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Why is there such a difference between Axe II mk1 and mk2?


Today my friend came by and installed a new FW 18.03 with the new preset on his Axe II mk2. We have tested my mk1 and his mk2 with exactly the same patch, gear, settings, installed FW and preset with the same procedures on both, including the restore system. However, his Axe II mk2 felt way better to play on, along with the sound.

After that, I have tried few options in the following order; reinstalling FW and presets, system resetting, updating amps and all presets, even restoring factory default settings with sysex files (emptying banks) on top of cleaning system data followed by resintallation of all the new presets and FW. None of these helped, everything was pretty much the same.

I have read on this forum that there should not really be any difference between them, but now that I have tried both I am kinda skeptical about it. I will ask another friend of mine to bring his mk1 and then make another comparison, because right now, I am wondering if this is true or not, or is it just my Axe II not working as intended.


Fractal Fanatic
If everything is reset on both units so all setting are the same , there should be no difference ! There's no sound or feel difference between my MKII and XL nor the MKI I sold.


I've owned both MK1 and II's and notice zero difference in sound or feel. The "feel" comes from the software, and they run the exact same thing.

Some vents in the side, ethercon jack, and a 80mm fan are really the only differences


Did you also use the exact same cables? That can make a world of difference in feel depending on the length (i.e., how much capacitance is in the cable).


Thanks a lot for fast replies and interest in helping me out.

Yes everything was the same, cables, guitar, settings, literally everything that could be the same was the same. With mk2 there was a bit fuller sound, playing was smoother, we were trying to get to the same sound for more than three hours.

According to that both should sound the same, is there a possibility that there is a problem in my Axe II hardware or anything similar?


There is no difference in the unit hardware that has anything to do with sound.
I had a Mk 1 and an XL here for a few days.
No difference that I could detect and the XL actually has a few minor parts enhancing the signal chain.


Perhaps there are differences in your global settings?
This. Differences in Global or I/O settings can make a huge difference in sound and feel. Even something as small as having slightly different volumes can make the box that's slightly louder feel and sound like it's more alive. You pretty much need an SPL meter to make sure they're both playing at the same volume, because there's no way to visually make sure that the Output Level knobs on the front panel are set exactly the same.


Few days ago me and my friends were comparing Axe II units again. Here is what we were using:

- My Mk1, one friend’s Mk1 and the other friend’s Mk2
- All units had: fresh installed FW 18.03, all bank presets for FW18 and all cleaned with system reset
- Global and I/O settings set the same
- same Mogami cables
- Guitar Ibanez mirror jem
- For first test we used studio monitors
- For second test we used matrix amp with mesa cabinets (for this test we have set all units in global settings “cabinet modeling to bypassed”)

While comparing two Mk1, the difference is really negligible, but after making another comparison with Mk2 there is quite a big difference. As I already said, the sound is more fuller and more ampish, not to mention that playing on Mk2 feels much better. At least now I understand why there are some Axe2 users that are so impressed with the new FW 18.

I am still wondering why is there such a difference. Is it possible that FW 18 is not installed as it should be in Mk1, or perhaps it differs in hardware between Mk1 and Mk2 (better ADDA converters, or anything similar)?


Fractal Audio Systems
The only difference between MK I and MK II are some vents in the chassis, larger fan and an Ethercon jack instead of an Ethernet jack. Otherwise the hardware is identical. I can see the XL possibly sounding a bit better and the XL+ sounding even better than the XL but there should be negligible difference between a Mark I and a Mark II.


Sorry if I missed this, but did you guys switch gear? Different people can sound EXTREMELY different on the same gear.


Sorry if I missed this, but did you guys switch gear? Different people can sound EXTREMELY different on the same gear.
Only one was playing at time during testing, and one was switching between units. All three of us were listening and noticed the difference.
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Power User
What Outputs are you using?

I think the MK II and newer include the Output 2 Hiss Mod. I had to send my MK I back to FAS to have them install the Output 2 Hiss Mod but I didn't notice a tone change. It just didn't hiss anymore when using the 4CM with a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL100.
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