YET ANOTHER UPDATE? YET MORE AMPS?
EVERYTHING IS EVEN
YES, YES AND YES AGAIN
The sound improvements are becoming more and more subtle, of course, but that doesn’t stop Fractal Audio from paying attention to even the smallest of nuances and, as always, giving us a handful of new amps. And this time several large steps have been taken towards the perfection of ease of use and controllability of individual effect components.
NEW ADDITIONS FROM THE AMP FACTORY
Nine new amps have been added this time, bringing the total to an amazing 183 models. However, this huge variety should not fool you into thinking that their quality is not up to scratch. On the contrary, each one of them is a masterpiece in its own right, so what we have here really is a clear case of quality and quantity.
This time there is something for everyone among the new amps: two different Fender Vibroverb models and a Morgan AC20 Deluxe will keep the vintage fraction happy, while the heavy metal fans will be happy to see the inclusion of a new Dual Rectifier and even happier with the new “FAS Brootalz” amp – a proprietary creation by Fractal Audio with unbelievable amounts of gain. A particular highlight is the inclusion of two models of the Engl Savage – for a long time now many users have been asking for this. Two further Mesa Triaxis models round up the newcomers.
BETTER AND BETTER, OVER AND OVER AGAIN
The current release notes contain 17 paragraphs of improvements to the existing amp models. That’s more than we can write about here. We’ll keep it short.
Following exact analysis of the circuitry and wiring many models have been adjusted to be completely true to the originals. In many cases this does not actually have an audible effect, but meanwhile Fractal Audio does this simply to be as authentic as possible.
The triode modeling has been improved and now accurately simulates the behavior of this type of tube when it enters saturation. The accuracy of the tonestack simulations has also been increased, which is noticeable at extreme control knob settings. Further improvements increase the realism and produce a more powerful tone and feel.
The presence knob in particular has been worked on and now behaves exactly like the original. A new “Bright” knob can make the preamp sound brighter or darker and at negative values exactly simulates the control of the same name in the Mesa Triaxis.
The time required when switching from X to Y has been reduced, which as a great benefit, especially in presets with high CPU usage.
NOT ONLY AXE, BUT ALSO FX
There is also good news on the effects front. A new global parameter can now adjust the noise gate threshold for all presets simultaneously. The spring reverbs are now more realistic.
The biggest changes among the effects have been made to the looper. It can now quantize the start and end points of the loop, based on the internal tempo. This means you can still have loops that fit into the current tempo exactly, even if you were not rhythmically accurate when pressing start and stop. This is a huge advantage for all looper users, but especially in a live setting.
AND APART FROM THAT?
General ease of use has also been improved. As with the looper, quantization can now be applied to LFOs, making it easy to keep them synced to the current tempo. And some two dozen small fixes are also included in the new firmware, proving that the Axe-Fx II is actively being developed further and that it will continue to improve into the future.
As always, we must remind you that firmware updates can cause your presets to sound different - some adjustment may be necessary before playing your next gig, so plan some time for this.
Included in the download file are 27 UltraRes IRs that can be installed as user cabs. For those who need more, UltraRes IRs are available for purchase from the Fractal Audio website. Click here to download Firmware 14, for the best Axe-Fx II/XL of all time.