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jpmull

Firehawk First Impressions

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Yesterday, I traded in my pod HD500X for a Firehawk unit.  Before anyone calls me crazy, I want to explain why.  I usually only play in my house.  I play music and jam to it. I practice.  Occasionally, I get together with a buddy.  I don't own an amp.  Part of the fun for me is to design patches that sound like the songs I like to play.  Using the HD 500X to edit patches was a pain in the neck. I didn't like to edit patches on the unit, and the HD 500 edit program wasn't really working for me either.  If I edited patches on the unit, I was stopping and bending over just to make a tweak. If I edited the patch on the computer, I would have to sit down and I would often get distracted from playing.

 

When I had an X3 live, I created a midi template that would allow me to make patch edits on my iPad.  However, when I upgraded to the HD500X, the midi implementation was completely different.

 

So, I realize I've lost some functionality, but gained a lot more in the process. I think it fits my needs better than the HD500X.  Your results may vary.

 

Here are a couple of issues that showed up right away:

 

  1. Bluetooth connectivity was kind of flaky at first. The unit would frequently disconnect from my phone or my iPad.  This document helps me troubleshoot the connectivity issues.  Turning off Bluetooth on my iMac and moving my iPad away from my iMac and my router made a big difference in connectivity.  Basically, try to eliminate any sources of interference with the Bluetooth signal.
  2. When you initially connect your iPad to the FH, it takes a 30 seconds or so to transfer the patches to your iPad. Sometimes, it doesn't preload all of them at the same time, so if you are trying to scroll down to bank 25, you have to wait as it retrieves each bank from the FH.
  3. Loading patches from the iPad works fine, but does take a few seconds, it likely wouldn't work if you were playing live and trying to switch that way. That being said, you can organize your patches, storing them wherever you want in any of the ABCD locations in any of the 32 banks. Then you can use the ABCD buttons to switch between them. Switching patches that way is very quick.
  4. I don't keep music on my iPad, I use Beats music instead.  So, I didn't get to try out the tone matching yet.  Playing music from Beats works fine.
  5. When switching between the FH application and other music applications on my iPad, the FH disconnects from the iPad.  It does reconnect automatically, but that takes a few seconds.
  6. Using tone search, you can usually find a patch that gets you close and edit from there. Loading the patch from the cloud is as simple as tapping on it.
  7. Editing patches on the iPad is fun and intuitive. Once a patch has changed, the title of the patch turns red indicating that what you are hearing is different from what is stored on the FH. You can save the changes to the FH from the iPad using the"Save info" button.  However, I find it easier to use the FH.  On the FH, the patch will have a period next to it's location in the title.  For Example "30D.Cray Clean" in its name, indicating that changes have been made. You can save those changes by tapping and holding the patch button, the FH will show you the patch location, Tap and hold again to save to that location. (If this is unclear, there are instructions in the manual for saving patches.)  Once the patch has been saved, the period disappears - "30D Cray Clean"
  8. Making small changes to patches while playing is really easy and  doesn't require you to bend over and mess with the FH or use your computer.
  9. As with all POD units, volume leveling between patches will likely be necessary
  10. One thing I REALLY like is that stomps are color-coded, And the LEDs change colors, so you always know what effect is where, Making it easy to turn them on and off, and you don't get confused between patches. For example, MOD effects will always be blue, reverb effects will always be orange, regardless of where you put them in the signal chain.  Much easier than the HD500X where the LED's were all red and I had to remember where each stomp was for each different patch.
  11. The tuner is cool, it shows up on the iPad, on the display on the FH, and the LEDs around the large volume knob.
  12. Accessing the Varian settings for the patch is easy and works great.  Guitar Model, pickup and tuning are all assignable by patch.   Love switching from a Lester to a Strat to an acoustic at the stomp of a switch.

 

As far as the sound is concerned, the FH sounds fantastic! It has all of the HD models the pod HD500X has out of the box.  I don't think that it has the new HD models that were just released as an add-on. I'm not sure if those will be available for the FH in the future firmware add-ons.  I found many of the preloaded patches to be very usable. Since I use the JTV, It would be nice to see more acoustic presets.  I don't think it does dual tone patches, but I didn't use any anyways.  Patches from older PODS are not compatible with the Firehawk....  So, if you have a library of POD patches, it doesn't seem like you can just port them to your Firehawk - that is a bummer.

