amplifi

Line 6 made a name for themselves by making amps that used digital models to change their sound. AMPLIFi is their latest notion in amps. Instead of just being something guitarists would use in the studio and stage, for the first time it’s an amp system you might want to bring into the home.

AMPLIFi is an amp, first and foremost. And like other Line 6 products, it uses digital models to change tones and effects. But while it can be loud like a traditional guitar amp (in 75- or 150-Watt versions), inside is a full-spectrum, five-speaker system. That means when you play music on it, you get stereo sound (plus a subwoofer) and tone more like you would expect from a home music system.

To feed sounds onto those speakers, the AMPLIFi also includes Bluetooth support, so you can stream audio wirelessly as well as via a cable. The applications are obvious: this is an amp that you can use to play along or practice with, and also can fill in at parties and dinner dates and the like.

And this isn’t out of reach, pricing wise: available now, 150-watt version for US$499 and the 75-watt version for US$399.

Line 6 has also changed how you pilot the amp. An app lets you navigate different amp models and effects via your iPad or iPhone. (Bluetooth streaming is supported on Android et al, too, but the app is iOS-only.) It’s not just a UI for picking effects and amps, either. Line 6 also has an amp “matching” system: tap in a song, and the amp will actually try to match the tone of your guitar to the one used in your favorite music.

The app adds a whole lot of modeling to the amp. (Amp app? Yipes, this is getting confusing to write.) Line 6 promise “70+ amps, 100+ effects and 20+ speaker cabinets.” In fact, you really want something running iOS in order to take advantage of the amp, because without the app, you get just four (!) presets. Fortunately, Line 6 has supported a range of iOS devices, so if you don’t own one, your best bet might be to pick up one cheap. The app supports “iPod touch (5th generation), iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, iPad (3rd and 4th generation), iPad 2 and iPad mini.”

amplifi_bookshelf

It’s also worth saying that the AMPLIFi doesn’t look like a traditional amp: there’s no tacky chrome, no loud details. The housing looks instead like a high-end home audio device.

Add the iOS app, and you unlock dozens of amp models and effects, a tap away. It's almost like running a full-featured guitar amp solution on the amp itself. (The UI is on iOS, but the DSP is on the hardware. You're just, rather oddly, limited to four presets without the iOS app.)

Add the iOS app, and you unlock dozens of amp models and effects, a tap away. It’s almost like running a full-featured guitar amp solution on the amp itself. (The UI is on iOS, but the DSP is on the hardware. You’re just, rather oddly, limited to four presets without the iOS app.)

Now that we live in a world where everyone seems to be trying to turn everything into a social network, there’s also a rather curious community feature to all of this – like a Facebook for amp tones. (No idea whether people will actually use this, but it’s there.)

With a cloud community of guitarists uploading their best patches, AMPLIFi Remote provides a unique and powerful resource for finding guitar tones. Within the cloud community, guitarists can rate their favorite tones, upload their own, and build their musical network by connecting with other musicians and fans. The AMPLIFi cloud automatically keeps all devices up to date and synchronized. Guitarists can store an unlimited number of presets in the cloud—and access them anywhere.

Onboard controls.

Onboard controls.

Back out of the cloud to the physical world, here’s the full feature list for the amp itself:

150 watts (75 watts on the more-portable AMPLIFi 75)
12” custom Celestion speaker (8” custom speaker on the AMPLIFi 75)
2 mid-frequency drivers
2 high-frequency drivers
1/4” Guitar input and 1/8” Stereo Aux input
1/4” Headphone output
Tap tempo/tuner
4 onboard presets (access unlimited presets via app)
Stereo Wet/Dry Effects for immersive sound
Compatible with Line 6 FBV MkII Foot Controllers
USB connection
Bluetooth streaming audio (compatible with Android, iOS and Mac or PC)

http://line6.com/amplifi/

This looks like it could be an entirely-new category of amp. The cloud features may or may not catch on, but it’s not hard to imagine a lot of guitarists would love an amp that can double for regular listening. And as usual for a Line 6 product, the effect and amp options look rich and rewarding.

The iOS app opens up some sophisticated control options for those who desire it.

The iOS app opens up some sophisticated control options for those who desire it.

