Axe FX 3?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by woahimsicc, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. woahimsicc

    woahimsicc SS.org Regular

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    I'm really temped to buy the Axe FX 2 but i have a feeling that as soon as i buy it the Axe FX 3 will come out. Does anyone know when or if they are making a Axe FX 3?
     
  2. DarthV

    DarthV SS.org Regular

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    I don't think anything's maxxing out the processor in the Axe II, so I doubt anything new is coming down the pipe. Then again, how much more realistic do you expect. The current top shelf modelers sound awesome.
     
  3. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    There hasn't been any indications that there will be any major updates.

    From lurking the axe fx forum for the last couple years, this is what I know, and my impressions:

    -people make axe fx iii threads every once in a while, last time cliff posted about it was probably 6 months or more ago, saying a 3 is not in development. He doesn't post about it much.

    -I beleive the DSP in the axe fx II (all versions) is the best available. In fact, I seem to remember it's getting discontinued soon with no replacement, but cliff has, or has ordered, enough for the foreseeable future.

    As for maxing out the DSP, I've never managed it but some do if they have high resolution reverbs and delays, and lots of other effects in a really complicated patch. I don't think I ever go above 30% or 40%.

    The Mark I and Mark II Axe Fx II's (non-XL) have a smaller flash memory or something (wherever firmware is stored) and we hit that limitation a while ago, when there was a firmware update that didn't 'fit' in the Mark I and Mark II versions. Cliff later compressed the data in a differenrt way, and got it in, but I could see Mark I / II models being not supported in the future if firmware file size gets too big.

    The XL's are I think nowhere near the limit.

    This is just speculation on my part, but if ab Axe III came out I imagine it would be basically the same hardware and software, but with a new interface. Interface is important to a lot of people, and it has the worst out of all the modern high-end modelers.

    Also, there will probably be a 6+ month waitlist when it eventually does get announced. If.
     
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  4. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger Contributor

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    If an Axe-FX 3 was announced today it will be 6-12+ months minimum before you could get your hands on one so with a wait like that you might aswell just buy a second hand II. Realistically it would be late 2019 before the next model is out.
     
  5. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    This is why I personally prefer these 2 high end units (Axe and Kemper).
    I prefer the idea of making it stupidly high spec then cater to any updates by way of free firmware updates.

    Its why I would never buy a new high end Line 6 product. Even the Helix will be getting a replacement planned as we speak I imagine.
    Whereas Kemper for example just keeps updating the current model.
    I would love a Kemper floorboard version ala Ax8 and obviously its lack of edit software is a bummer but in general these 2 are still far and away above the Helix imo.
    I learnt my lesson when the HD Pro was new and when they made more amps available they made you have to buy them.

    Screw that.
     
  6. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    I pretty much agree with all of this. The Axe-FX II uses 2 of the best DSP's available, and they aren't being maxed out yet. I really don't know where they would go next because software has not caught up with the hardware yet.

    However, I also agree I think the next version will be similar in terms of power, and there could be improvements on interface, or price. The AX8 was a great example.... how to bring the brand into a lower price bracket that more people could afford without sacrificing much quality or features.
     
  7. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I don't know much about these kinds of units, but how much of their software/firmware can be updated or replaced by an end user? And is all of the signal processing done in software, or is there specialized hardware doing that work? Like do they more or less boil down to a computer, and most significant updates could just be done via usb or something? I get the sense that the most valuable updates to these would be more about usability and features, rather than sound quality or new models/patches/etc. anyway.
     
  8. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Firmware is released what seems like every quarter and can be updated by the end user via USB. Every time firmware is released, models/cabs tend to change ever so slightly in the way they sound. The hardware of the AxeFX is basically a glorified computer. I don't think it's doing anything special necessarily. Usability really doesn't change between firmware patches, as the interface has remained the same. Like Shask said, the major room for improvement is with the interface, power management and price.
     
  9. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    It is just a specialised computer.

    I don't know much about programming, but I think I've seen mentioned that the firmware is designed specifically for the DSP's architecture, and as the AX8 uses a less powerful, cheaper DSP (I think the same one as the helix?) the firmware has to be ported to the AX8. So from my understanding, if a better DSP did come out, you couldn't just open up your unit, swap the DSP, and expect it to still work.

    Cliff has also commented on using like an Intel CPU or something, but the lifecycle of that hardware is too short, and you'd end up with a new version of the Axe for each new processor, all with different firmware, etc.

    I may have got some details wrong but that is my recollection of many old tech talk threads.
     
  10. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, pretty much. The Axe-FX is like a computer in a way, except it uses Digital Signal Processors instead of General Purpose Microprocessors like a PC/Mac. DSPs work very differently and are optimized for sound processing. It would take a general microprocessor like 10-100 clock cycles to do the same thing as a DSP on 1 clock cycle, or something like that. There is not a great need in the world for ultra-powerful DSPs, so they are not updated as much as a general microprocessor...

    The Axe is basically an A/D converter, the DSPs, a D/A conveter, and out. There is memory and such in there also to store the firmware, and things like user IRs. Pretty much everything is done in software, and anything can be updated as far as features, sound, adding effects, etc.... The only thing that can't be changed is hardware I/O.

