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Line 6 Guitar multi-effects

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( 39 user reviews on products )
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Reviews Guitar multi-effects Line 6

3/5

Review of the Line 6 AMPLIFi FX100

A Multi-Effects Pedal in the Palm of your Hand Following in the footsteps of the AMPLIFi 150 and AMPLIFi 75 amplifiers, Line 6 has released the AMPLIFi FX100, a floor-based multi-effects pedal controlled by your iOS device. How does this concept translate to a floor unit? Read on to find out. read more…

Line 6's M13: The Test

PODal board? Line 6 has been so strongly associated with their Pod that one almost overlooks the fact that their other line of products, stomp box modelers, have long been part of many guitarist’s (some of them famous) arsenals. First there were effects pedal modules dedicated to a certain type of effect, then the concept evolved into the likes of the M13: a multi-effects pedal board integrating all these modules and effect types, but also integrating new features and capabilities. read more…

User reviews on Guitar multi-effects Line 6 products

Line6 scores a direct hit with the M13--this is Stomp Box Heaven!!! (M13)

By racerevlon, 18/08/2012
The Line6 M13 is the flagship stomp box modeling unit from Line6. Unlike most of the Line6 products, this unit does not have all of the signature Line6 amplifier and speaker cabinet modeling software at your disposal. This unit is designed to work WITH your amp and not in place of it. Do not be fooled by this however. The M13 is an extremely flexible unit in that there are myriad different options for sound shaping including the various different stomp box models and the connection options that allow you to connect your amp via the now-famous 4-cable method. This allows you to put effects in their proper place, with distortion and non-modulation effects before your amp's preamp stage, and the time-based and modulation effects after the preamp stage. The amp also has MIDI capability if you want to use it as a controller or control it via MIDI. The MIDI implementation is not the most straightforward but can be figured out with an investigation of the downloadable MIDI Implementation Guide.

UTILIZATION

The words "Bonehead Simple" are actually printed on the M13 box and I think that about says it all. I received the M13 with the updated 2.01 software on-board. The one thing you DO have to watch out for is that it could be perceived as OVERLY bonehead simple. During one of my trial sessions, I couldn't figure out why sound was coming out of my amp but nothing was happening on the M13. That's because the M13 is truly "true bypass" and it simply wasn't powered on. So you know that if your M13 dies mid-gig, your signal will still get to your amp. Excellent!!

This is a great (relatively) little unit. The beauty of the M13 lies in its simplicity and flexibility. It takes about 10 seconds to memorize the color coding for the different types of effects, but hours to go through the settings and different models. There are two different modes of operation: Standard mode and Scene mode. Scene mode works like any other MIDI patch--you call up the patch and it brings up the pre-configured models in the pre-configured order and with the pre-configured levels. In scene mode you have access to the active models in each bank and you can toggle them on and off individually.

In standard mode you have access to 12 different stomp boxes'four banks with three options in each position. The payoff is no cables and no re-wiring. When you call up a model, the stomp box is activated with the last settings already pre-programmed. There is a global option to either save all settings automatically or not. I suggest leaving it on as that is really the purpose of the M13. I haven't yet found a need to have the settings NOT automatically saved. Without the auto-save enabled, any called-up model will accept the position of the knobs as-is' most likely undesirable.

When I started writing this review, I liked working in standard mode over the Scenes, although in truth the 'Standard' mode is really just a 'scratch pad' scene. Unless you have a special need for a high number of different sounds, you can get a great deal out of standard mode. I have my 'Scratch Pad' M13 scene set up in the following configuration:

Bank 1: A. Screamer, B. Blue Comp Treble C. Line6 Drive
Bank 2: A. Line6 Distortion, B. Heavy Distortion, C. Dimension
Bank 3: A. Noise Gate, B. Dual Phaser, C. Tri-Chorus
Bank 4: A. Stereo Delay, B. Noise Gate, C. Echo

