The XL has the same DSP (processing) and amp modeling capabilities as the original Axe-Fx II and the Axe-Fx II Mark II.
Most of the differences are rear panel hardware Input/Output (I/O) like a FASLINK port for XLR connection with an MFC-101 Mark III, though there is “expanded memory” which allows a few more types of blocks to have XY functions, more presets to be saved on the unit (768 presets as of 8-4-14, FW 15.04), as well as built-in backup firmware.
As of September 2014, the XL has “potential for more instances of effects,” but the feature has not been introduced yet.
The Axe-Fx II XL can use presets made on both the Axe-Fx II XL and the Axe-Fx II (original and Mark II). But presets made with the Axe-Fx II XL can NOT be used on the Axe-Fx II (original and Mark II).
The Axe-Fx II XL was announced January 27, 2014 and was made available later in March 2014.
Notable new features of the XL from the Fractal Audio website are as follows:
- Built-in FASLINK™ port for connection to MFC-101 Mark III over conventional XLR cables.
- Dedicated MIDI IN, OUT, and THRU jacks (vs. shared OUT/THRU in the Mark II).
- Two onboard PEDAL jacks (vs. one in the Mark II).
- Primary VALUE entry via optical encoder with a lifespan of 1,000,000+ rotations.
- “Secret Sauce III” instrument input features an even lower noise floor.
- 128 Mb of non-volatile Super-FLASH memory allows for storage of up to 512 presets and 512 user cabinets with copious reserves for future expansion.
- Double-capacity preset size allows for expanded functionality including X/Y switching on more blocks and more instances of effects.
- Built-in backup firmware allows recovery in the event of complications during update.
- Backward compatibility with Axe-Fx II Mark I/II presets via Axe-Edit software.