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.”
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.
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.
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
4 onboard presets (access unlimited presets via app)
Stereo Wet/Dry Effects for immersive sound
Compatible with Line 6 FBV MkII Foot Controllers
Bluetooth streaming audio (compatible with Android, iOS and Mac or PC)
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.