Notice that I have the Noise Gate in two different positions and weaker distortions in front of heavier distortions. This allows me to either run the Screamer or Comp for a little boost of my amp's preamp or the Bank B distortion. Having the Noise Gate in Banks 3 AND 4 allows me to either put the gate at the end of the signal if running in 2-cable mode, or after the distortion effects in 4-cable mode so that the modulation effects are super-clean. In the latter configuration, the modulation effects really shine through the mix. With this configuration, I can get punishing distortion out of the M13, juice the front end of my amp, or get wonderful multi-dimensional clean tones. After learning about the flexibility of the M13 and how to better leverage scenes, a whole new world opened up to my tonal 'mad science.'

It's like having 12 stomp boxes at your disposal at a time, 12 sets of 12 stomp boxes, and you can activate any of them in their pre-defined position' NO WIRING!!! The only thing you can't do is have more than four boxes active at any one time, one from each bank. (You can only have one 'A', one 'B', one 'C', one 'D' on at a time). Pressing the foot switch activates the effect. Pressing another button in the same bank activates that effect and deactivates the previous one. Pressing the button of the active effect toggles it on/off. There is a dedicated button to activate the looper, a button to activate Scene mode, and holding the looper button activates the on-board tuner. The tuner is one of the most sensitive I have encountered.

After running the M13 straight into the front of the amps, I configured the M13 to have the effects loop in between banks 2 and 3. This one of the other beautiful features of the M13: you can place the effects loop wherever you want as opposed to being locked into one configuration.

Line6 characteristically doesn't include a ton of literature with their products because just about all of their product information is downloadable from the web. While I appreciate their commitment to green initiatives this doesn't help much when you're at the gig and there's no internet connection and you REALLY need some help from a manual. Still, the unit is easy enough to figure out that you only need the manuals for the really intricate operations.

SOUND QUALITY

I played this modeler with the following guitars:
VOS '58 and '59 Gibson Custom Les Paul guitars with Burstbucker 1 and 2 models
Gibson Raw Power Les Paul with '57 Classic pickups
Ibanez JEM 7VSBL with stock Dimarzio Evolution pickups installed
Ibanez RG550MXXDY with Dimarzio Super 3 Bridge, Evolution Middle, and Evolution Neck
Ibanez RGR4 with Dimarzio Crunch Lab Bridge and LiquiFire Neck
Epiphone Les Paul Standard with Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90's
PRS SE Semi-hollow with stock pickups
Squier Telecaster with Dimarzio Air Norton T bridge and Area T Neck
B.C. Rick Mockingbird Neck-Thru with Dimarzio Super Distortion bridge and Super 2 Neck
Squier Strat with Dimarzio VV Solo bridge, VV '54 middle, and VV Heavy Blues neck.

I played the M13 through the following amps:
Marshall JVM410H head and Crate Blue VooDoo stereo 4 x 12 with Jensen 60's
Marshall HAZE 40w 1 x 12 combo
Marshall Class 5 1 x 10 combo
Marshall Vintage Modern 50-watt head and a Carvin mono 4 x 12 with Celestion Heritage 30's
Mesa Boogie 1 x 12 Mark V combo
Marshall DSL100MLB full stack.
Marshall Vintage Modern 50-watt head and a Carvin mono 4 x 12 with Celestion Heritage 30's + Hughes & Kettner TriAmp MK II and a Carvin mono 4 x 12 with Celestion Vintage 30's in stereo.

