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January 7, 2010

Line 6 Bends Over Backwards For V4

Filed under: Amps — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 7:47 am

Line 6 Spider IV 15 Review

The POD inventor comes back – for the fourth time – with its Spider modeling amp range. This time around we deal with the small, 15-watt combo which offers six effects, four amp models and some nice additional functions for less than $100. So what about the sound quality?Line6 Spider IV 15

The concept of the Line6 Spider range is very simple: to offer the brand’s famous amp modelings in an affordable, compact, solid-state amp family and in all imaginable sizes and power ratings, from the extremely compact, battery operated, 6-watt Micro Spider (already tested at AudioFanzine) to the 150-watt amp head and the 15, 30, 75 and 120 watt models. There’s an amp for every budget and ear! However, the amp family is divided into two: on the one hand the Micro, 15 and 30 models that provide four amp models and six effects, and on the other hand the 75-watt and bigger models offering numerous signature presets by famous guitar players and bands.

Like the POD family, every new Spider generation provides better sounding amp models, so the Spider IV tries to overshadow the successful Spider III Series of 2008. How good is this new Line6 generation? That’s exactly what we’ll try to unveil by testing the Spider IV 15 whose very aggressive price surely makes all competitors tremble.

A 4×4 Amp?

Line6 Spider IV 15The Spider IV 15 looks just like any other Line6 amp, it seems like there are no aesthetic changes. Black outfit, chrome knobs and good manufacturing quality: this amp will withstand boot kicks and beer tossings. The only evident change are the preset knobs. They are not as loose as on the previous generation which is a very good point. In all other aspects, the manufacturer remained faithful to its usual standards and even if the Spiders have no killer looks, at least they don’t look too flashy and can pass unnoticed.

This is a compact amp, perfect for bedroom use thanks to its dimensions and output power. It weights only 17 lb. and it’s not exactly big (16.1″ x 15″ x 8.7″). It sports a top handle for easy transportation and reinforced corners to protect it from all the violence out there. The speaker covering and connectors seem to be sturdy. Just the way it should be!

Now let’s take a closer look under the hood…

Conclusion

If we look at how the market has evolved over the last couple of years we’ll notice that the price of low-range guitar amps has tumbled down while the quality has continuously improved. This new Line6 amp confirms this trend and sets a very high standard in the $100 guitar amp market. With its amp modelings, six effects, integrated tuner, phones/record output, and MP3 input it’s a very comprehensive product available at an extremely aggressive price. Some of its features are only average but you can hardly blame it. The Spider IV 15 is perhaps the first ideal amp for beginners.

Advantages:

  • Clean and crunch sound
  • Four amp models
  • Six effects
  • Integrated tuner
  • MP3 input
  • Phones/record output
  • Price

Drawbacks:

  • Metal and Insane channels
  • Tremolo cannot be synced with the Tap Tempo function
  • Optional footboard

To read the full detailed article see:  Line 6 Spider IV 15 Review

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November 28, 2008

Test: Line6 Backtrack review

Filed under: Recording reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 1:42 pm
Line 6’s Backtrack+Mic: The Test
Unfortunately, we often realize too late that we should have recorded what we just played. How many times have you wished that you could go back in time and hit the record button right before inspiration hit you? Line6 has come up with something along these lines with its portable recorder, the Backtrack, a small device that lets you save a take after the fact. Is it magic? 

No, there’s nothing magical hidden in this little box the size of a pack of cigarettes, and the process is simple: Backtrack continuously records after being activated and automatically splits out audio events thanks to its silence detection. Just press the big Mark button in the center of the device when you want to keep something you just played. It’s both simple and original! But let’s take a closer look at the device.

Backtrack

The Backtrack is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is therefore easily transportable. It has a belt clip on the back, a ¼-inch guitar input as well as a ¼-inch output so you connect it to an amp. There are two versions: the Backtrack, which is designed to record instruments via a jack, and the Backtrack + Mic with the same features, but which also has an integrated microphone which allows you to record any acoustic instrument. We’ll be testing the latter.

The first thing that should be mentioned is that the device is USB powered. This connection lets you get to the audio you recorded with the Backtrack as well as recharge the internal battery. The manufacturer claims an autonomy of more than 8 hours and its memory (2GB) allows the user to record 4 hours of audio in 24 bit/48 kHz or 24 hours in 16-bit/11 kHz. There are also intermediary settings (22, 32 and 44.1 kHz) for greater flexibility. Note that the Backtrack only supports WAV format. It seems that Line6 didn’t deem it necessary to use less space-consuming formats such as MP3 or AAC. Of course WAV offers better sound quality, but is this the real point of a device like this? A compressed format would have easily fit 10 times more audio in its memory without sacrificing sound quality, which, for a tool of this kind, is not the priority. Moreover, it’s too bad they didn’t integrate a built-in speaker; if you record via the mic you’ll need to listen back to your takes with headphones (not included). If on the other hand, you’ve got the output connected to your amp, you can listen back to your takes through the amp.

