Fractal Audio Systems

eXtreme Digital Audio

Fractal Audio Systems was founded in 2006 to create the revolutionary Axe-Fx line of preamp/effect processors. Guitarists everywhere have since embraced Fractal technology. At Fractal, we are dedicated to quality without compromise in the pursuit of “eXtreme digital technology.”

Shortly after the advent of the electric guitar and the amplifier, guitar players began to experiment with altering the basic sound of their instruments. Amplifiers soon began to incorporate reverb and then tremolo and overdrive. Never satisfied, guitarists yearned for even more sonic possibilities and the effect pedal was born. These consisted of wah-wah, distortion and other simple effects. Although crude, folklore has exalted these early pedals to the point where some feel they were endowed with almost mystical properties. With the introduction of the integrated circuit in the late 60's, designers realized more complicated effects. By the 1970's a myriad of pedals were available: Chorus, phaser and flanger effects became ubiquitous.

As technology marched on and IC's became ever denser, a new paradigm was thrust into the spotlight: digital. Digital effects, it was promised, would offer far superior performance: zero noise, nearly infinite delay times, pristine reverbs, and more. Soon the multi-effect was born. In a single rackmounted unit the guitarist could have the equivalent of a dozen different effect pedals. Competition was fierce with each manufacturer trying to one-up the other by cramming more and more into their boxes. Ultimately, and unfortunately, this led to digital's demise. As engineering gave way to marketing, many soon began to question the Emperor's new clothes. Pricing pressures and cost cutting forced engineers to use low-grade components and inferior algorithms, and the quality of the effects suffered. Grainy, cheesy, noisy. No doubt many have heard these terms when referring to digital effects. Soon, many guitarists rebelled against digital effects and analog pedals have now enjoyed a renaissance. Old analog pedals are prized and sought among vintage collectors. Musicians ditched rack processors in favor of a board full of individual pedals.

But in fact, digital technology is quite capable of delivering all of the benefits that were originally touted. Now, more than ever this promise is realized with superior sound quality, the convenience of multiple simultaneous effects, programmability and superior control. With the Axe-Fx line of products — and now beyond it with new offerings — we have hopefully restored digital to its rightful place as the superior solution to guitar processing processing. Every aspect of every one of our products is designed with this in mind to deliver the ultimate in sonic quality. We thank the many musicians, unsung heroes and guitar superstars alike, who now stand behind Fractal at the dawn of a new age in guitar tone and technology.

Fractal Audio Systems Logo
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Fractal Audio Timeline

Apr 2015 FX8 Multi-Fx pedalboard processor begins shipping .
Mar 2015 Fractal Audio Systems named in a Wall Street Journal article about the skills of 'concert technicians'.
Mar 2015 Axe-Fx II Firmware 18 with "G3 Amp Modeling" is released.
Feb 2015 Cab Lab 3 IR Mixer and Tools, including the first plugin from Fractal Audio Systems, is launched.
Feb 2015 The Axe-Fx II XL becomes the XL+, with improved display and even lower noise floor.
Jan 2015 EV1 Expression/Volume Pedal begins shipping.
Oct 2014 A special "Thank You" to Fractal Audio Systems appears in the liner notes of U2's Songs of Innocence.
Oct 2014 FX8 Multi-FX Pedalboard is announced.
Feb 2014 UltraRes™, our patent-pending IR technology, dramatically increases speaker sim quality without added latency or CPU use.
Jan 2014 The Axe-Fx II XL is announced, featuring expanded memory and numerous other improvements.
May 2013 Fractal offers the first in its CAB PACK series of professionaly produced Speaker Cab IRs.
Apr 2013 Axe-Fx II Firmware 10 introduces MIMIC™, a revolutionary improvement to amp modeling.
Apr 2013 Fractal-Bot is launched, offering a standalone, lightweight MIDI utility for Fractal products.
Oct 2012 Axe-Fest West, featuring 2 days of Fractal-related presentations and performances draws record crowds to the L.A. Amp Show.
June 2012 AxeChange, our preset and cab sharing web site is launched.
July 2011 is launched.
May 2011 Fractal Audio Systems announces Axe-Fx II, the long-awaited successor to the Ultra.
Oct 2010 The MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller is released.
May 2010 Fractal Audio Welcomes Steve Vai AND John Petrucci to its artist roster this month.
Apr 2010 The artist roster has grown to include Steve Stevens, Tosin Abasi, Adrian Belew, Chris Broderick, Devin Townsend, Neal Schon and many more.
Sep 2009 By now, the Axe-Fx has won every top award from every major guitar magazine.
Apr 2009 Four new artists become the “cornerstones” of our roster: Dweezil Zappa, Chris Traynor, Pete Thorn, and Larry Mitchell.
Sep 2008 The Fractal Audio Systems forum is launched.
Jun 2008 Axe-Fx firmware 5 draws major attention with improvements to amp modeling.
May 2007 Axe-Fx Wiki is launched.
Apr 2007 Axe-Fx Ultra is announced.
Jan 2007 is launched.
Dec 2006 The first firmware update is released, establishing what will become Fractal's commitment to product evolution.
Nov 2006 goes live.
Mar 2005 The first internet forum posts about "an AxeFx" appear, stating "This guy Cliff built it from scratch and did all the DSP coding."