The M13 ended up sounding the best with the Marshall HAZE 40 so I used that as my basis for sound. Hooking up the M13 with the 4-cable method opened up a whole new dimension to the tone. The distortions were tighter and the clean tones were, well, cleaner since I could just run the clean (standard) channel preamp valves of the HAZE. One of my favorite models in the M13 is the model of the old BOSS Dimension C. If you tinker with the different switch combinations on the Dimension C you can get everything from light Chorus to Phase to some unique sounds. I highly recommend using this effect to add a unique ambience to your sound. The Blue Comp + Treble model is nice for cleaning up the darker overtones of the EL34 power valves and really focuses the tone when engaged. Using the Screamer model adds a nice compressed boost to just about anything after without adding too much gain. I didn't have much use for any of the 'Purple' category models, but I play pretty straight-ahead rock, so your mileage may vary. The quality of the models is so good I encourage you to at least try them. There are only a few reverb models in there, but the ones that ARE there are all I could want or need in a reverb including 100-200 millisecond echo model. You can get lost in the delays, especially in the Scene dedicated to them.

One of the things I found odd about the M13 is that the EQ models were in the preamp (yellow) category, making them somewhat hard to locate at first. Also, putting them in that category limits the number of EQ/Overdrive/Distortion combinations you can create, but I suppose they had to put them somewhere.

Even though there is a Noise Gate pedal model, there is also a master noise gate that is accessible from the main Setup screen, so if you can live with just the overall noise reduction of the M13 you can save pedal spots.

The M13 nailed everything. Usually, when you are working with a complex unit like the M13 you'll find something where you're relatively unimpressed. While there are effects in the M13 that I would probably never use, there was no effect that I tried where I thought the model simply didn't pass muster. Line6 really took the time to get all of the models right and it shows when you hit the strings. I found all of the tones easy to work with and great-sounding. You know you've got a good product on your hands when you come across an effect that you've never really been a fan of, but the implementation in the Line6 M13 wins you over.

OVERALL OPINION

So what's the verdict? It really depends on what you're after. I've read a lot of material that compares the M13 to other Multi-Effects like the BOSS GT-10 or Line6 POD X3 Live. At first, the difference seems pretty obvious... Units like the GT-10 and X3 Live have amp and cabinet models in them and have the ability to emulate both and amp and add effects, where the M13 just adds effects (no amp modeling here), so one would be led to think that the M13 needs to be run into/with an amp, whereas the others can just be run straight to the board or recording console. Well, I got to thinking about it. Let's say for example I just want to use the M13 in 2-cable mode right into the front of my, um, 1968 Plexi. No problem, right? Well, what's the difference between running the M13 into a 'real' Plexi and running the M13 into the POD Farm model of a Plexi? Turns out not very much--you have to tweak the levels a bit, but I found that I could run the M13 in front of my Line6 KB37 and then into POD Farm and with minimal adjustment of levels I got the same results as running into a 'real' amp. How cool is that? I initially figured to get the M13 recorded I would have to turn on an amp and mic a cabinet. Not so. Just wire it in front of your amp modeling software of choice, tweak it to taste and you're good to go.

My biggest issue with the M13 as noted previously is that the MIDI implementation on the M13 isn't the most straightforward or "plug-and-play" like most other units that factory default to OMNI/ON so that they just work right out of the box. If the MIDI implementation were as easy to work with as other comparable units the M13 would have scored perfectly.

Bottom line, not only is the M13 a great stomp box modeler on its own, providing you with an arsenal of stomp boxes that would cost you thousands to collect and would be a nightmare wiring up the signal chain, Line6 has done it all for you in an affordable, flexible package that works for both live performance, live recording, or in front of your DAW. If there's a sound you're looking for that you can't coax out of the M13, well, there are always drums, right?
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Line 6 Helix (Back to the Future) Great Scott !!! (Helix)

By alexdreamx, 21/07/2017
Line 6 Helix (Back to the Future) Great Scott !!!
My complete review of Line 6’s Helix – a full-featured and well-conceived multieffect unit.

Unboxing day!!!

When unpacking it you’ll immediately realize how heavy it is. It seems sturdy, up to par with the professional level you’d expect for such price ;)

It comes with a classic power cord, a 512MB USB drive (what a shock – please see lower for details of the drive’s content) and a cheat sheet, which is a vague manual detailing the Helix’s various controls.

