Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 - Line 6 M13

Guitar effects, more addictive than any other bit of music kit.
Probably because of the relatively low price for them on a unit by unit basis vs guitars and amps.
I'm not including boutique pedals in that statement, but your bog standard 2nd hand stompers.

At one point I had a bout 18 pedals on my board or strewn across my work area.
I only ever really used a couple at a time. Mostly just one.
My lady-love claims that I've spent at least 6 months out of the last five years plugging things in and out of my pedal board. She's not far wrong, I've lost count of the times that my board has been deconstructed and rebuilt.

There were cables running everywhere and it we were on the verge of having our little human beginning to crawl about. I needed a solution. A compact, good sounding solution. For a time I considered a Boss GT 10, but I couldn't find one at the price I was willing to pay, and was concerned by the limits imposed by its architecture.

Then one day I discovered the m13 at my local 2nd hand dealer, for a little more than I was willing to spend, but made an offer at my upper limit and walked away with a big fat multi fx unit.

Dare I say, it has too many FX?

Yes. I'm not saying that flippantly, but simply because some of the FX are so similar that they appear to be there for padding out the numbers, rather than offering something extra of value.

Not many people I know like digital models of distortion boxes.
I'm in that camp, and actually have a couple of the analogue versions of the pedals Line 6 has emulated.
I've got a Dunlop Octavio, the Line 6 version is ok, it gives the upper octave well enough, but what hasn't been modeled is the inherent instability caused by the changes in resistance between the internal inductor and the inductor that is the guitar pickup. The tone of the real thing changes drastically depending on how you pick, the Line 6 model, just sits there being consistent. It's ok in a pinch, but doesn't give the tactile feedback of the real thing.  Likewise of the overdrive model like the tube screamer, there's the basic sound, but it's missing something fundamental.  The fuzz face and big muff models sound and feel nothing like the real thing.

Instead of the duplicates of distortion models, why not have at least one bit crusher? Just one, that's all I ask.

This redundancy occurs in the other modes as well. 
The delay section has a few which have "dry thru" as an option. I can't see the point in this when the regular model has a mix control anyway. It just seems like an necessary add on. The memory could be utilised to give some processor time to some other form of delay type effect. The models are supposed to be the same as the DL4, I don't think that's quite right. They don't sound the same. At least, I remember the DL4 being a little wider in the stereo spectrum. Unfortunately the model of the Boss tape echo isn't anywhere near as good as the Boss RE-20 modeling pedal (which is superb). All of the negative comments about the delay section aside, it's still capable of some really cool sounds and the delays are very good in overall tone, I just don't like the padding.

The reverbs have less fluff there are two spring emulations in there and I can barely pick the difference.
Other verbs are crazy and fun, but at the end of the day I keep coming back to a simple spring for my guitar.

The filter section I feel is hit and miss, just a couple too many auto filters. I've heard other devices model some of these filters much more convincingly (Alesis ION). I might be a little unfair here, I've never been a fan of autowah. The filters would be more useful to me if they had LFO's as well as envelope control.

I like the modulation section, but a man has gotta ask. How many phasers do you really need?
The tremolo models are good, but no tremolo pedal I have tried, behaves lit an amp with that dedicated circuit. I like the big throb throb throb of the tremolo and the m13 doesn't quite get there. It is excellent in stereo, I gotta give it that.

Overall I think it's a great piece of gear with a huge amount of flexibility, I'd like to see a couple of models ditched to make way for some other less common FX. Maybe Line 6 will see my blog and hear my plea.
Until then, I think this is one uunit to see a long life in my gear shed.

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