 

The build is very solid.  Good weight to it, but not as heavy as the POD HD500X.  Metal case.  The buttons are the same as the HD500X, except for the color coded LEDS.    The Drive, Bass, Mid, Treb, etc knobs are not notched, they are nice and smooth.  When you turn one, the LED's around the volume show you where the initial setting for that parameter was with a red LED, and White LED's show up as you turn the knob.  Cool!

 

The large volume knob works as a volume and blend control - like a mixer between the guitar volume and the music you are playing to.  It feels solid, and is notched, meaning it clicks as you turn it.  LED's light up for either.  You can also adjust the volume and blend from the iPad etc.  I would have liked a little more control here, the volume jumps between the clicks a little too much for my liking.  But, it's easily fixed by using the volume on the iPad as well.

 

Expression pedal is a little cheaper then the HD500X, but is very solid still.  Works fine and is assignable like the other PODS.

 

Overall, I'm loving it.  Let me know if you have any questions.

 

JP

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

How are you finding the lag when switching from patch to patch?

A lot of users are saying it's almost unusable in a live situation while a few others say it's not too bad, apparently being disconnected from the app speeds things up a little

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

How are you finding the lag when switching from patch to patch?

A lot of users are saying it's almost unusable in a live situation while a few others say it's not too bad, apparently being disconnected from the app speeds things up a little

I find that being disconnected from the app speeds things up a lot, not just a little. Still the lag is noticeable and is slightly more than the lag with the Pod HD. I think whether or not it's a problem depends on your personal preference in patch setup and playing style. If you set things up so that you don't have to change mid-song, it won't be a problem at all. If you do need to switch patches mid-song then you can arrange your playing so that there's a brief gap in your playing while switching patches so that the lag is not noticed. The only problem comes if you arrange things so that you MUST change patches so that the new patch NEEDS to be heard within a few milliseconds of pressing the footswitch.

 

Some Pod HD owners have reported that the lag is unacceptable for them. I would expect correspondingly more Firehawk owners to feel this way. Still, I think most owners could adapt their preset setup or playing so that the lag is not a problem.

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Unfortunately we do a lot of clean verses into distorted choruses, I need to hit that chorus most of the time with a guitar riff and a backing vocal, my playing usually continues right up to the start of the chorus and I probably average 3-4 patch changes per song, I probably wouldn't even consider compromising and reworking 30 songs for a particular pedal to be useful

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... my playing usually continues right up to the start of the chorus.....

 

I'm not recommending anything, but just an observation.....

 

You mention 'we' which suggests you are not performing solo. I wonder how much the audience would notice or care if you stopped playing the verse/chords after beat 1 or 2 of the last bar before your solo. That would give you ample time to switch presets during your guitar's silence and hit the solo with the new preset right on cue.

 

Again, not a recommendation - just an example of how one could adapt if so desired.

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Yeah I don't mean to appear hard work I'm just having an angry day lol, supplier got in touch and I presumed it was to arrange delivery but no it was to tell me I've got to wait another month minimum. I have so much hope for this unit I'm kinda desperate for it to be what I want it to be

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" I wonder how much the audience would notice or care if you stopped playing the verse/chords after beat 1 or 2 of the last bar before your solo. That would give you ample time to switch presets during your guitar's silence and hit the solo with the new preset right on cue.

 

 

Sorry, but in a live situation- this is too hard to do. I am the only guitar player in our band, and I have to make the transition as seamless as possible from verse/chorus/verse/solo.  We strive to be a tight cover band, and the lag is too much, to the point it trainwrecks the song.  Needs to be addressed.

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How much of a gap is there?

Can you quantify it? Closer to half a second, or a full second? Or does it vary depending on patch?

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Maybe it will be best if I will upload an example. 

