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I'm somewhat layman in my understanding of this stuff, so bear with me if I seem confused. And sorry I've got so many questions. I'll be happy just to get some of them answered. 1) Do the x3 Live's balanced XLR outputs do what an active DI box does? UPDATE: The best official spec sheet I've found is this, and it's incomplete. http://line6.com/media/ips/uploads//monthly_08_2013/ccs-1070239-0-58043700-1376440351.jpg But apparently some user did some investigating and came up with these additional specs. http://www.benvesco.com/blog/the-digital-age/2007/pod-x3-specs-revealed/ 2) Do the XLR direct L&R outs supply a.)somewhat preamped signal? b.) lower impedance than the signal coming from my passive guitar pickups? I've read that this is what an active DI box does, yet the outputs are intended for XLR mic inputs on the mixing board, and mic level is even lower than instrument or -10 to +4 dB line level...which is seemingly the exact opposite of being preamped, so I'm confused about this. UPDATE: As for b.), yes, almost surely. As for the preamping confusion, "Mixing-console mic inputs in a live-sound context typically expect to handle signal levels from maybe as low as -55dBu, up to about +5dBu.", whereas passive guitar pickups might only get as high as 0dBu, so although mic level is normally low, it can be higher than instrument level too. 3) I've read that using a balanced line (before and after amplification?) will eliminate AC ground loop hum, so shouldn't every guitarist do this as a failsafe, even though there are other ways to prevent ground loop hum? ...rather than using the 1/4" outs that aren't balanced with no DI box. UPDATE: In addition to the balanced advantage, passive DIs apparently provide some reduction of ground loop hum because they use transformers that literally break the signal path (galvanic isolation), so the ground loop is broken. https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/prepare-di 4) What about the 1/4" outputs, and what level do they send at? UPDATE: They send at line level or instrument level, depending on what the "Line Out Level" switch is set to. If I use the 1/4" outputs to send to a physical combo amp and I turn the X3 Live's Amp and Cab emulation off by manually switching both to the off state, does that achieve the same thing as choosing "Combo Front" for the X3's 1/4" Outputs setting, or does it achieve the same thing as the "Combo Pwramp" setting instead...or neither? 5) With regard to using a different amp simulation VST that is not the X3's (running on a computer), yet using the X3 as an analog input device (so not using its USB capabilty) into that computer... and therefore needing to first send my guitar signal into a computer's audio interface... the audio interface is of course made to accept unadulterated instrument level signal straight from a guitar. But I once had a Zoom c5.1t fx pedal that had a built in tube\solid state preamp. And I liked how this c5.1t shaped the sound with its preamps, so assuming my ears and my taste are good, shouldn't it be a good thing to look for something to similarly preamp my guitar's clean signal before it reaches the amp simulation VST, to help it out a little so that I'm starting with a good base sound? I'm questioning if I could use the X3 in a similar manner as how I once used the c5.1t as a preamp (sending via either 1/4" or via balanced XLR outputs). Wouldn't it also reduce noise a bit by making the signal hotter earlier in the signal chain?