As usual, I start with the caveat, that I happily acknowledge that the Marketing Machine already has piles of reviews out there that tell you the things they want you to hear. They usually don’t tell you the things you actually need to know. My experience in the industry has shown time and again where so many “reviews” are tied to paid ads, or in the worst cases, actually paid for. I’ll try and give you, the rest of the story.
I really don’t think, as usual, that I need to repeat all the descriptions and explanations given by all the existing glowing reviews out there, so if you find that I’m missing lots of key points, know that they are available in many other sources.
In this particular case, the Marketing Machine did you, the consumer a HORRIBLE wrong, by almost unanimously neglecting to point out some key, showstopping problems, especially in light of how they described it as to directly quote one particularly egregiously inept review “fine gigging amp”
What is it?
On the surface, it appears to be a powered FRFR cabinet (but not really…more later), with bluetooth connectivity and Line 6 Amps and FX built in, claiming 150 watts, in a very manageable package
How does it sound?
Initially, Horrible. Muddy, gross, nasty. No matter how much you may hate Line 6 products (FU Glenn), this is nothing like any of the rest of them. It is the proverbial wet blanket.
Upon further testing and forum searches, it turns out that the path from the guitar input to the speaker outs, does not use the FRFR system, just the 12″ speaker. This means all those included tones, and any tones you make on similar devices, are running a model of a 12″ speaker cabinet, THROUGH an actual 12″ speaker. If you’ve ever accidentally left a modeler in recording output mode when plugged into a 12″ speaker, you know what I’m talking about.
Turning off the speaker cabinet emulations makes this thing sound like a pretty decent amp, similar to a Spider. The cleans don’t get the benefit of a full FRFR, so they still sound like a wet blanket, or maybe you could call it “vintage jazz clean”. It has lots of really good effects, though not really any way to control them without buying a Line 6 FBV
The only way to use this as an FRFR is to plug into the 1/8″ Aux input on the back. The Aux is at an EXTREMELY low volume, so if you were planning on using this as an FRFR for your modelling pedal or computer, you may be in for some serious grief. The unreliability and necessarily adapted nature of the 1/8″ connector makes this a hassle anyway.
Makes you wonder how all these “reviews” missed this, but it gets WAY worse.
There is no line out on this thing. Good job reviewers! What a “fine gigging amp”.
I need to say this again so you have been thoroughly warned.
THERE IS NO LINE OUT
There is a headphone out, but plugging into it mutes the speakers.
This means that the beautiful amp and FX models have no way to be shown in any real part of their glory, as there is no real way to send them to the FRFR system.
But hey, you get a whopping four different tones you can select from the top panel.
If you are used to VST’s or most multiFX units from the 1990’s and beyond, the editor is pretty bad. No direct entry (not that they are the only ones guilty of this, but come on, NO DIRECT ENTRY??? ), no fine tune….yeah, you have been warned, NO FINE TUNE, no Mac or Windows editor, you are on bluetooth for this, good luck!
It often connects. Not often enough or fast enough, to trust at a real show, so make sure your programming is done ahead of time. Once it connects it often stays connected.
The steps required to do basic tasks, like moving a preset can feel pretty silly, and its habit of making duplicates if you aren’t careful can be infuriating. If you are used to professional rack devices or VST’s, you are in for some pain, but if you are used to iOS apps, its kind of par for the course.
There no real ability to edit on the unit itself, just some basic amp controls
As a USB Audio Interface:
Like many, most or possibly all of these devices, the Amplifi 150 features a USB interface both to, and from the computer, with real ASIO drivers. Line 6 has been doing USB ASIO for a LONG time. They may not be the fastest, but they are relatively stable compared to the rest of the field.
I’m betting it shares the same driver as the Firehawk FX
Round trip latency for the Firehawk comes in at a horrific 15.442 miliseconds at 64 samples. No I’m not joking….seriously
At 128 samples, the Firehawk FX comes in at a ridiculous 24.33 miliseconds! Compare that to the Pod XT Live, which I believe was made in 2009, which does 128 samples at 17.893 miliseconds.
Unfortunately, unlike a lot of the other Line 6 drivers, such as any of the interface only devices, or the Pod XT Live, there is no way in the drivers to select the uneffected direct input. If you are planning on recording through this unit, you could turn off all of the fx blocks to get a DI in, but then you’d lose that particular sound for monitoring.
Worse yet, again unlike the interface only devices and again unlike the Pod XT Live, you CANNOTbreak the connection from the front panel input to the speakers of the Amplifi through the drivers if you want any signal to reach the computer. You are stuck with the amp and fx sounds at the outputs. You can return sounds from the computer in parallel (and there may be some great uses for this) but the original sound will always be there.
If you were planning on using the Amplifi as the interface and stage amplifier for a computer based guitar rack setup, forget it.
THERE IS NO LINE OUT
This could have been a revolutionary, groundbreaking device. Given a Line out, better drivers, and access to the FRFR system, this could have been a modeller’s paradise, seriously.
What really, really kills me about these horrid Marketing Machine “reviews” is that they encourage companies to keep making boneheaded mistakes. The truth hurts, but the truth can set you free. Without enabling from mercenary “reviewers”, Line 6 would have had to go back to the drawing board and give us what this thing really could have been.
It does make an excellent bluetooth music player for your iPad, but there are much smaller and cheaper devices to do this.
I wouldn’t buy this thing unless there are some really specific things it does that you want. Without a Line out, this thing is either a home jamming device or a doorstop.
THERE IS NO LINE OUT
Good sounding amp models and FX
It can make your guitar louder
Four potentially drastically different sounds at the touch of a button
No FX Loop
THERE IS NO LINE OUT
Only real FRFR is on 1/8″
No Physical MIDI inputs for control
Extremely limited hardware control (though the iPad editor is usable, if extremely unreliable)