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There is certainly a gap between presets. The way I overcome this is to put a ditortion pedal on a clean amp. Kick it in whenever you want and you can easily go from clean to distorted WITHOUT changing a preset.

 

Footswitches I always have:

- Compressor setup with 5db gain (just so I can get a little more umph if the preset seems low while soloing I can kick this on the preset)

- some sort of overdrive

- some sort of effect - chorus, rotary etc. to liven things up on and off

- delay

- verb

- footedal at 60% min and 100% max rhythm to lead volume

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Dave,  I have been monkeying with clean amps and adding distortion and OD's to them as well, but the reason this pedal sounds so great is because of the HD high gain amps - which sound massive on the firehawk.  there is no way of achieving that HD high gain, heavy  sound from adding effects to the clean amps, or even the less muddy american or Brit amps.  If you don't need heavy High gain distorted amps, and can keep to stomping within one patch the firehawk is fine, but to take full advantage of the full range of sounds this beast can offer, you need to be able to switch full amp setups- as the HD500X can do- unless the lag can be addressed.

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Oh, yea that's not me. I play bluesy, classick rock, contemporary etc. stuff. Not a metal etc. heavy rocker.

 

To me most all patches are very bright. That's been the bummer for me. That, no acoustic sim and still not 100% sold on the basic plexi sound or tube screamer. Balancing levels also a pain. Another gig this Friday, gonna fireup the ipad and hopefully adjust these throughout the 3 hour gig. Otherwise I may take another run at the gt-100 again. I simply must find a floorpedal I can be satisfied with. The old tube amp behind me just isn't the option any more.

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I know what you mean- the quest for a good all around floor board which balances simplicty and good tones is why I got the Firehawk.  I can see the potential, but it may take some time to wait out firmware updates, and I need something now.

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I downloaded some sounds off the iCloud and liked some and will try using them at the next gig this weekend. Set them up and tweaked them. 

 

I notice that EVERY time I have to minimize the app or just flip to another app I lose connection. I check in settings and it shows connected but the app loses connection which means it needs to re-download all the tones again. That simply isn't the answer. 

 

I use my iPad for lyrics and chord charts for songs in a variety dance band. To tweak a sound it will be a major pain in the rear if I have to re-connect and download all the songs every time the app isn't the one in focus. L6 will this change soon? 

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I know that Line 6 is aware of this. We'll have to wait and see whether and when they may be able to address it in an update.

 

But in any case, for live play it is best to not use the app. Prepare your presets and song list in advance then use the footswitches to navigate to the appropriate preset for the song, based on your lyrics and chord charts.

 

Running the app will always create a longer lag when switching presets due to the need to keep the device synced with the app. This is true even when not switching your attention to another app in the iPad.

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Yes, I agree - probably the only practical use for the app in a live situation is to have the larger tuner screen, and possibly to stream canned music from the bluetooth device through the Firehawk and into the pa system between sets.

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Is it me, or is the app starting a song out oy library just for kicks? Seems when I connect at a gig live it has a habit of starting a song for some reason.

 

On the good side of things, I took a tweed fender 4x10 cab and re-worked the basic preset till it was just a nice, warm clean tone. Then added the hd overdrive as a stomp pedal. Added the typical verb and delay pedals and it sounded great in the studio monitors. Took it to a job Sat night and it sounded fantastic coming out of my k10 monitor. Tried it at church the next morning and liked it there also. :-) I just may be making friends with this firehawk after all...

 

Things to resolve:

- song turning on for no reason

- lag time on presets

- patch normalization

- app frequent crashing

 

Hoping for those to be addressed in the upcoming update.

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I know what you mean Dave, I am having some successes as well as failures in trying to make the Firehawk my number one choice. A few things for me, besides the ones you mentioned, are:

 

- when you do a tone search on the app, or if you are tone matching, to have a filter which will only display "FH" tones, instead of the amplifi ones mixed in. I understand they wanted to have tones up in the cloud when the firehawk was released, so people could get a taste of downloading, but as time goes on, I am sure users will want the FH tones, and will try to search them out- this would help.

