The new Fractal Audio FM9 comes with four DSP cores and thousands of amp models and cab sims along with over 100 virtual pedals and studio effects. But will it carve out a spot in the crowded floor modeller market?
Fractal Audio FM9
Arguably, Fractal Audio has been out of the limelight for a while now. Its most recent major release was the FM3, which came out in April 2019. The new FM9 floor unit expands on the FM3 by adding more footswitches, I/O and DSP power. It uses Fractal’s Cygnus amp modelling technology and is powered by 4 DSP cores, more than ts FM3 predecessor. Fractal says the FM9 is its most powerful floor unit to date. Could this be exactly what the company needs to get back in the game?
With a large colour main display and and a set of controls that seem easy to navigate, it looks like many other floor modellers on the market. The buttons, window and rotary encoders look similar to the layout of the FM3. The FM9 adds more footswitches – nine in total – each with its own vari-colour LED ring. A mini LCD above each shows you the current assignment. You can then customise these tap/hold footswitches via the Layouts feature, providing nine different sets of tap and hold functions to the user.
Amp Blocks & Cabinets
The FM9 uses a system called amp blocks. Each of these has four channels available that can run any of 280+ amp models. Plus, it ships with Fractal’s entire cabinet collection from its flagship AxeFX III system – which costs a lot more than the FM9 – encompassing 2200+ cabs. I think this will help make it a viable system for new users. You also get 1024 locations to upload your own impulse responses.
On the effect side, Fractal throws in an impressively broad set of algorithms. 57 modelled overdrive pedals are included along with over 50 reverbs, and lots of delays. So yes, your bread and butter effects are catered for. But you also have access to lots of chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, wah, EQ, filter, and pitch effects. Looking at that list, it seems the FM9 should have all your bases covered.
The FM9 comes with a wealth of useful I/O including a 1/4” instrument input, two separate stereo pairs of balanced 1/4” jacks, along with the main stereo output which is equipped with both XLR and 1/4” outs, and a handy headphone jack. Then you have 48k SPDIF in and outs, and 5-pin MIDI ins and outs. Plus, you can connect an external switch or expression pedal and using their FASLINK II port, which allows you to connect up to two additional Fractal Audio FC-12 or FC-6 foot controllers. For recording, it has a built-in USB audio interface with 8-channel recording and 8-channel playback as well.
A little late to the game?
The FM9 is in a higher price band, however. Fractal often comes across as a brand that’s a bit more premium than its competitors, a bit more niche. But I think it may have lost ground in recent years. Can the company catch up with the FM9? If you like the Fractal modelled tones, then I’m sure the FM9 will appeal. Fractal still has a lot of fans worldwide.
On paper, the FM9 should have all you need for most scenarios. Check out the demo videos below to hear and see the new Fractal Audio FM9 in action.
RRP: USD 1599