Review: Line 6 AMPLIFi 150

Stereo and guitar lifestyle amp   12-May-14


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The Amplifi concept and product range was introduced at NAMM this year. Concepts tend to imply a new product range or category and thats exactly what we have here. Looking like a sort of cyber Vox AC30, Amplifi is a new breed (new to Line 6) of hybrid amp. Whilst looking like a traditional-ish combo, it's actually got a five-way speaker system, making it perform as a Bluetooth stereo system as well as a guitar amp. The styling is designed to fit into your living room and Line 6 are aiming for it to be at the centre of your audio needs.

Object

Amplifi is an appealing thing, it looks like it means business, has a stylish livery which I think has been designed to get it approved (by the other half)  for the living room, where it will hopefully provide stereo duties. It's not too heavy, but solidly enough built with a groove on the top to sit your iPad/iPhone or other tablet handheld thingy.

Explain

Amplifi has  DSP on board to allow you to do your usual Line 6 guitar amp and modelling stuff - with control via the Amplifi Remote app (iOS only) to let you deep tweak the sounds and playback songs and Tone Matching - more on that later.

With a 12" custom Celestion speaker for guitar amp duties and two, two way additional stereo speakers, you can kick out your guitar tone with the 12" and send the effects (reverb, delay/mod) to the stereo portion of the cab providing a pretty wide sound.

On board there are four tone memories dedicated recall buttons plus top panel controls:

Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, FX, Reverb Master

With these you can tweak the on board DSP to your liking. However to get the most out of Amplifi, you're going to need an iOS device running the free Amplifi Remote app. When connected via Bluetooth, you'll get access to the full gamut of usual Line 6 DSP tweaks - Amp and cab models, stomp boxes - it's like what you get with the POD and other hardware, though sadly patches are not compatible - so you can't send sounds between devices.

Additionally, the iOS device can send audio over Bluetooth to crank out your favourite tunes - and this does sound darned good. Additionally there's an Aux in for other external devices and a USB port, though this is currently limited to OS updates. Headphone out completes the connections.

It should be said that while it is possible to pair pretty much any Bluetooth devices (tablet, phone, computer) to the Amplifi and playback audio, the only way to edit the on board sounds (other than with the panel controls) is using the iOS app. Which cuts out all us Android users - seems to be a bit of an oversight considering Line 6 are going for the lifestyle type product here. I'm told this is due to the less uniform flavours of Android which makes it harder for complete audio integration. Perhaps they should consider at least making an Android editor.

ToneMatch

At the heart of the Amplifi experience lies Tone Match - linking up with your iTunes library, loading a tune - say Hendrix's Little Wing, the app goes off to search the Amplifi database - you need to be online for this to work, suggests some appropriate tones to go with the loaded tune. It's all down to database and metadata keyword searching, rather than actual audio analysis, but settings are retrieved - you can fire them into the Amplfi  and play.

Sometimes it's close, sometimes it's not, no different to general Line 6 presets.

In practice, obviously the more obscure your tune, the less likely you are to find a good match.

The only other issue is with this that this is the ONLY way to access a tone library, you can't just browse what's available. However you can create your own and upload them for others to enjoy if thats your thing. You will need to be patient and engage your inner data entry wizard  - not very rock n' roll but someone's gotta populate the online database, and you've been crowdsourced.

Finally

You know, for a pro guitarist expecting another gigging or studio tool, this is not what  Amplifi is for. Of course, you could do a gig or a rehearsal with the 150, jam with mates in the garage etc, but Amplifi is really designed for the guitarist in the family to use at home and play all audio through.

Once set up, it does provide a great sounding stereo system that can kick out enough power for even the most demanding party crowd. As a practice setup, you can access a massive variety of sounds through Tone Match - but you will need the latest iOS, OS and iTunes installs for it to work. So it's not for everybody, which is a shame.


Available now Amplifi 75 £299/$399 and Amplifi 150 $379/$499


 

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