Line 6 Amplifi FX100 Multi-Effects Pedal Review
Line 6 Amplifi FX100 Review
- Pros: Extremely easy to use thanks to iOS app, with a simple layout, reliable construction and a large selection of effects and amp models.
- Cons: Useless for Android users at present (09/2014), not enough deep control over effects parameters and sound quality could be better.
- Overall: An easy to use multi-effects pedal that’s great for casual players looking for a jamming companion, but not quite enough on offer for multi-effects aficionados.
If you aren’t a seasoned multi-effects pedal user, some of the goliath, feature-heavy devices complete with vast arrays of footswitches and dials may seem a little off-putting. The manuals are dense and not always clearly written, and navigating your way through the menus to dial in your desired effects parameters, amp models and settings can seem more trouble than it’s worth. Plus, for those looking for a specific artist’s sound but without a detailed knowledge of how to go about creating those sounds, the results aren’t always particularly inspiring. For these types of players – not to mention people just looking for something fun and easy to use – Line 6 has the Amplifi FX100.
It takes cues from the Amplifi (stylized as AMPLIFi) series of amps from Line 6, which aimed to “reinvent” the guitar amp, with Bluetooth connectivity to play songs from your music library and the ability to be control features through an iOS app. App-controlled effects pedals are becoming more common, with options like the iPB-10 and the iRig aiming to accomplish much the same thing. The Amplifi FX100 is the newest attempt to fuse apps and guitar FX, but does it really have anything special to offer, or is it just the latest incarnation of a doomed fad?
21st Century Features
The Amplifi FX100 looks pretty straightforward in comparison to other pedals on the market (like Line 6’s POD HD500X), with just five footswitches, an expression pedal and a selection of tone dials occupying the front panel, as well as a basic display which shows you the number of the bank you’re currently in (up to 25). The name comes from the fact that you get 100 presets on the unit, which are all editable and can be selected hands-free using the included footswitches. The “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D” switches bring up the respective settings for each preset location, and if you press “A” and “B” or “C” and “D” together you can change banks.
The main selling-points of the FX100 are the Bluetooth connectivity and the iOS app, Amplifi Remote. You pair your device (the Bluetooth works with Androids, PCs and Macs too) with the unit using its dedicated Bluetooth button, then you can play songs directly from your device through the pedal. This makes it much easier to play along with your stored songs, and the big volume dial on the unit can be pushed in so you can adjust the level to sit in nicely with the recorded mix.
On the pedal itself you can adjust the basic settings (drive, bass, mid, treble, reverb, and one assigned FX parameter), tap out a tempo or use the volume/wah function of the expression pedal, but the app is where most of the action really happens. The app allows you to change all of the relevant parameters for the effects, select specific effects and amp models, and adjust the order of your signal chain.
The layout and operation of the app is logical and simple, making it much easier to make adjustments than with most multi-effects units. The signal chain is displayed along the top of the app, and sliders below allow you to adjust the parameters on your selected component. You can also click the name of the currently selected effect – there are over 200 amps, effects and speaker cabinets to choose from – to be taken to a list of the available options within that group (such as delays, modulators, compressors, amps and cabs and so on). When you’re happy with the result, it’s easy to hit the “Save Info” button and store your settings for easy recall later. You can have up to eight simultaneous effects on the FX100.
As well as the 100 in-built presets, you also have access to countless others via the app, where you can use anything that’s been uploaded to the cloud by users. If you don’t want to manually dial in tones, there is the tone-matching feature to make things easier. Simply play one of your songs from your library, and the app will automatically search the cloud for suitable presets, returning options matched to your specific artist or track. You can also just search the presets on the cloud, typing in, say, “Hendrix” to be presented with the community’s best emulations of Jimi’s tone.
These are rated by users, too, so you can easily pick a good one without having to trawl through tons of useless ones first. For those just looking for the sound of their favorite artists without any complex parameter-adjustments to deal with, this is an excellent feature, but you can also use these as a starting point and tweak the tone to your liking too. The app works on anything with iOS 7.0 or later, including iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch, but it was designed with the iPhone 5 in mind. If you have an Android, it’s tough luck for now, unfortunately.
For connectivity, there’s a guitar input, left and right main outputs, an amp output and a headphone jack (all 1/4 inch), and there’s also a USB port (which will be used at some point in the future, according to the manual) and a spot for the power supply, as well as a switch to turn the unit on or off. This means you can play using your guitar amp, PA system, headphones or home stereo, with the option of running the backing track through your stereo and jamming along using your guitar amp.
Is it Worth the Money, or a Hollow Gimmick?
For what it is, the Amplifi FX100 does a pretty good job. It’s not the best option if you’re very serious about control over your sound, perfect amp modeling, high quality effects and playing live, but if you’re looking for something to play around with, practice at home and occasionally take to a jam, it fills the role well. It’s especially useful for those new to multi-effects pedals, because the app makes things intrinsically more user-friendly, and the option of effectively unlimited user-made presets accessible through the cloud makes it easy to get your desired sound. If you want to have some fun with the guitar and play along to your favorite songs without a lot of messing around, it’s really a great option.
That isn’t to say it’s perfect, though. The amp modeling isn’t the “HD” variety you’ll find on Line 6’s POD HD series, and you can find better quality effects elsewhere too, not to mention more complex and nuanced editing options. Additionally, the app is easy to use but it’s not exactly the sort of thing you’d want to be messing around with on-stage. You could use the FX100 live, but it doesn’t seem the most suitable option for live players due to the paucity of footswitches and the fact that the expression pedal can’t be freely loaded with different effects parameters. Switching between sounds could also be a little smoother.
The FX100 is great for home players and casual guitarists who happen to have an iOS-equipped device. It’s especially useful if you don’t have a guitar amp, since you can get good results with the device and your home stereo. If you’ve always wanted a multi-effects pedal but have been put off by the price and vast array of buttons and dials on higher-end units, this might be just what you’re looking for. If you’re a seasoned multi-effects user who plays live or prefers to sculpt your own sound, you’ll need something a little more feature-heavy (and, sadly, expensive). It’s not going to change the world or revolutionize multi-effects, but for casual guitarists looking for an awesome tone with little effort, the FX100 could easily become a trusted companion.