The knobs and the big volume/expression pedal seem well-made, but strangely the six selectors under the screen seem a bit cheap and the joystick selector (which is quite useful) seems less sturdy than the rest. Time will tell, everything’s fine so far.

The rear panel outputs are comprehensive, almost the same as the rack version (which is not that interesting pricewise considering you’ll have to add the foot controller).

This pedalboard version however offers an expression/volume pedal plus 2 outs for adding external expression/volume pedals (a better value-for-money IMHO).

It however remains quite easy to use without a manual. However, it can also soon turn hard to use if you start trying to creat fx chains with series and parallel chains within the Helix’s effect, amp or cab blocks + your own IR impulses.

There was a bug that prevented the effect chain on the first line to display correctly when I first got in in version 1.01.2 (which was the first real update). I was perplex at first (what a good start, ain’t it ? :8O: ), but I went to the official website which announced a v1.02.2 update that corrected screen artefact problems, so I installe dit which solved the problem.
So don’t get mad if you encounter such a problem, though of course it can surprise from such a costy product.

Helix is back

Compared with the previous Pod HD (X) series, the user has to start learning everything from scratch – this is NOT a mere Pod.

This multieffect unit WILL sound good, provided you manage to set correctly your inputs and outputs.

Whatever you but after it also matters a lot : it won’t sound the same whether you use a poweramp with a cab, a neutral-sounding active amp, a tube amp head full of character or a combo, but this goes with every single multieffect you might think of, no matter its generation.

The default Helix setting provides a neutral EQ with a percentage indicator: no more virtual knobs on the screen, as previous Pod users were used to.

(e.g. it goes from 0 to 10 and 0% to 100%, so no clock reference such as “put it at 12” and so on)

Compared with the previous models, the presets are mors neutral-sounding, and those unwilling to tweak them to use only the default banks (especially “Factory 1”) may be quite disappointed especially by overdriven sounds.

Default clean and crunch sounds are usable as is, but the default distorted sounds sound strangely thin and locked in the lower range – all this of course is only for the default presets.

With a rather (not to say much too) neutral setting for a preset, with say master at 4/10 and EQ at 5/10, the sound remains within a certain given sound range so all has to be reinforced.
While the previous Pod generation could be said to have default settings that featured burdensome differences in volume and an excessive amount of effects that made some presets unusable, this time, it’s the exact opposite!
The blocks are quite simple: a reverb + a distortion or drive + a delay and that’s all, folks… At least for most of them, not all of course.

The “Factory 2” soundbank is more elaborated and sounds much better. The effects can be heard and show the different possibilities offered by the Helix.

Please note you have 8 main banks, each featuring 32 different banks that are each made of 4 presets – I’ll let you do the count but it amounts to a total 1024 ( :8O: ). Needless to say you have plenty of room. As for your personal IR cabs, you have 128 free spaces.

My Name is Helix, Line 6 Helix

Every name in the Helix can be edited, not only the presets and banks but also those of the default effects.
Say you want to rename the Scream 808 (the digital model counterpart of the famous Ibanez green box) to Devil 666, well, you can.
The footswitch colors can be changed too, with several colors to pick from.

The 4 fx loops and the multiple ways to organise them (splits and all) will keep you busy for a moment, you’ll definitely like it if you’re the kind of persons who like tweaking amps and effects.

If you tended to consider the old Pods were complicated to use, be aware that in spite of its ergonomics the Helix is to be considered for advanced (and/or demanding) users only, as getting a sound can range from easy to very difficult. Especially if you start a chain four times as complex as what you could do with the previous generation of Pod, which was limited to 2 parallel chains (vs 4 with the Helix + all the different block associations)

With the two powerful onboard processors, say goodbye to the previous DSP’s limits that forbade some combinations and stuch the user (e.g. whammies and harmonizers are very demanding as far as DSP is concerned).


It still has a limit of course, but when you’ve reached it you’ll get a big message with the amp or fx selection greyed out.

