FOR SOME, F19 MIGHT BE THE NAME OF A JET FIGHTER SO STEALTHY THAT NO-ONE HAS YET SET EYES ON IT. FOR US,
HOWEVER, F19 IS THE WONDERFUL NEW FIRMWARE FOR ALL OF THE AXE-FX II VARIANTS.
UNLIKE A JET FIGHTER IT HAS NO NEED TO HIDE.
AND IT DEFINITELY WANTS TO BE HEARD.
Meanwhile the Axe-Fx II has so many amp models tucked away inside it that the list of what amps are missing is probably a lot shorter than the list of those included. Nevertheless, Cliff Chase regularly manages to get hold of valuable, desirable amps that he has not yet modelled. A real gem this time round is Keith Urban’s ‘#1’ amp, an unbelievably valuable 1959 Fender Twin with a 5F8 circuit, which Keith very kindly allowed Cliff to use, investigate and measure.
Since our last firmware article two more models of the Mesa/Boogie Mark IIc have also been added, meaning that now all of the variations in the Bright and Deep switches are available.
Many more maps have now also received the G3 treatment and are thus using the third generation modelling algorithms introduced in Firmware 18.
The preamp characteristics now have another mode of adjustment, namely by altering the preamp tube type. Four tubes types are available. The output compressor can now operate in two different modes and the position of the graphic equaliser in the amp block is now selectable, with the option of it being placed after the power amp (as before) or between the preamp and power amp. Mesa fans will be more than happy about this.
Though it may be hard to believe, the modelling algorithms have also undergone further development, with noticeable results. The power tube plate current calculation in the amp block has been improved, resulting in even more realism, especially at the point where the virtual power amp is just on the verge of break-up.
Other benefits are more clarity, with improved feel and attack, meaning the number of people who can no longer tell the difference between the Axe-Fx II and the original amp is set to increase once again.
Fractal Audio have been to the studio again and come back with a whole load of new cabinet IRs. As a quick taste of what to expect in the upcoming ‘Universal Noise Storage 3’ cabinet collection and as a present for their customers, six of the works cabinets in Firmware 19 have been replaced by their new, fantastic-sounding UltraRes counterparts. On top of this, the algorithm that calculates the power compression when a cabinet is played really loud has been improved, resulting in yet more realism.
The stomp boxes have now also received the benefit of G3 modelling technology. They now sound different – in our opinion better, of course – and as such should definitely be auditioned before your next gig. A new clipping type called ‘Variable’ allows continuous control of the distortion characteristics, from smooth and focussed to hard and brash, via the new ‘Clip Shape’ parameter.
The improvements to the effects have been especially effective:
The amount of distortion available to the various delay types has been increased, allowing the user to apply extra distortion to the echoes when a delay block is placed in front of the amp block.
The ring modulator’s frequency multiplier now has a wider range of adjustment. If you liked it before, you’ll love it now and if you’ve never tried it out, now is the time to do so. A value of 0.25 will have even the most resolute of bass players running for cover.
The compressors have also been optimised and now have even better detector performance.
Countless little incremental improvements to various other effects blocks have increased both authenticity and usability.
Axe-Fx II users are generally a friendly bunch, as they are naturally very happy with their little black boxes and are thus always in a good mood. And the Axe-Fx II has always been friendly towards its users and is continuously becoming even friendlier:
In conjunction with Axe-Edit it is now possible to save or reload a preset along with its relevant user cabs with just one click.
Many other small areas of the user interface have also been optimised, making it easier than ever to achieve your dream sound.
Once again one or two small inconsistencies have been rectified with the following result: the flawless Firmware 19 has no known bugs – meaning we can now very definitely celebrate the best Axe-Fx firmware there has ever been!