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 signal 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.