    A few different companies make DSPs, and each has their own programming language. So, if it was written with an Analog Devices / Motorola DSP, but Texas Instruments comes out with a new DSP, you can't just switch. The software language is completely different. The AX8 uses a less powerful DSP from the same family, so they share a common language. Most of these have their own assembly language, with a dash of C added in, to be compiled together.

    No, lol. You could never replace a DSP. They are usually 400+-pin Ball Grid Array chips. You cannot solder those without specialized machines that do so. They are nearly impossible to remove, and hard to solder correctly with machines that solder all 400 pins at once. I used to work in a factory that soldered this type of stuff, and trust me... it ain't happenin DIY at home.
     
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  11. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    There's some technical information haha.

    I was wondering if they were soldered in, or in those cradle things that computers use. I guess that answers that question.
     
  12. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    Usually they are all surface mount, and DSPs are Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs). You can Google that to see pics of what I mean. Typically to solder, a machine will put a drop of glue in every location a part will go. The circuit board is covered with solder paste (imagine thick, grey peanut butter), the parts are placed by a machine according to (x,y) location, and then the entire thing is ran through an oven at 500-700 degrees to melt the solder. The parts are soldered to the circuit board as one big unit. Usually BGAs are ran through an X-Ray machine to inspect the soldering where you can't physically see it.

    I used to program all these machines that did this once upon a time, lol. That was my day job for several years. That is why I love my Fear Factory Avatar pic, lol.
     
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  13. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    This would make me very reluctant to update firmware. :S
     
  14. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Me too, I generally don't update unless I see something I want to try like some new feature or new amp.

    I updated a couple months back after not updating for like a year and all the patches were significantly different. With the exception of the recto models, all the amps, after I re-tweaked them, sounded way better, so I don't regret it.

    You can always roll back, at least.
     
  15. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, that gets annoying. Luckily, usually it gets easier to tweak each time. The defaults usually sound better and better, so they require less tweaking.

    I tend to dump my presets once a year or so and start over, so I have learned to tweak it well for what I want. I dont use many different sounds either. I definitely think if I owned a studio where I wanted a library of past sounds, it would be extremely annoying. I think this is why it seems like the Kemper is more popular for studios. They can capture that sound in time, and always have it archived for later use.
     
  16. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I'm not interested in a kemper in my situation, but it would be the first piece of gear I'd buy if I ran a studio, and I'd profile every recorded tone I used.
     
  17. PBGas

    PBGas SS.org Regular

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    Everyone makes mistakes along the way. I can see how you would be upset by what happened. I would have been as well, no question.

    Answer me this one though......How do you think the Kemper users (like myself at the time) felt when they made a huge Namm announcement years ago about being able to add a power amp only to then come out with fully powered units and then reneg on the whole power amp thing a few weeks later and offer a "coupon" for your troubles. Thanks but no thanks. The other fiasco was the whole Kemper remote release. That was a bonafide joke and 3/4 how they handled that one.

    Needless to say, having the Helix has been fantastic. It sounds great and works perfectly. I am not at all missing the Kemper units that I had previously. The way things thing also integrate with my amp is fantastic. I am not at all a fanboy for Line 6 but when I see some of the things they are coming out with and the great customer service that they are doing these days, it is hard to ignore.

    At the end of the day, if the audience likes what they hear, then you can use whatever and it won't matter one bit. Just enjoy the moment and play!

    That being said, it's a pretty darn cool time to be a guitarist with all of these great things available to us.
     
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  18. Digital Igloo

    Digital Igloo Line 6

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    I have some Illustrator mockups, but they're just for fun. We're far from having serious conversations about what the next flagship might even be, and the last time that happened, it took another seven years to actually release the product. We still have many, many future plans for Helix and its brethren. 2.30 development's well under way; thus far, it has four new amps and six new effects.

    Unfortunately, POD HD500/X's architecture was designed from the get go to push the limits of its DSP, MCU, and memory, as it is with nearly every other product in its category. If you're desperate to hit a specific, competitive price point, you don't have the luxury of overdesigning or overspec'ing. Interestingly enough, this is exactly why no one's attempted to fill the $499 space since GT-100 in 2011.

    Designing a form factor-agnostic platform that can be updated for many years (like Helix) is notably more complicated and expensive, and its target price often shifts. The investment is worth it though, because sustaining work can roll into new products (like how LT dropped at FW2.10 and Native'll drop at HX Core 2.20). Then everything can receive new models and features at the same time, like how 2.30 will be deployed to four different products, hopefully (!) on the same day.
     
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  19. 7 Strings of Hate

    7 Strings of Hate Mid-Level Asshole Contributor

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  20. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    im still using my hd pro for effects to justify its purchase. The effects are great and i dont really have to worry about dsp limits for my needs.

    good to know a helix replacement is a long way off.

    also to the above kemper gripes. I genuinely dont know anything about kemper power amps and that going belly up and issues with the remote etc.
    when i got mine last year in a remote bundle i obviously had missed out on earlier teething issues.
     
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