This article previously appeared on Harmony Central—your information source for making better music.
Guitar amplifier, stereo Bluetooth speaker, and more - all in one
By Phil O'Keefe
Line 6 is a company that is well-known for their popular modeling amplifiers. Similarly, their effects pedals also use modeling technology to give you the sound and vibe of a variety of classic effects units. With the new AMPLIFi 150, they've added even more modern technology to the mix, which provides you with exciting new features and capabilities. Let's dive in and take a closer look at just what makes the AMPLIFi 150 different from all the other amps that came before it.
What You Need To Know
The external appearance of the AMPLIFi 150 is fairly straightforward, with a cool two-tone black/maroon color scheme and top mounted control panel. A 150W amplifier and a 4.1 stereo speaker configuration are hidden inside, with a specially-designed mono 12" Celestion handling the bass, and two mid-frequency and two high-frequency drivers running in stereo for spaciousness and spread that mono amps can't match. This makes the AMPLIFi 150 a killer stereo Bluetooth speaker, and best of all, you can use Bluetooth to stream audio from iOS (including virtual instrument apps), Android, Mac and PC devices.
A rear panel 1/8" Aux Input lets you connect external devices with a cable too. Be warned though - with 150 watts, there is more than enough power on tap to get you into trouble if you're not careful - this amp can get LOUD! A 1/4" headphone jack allows you to practice quietly if desired.
Top panel controls include Drive, Bass, Mid and Treble, "FX" and Reverb knobs, and a large Master Volume knob that controls the overall output volume. This control is surrounded by a ring of LEDs that light up in various ways and colors to indicate guitar volume, master volume and parameter positions. The top panel controls allow you to make quick manual adjustment to whatever preset tone you have dialed up.
The amp has four preset memory slots that can be recalled from the top panel, while an iOS editor app allows much deeper editing and unlimited preset save and recall.
Pairing an iPad with the AMPLIFi 150 is easy and fast. I used a Fender Strat and a Gibson SG Standard for play testing, and the AMPLIFi sounded great with both single coils and humbuckers. The iOS editor provides a lot more control and editing flexibility than the more traditional top panel controls would otherwise suggest.
Your iOS device is the key to getting the most out of the AMPLIFi 150. Along with the full-featured editor, the AMPLIFi Remote software can access your music library, and also the Line 6 Tones library and online community where you can share tones with other AMPLIFi owners. It all works very smoothly - load a song from your music library and the iOS device can load a Tone from the Line 6 library to match and send it to the AMPLIFi 150 wirelessly. This automatic tone matching is pretty amazing. If there's more than one available tone, and often there is for things like lead, riff and rhythm parts, you can select which tone you want to load by tapping to select it on your iOS device's screen. Users can rate tones, so you can see which ones other players think sound best. The interface uses the expected iOS tap and slide gestures and it's all easy and intuitive to use.
Recalling or saving tones to and from the four presets on the AMPLIFi 150 is equally easy, and can be done from your iOS device, the top panel, or even a optional Line 6 FBV Express or FVB Shortboard MkII. Tap tempo, tuner and and expression pedal control with the FVB units are also supported.
The AMPLIFi 150 has lots of options in terms of amps, cabinets, and effects types.
There are four main categories of Amp types: Clean (10 different models), American (25), British (18) and High Gain (26) including models of everything from vintage classics, modern boutique amps, and original Line 6 creations. The names and graphics give you a good idea of what to expect from each model, and the sound quality doesn't disappoint.
The effects go well beyond just digital reverb. There are over 100 different effects in four main categories: Drives & Dynamics (16 different fuzz, drive and compression effects models), Mods (23 different modulation effects, including rotating speakers, flangers, choruses, and several others), Delays & Filters (14 different delay types), and Synths & Pitch effects. Of course, reverb is also included - in fact, you have a choice of 15 different reverb types, including spring, plate, rooms, chambers, and halls.
The AMPLIFi 150 has 25 different cabinet models, including everything from 1x6 to 4x12 models with a variety of different speaker types.
Not all parameters can be adjusted from the top panel, so it's not ideally suited as a stand-alone amplifier.
To get the most out of the AMPLIFi 150, you really do need an iOS device. Many people will already have one, but for those who don't, it will add significantly to the overall cost of the system. However, an iPad or iPhone has several other uses too, including the ability to run other music-related apps, so they can be used for other purposes besides pairing them with your Line 6 AMPLIFi 150.
I'm impressed by the flexibility of the AMPLIFi 150. The wireless editing, Bluetooth connectivity, and stereo sound take it well beyond the capabilities of other guitar amps … it sounds good too, and you can dial up plenty of really cool tones very quickly. The AMPLIFi 150s five speaker stereo configuration sounds fuller, wider and more hi-fi than I was expecting, and it makes a great playback system for listening to music from your iOS device, and yet the amp and effects tones still sound realistic too; no doubt due to the solid cabinet modeling Line 6 uses. There's plenty of power and volume on tap to handle pretty much any live gig, and yet you can dial it back to bedroom practice levels too without the tone suffering. If you're looking for an amp that can do it all and take you into the future, you'll definitely want to check it out. It's not just technology for technology's sake - it's a real advance in modern amplifier design.
Musician's Friend Line 6 AMPLIFi 150 online catalog page ($699.99 MSRP, $499.99 "street")
Line 6 AMPLIFi 150 web page.
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.
HarmonyCentral.com is a leading Internet resource for musicians, delivering news, product reviews, classifieds, and forums.