UPDATE 2-1-15

We just got an indication of the latest timeline from Cliff:

It’s going to be a couple more weeks. There’s a lot of amps left to port over and it’s time consuming.


So it’s still gonna be a while until we get the next firmware. And remember that it could take longer or shorter than that as well. So let’s all take a breath and enjoy the amazing 17.04 that we currently have!
“Normal” G3 info will continue to be added at the end of this post

It’s clear that Axe-Fx II users are excited for an upcoming update. A thread on the FAS Forum has 650+ posts postulating and discussing it, as well as a thread on TheGearPage.net message board with over 300 posts.

Now not all of those posts are constructive or pertinent or even… sane… but I went through each thread to find the best verified information I could find regarding the update, either coming from Beta Testers or from FAS directly. So here we go!

From the FAS forum:
Recently, FAS staff have changed their Avatar picture to an 18, which they did previously when a new firmware was soon to be released. It can be assumed that this update will indeed be called “18.00” rather than starting a new number or pattern due to “G3 Modeling Technology.”

The post that started it all:

At this time I would hold off. We will be releasing our “G3 Modeling Technology” firmware upgrade soon. So it doesn’t make sense to tweak everything with such a major update looming.
– Cliff, 1-21-15


Don’t worry, it will be available for all versions of the Axe-Fx II.
– Cliff

In response to the general question of “Is G3 only for the Axe-Fx II XL?”

I think you’ll be surprised.
– Cliff

In response to the general sentiment of “I’m not sure how what I’ve got right now could be somehow made better.”

Wow, lots of speculation. This is the state of things so far:
G3 is all-new amp modeling. There are no other changes to the firmware so the effects, routing, etc. stay the same. But the amp modeling is a complete “reboot” based on this analysis thingy I wrote that learns an amp and extracts the pertinent data.
At this point I have only ported several dozen models to G3. It’s a LOT of work because it involves opening each amp and doing all the measurements and then doing the analysis matches, etc. It will be several more weeks to port the remaining models.
Does it sound drastically different? No, but it does sound better. Some amps are noticeably better especially the Plexis, Rectos, 5150s and the Trainwreck. The Rectos are very good now. They’re smooth yet aggressive at the same time if that makes any sense.
Many parameters have been removed as they are not compatible. Among them: PA Lowcut, PA Hicut, Character Type, Character Freq, Character Amt, Character Q, Voicing, et. al. The modeling doesn’t need them.
So stop banging on your F5 key and get back to talking about deflated footballs.
– Cliff, 1-23-15


90% of people are fooled if the frequency response and the volume are the same. That’s the secret to a certain other product. Over time your ears start to hear subtleties especially in the character of the distortion, note attack, decay, bloom and dynamics. The average person probably can’t identify the particular characteristics but eventually realizes something is different. G3 is all about those subtleties.
Here’s a comparison of our reference 50W Plexi and the G3 model, not necessarily in that order.

– Cliff, 1-24-15

In response to “I’m a little confused where the improvement could come from … as the consensus is that … when you compare your reference amp to the model … it sounded/felt exactly the same to you….”

The first one is the model. The second is a 1972 50W Plexi. It may need some new caps though, the low end is a bit thin on it. The supply caps have been replaced but I’m wondering about some of the interstage caps. I don’t know what the aging characteristics of those caps are.
The point wasn’t to show the frequency response accuracy, that’s trivial (you can Tone Match if you want it exact) and no two amps are exactly the same due to component tolerances. The point was to show the breakup characteristics. Listen to how the notes go “crunch, brrrrrrrr” instead of “crunch, fizzzzzzz”. I’ve spent months researching and perfecting note decay. FWIW, you can NOT replicate that note decay using the common waveshaper techniques in the literature. It requires a very different type of clipping technology.
– Cliff, 1-24-15


That’s the whole idea. An amp distorts different parts of the spectrum differently. It’s all about getting the distortion happening in the right places.
– Cliff

In response to “Its almost like you can hear more than one thing going on.”

It’s adjustable anyways. You can set the clipping to be harder or softer as you desire. I believe I had it set to “medium” but you can set if much softer if you desire. It depends on the tubes. EL34s are softer than, say, 6L6s but it depends on the brand as well. Each model defaults to a hardness based on the power tubes used.
Personally I prefer a harder distortion since it gives low notes a more “piano-like” quality.
– Cliff

In response to a forum member’s comment “I’ve always preferred the ‘British’ distortion (ie Marshall) compared to the US (Boogies). Boogies have a high end fuzz that I don’t like very much generally.”

Ambience type. Everything at default. Mix = 39%.
– Cliff

In response to “Cliff, what reverb settings were on the AXE clip?”

– Rex, FAS Beta Tester, 1-29-15

In response to “Is G3 being Beta tested yet?”

– Rex, FAS Beta Tester, 1-29-15

In response to “Question: would the “noticeably better” Plexi also affect the Friedman BE/HBE models, seeing as they’re Plexi-ish amps?”