Line 6 has been very reactive as far as corrective updates have been concerned, more than with the previous generations of products.

Line 6 lends an ear to its community of users as far as suggestions and corrections are concerned, thanks to their Line 6 IdeaScale concept which allows users to suggest improvements. Users can then vote for the ideas that seem the best to them.

Update 1:

Versus fighting

How does Helix rank compared with its predecessor?

Since many people are going to want to compare it with a Pod HD (X), I’ll say first that some faults with the Pod HD have been solved, and that the sounds are more airy, less boxy.
The sound reacts to the actual instrument used (a DiMarzio pickup-equipped guitar will react differently compared with one using an EMG81), which was not necessarily the case with a Pod HD which only provided the subtlest differences.

I could compare sounds from a Pod HD and Helix with “typical” Line 6 sounds, that is Epic and Doom patches (metal-oriented) with only the amp and cab (no effect). I used almost the same settings (“almost” only considering one uses virtual knobs and the other percentages, as stated earlier).

So I tried to reproduce the sound from the Helix on the Pod HD. Quite logically, the Helix’s corrected cabs allowed it to stand out by a wide margin. Unlike the HD, the Helix doesn’t sound like all cabs sound the same, and the mic type is also more pronounced, while the Pod HD’s sound was more boxy, with less dynamic and was missing a distorted preamp’s smoothness.

I tried both with the same setting, using a Radial AB (A+B) box to switch from one to the other or even to hear both (I particularly liked the result of both playing together, by the way).
I used my 2 neutral-sounding (modified) passive/active speakers with Matrix G50 amp inside + 2 Beyma 12GA50 speakers, for those who don’t know these are neutral speakers that don’t color the sound unlike most guitar speakers.

I also have another system with a Thomann poweramp and speakers with Eminence Texas Heat speakers. I had to turn the Helix’s cab simulation off because of the characterful speakers, which is quite logical after all.

Back to Pod HD vs Helix: both presets had the same Doom and Epic grain, but the Helix’s sound was clearly better with more character, reminiscent of a tube amp, the sound was less smooth and more in the open with harmonics (either natural or artificial) that stood out. Even the guitar’s sustain was better.

With the same virtual amp+cab and the same virtual mic, the Pod HD’s sound lacked air compared with the Helix.

The only field in which I found the Pod HD better was its ease of use: settings were easier to obtain, but in the same time I’ve been more used to it than to the Helix that I’ve only had for a short time – it takes time to get used to such a device.

Update 2:

Sound factory:

Let’s get straight to it : once set properly, the sounds are very promising.
Of course there are a few faults that I’ll list later on.
However, I’ve never spent so much time on a multieffect, and yet I’m not the kind to put too much effects here or there – and I’ve had a few multifx!

But here, i’m really having fun modifying sounds. Changing the sound panel is very interesting, with so many possibilities.
Of course it has less effects than the previous range’s multieffect, but if you own two active poweramps working in stereo its capacities are huge – and so is the sound that comes with it.

Only the fx part allows to come up with sounds that come from out of nowhere

Clean and crunch sounds are full of dynamics, and if you can find fault with the default settings (as i said before), once you set it correctly the guitar’s sound and expression are precise and authentic in every detail.

A volume swell test to get from clean to crunch and so on shows the same dynamics a tube amp would show. Bluffing!

Let’s talk metal and other hairy styles – distortion included.
Sounds will first sound a pit cold and very Line6-ish – back to my Doom or epic examples of Line 6 custom sounds.

What I mean is you’ll find the typical sound grain you’d get from a Pod HD X, but in a more organic and less smooth variation if you set the Helix correctly.

I must admit the default low-set distortions were not what most impressed me at first.
The settings not being optimized, the sound was too soft and lacked asperity. I only got something more organic in opening up the EQ and raising the master volume.