  • Ryan T.

    I use an iPad onstage frequently – that could come in very handy…

  • tesla3090

    Is there any android support? I’m a little leery of devices like this that require specific phones or apps to function, I know that an amp from 30 years ago will still work today, but will this thing be any good 10 years from now?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, I find their system a bit inflexible. You have only four presets without the app. So that is definitely a concern, even before unboxing this thing.

      It looks great, but yes, without the app, you can’t really access the DSP system. (Hmm, future-proof it by allowing a telnet interface? ;) )

    • Peter

      Yea but most guitar players only use 2 or 3 patches live anyways :D

    • hanerlend

      This.

      You can overwrite them, and hook up a pedalboard to change between the four patches + control a wah-pedal etc. Should be flexible enough for most peoples live playing needs.

      -han

    • just passing

      telnet might be a bit much, but an HTML interface shouldn’t be too hard to manage. Anything to untether it from iOS – or even Android, really; we don’t know what OS will be ruling the world in 10 years, but we do know it’ll come with a browser.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, I agree, absolutely. And this would offer flexibility *right now* for their customers. The fact that you can’t use a laptop is already annoying – let alone Android, etc. It means if you lose your charger for a day for your iPad you can’t change amp models or effects. That’s absurd.

    • http://melodiefabriek.com/ Marco Raaphorst

      we need some sort of jquery audio scripting :)

    • foljs

      Well, modern electronics are not meant for “10 years from now”. It’s a $399 device.

    • tesla3090

      Why shouldn’t they be, especially when it’s supposed to be a musical device? It’s ecologically damaging to continue throwing away electronics at the rate we do, and when it comes to instruments and musical equipment I tend to expect it to last longer than your average consumer electronics. If they designed vintage synthesizers in the same way they design modern electronics, we wouldn’t see this booming second-hand market. That’s what, in my opinion, separates good musical gear from musical toys. They are built to stay relevant and useful for a long time.

    • just passing

      You say that like $399 isn’t much money – and like 10 years is a long time.

  • Peter

    This will be a hell of a deal in 5 years when line6 or apple completely changes their business model and takes the servers offline.

  • John

    I’m kind of having a love-hate relationship with it so far. It has a lot of potential but kind of seems half-baked for people into serious playing.

    Right now the only way to find a pre-built preset is to search for a song name in the play section of the app. No normal preset browser for running through the library of existing presets. This is very annoying as well as being extremely limiting. I really hope they provide a normal effect preset browser in addition to the search by song title method of trying to find a preset.

    I’d also like the ability to control and switch between presets via midi coming into the ios app. So if you had a foot pedal working with your ipad, you could then use that to move between presets while playing. Right now you are restricted to a FBV pedal plugged into the amp, which only allows you to move between the 4 internal presets inside of the amp.

    The USB port currently does nothing. Also, there is no line out of any kind from the amp. So if you were using it in a gig or recording situation, you’d have to mike it.

    These restrictions really limit its potential, so i hope Line 6 provides some better support for more serious players for it.

    It does work great as a speaker for ipad synths. Waldorf Nave sounds awesome running into it.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      It calls out for an AMPLIFi Pro. ;)

    • http://flexyvoid.com/ Yanakyl

      Uh interesting. I was thinking about it being a nice synth/keyboard amp.
      Can you play with iOS apps, stream to the device and in the same time plug what you want in? I guess yes, but what can you put effects on? Just what goes in the usual amp input?

    • Marty

      it acually allows for the switching between the default presets; having 100 presets. I just purchased mine. So I haven’t had time to try and save or overwrite the 25 banks. You have to admit it has some potential.

  • James Husted

    Thanks for the picture showing it on the shelf next to the albums. You can see the real size there – small. The stand alone picture makes it look like it could be the size of a Twin Reverb.

    • hanerlend

      There are two models. One 8″ and one 12″.

      -han

    • Max Gutnik

      Hi James,

      The unit pictured on the bookshelf is the AMPLIFi 75. The AMPLIFi 150 is larger.

  • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

    Hm, I haven’t seen or heard this thing myself in the real world, but from the descriptions here and over there at Synthtopia, the Yamaha THR series (http://www.yamaha.com/thr/) still sounds like a much better deal…

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      They seem like different animals.