G3 (beta) definitively is a remarkable improvement, even though I (we) thought it couldn’t get better anymore.
No need to tweak intensively after updating. Based on the beta, current settings will be fine.
So what’s improved exactly? I can’t even define it exactly.
To me the high frequencies sound even more natural. In addition to the delight of hitting a power chord and hearing and feeling the more noticeable kerrang and decay.
It will cause heated discussion on other boards (“more real”) but the Axe-Fx’s models are yet again closer to the originals.
And it’s apparent across all so far “treated” amps. Not just the distorted amps (Trainwreck, yummie!), the Fenders as well.
For some reason I’ve never bonded with the Double Verb. This has changed.
And oh my, the Vox-based models…
NDA in effect. Please don’t ask details about specifics.
– Yek, Beta Tester, 1-30-15


Distortion character has definitely changed in G3. The top end sounds less fizzy and more like a motor. It’s been sweetened and roughed up at the same time, and it sits even better in e mix.
– Rex, Beta Tester


There’s still plenty of sizzle. In fact, the fizz has morphed into something that sizzles-and cuts through the mix-even better.
– Rex, Beta Tester

In response to “…whenever people talk about getting rid of “Fizz” it worries me a little. I like amps that have what I like to think of as ‘Sizzle’ which … seems to overlap with what a lot of consider Fizz.”(sic)

The G3 version of the 5E3 Deluxe Tweed model is a hoot. Totally unpredictable, nasty, gnarly and raunchy. I couldn’t stop playing it yesterday. Just like the real amp you have to be careful with your volume control and how you approach the amp so that you keep it right on the edge of playability. So cool.
– Cliff


Amp modeling runs on its own processor. Changes to the amps won’t affect the CPU available for other blocks.
– Rex, Beta Tester

In response to “Question to the beta testers: did you see any change in CPU load after the f/w install? More, same, or less CPU?”

With 18, you get both. Just like the real deal, some models purr like a kitten. Others can be squeezed into juggy breakup (“Hey Hey, my my”), if you abuse the knobs correctly.
– Rex, Beta Tester


The Fender and Vox amps. OHHHHH MY…
– cobbler, Beta Tester


All I can say is that the wait may drive you crazy but this is worth the wait and the crazy. Don’t get too hyped up; this isn’t hype.
Everything just glues together naturally – the pick attack, the bloom, the push, the tail. I personally really thought – I want to stress this, really, thought we were near or at the azimuth with the development of the amp modeling. I’ve been around Fractal gear since 2007. Before the Ultra existed. I’ve used the gear since then because it works. It sounds great. It’s an incredible tool and a blank slate to create your wildest dream rigs in the grid. The amp tones have worked for me since way back in 2007. I’m always sceptical that things can legitimately be improved on the amp modeling; and as one of the longer tenured beta testers… I’ve seen a LOT of firmwares over the years. This new v.18 for the AFXII – even in beta – is impressive and just natural. That word keeps hitting me as I dial up my tones.
A metaphor that works for me personally is that Ferrari keeps improving their cars year in and year out. Does not diminish the worth or achievement of the prior models they made. With the AFXII – now how many years into it’s production run? gets similar treatment… again. Fractal isn’t like Ferrari in at least one regard – Cliff works faster… and if you own an AFXII… you get new firmware developments both large and small… for free after you’ve bought the unit.
That’s as much as I can share on it. I’m a Fender/Marshall/Vox guy at heart in the main; I am impressed. Muchly so.
– Scott Peterson, Beta Tester


One more comment on the FW 18 Beta. I find myself going back to play this beta with a lot of anticipation. I’m in a very similar place as Scott that my loves have always been Fender and Marshall. The models we’ve been able to test so far are excellent and just feel great. This FW (even in beta) has a certain lively vibe that’s a little hard to describe, but the comments you’ve read so far from the other testers are all spot on. I made the world’s most simple preset last night (Zen Drive, Deluxe Tweed, TV Mix IR, Default Reverb) and lost a couple of hours… We’re all very enthusiastic about this one.
– karmakarmakarma, Beta Tester, 1-31-15


Hey all,
Had a chance to fire up a beta version of the G3 modeling this morning. The short review, at least in my opinion, is that it is a big improvement and sounds and feels amazing.
I got in from a show at 3AM and then woke up and gave it a whirl so I am still a bit hazy today. But here are my thoughts. (keep in mind I loved the axe before but this is what I am hearing so when I say it is better that does not mean i was not 100% happy before but facts are what they are).
Highs are nicer and more pleasing (I am going thru an RCF), smoother but also plenty of nice bite that feels and sounds better.
Amps sound and respond like a super cranked amp in the room. What I mean by that is the sustain and dynamics and note separation are killer and remind me of what you get only with volume on a tube amp and pushing the speakers in a cab. it sustains regarless of your volume knob settings and even when you have the gain backed down. In the past I think you were hearing what an amp sounds like when you put your ear to the speaker, which is not as pleasing in feel or tone to what you actually feel and hear in the room. This version now seems to capture that in the room magic but coming thru the FRFR, and still has fantastic dynamics and clarity’s or I could just say it is fucking great to play thru !
Volume knob dynamics are fantastic, and note separation which is super important to me is great. I just did a show last note before the update and thought it sounded great, this is better. Sounds better, feels better. More to come as I have more time with it ! another big leap forward for Cliff and team.
-jharpersj, Beta Tester


