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Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by guitarmanshack on 2009-08-20 07:43:30

I have trawled through the community pages, and other online forums, and searched the web in general.  Whilst I have come across similar problems to mine, I can't find the help I need to solve my problem.

I have a support profile, guitarmanshack, the same as my user name.

I am not a happy man.  My Variax Acoustic 700 is brand new.  I received it yesterday.  Before getting it out of the case I read the manual cover to cover, although I am pretty familiar with Line 6 gear in general.  Then, for a few hours I happily played it through my POD X3 Live with no problems.  I tried it with the supplied power supply/DI, batteries, and via digital connection. I exprimented with different mic, compression and volume settings, different tunings, the string balance and detuning on the 12-string models etc .  Everything worked just fine.  Then I started to hear digital noise, a kind of static, at first via the power supply/DI connection, but it was the same when running off batteries or via the digital connection.  The noise only went away with the volume slider at zero.  So I tried different cables, different batteries, I checked for possible interference, ground loops etc.  The problem would not go away and the noise started to get worse, to the extent that it was louder than the actual guitar sound.  I noticed that the noise differed from preset to preset, at times resembling modem noise, telephone static, or white noise hiss.  It appeared worse on the presets that, I should imagine, require the most DSP, such as the Sitar.   Then I started to notice DSP glitches in pitch and tuning.  Then, some of the individual strings started to cut in and out.  After about an hour and a half, with the problem getting steadily worse, I tried a soft reset of the VAC 700 a couple of times but this had no effect, so I unplugged everything and went online to find some help.

A couple of posts mentioned similar problems, although not as severe as my own, and one user reported that, for him, the noise went away after a firmware upgrade.  As I had intended to do this anyway, to benefit from Workbench functionality, I decided to try this the following day (today).

So, this morning I set up my computer and POD X3 Live (the details of my setup are in my support profile).  Line 6 Monkey identified my VAC 700 which I duly registered.  I was then given the option to update the firmware.  On attempting to do this I received the error code 8000900C, a MIDI time-out.  I tried again and got the same message.  So I downloaded the .vxf file and tried to update from file.  Same message.  I then turned up the volume pedal on the X3 Live and noticed that all the noise had gone.  However, my VAC 700 was dead.  On looking at the X3 display and turning the model select knob on the VAC 700, I noticed that the VAC 700 patches all said 'null patch'.  Another trawl of the support pages revealed that the 8000900C error message occurs frequently when attempting firmware upgrades on various Line 6 products.  I also found VAC 700 users who had lost all their patches as a result.  Interestingly, I also read about a known problem with X3 Live USB functionality for which Line 6 have apparently offered a free hardware upgrade.

So, here I am with a totally useless, 2 day old VAC 700, having wasted hours of my time.  I am a gigging musician.  The VAC 700 was an essential purchase to fulfill an important work commitment next weekend.  I do appreciate that we are dealing with some pretty intricate and complicated technology here, and that things do go wrong.  However, my X3 Live has never malfunctioned, after 18 months of very heavy use.  Neither did my POD XT before it.  The Variax is a mature product and should not suffer such catastrophic early failure of this type.  Similarly the firmware update procedure should not be fraught with such danger.  That a failed procedure can render unusable a product designed for professional use is simply not acceptable.

Have I been sold sub-standard stock?  My VAC 700 came from an online retailer so it hasn't been hanging in a shop for months or used as a demo model.  Presumably I am the first person since Line 6 QC to handle the thing.  Naturally I am worried that, should it come to it, the retailer will decline to replace the product as I have attempted to update the firmware.  Is there anything I can do?  I desperately need this guitar to be up and running by Friday 28th August.  Please help.



Re: Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by ricksox on 2009-08-21 10:10:16

Hello,

I am sorry to hear about your experience so far. Let's see what we can do to get you up and running.

First, let's make sure everything is OK with your X3 Live. Is it still functioning as it should? Will it connect to Line 6 Monkey? I'd suggest backing up your X3 Live patches and reflashing that device if you can first.

After that, please try connecting the Variax one more time and reflashing it through the X3.

Let me know if you continue to have any problems with this.

Also, the USB issue regarding the X3 Live is not related at all to your MIDI timeouts. MIDI timeouts can be due to a number of things including bogged down USB root hubs on PC's.

Please let me know if you continue to have issues. If you can absolutely not get this to work then we can arrange a repair for you and do our best to get your Variax back in your hands as fast as possible.

