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Only 3 Switches? What were they thinking?

trixdropd

Inspired
As soon as the FM3 was announced (and I got on the wait list) started reading into how the switches and layouts worked on the FC pedals.

Once I felt I understand that, I made a post asking to confirm my findings which I did and I learned a little bit more. I can do what I need to with 3 switches and layouts. Obviously some folks will want more switches based upon their needs but many don't yet understand what can be done.

Simply put, I determined that the 3 switches on the FM will do everything I need to do with 11 switches on the AX-8. To me, that's pretty cool considering all the advantages (I perceive) of the FM3 - size, weight, tonal quality, etc.
I'm doing with 3 switches what previously took 15 to achieve.
 

ChristThePhone

Fractal Fanatic
The discussion around only 3 switches has a lot in common with what happened when Apple removed a couple of keys from the standard layout.
 

notalemming

Fractal Fanatic
Could be, but I'm sure with a LOT more tap dancing and multiple button presses than the AX8, where one button for one task. Much easier conceptually especially when on stage in the heat of things. where i don;t want to think of tap / hold / page layout / etc just to get to a solo boost. :)
This is my exact concern with the 3 button concept. You can do a lot with it but, for me, I'm not sure how practical it is to go menu diving on a live gig, hoping you end up in the right place & being able to quickly get back out if you do get to the wrong place, all while playing. I do think it is a very cool product & I like the fact that it is modular & you can buy as much or as little as you need or can afford at the time.
 

ksandvik

Veteran
Yes, it really depends on the gigs and setups. Usually with my Katana with four+four channels, I set one for clean, one for clean dirt, one for dist comp and one for solo. But I could live with clean + comp + solo and use a dirt pedal on clean to make it more dirty. That covers about 90% of channel needs I have for gigs related to pop/rock/funk/R&B and some other odd styles.

I've learned the hard way that going overboard with far too many settings will just cause confusion, anyway. Or, as Eddie Van Halen labeled the volume knob on his EBMM Musicman Axis guitar to tone instead of volume.
 

chris

Legend!
i would never approach a 3 button device with the thought that i would be turning off individual effects throughout the gig. "can do" isn't the same as "should do." with 3 buttons, i would definitely stick to Scenes, Looper, and occasional Preset changes.

if you need to turn things on and off throughout songs, adding the FC6 or any other additional switches is a good idea. that said, there are ways to approach the 3 on-board switches with 1 or 2 external simple switches added.

more detail will be shared in the near future.
 

trixdropd

Inspired
Could be, but I'm sure with a LOT more tap dancing and multiple button presses than the AX8, where one button for one task. Much easier conceptually especially when on stage in the heat of things. where i don;t want to think of tap / hold / page layout / etc just to get to a solo boost. :)
not much tap dancing.

Select a preset (1 button press)
layout changes to scenes. because of layout links attached to my presets.
Select scene 2 (1 button press)
need scene 7? Press ---> (1 button press) and then select scene 7 (1 button press)
back to scene 1? Press <--- (1 button press) then select scene 1 (1 button press)

Switch preset? press and hold button 3 to go to presets layout (1 button press)
you can bank up and down by pressing and holding button 1 or 3. Same amount of presses to select a bank as any other pedal.

so, select preset, go to scene 2, then scene 7 and back to scene 1 is just 6 button presses. On the mfc101 you'd have 5 button presses (IF it could select scene 7 easily). So you only gain 1 extra button press with many less switches weight and space.
 

Danny W.

Veteran
Six years ago I agreed to do two months in the pit band of a rock&roll musical. The amps I do my jazz gigs with, Acoustic Image combos, are incapable of producing rock sounds unassisted, so I put a modeler into the effects return and use them as powered speakers. My intent was to take my Axe II/MFC, but we found out that the area we'd be in was not only unsecured, but also in use for other purposes during the day, so we had to set up and break down every day. I would have used my AX8 if it only had existed at the time, but it was a few years too early. ;)

Instead, I bought a Zoom G3X. I hated the sounds and the UI, but loved the small size and battery operation. Rather than worry about which mode (Patch or Effects) I'd be in, I made a separate patch for every time the music said to turn an effect on or make a different sound, and worked my way up through the presets as the show progressed. I think I wound up with thirty of them. I could have easily done the show with one preset and scenes and IA's on my Fractal rig.

Having been using my Axe III and FC-6 it's clear to me the switches on the FM3 will be much more powerful than those on the Zoom, or the AX8.

Edit: I sold the Zoom the day after the show closed. Having bought it with a coupon, my net "rental" cost was $25.

Danny W.
 
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Tones2

Inspired
So I'm looking at the dimensions and weight of the 3 /4 button units in the first post for those without an attached expression pedal:
.
WxDxH
-----------
HX STOMP: 7" x 5" x 2.6" ; 1.75 lbs (3 buttons)
ZOOM G3n: 9.2" x 7.1" x 2.3" ; 2.8 lbs (3 buttons)
Amplifire: 8.5" x 6.5" x 2.8" ; 3.1 lbs (3 buttons)
Headrush: 13" x 9" x 2.6" ; 7 lbs (4 buttons; Touchscreen)
.
FM3: 11.2" x 9.2" x 3.5" ' 7 lbs (3 buttons)
.
WITHOUT comparing quality of sound and functionality (which is a key factor obviously), except for Headrush, these are all considerably lighter and smaller than the FM3 (and cheaper). Headrush is comparable but has an extra button and a touchscreen.

Now, although I haven't heard any of the rest of these, I as all of you prefer the quality and sound most likely of fractal products. However, my expectation of a 3 button unit was to be more comparable in size to the other units. That may not be possible because of the processor and cooling requirements. But if the box was going to be larger, it no longer is an extremely portable unit that the HX Stomp is, so it might as well have been a little bigger (AX8 size) with more buttons. I still wish they could have keep the same FM3 dimensions, squeezed in another row of 3 buttons and made that screen smaller. If I cut off my AX8 from left to right at 11.2", I get 6 buttons, with a comparable height to the FM3. Just saying. :)

Nothing to be done now of course, and I'm still excited to get an FM3, but the initial post comparisons don't tell the whole story here.
 

ksandvik

Veteran
I suspect they used the FC-6 chassis as a starting point. Small companies can't experiment with multiple designs like Apple for years and years before launching. I'm not worried about size myself, more about the sound quality and usability. I could live with three switches but I'm old school :).
 

ksandvik

Veteran
If you add tuner support for a follow-up firmware update for foot switch support that would be nice -- some of us would like to offload some features out from the main switches such as tuner activation to the foot switches.
 
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