Hey guys I will try to answer all the questions – No nothing I did not like about it, exact opposite, instantly loved it. Volume on my RCF was varied from low to more than gig volume (so super quiet to crazy loud). Headphones sorry no clue, my setup is not tweaked for that so I can’t comment but I would think if it is good for you now then it will be smoother and warmer after the upgrade. Was right out of the gate for me, tweaking was no big deal, reset amp, set the gain, pulled back the depth moved the amp master around a bit, then just a few tweaks with treb/mid/bass. No advanced parameters were tweaked. Stuck with same cabs. I am OK with tweaking my presets with firmware upgrades, I get some people’s frustration but if you are happy then don’t upgrade. I will put the time in to get the benefits of the firmware upgrades. I stick to one clean, one mid dirty, one higher gain but still more like a rythym tone and use scenes and ” boost pedals” for solo’s so I tweak like three presets and I am done. Many times I have upgraded and spent 20 minutes and then off to a gig. I always make sure not to have too much bass/depth and use the high/low cut in the cab block.
Ha ha OK the who is this guy questions are funny, but here goes long time fractal user (on the artist page) lots of my actual amps are in the axe (Carol Ann Triptik, Bogner Shiva, Blue Face Diezel VH4, Carol Ann 1-12 cab). Long time Carol Ann, Fractal and Tom Anderson artist, live in Boston, more of a lurker than a poster but do a lot of studio and live stuff. Here is a link to my original band’s music.

Hope this helps you guys are in for a treat with G3
-jharpersj, Beta Tester


FW18 Plexi + Strat Preview

I try to make really open sounding clips so folks can hear between the notes where the sound is important.

At the small chord part at 1:09, pay attention to the “Prrr” of the overdrive and the overall “krrranng” character.
FW18 is shaping up to be quite the whopper of a release. Cliff did his homework.

(Vox style with the SDD drive in front with the drive set low and the input drive on the amp around 2.00
Clip 1

Clip 2

(AC20 without the SDD in front)

-Gamedojo AKA Tyler Grund, Beta Tester


How about the Friedman HBE?

(now…keep in mind… I am NOT high gain player, so this isn’t going to be a great demo next to the metal gods that reside on this forum, this is just my attempt at mimmickry 😉
-Gamedojo AKA Tyler Grund, Beta Tester


…I have never played this amp or played this way so take that in consideration.
Put a ts808 in front, heard thats how guys play these amps like this. Recto 2 red modern:

-Gamedojo AKA Tyler Grund, Beta Tester

In response to a request for “a Recto amp that chugs.”

FW18 SLO 100… Master volume is at 4:

-Gamedojo AKA Tyler Grund, Beta Tester


Cab Pack 8 along with FW18 is improving how the guitar knob can be used:

Amp is fully cranked during the clip.
-Gamedojo AKA Tyler Grund, Beta Tester


G3 is all-new algorithms so all the amp models will benefit. I don’t want to come off as cocky but you guys are in for a treat.
Here’s a clip using G3 from Justin York who plays guitar for Paramore:
– Cliff


Some notable quotes from TGP:

I don’t really care about “G3” or any other marketing fluff, but I understand very well why someone like Cliff would be motivated to develop an adaptive algorithm to assist him in cloning amp sounds. According to him, that’s what G3 is. My expectation is that it would ultimately be computationally more efficient – cpu% has been steadily rising with newer FWs and some folks have maxed out – improve the match between models and physical amps, and substantially reduce the development time required to add a new amp model to the FW.
I do, however, find incredibly entertaining the reactions to a clip Cliff linked comparing a physical amp (“our reference 50W Plexi”) and the new “G3” model of the amp in this thread: http://forum.fractalaudio.com/axe-fx…ng-thread.html . Several participants are making bold claims like “The first smokes the second,” apparently failing to realize that Cliff’s objective was to make the two sound identical. FWIW, I think he got pretty damn close in the clip he provided.
– Jay Mitchell


I’m excited, just got a message from Cliff he modeled the Tuc[ana amp] with the new G3 system today and it sounds ‘glorious’ (his words) !!
– Alan of Carol-Ann Amps


A Few FW18 (G3) Axe Fx Preview Clips



Friedman HBE

Recto Red Modern (ts9 in front)

-JubileeMan 2555 AKA Tyler Grund, Beta Tester