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This article was originally published in issue #69
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Superb, tour-ready build quality.
Amazing feature set and intuitive control of so much power
Eight highly useful layouts built-in
Single XLR cable to connect to the AxeFX III
Easy to read, customisable displays
It would have been so cool to be able to plug your guitar into the FC12!!
512mm x 233mm x 88mm.
The new FC12 from Fractal is the perfect way to control your performances with the Axe-Fx III. This robust next-gen foot controller offers an impressive suite of features and capabilities, incorporating years of innovation and customer feedback. It looks great, too, making an awesome addition to your stage or studio. Tom Quayle tells us more.
Fractal Audio’s Axe FX III blew us away earlier in the year with it’s best in class amp modelling, effects and future proof feature set. It’s an incredible studio tool, but a little more limited on its own in a live setting without a floor/foot controller. It’s no surprise then that Fractal also make their own foot controller for their flagship guitar processor in the form of the FC6 and FC12.
The larger FC12 we received for review features a powder-coated, solid steel chassis with 12 highly customisable SSS footswitches, ensuring near-silent operation and no breakable parts. They are smooth as butter and will last forever, so there are no worries about taking this unit on the road with your beloved Axe FX III. Each switch is accompanied by its own LED screen that can also be customised to display whatever you require and a matching LED coloured ring around the switch that can be set to one of three configurations – ON/OFF and DIM. A large main screen allows you to see the most important information such as the preset and scene you are using and your tuner with each of the screens being trans-reflective for the best possible clarity on stage or in the studio.
The whole assembly utilises Fractal’s proprietary FAS-LINK II connection for an incredibly easy setup comprising a single XLR cable from the FC12 to the FAS-LINK II input on your AXE FX III. As such, the FC series aren’t compatible with the Axe FX II, but the XLR cable ensures maximum reliability and stability from an industry standard connection. All data, power and communication happens through this single connection and any XLR cable will do the job. Unlike some of Fractal’s previous floor controllers, all firmware, patch, and controller information is stored on, and thus populated onto the FC12, by the Axe FX III – this means you never have to do a firmware update or send your patch and switch assignments to the FC12, since all the updates and relevant data comes from the Axe FX III itself and are updated/sent out automatically. Just plug the XLR cable in, and you are ready to go out of the box.
The power and flexibility of the Axe FX III means that the number of potential FC12 switch assignments and functions is pretty mind-blowing and Fractal are aware that this could become overwhelming for many users if they had to program all their assignments and functions from scratch. As such, you get a so-called ‘Master Layout’ that gives you access to eight further layouts, arranging the switches in highly useful and common-sense combinations such as ‘Presets’, ‘Scenes’, ‘Effects’ or ‘Looper’ for example. These layouts can be selected easily with a combined press of the two rightmost switches in a heel to toe rocking motion, allowing you access to all the vital functions that you would need to control right out of the box. It’s intuitive in use and takes only moments to master and become entirely familiar with.
The included layouts make a great deal of sense and many users will never feel the need to customise their own switch assignments. For those that need further control, custom layouts and switch assignments can easily be created using the EZ mode on the Axe FX III. You simply press the FC12 or 6 switch you want to assign and then use the value wheels on the Axe FX III to assign its function. Programming can also be done via the free Axe Edit software for those afraid of the front panel. Switches can have latching, momentary or hold functions for even greater flexibility and almost any function on the Axe FX III can be controlled with either the onboard switches or via the four expression pedal and four external switch inputs on the back of both the FC12 and FC6.
For those requiring the ultimate in powerful switching, midi control messages can also be assigned to any of the switches and sent via the Axe Fx III’s midi ports and FC12 and 6’s can even be daisy-chained for larger setups or mirrored to other units, allowing a tech to do switching for you off stage.
Considering the bomb-proof, pro level construction and feature set, the FC12 and especially FC6 are incredible value for money. They take the already incredibly powerful Axe FX III from a fantastic studio tool to a mind-blowing live powerhouse where your imagination is really the only limit to the possibilities on offer. Fractal also do some great bundle deals for the Axe FX III with either of these controllers, further raising the value proposition, especially compared to buying enough regular gear to cover even a fraction of the sounds and flexibility on offer from this pairing.
If you own an Axe FX III and plan to use it live, the FC12 and 6 are an essential purchase. If your Axe FX III only resides in the studio, then you should consider one of these foot controllers anyway if you want to truly unlock the full power available from Fractal’s incredible guitar processor. Very highly recommended if you can afford to splash the cash.