologize if this was the wrong place to post.

Thank you

Tommy Tequila

1) No. I have a Mk 1 and an XL+ and if there is a difference it is totally undetectable to me. There were slight improvements to the DAC in the XL, I believe, but we are talking miniscule.

2) If you have the green, get the latest. If not, all run the same firmware and hardware (except as noted in #1), so do whatever fits your pocketbook. The key point is to get into the game.

3) Can't vouch for anyone else except me, but IMO Fractal builds (overbuilds) their hardware to ensure reliability. My gigging rig is my Mk 1 (dragged around, dropped, etc.), and I've never had so much as a hiccup with it.

My opinions, YMMV, etc.



If buying new your only option is the XL+

If buying used, get an Axe FX II (1, 2 or XL)!! They all run the same firmware and should sound the same. The differences are connectivity, storage memory and some upgrade parts (fans, etc.)


It seems like I remember reading somewhere that the XL and XL+ have more x/y options. Can someone confirm this? I could be wrong though, I have an XL so I really haven't looked into the earlier versions much.


Fractal Fanatic
It seems like I remember reading somewhere that the XL and XL+ have more x/y options. Can someone confirm this? I could be wrong though, I have an XL so I really haven't looked into the earlier versions much.

Yes, they do. Also both have many more user cab slots & improved input specs. I have a MKI & an XL & the sound is virtually identical. It would be hard to go wrong with any of the versions but if you think you would want more than 100 user cab slots, get the XL or XL+.


It seems like I remember reading somewhere that the XL and XL+ have more x/y options..

Yes, the XL and XL+ have more X/Y states available. Probably due to the additional memory available.

Apart from that they run the same FW and sound exactly the same.


If cash is an issue, I still would get at least the Mark II--one reason, it's not that old, could be pretty new actually. The Mark I's could be pretty old but definitely will not be pretty new ( I mean when it was built)..

This is all "could be's, but for the $$$ I would want the newest I could afford.....for longevity.....How many gigs has the "oldest" Mark I seen? who knows.....

I also agree with Tommy Tequila about Fractal builds all their stuff to last...... pretty bullet proof. did I just contradict myself? Oh well


Each block can store 2 configurations. These 2 separate configurations are called X and Y. To give an example if you have an amp block in your grid you can have one amp in the X state and a different amp in the Y state. Or you could have the same amp in both X and Y, but with different BMT or drive settings. The XY settings are there to give extra flexibility. It is important to remember that XY settings only apply within the context of the block you're using. For example changing from X to Y in an amp block won't allow you to change the block from an amp to a delay. You can only alter the settings as they pertain to amps.

The XL and XL+ have more data space in their presets. For this reason THE XL and XL+ have more parameters than the Mark I and Mark II that can be altered by XY setting changes.

There is probably a better explanation in the Wiki, but this at least gives you the gist of it.

Can you describe what is meant by more x/y states? Is this referring to how many block changes there are for every x/y state?


Would you buy the latest and greatest new or buy, for instance a used XL or even a Mark 2

Calling the XL+ 'the latest and greatest' in comparison to the XL is a bit of a misnomer. They have the same features and the same sound, but the XL+ has a different LCD controller chip due to the other controller chip being EOL. More info here: http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx-ii-discussion/96847-announcing-axe-fx-ii-xl-plus.html. Cliff has said that both the XL and XL+ will be supported by Fractal for the same amount of time (i.e one won't become obsolete before the other).

I always tend to buy gear new, just so I know that it hasn't been bashed around by it's previous owner. That being said, everyone here is indicating that the Axe Fx units are very durable, so you probably won't have any issues buying second hand. If deciding between an XL+ and an XL, I'd say it comes down to how much money you can save, or how important it is to you to buy things brand new. If deciding between an XL/XL+ and a Mark 1/2, I'd say it comes down to whether you require the extra cab slots, X/Y states etc.


Go Mark II, that's what I'm planning, someday. :( I have tried everything BUT the axe and I can assure
you, it's tough out there, get the best and put you gas to rest. Hey that rhymes, lol. Unless you have
money for good amps and mics, there is no comparison, and will cost the same in the long run anyway.


Thank you all for your guidance. I appreciate a community that can be this helpful.

You’ll find that the people on this forum are a fantastic resource. Welcome to the fold – while I have no experience with the Kemper, I have no doubt whatsoever that the AxeFX will blow you away, no matter which of the models you wind up with. (I'm using the MK II, myself – and I'm nowhere near filling the patch/cab/storage space I have.)


Only difference, as i understand it, between Mk1 and Mk2 is the contact for the mfc board. One is ethernet, the other is something else. Soundwise they're all the same including the XL's. Still you see people on wanted gear forums saying they want to buy a Mk2 but absolutely not Mk1. Because of a different board connection?
This is an example of how important it is how you name gear, MK1 feels like some old outdated piece of crap compared to the new and modern mk2, haha.... :)
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