Line6Miller



Re: Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by guitarmanshack on 2009-08-21 12:42:59

Hi there,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

Ok, checked out my X3 Live. It's absolutely fine and communicates with Monkey properly.  I reflashed it, as you suggested, and the procedure went without a hitch.  So I reconnected the VAC 700 and, as before, turning the model select knob brought up 'null patch' on the X3 Live screen for every model.  The light on the Variax stayed green throughout.  Monkey detected the VAC 700 ok but does not display an ESN.  I failed to mention this previously but, as I understand it, Variax guitars don't have an ESN anyway.  Attempting the reflash procedure had the same result as before; same error code, same midi time-out message.  I tried the procedure 4 times.  Twice via download and twice via saved .vxf file.  No joy.

Bearing in mind what you said about bogged down USB root hubs, and mindful that some PCs have internal hubs, I identified the USB entry relating to my X3 Live in my laptop's device manager, and disabled all the other entries.  I also uninstalled all the drivers for my MOTU device, even though I don't have it connected alongside the X3 Live, and disabled the internal soundcard as well.  I shut down and re-booted the laptop, checked the X3 Live by playing some mp3s on the laptop and listening via the X3 Live's headphone socket.  I also shifted some patches to and from the X3 Live using gearbox to make sure the USB connection was ok.  All went well so I reconnected the VAC 700 once again, selected it in Monkey and tried the flash update four more times, twice using a replacement digital cable that I'd borrowed from a friend.  Every time I had exactly the same result as previously.

I would very much appreciate it if you could arrange for a warranty repair, or replacement of the VAC 700.  I'm in the UK and I think the only authorised service center is Line 6 UK in Daventry, which is about 150 miles from where I live.  However, given how urgently I need to get this sorted, I am happy to personally deliver the VAC 700 and wait whilst it is repaired, overnight if necessary.  I appreciate this is probably not how things normally work but I'm pretty desperate here!

Thanks for your help.



Re: Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by ricksox on 2009-08-21 15:21:52

Hello,

For the fastest service possible I'd definitely suggest you contact our UK service team for repair. They are very helpful and will take care of you. You can contact them at:

Line 6 - International

Line 6, Inc.

4 Sopwith Way

Drayton Fields Industrial Estate

Daventry, Northamptonshire

United Kingdom, NN118PB

Telefon: +44 (0) 1327 302 700

Fax: +44 (0) 1327 302 702

Line6Miller



Re: Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by guitarmanshack on 2009-08-25 12:54:32

Hi there,

Just to let you know, I contacted Line 6 UK yesterday.  They kindly agreed to sort out my VAC 700 and I travelled to Daventry today.  They fixed the guitar whilst I waited and its now fine.  I can't fault the level of customer service I've received.  Everyone I've dealt with has been friendly and efficient.  Thaks so much Line 6 for getting me up and running again with plenty of time to prepare for my next gigs.



Re: Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by Leftzilla on 2009-08-26 10:54:02

What!?  You actually had GOOD if not EXCELLENT customer service from Line6?  OMFG!  Is the moon twisting out of orbit, are pigs flying?  (I am only kidding around).  Glad to hear everything went well.  I am just poking some fun at all the people who have complained about the cutomer service from Line 6.  Did they happen to tell you what happened?  (Just Curious)



Re: Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by hitekhead on 2011-09-24 00:54:12

hi guys,

rookey here, so be patient.

i am fixing a friends variax 700.

after some troubleshooting, i am not getting the same levels the 5th string.

has anyone removed the pickup(s) on this baby?

thanks

hitekhead

ps should this have been a reply? or did I push the wrong buton to post a  question? sorry? 



Re: Multiple problems with brand new Variax Acoustic 700
by johnpicton on 2011-09-24 02:31:58

You are right that you should probably have created a new thread - but I think we can forgive you that!

However you might want to post it as a new discussion and mark it as a question. That way you are more likely to have others see it.

In the meantime. Are you aware that by using the Line6 Workbench software you can alter the volume of individual strings, it is possible that this is the issue.

In order to use the software (which is free) you need to be able to connect the Variax to the computer via an interface (which isn't free) or through a Line6 processor that has a variax interface (such as the X3 series or the HD series).

It is not uncommon for people to replace the pickups, if it is the Variax 700 Electric the recommended replacements for the original pickups are the Graphtech pickups http://www.thomann.de/gb/graph_tech_ghost_saddle_set_pn800000.htm

I haven't replaced any myself but apparently it isn't too difficult a job.

Good Luck with your repair.

Kind regards

John




The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.