But let’s take a look at how it works …

 …

Conclusion

 

Backtrack

Line 6 offers a highly original product that differentiates itself from the competition through its well thought out ergonomics, though they may be confusing at first. Its size and weight will be appreciated by musicians on the go, and its audio quality, without being extraordinary, is adequate for use as a type of audio capture device. Its few flaws remain bearable: only uses WAV format and its start time is a little long.

This recorder was clearly designed for musicians: it goes against the trend of the more expensive recording devices that offer better sound quality. Those who do serious field recording will no doubt turn to these more expensive models, while musicians hoping to easily capture a moment of inspiration will no doubt appreciate this product.

 Ergonomics: original and practical 
 Small 
 Price 
 Integrated microphone for the “+ Mic” version
 Ample autonomy and memory

 Impossible to un-mark a file 
 WAV only 
 Starts up after 10 long seconds 
 No built-in speaker

Read the full Line6 backtrack review here

September 7, 2008

Line6 M13 stompbox modeler review

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.

M13

Exit the original big pedal format: the M13 comes in the form of an almost square metal multi-effects pedal that’s about 40 centimeters wide. Taking up most of the device are the four identical “units” (they look like big channel strips) each having a display, knobs, a protection bar, and three footswitches, one on top of the other. To the right, another unit with three footswitches lets you activate different functions of the device with your foot.

As for inputs/outputs, on the back panel there are 2 ins (for stereo ins), a pair of outputs (stereo/mono), an effects loop, midi in/out, and a pair of inputs for expression pedals. As far as design is concerned, the device seems robust and heavy, seeing as all components are made of metal, with the exception of the knobs, which seem to be even smaller than your average knob on a standard pedal.

 

Once turned on via the dedicated switch, the whole thing lights up everywhere: displays, LEDs next to the switches, blinking ‘tap tempo’, all in multicolor! Let’s take a closer look.

n the end, what’s to be remembered from all this? First, that the M13 is not your average effects pedal: it’s a hybrid between a traditional multi-effect pedalboard and a set of modeled pedals, with a looper as icing on the cake. In use, one appreciates its extreme flexibility which will satisfy both aficionados of the traditional system of pedals or multi-effects lovers. Of course, you can’t choose the effects on board, but the impressive collection and the effects loop for which you can add your favorite pedals can cope with the vast majority of needs… In fact, apart from the sound and the quality of the effects, which will perhaps not be to everyone’s taste, it’s hard to see what to criticize about the M13, except maybe the impossibility of switching amp channels at a distance. But ultimately, this is nothing compared to the enormous possibilities of the device. In fact, the real question is: who will use the M13 to its full potential? The answer is unimportant, because for less than the price of two of their ‘stompbox modeller’ pedals, you get the complete collection and more, and new capabilities. Line6 has launched a new approach to ‘multi-effects’ which will probably be emulated in the future!

 

Vast Collection of Effects
Flexible Usage
Integrated Looper & Tuner
Great Modulations and Delays
A New Approach to Multi-effects

Quality of Distortions Compared to the Rest
MIDI Documentation Insufficient
Not Possible to Remotely Switch Amp Channels
Effects Editing: Knobs not sensitive enough
LCDs should have been tilted towards the front a little more for better visibility

You can read a more complete review of Line6 M13 on Audiofanzine.

August 27, 2008

Line 6 Micro Spider review

Filed under: Guitar reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 12:55 pm

Determined not to let Roland’s Micro Cube and Vox’s DA5 be the only contenders for portable-amp champ, Line 6 has entered the ring with its Micro Spider.

Micro Spider

Traveling with your electric guitar is not an easy task, especially if you have a heavy tube amp and no roadie. Of course, certain solutions like the POD exist, but you won’t be able to play your last song for your entourage unless you take turns with the headphones or plug the device into a hi-fi system. So you need a good sounding portable amp. That’s where battery powered mini-amps come in.

While Roland has been the undisputed champ with its Cube, Line 6 has completed its line of amps with the Micro Spider, a small 6 watt amp with a 6.5″ speaker. In order to work, it needs either a DC adapter (included), or six C batteries. With its 5 electric guitar amp models, acoustic guitar model, six effects and built-in tuner, the Micro Spider hopes to get a piece of the portable-amp pie.

Clean and Crunch sounds
Price
Integrated Tuner
Integrated Effects
Mic input
Size and Weight
Sound Power

Metal & Insane sounds
Line Out Quality
Battery cover/Rear panel
Strap

Read the full Line 6 Micro Spider review.

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