Firmware 13


To this very day it has only been three months since we reported on the arrival of Firmware 12. Shortly afterwards version 12.03 was released along with a beta version of 12.04, with a whole load of new amps and features. Meanwhile the magic number has gone up to 13, so let’s not be superstitious and take a closer look at just what’s in store for glad guitarists with this new release.

Did we just say glad guitarists? Actually, for quite some time now the same has been true for many glad bass players and the word is starting to spread among the thick-stringed fraction about just what the Axe-Fx II is capable of. The inclusion of three new bass amp simulations in the latest firmware underlines this highly effectively.

The trend towards small, top-drawer boutique amps that provide a big sound at low volume hasn’t been ignored in Fractal-Land, which becomes obvious as soon as you take a look at the list of new amps. Among others you will find the following: 

 - Dr. Z MAZ-8
 - Carr Rambler
 - Orange Tiny Terror
 - Fender AA763 Tremolux
 - Orange AD30HTC
 - Mesa Subway Blues
 - Trainwreck Liverpool
 - 2 x Modelle des Divided by 13 FTR 37 
 - Matchless DC-30 

If this isn’t boutique amp heaven, what is?

So, now to the negative side of all this firmware updating business. We really don’t like writing about ‘improvements’ all the time, as it makes it sound as if the Axe-Fx II actually needed improving at all. But, time and time again, we are faced with the same difficulties when it comes to putting words to paper (or rather screen): although the Axe-Fx II has been amazingly good for quite some time now, Cliff Chase still manages to surprise us on a regular basis. And it’s no different this time.

For instance, there are the advances made in the power amp simulation that make the sound at high master volume settings nice and tight but still with pleasant, warm highs. It is now also possible to select which type of tubes you would like to use in the power amp: be it EL34, EL84, 6L6, 6V6, KT66, KT88, 6550, 6973, 6AQ5 or 300B, they are all there.

The preamp simulation has also been further developed. In real amps with a shared power supply for the preamp and power amp stages the supply for the preamp can start to sag when the amp is overloaded. Even this phenomenon has now been included and can be switched on or off as desired.

The main reason, however, why Firmware 13 will be remembered is for introducing the ground-breaking and unique UltraRes technology for loudspeaker cabinet simulations.

The effect of an UltraRes impulse response is, depending on the listening and usage environment, somewhere between subtle and simply ‘Wow!’. UltraRes increases the resolution of cabinet simulations without requiring more processing power.

Cabinets using UltraRes IRs provide a precise reproduction of the very low frequencies, while simultaneously making the mids and highs more transparent. Because an UltraRes IR is much longer it can also include room reflections, resulting in breathtaking, three-dimensional realism.

The built-in tools IR Capture Utility and Tone Match have already been adjusted to make them compatible with the new UltraRes IRs. Fractal Audio’s Cab-Lab program for PC and Mac will be updated shortly.

The effects in the Axe-Fx II are also continuously being developed 

  • Yet more parameters can now be adjusted on the fly with modifiers.
  • The TAP tempo algorithm is now more intelligent and some parameters can now be adjusted over an extended range.
  • The chorus can now simulate the ‘Roland Dimension D’, but it will also do things that simply were not possible with the original. Surprise, surprise...
  • The same applies to the equally new barber’s pole phaser.
  • The pitch shifter can now handle key transposition when used in its custom scale mode, making it much easier to work with.
  • The outputs are even more configurable, making the device even more versatile.

Dozens of other detail improvements once again make it possible for us to proudly say: with the new firmware your Axe-Fx II will become the best Axe-Fx II ever.

Axe-Fx II FW13 w/UltraRes Cabs - from Rocco Pezzin:
"You're hearing the new AxeFx2 firmware (13.02) with the addition
of OwnHammer's UltraRes cabs, a really revolutionary concept,
it enhances the depth and feel of the amp sims like crazy!"

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