      The Yamaha is an amp with models – but Line 6 has done that before.

      The AMPLIFi is doubling as a general-purpose speaker, and has more models and effects – provided you can use the iOS app to access them.

      The Yamaha might be a better choice if you just want an amp.

      And hearing it would be sort of essential.

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      That’s right – there are more possible options with the Line6 device, because of the app integration. But the THR can very well serve as a plain iPod loudspeaker, too. Not via Bluetooth, though, but whatever… Obviously, it depends on the package you’d need or want as a musician.

      Regarding the amp modelling, I would throw this one into the game too (no speakers though, but still great integration with your guitar and DAW): http://www.voxamps.com/us/pedals/tonelabst/

  • name user

    a piece of shit that doubles as a piece of shit

    with bluetooth and ios integration

  • http://flexyvoid.com/ Yanakyl

    Looks nice, but what will be of it in 10-15 years?
    But it’s cool to have an amp that stays in the living room cuz it doubles as a speaker system. Instruments conquering the world!! AHAHAAAAHHHAH We’ll be the masters of it!!

    • foljs

      “”"Looks nice, but what will be of it in 10-15 years?”"”

      You’ll have upgraded to something else, as you’ll have done with your phone, your laptop, your TV etc.

    • http://flexyvoid.com/ Yanakyl

      My little vox ac4 will still be there though :)
      And if I upgrade it will be for a 15 to 20 watt tube amp that will have a value in 30 years time ;)
      Not saying you need tubes to play electric guitar or blabla its just my taste and perception of things.
      All thing said this line 6 as a keyboard/synth amp where I can plug a guitar and listen to my music on, is quite a product!!!

  • Gryffin Becker

    My 75w Amplifi should arrive tomorrow. This weekend I had a chance to noodle around with both the 75w and the 150w at the local Guitar Center. I didn’t have my iPad and the place was yer typical noisy madhouse, but I was pleased with the sounds I could get out of them. Here are some specs I dug up:

    Line 6 Amplifi 75w:
    Weight: 20 lbs 8 oz
    Dimensions: H: 12.5″ W: 17.5″ D: 8″
    Line 6 Amplifi 150w:
    Weight: 35 lbs 10 oz
    Dimensions: H: 16.25″ W: 22.5″ D: 9.5″
    Roland JC120: (for comparison)
    Weight: 62 lbs
    Dimensions: H: 24.52″H x W: 30″ x D: 11.25″

    Seeing it in real-life, the 150w Amplifi seemed bigger than I had envisioned. The 75w was pleasingly small and light, and I’m at a point where “small” and “light” are virtues, ie, I’m tired of lugging my JC120 around.

  • Circle 3

    If it sounds anything like every other Line 6 amp, it will sound like a steaming pile…

  • Igor Molochevski

    Forgive me, my speaker ignorance, but would it not make an excellent companion for any projects that require sound on the go. I always need good system with customizable signature of sound for performance installations. Peter what do you thick, would it make an excellent companion for shows, where portability is essential.

  • John

    So the amplifi app did a firmware update to the amplifi amp yesterday. ever since then, the amplifi app refuses to talk to it. so i’m basically dead in the water for controlling the amp via the ipad app.
    I should point out that the bluetooth connection is fine. i can use it as a bluetooth speaker with something like waldorf nave fine. but switch back to the amplifi app and it doesn’t show up as connected. if you turn the amp off and then on again, a dialog comes up in the amplifi app asking to connect to it, you say ok, nothing happens, still not connected.
    I have a support request into line 6, no reply yet.
    the connection to the amp was always flaky using the app, it would randomly drop out before. but this is a new level of broken.

    so far the amp is unusable in any real world playing situation, other than just using it with the 4 built in presets available on the amp. the ability of the app to control the amp was always unreliable, and totally non-functional at this point for me.

  • gismo

    I’m very interested in the Amplifi 75 as I think it would be a great little amp for rehearsals. As I play both electric and acoustic guitars I would be very intersted to know is whether there are any acoustic guitar amp simulations. I understand that the Amplifi is a full range amp so as far as I can see, there shouldn’t be problems playing an acoustic guitar through it.