• Pros: Excellent pedal for jamming along to songs and practicing. Innovative “Tone Search” function and cloud sharing capabilities.
• Cons: Live applications can be limited.
• Overall: A great jamming and practice tool and an interesting step forward in terms of technology and innovation.
Line 6 has always been a company at the forefront of the guitar world’s latest technological innovations. From high quality amplifiers to powerful multi-effects processors, the company has delivered consistently in terms of quality and innovation. And with the AMPLIFi FX100, its latest member of the forward-thinking AMPLIFi range of products, Line 6 seems to be stepping into the future of guitar effects processors. If this step is a hit or miss, however, remains to be seen as I delve into a detailed review of the AMPLIFi FX100.
The AMPLIFi FX100 doesn’t really feel like it’s meant to be used in live situations, and to be honest, looks more like it belongs as part of a home entertainment system. But that said, the outer-casing, control knobs and footswitches of the pedal are far from flimsy and feel quite durable. The pedal’s body is mostly metal and the footswitches look and feel like those of Line 6’s iconic POD series multi-effects units. And in all honesty, once you get used to it, the pedal does start to look pretty darn slick.
The interface of the FX100 gives an impression of an overly simple multi-effects unit. But don’t be fooled – the pedal actually houses up to a hundred preset banks, which brings us to the most unique aspect of the FX100.
Like other products in Line 6’s AMPLIFi series, the FX100 takes advantage of today’s cloud-computing technology along with its Bluetooth connectivity to offer players a unique playing proposition; which is the ability to pair and control it through an iOS device and to also receive and play streamed audio through any Bluetooth enabled device.
The pedal’s 100 presets are divided into 25 banks and the pedal’s four footswitches enable players to switch through a bank’s four presets. Scrolling through the banks isn’t as easy, however, because players need to press down two footswitches simultaneously to do so. The FX100 also includes an expression pedal which can control various expression based effects and also act as a volume control pedal.
The pedal also features six control knobs which allow players to instantly tweak parameters like drive, EQ, FX level and reverb of any preset. To the right of these four knobs is a much larger master volume control knob which also doubles as a mixer when jamming over streamed music through the FX100.
In terms of connectivity, in addition to the standard 1/4-inch amp out, the rear panel of the FX100 also has two “Main Outs” which can be hooked up to your home stereo system to listen to music that you stream on the pedal. There is also a headphone output which you can use to listen to both your playing and the streamed music at the same time.
One of the most unique features of the FX100 is the cloud-sharing feature which enables players to create, edit and share various patches and to categorize them by genre, artiste and specific song. To do this, players need to download the AMPLIFi Remote App from the iTunes store (Line 6 claims an app for Android is in the works) where they can arrange up to eight of the FX100’s 200+ amps, effects and cabinet modulations in any order they want to.
However, what really sets the AMPLIFi FX100 from other pedals like DigiTech’s iPB-10 Programmable Pedalboard and IK Multimedia’s iRig Stompbox is its unique “Tone Search” feature. This allows players to instantly find tones that match songs that are streamed through the device. To do this, whenever a song is streamed through it the FX100 searches the AMPLIFi community cloud for patches that other players have created for the specific song and offers a list of suggestions that players can then choose from. Players can then actively partake in the cloud by rating existing patches and creating their own.
One significant drawback that needs to be mentioned here though is that the AMPLIFi Remote App does not allow players to create patches from scratch. Instead players must build on one of the FX100’s factory presets or a preset that they download from the cloud.
It’s also important to mention here that Line 6 hasn’t really included their latest HD sounds in the FX100. But that said, its 200+ amps, cabs and effects offer players quite a bit of room to experiment with and create their own unique tones.
Despite its virtually limitless tonal possibilities thanks to the AMPLIFi Cloud, it’s hard to think of the FX100 as a comprehensive pedal for live use. However, the pedal’s Tone Search feature and live music streaming capabilities does add a whole new dimension to jamming and practicing the guitar.