Line 6 on Thursday announced a new amp it is calling AMPLIFi. While the amp was just announced today, I’ve been using one for the past couple of weeks to test it out.
AMPLIFi is an interesting blend of an amplifier and a hi-tech music system. The amp has all of the knobs you would expect a traditional amplifier to have, but it’s also Bluetooth-enabled so you can connect your iPad to the amp wirelessly.
This is where the real magic of AMPLIFi comes from. While connected to the amp you can scroll through more than 200 different amps and effects, changing the sound of the hardware unit. You can also save any preset you make directly to the amp and recall it at any time.
AMPLIFi has a unique design that guitar players will like. Unlike most modeling amps—even older Line 6 models—there is no screen to make adjustments on the hardware itself. Without the iPad app, AMPLIFi looks and feels just like a traditional amp, although you can still change presets by pressing a button on the hardware or changing with a foot pedal.
I have the 150 watt version of the amp and it is loud. You could easily gig and rehearse with the amp, but that’s not really what I think it’s main purpose is. AMPLIFi has a couple of more cool tricks built-in.
On the iPad app if you tap to play a song, it will automatically suggest tones from Line 6’s Custom Tone library. You tap the tone you want and it is automatically sent to the amp, giving you a sound just like the song you are practicing. In my tests, this worked pretty good. Of course, tones change depending on the guitar you are using, but it was close enough to get you started.
The other feature that I really liked was the Blend knob. This is a custom volume knob that also allows you to blend in the volume of the music you are playing along with. Because AMPLIFi is also a music system, the songs being played through the amp sound incredible. If the volume of the guitar is too low, you just push down the volume knob, which activates the blend feature, allowing you to turn up the guitar to match the volume of the song you are playing.
Learning new songs, whether you’re an experienced pro or just starting out, can be a pain in the ass. Songs are recorded differently, so you have to keep adjusting the volume to get it right. Because the blend knob is using the music system and amplifier of AMPLIFi, it’s a matter of seconds to get the volume matching set correctly.
If I had one complaint about AMPLIFi, it would be with the iPad app. Line 6 went for a flat design is the app—in my opinion, they went too flat. Music is one of those places that skeuomorphism really works and Line 6 has always done a great job designing their apps using representations of the amps and effects. This new iPad app is kind of bland for my liking.
I understand why they made the design choices they did, but I think there are ways they could have held on to the coolness and still designed a functional app for users.
Having said that, the app works great. You can access all of the controls of the amp, effects, signal chain and even the Blend knob from the app without ever touching the amp.
AMPLIFi Remote is compatible with iPod touch (5th generation), iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, iPad (3rd and 4th generation), iPad Air, iPad 2 and iPad mini.
Overall, I loved AMPLIFi, both as a guitarist and from a technology standpoint. The 75 watt version costs $399 and the 150 watt model is $499. This is an amp I’ll be using a lot.