One thing I didn’t mention yet for the preamp part : I tried the 4-cable technique on a Hughes & Kettner Switchblade TSC and a Line 6 DT50 with XLR connector, and it works very well without an unwanted noise or color, no matter whether the preamp part was bypassed or not. All using only the effects on both tube amps and keeping their original – hence real – cabs.

That’s getting interesting, especially with the XLR connexion to the DT50 while keeping the Helix’s preamp: it’s worth trying, even if it’s compatible it looks like It’s been added at the last minute.

The only cons to it is – the preamps don’t all have the same default power, eg the Soldano Clean sounds very low in volume while the Fender Clean (also in preamp) sounded way louder, hence some unwanted volume raises not exactly agreeable.
Is this a real problem? I’m not sure, what I know is that I haven’t found the same difference in volume on the amp + cab part.

The Helix provides huge possibilities: you can chain mono cabs, put them in series or stereo, or even in parallel.
The IR cabs you can add will sound better than the default ones, but I found that the Helix’s resemble much to the list of Red Wirez IRs so the difference was not all that obvious.

Effects Time

Although users of previous Line 6 products were used to have more effects (ah, the M13 or Pod HD X’s 100 effects!), I don’t miss those that left the list considering the quality of those on board and the possibility to add several blocks with almost no limit.

The drive sounds are more punchy and add to the organic dimension on an amp that goes all the way from clean to metal.

The pitch and oscillation effects are very good, and the way it allows to make rather psychedelic sounds resembles hardwares twice the price ;)

I believe the delays, flanger, chorus and vibrato to be a notch upper compared with a Pod but I couldn’t try both to compare (I sold the Pod HD X in the meantime and mostly compared the amp+cab blocks).

Finish Him !!!

+The overall sound (if you want a quick overview of what it can do the Factory 2 sounds are much better than those from the 1)
+Routing capacities and easy sound editing method
+Well-finished and pro (heavy) hardware
+Updates by Line 6
+Use your own IR Cabs
+The Input’s Noise Gate, so efficient that most of the time the other block noise gates are not necessary and would only eat your sound out
+ ability to edit the switch colors as well as the names of all banks and presets
+1024 preset possibilities for sound creation
+Well-thought templates in the last bank (4-cable and 7-cable techniques, super-series, parallel and so on)
+possibility to edit all parameters on the fly with the expression pedal – which turns out to be a little too sensitive, though…
+Switches can be set to latch or unlatch

-Default Factory 1 sounds (ain’t worked too hard, huh, Mr. Line 6?)
-The preamps and their differences in volume
-The ongoing compatibility problems with third-party expression pedals (say with Roland’s EV5)
-The settings that go back to default every time you change the amps and cabs or preamps. It’s quite a burden to reset everything (EQ, volume…), hopefully things will evolve (I proposed it on Ideascale)
- More amps/fx/cabs in the future?
- the 512MB USB drive when others offer free chocolates – which are better. Former Axe FX 2 owners know what I mean.
-The rack version, not cost-effective considering the foot controller to be bought separately (well, that’s my opinion)

And please, please Mr. Line 6, a Mac & PC editor!!!


Update 3 Finally, the preset editor for live editing the fx chains is here, and in the meantime many other updates came, with more amps or effects + bug fixes. Since then, I feel the sound has evolved.

I’m always as happy with it, it’s as evolutive as an Axe FX and no need to start all presets from scratch everytime ther’s an update ;-) See what I mean, Mr. Fractal Audio? :bravo:

*The 512MB USB key contains the Line 6 Helix’s manual, revision A. At a time when the merest USB drice counts in GBs and the manual itself is at its revision B… I’ll leave you fill in the blanks ;)

For those interested, I created a French-speaking forum there:

http://line6helix.forumactif.org
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News Guitar multi-effects Line 6

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Last month, Line 6 unveiled their new Helix range of multi-effect pedals for guitar. We met the team in Nashville for a special presentation.

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Published on 04/03/15

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