13 April 2008

Line 6 POD X3 Live

I got the X3L from City Music which is located at peace center. Most of you would probably know where to get it if you have been around.

This unit started out at a retail price of SGD$900+ somewhere in december 2007 during the christmas sale when it was first launched and i got mine at SGD$752 somewehere in febuary 2008 probably due to the fact that they have not released the X3L version for gearbox and the X3L didn't meet its requirements. Needless to say, a lot of consumers didn't want to jump onto the X3L wagon because of that. Well, i snapped it up anyway and played with it untill line 6 finally released gearbox 3.6 for the X3L a few months after the X3L was released.

This beast first won me over with its good looks. It?s built like a tank with hard black metal and chrome handles and buttons. Once turned on, the yellow and red led lights would flash indicating the activation on the banks which made it even cooler. The expression pedal ( Wah / Volume Pedal ) has parts of chrome and grip holes to avoid slip ups. I would sometimes shamefully admire it from a distance while taking a smoke break from playing and I still think its one of the best looking Multi-EFX boards out there I have seen so far. Definitely & AbsoF***ingloutley Sexy!


This thing is definitely heavy! One of the downs I see if you are planning to bring this one on the road without some sort of carry case which line 6 did not provide along with the purchase. This baby weighs like how it looks. A TANK!

Stand Alone Functionality
The X3L worked really well alone without the gearbox software. I won?t get into the different cabs, effects and amp models that the X3L have. There are just so many to sample from which I can only sum it up as value for money with the amount of features the X3L offered in that box. For the full range of EFX and amp models, check out the Line 6 website. There?s just about everything inside and it?s just a matter of tweaking it to your desired preference.

There?s always this thing about Multi-EFX boards compared to the individual stomp boxes or pre amps. Since the beginning of time, the comparison between stomp boxes and how Multi-EFX boards sounded ?Robotic?or ?Too digitalized?. With the X3L, I found that the features did prove otherwise. It sounded good & real enough. But of course, nothing beats the real thing when it comes to cabs and amp modeling. I guess not everyone will have that kind of arsenal fitted into the average Joe?s apartment.

One thing I liked about the X3L is the LCD screen. It?s big and bright enough to be viewed from a stand point. Not much of squinting your eyes just to check if you are on the right bank or in tune while tuning. Even on stage level where lights do go off and sometimes in moments of pure darkness, the led lights and bright LCD screen helps for easy navigation around the banks and switches.

The direct headphone plugin is a much welcomed feature and you don?t have to worry about the authorities knocking on your door late into the night of your loud shredding from complaining neighbours. Get yourself a good set of headphones to do the X3L some justice. It sounds amazingly good with a good set of headphones. At the back of the X3L is where you will find how versatile this unit is. From XLR?s to Variax compatibility to Left and Rights and Etc. I don?t want go into detail about what each of them does because it will be so much of a drag. Just check out the SPECS page which tells it all.

Functionality Through Software ( Gearbox )
If you ask me, I?d say that this is what sets the X3L apart from the rest. And it?s the playable ability to have your X3L plugged into your PC or MAC through USB. First of all, the ability to update your X3L through line 6 monkey is a revolutionary thing. You don't have to just deal with the flaws cause it was made that way and there's nothing you could do about it. Updates on firmware and bugs along the way can be fixed in a jiffy with just a few click on the mouse and restarting your X3L. Just some worrying thoughts is that the X3L was released somewhere in 07 christmas season and there has already been 2 firmware updates which proved that the X3L had more bugs and fixes in that short time to be comfortable with an amazing product. None the less, Most of the bugs have been fixed.

Gearbox is a great software. Making it really easy to explore and find that customized sweet tone. There?s no need to break your back by bending down to tweak the knobs on the main unit until you hit the sweet spot and find your tone. Just use gearbox to tweak the controls with your mouse and on the comfort of your chair without having to bend over to touch the main unit. After which you will be able name and save your patches directly into your X3L. No more back breaking feats!

You will be able to use gearbox to get online to download bank patches for artist tones. The last time i checked, there were not many to choose from as the X3L is still fairly new and there isn't a section where i could download artist tones for the X3L which would be loaded instantly once i had my X3L hooked up to my PC. I did try out certain tones while i was using the Toneport UX1 and i have to say that the artist tones line 6 provided were not really up to par. In fact, the customized user tones that users uploaded were closer to the real deal. A 3 month online trail will allow you to download backing tracks to jam along to which i found was quite fun to play around with. But once that expires, it would mean whipping out your credit card to pay for a full subscription to continue with that service. You'll be opted to purchase an additonal plug in for more tones as well which is pretty pricey if i might add.

I?ve tried recording riffs with Cubase SX3 and it works like a charm. The recordings sounded good. With the ability to use the amp modeling system made the recordings real enough for people to not know that you didn?t have an amp on this track. The Amp modeling mics can be adjusted to suit your tracks as well. This really helps in making the ambience and room feel of your amp modeling as real as it can get.

The Dual Tone amp modeling feature is great. It sounds like you have 2 different guitars tones going at it which gives an additional boost of finding that unique tone. Switch the dual tone off and you?ll get a single sounding guitar tone for certain part of songs with less intensity if needed. This brings great feel and life into tracks and it?s just with a stomp on the bank. There have not been any lag issues with me so far. Just make sure your PC or MAC meets the system requirements.

The Good
It looks awesome, Has a whole ton of features that will blow you away. With the right amount of tweaking, there are endless possibilities. The DUAL TONE feature I must say is one of the best features when it comes down to amp modeling that sets this apart from the rest. Recording made easy through Gearbox is great for those who are inexperienced at the whole recording studio process. Gone are the days where you?d have to mic up your amp and find the exact spot to put your mic and get all kinds of leaks and complicated mixer boards issues only a sound engineer would understand. Tone wise, I?ll just sum it up as great cause there is just so many to choose from. You will need to tweak it to find your tone and hear it for yourself as it comes down to guitar setup and play style as well.

The Bad
Gearbox functionality is still in the midst of being a full out release with some bugs in it. When the X3L is connected to gearbox, There?s a half second lag when switching banks. Which in some cases is vital if you are doing a one take recording that requires you to change banks. This will happen from time to time and is ok if you are recording with different tracks on a song. The weight of the X3L can be an issue it you bring this one the road with you a lot. That?s unless you have roadies with you to carry your X3L for you wherever you go. The lack of phantom power is a big down to this unit. You will not be able to use condenser mics with the X3L. The X3L can be a little complicated to use with all those knobs and takes time getting used to. The user manual is not much help. You will need to go hands on wth trial & error to a certain extent.

Customer Service
I had to contact Line 6 about the issues with gearbox before it was officially released and I would say that customer service was prompt but useless. I had no real problems so far with the X3L so I won?t know for sure how good their customer service is.

This is a great unit if you are considering in getting a Multi-EFX board. Probably the best in the market right now in my opinion that?s not cut throat expensive. It?s definitely value for money with the features it packs in be it if you are a bass / guitar player or a vocalist. A one stop board to aid your recording & playing needs that?s not really hard to understand.

Rating: 8/10