 

- having a multiple tone load/dump utility either as part of the app or a standalone. I have had to do a system reset twice(which restores everything to factory), and although it enabled me to get to know the FH and the app a bit more, it was tedious.

 

- a better player, which is more taylored to guitar players, with song pitch shift, and speed control (I am using another app for this, but the FH always reconnects when I switch back and forth from it- if the reconnect issue is addressed, this would be a non issue ).

 

-Some global functions - like something to easily normalize all patches you select, so you could easily select all your clean tones, make them the level you want, then your rhythym patches, then leads. So in three steps, you would have all your like-patches always the same level, and boosts in volume would be the same, regardless of the amps used to make the tone.

 

One thing to note, is that the Firehawk is a two-headed beast, it can be confusing on what things need to be changed on the FH hardware, and what needs to be changed on the app- as well as sync'ing between the two, to have something which is a usable improvement.

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I am thinking of swapping out my HD400 for a Firehawk but there is one think I need to know?  It's still not available in the UK but if anyone has one can you run a test for me please?

 

1. Set up any patch with a delay button in it, i.e. digital delay. Set tap tempo to 180bpm

2. Save the patch

3. Switch to any other patch

4. Tap the tap tempo button to any other setting than 180 bpm, i.e. very slow tap or a very high tap rate.

5. Switch to new patch in step 1.

 

Does the patch selected take the tap tempo you programmed in (in step 1) or does it keep the tempo of the patch you tapped out (in step 4)?

 

This is important because when playing live I need to tap the tempo in before switching patches (very erratic drummer.. haha)! I have an FX100 which doesn't allow this which means you have to switch patch and then tap which sounds stupid as it takes a while for the FX100 to figure out what you are after. By the way the HD400 does this the correct way and will retain whatever setting is tapped in last (not the programmed version).

 

It's a big buying factor for me. Daying that the FX100 is brilliant in terms of programming and changing tones so I expect the Firehawk to be similar. However, without the above I may as well keep the FX100

 

Thanks people.

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so are you saying when you switch on of the foot switches with your foot there is a delay before it recalls the effect?

 

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in fact i just watched the video on the other thread where someone is demoing all the presets on the fire hawk and it looks pretty instant to me. 

 

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He's asking if you tap the tempo in for a delay and then switch patches does the tempo carry over to the next patch or do you have to tap it in everytime you change patches

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in fact i just watched the video on the other thread where someone is demoing all the presets on the fire hawk and it looks pretty instant to me. 

 

If it is the video i am thinking of, watch it again and you will see no direct switches between patches with a note ringing.  there is not only a delay, but no bleed from the old note to the new one, which makes the switching sound more abrupt.

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Hi

 

Thanks for all your comments. MCBEDALL hit the nail on the head when he said

 

'He's asking if you tap the tempo in for a delay and then switch patches does the tempo carry over to the next patch or do you have to tap it in everytime you change patches'

 

If you follow the steps and make a note of result it will prove or disprove this. Your help is appreciated,

 

Punkster

 

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I will try to do this "tap test" later today, but off hand from the little time I dd use the tap temp, it looked to me that it changed back to the default if the patch. I will let you know.

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I will try to do this "tap test" later today, but off hand from the little time I dd use the tap temp, it looked to me that it changed back to the default if the patch. I will let you know.

Hi Bond19

 

Any luck with this? Seems I can only ask those that actually have a Firehawk.

 

Just an update to say that even Line 6 can't answer this. Tried contacting EU support in Belgium and they don't have units to physically test for my issue. They will get them when the EU can buy them apparently but that may be too late for me. I will let you know when I know.

 

Ta

 

Punkster

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I would expect it to change everytime you switch patches but I can see the advantages of each patch being tied to whatever tempo is set with the tap switch

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Fixed is good for recording and On The Fly is good for live. As mentioned the HD POD series allows for both.

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Currently, Firehawk FX's Tap Tempo is per preset only. We're aware that people would also like to apply Tap Tempo globally, and we're looking into it. I don't believe there's any technical limitation.

 

Best way to get visibility is to submit and vote it up on IdeaScale.

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It is my experience that, if I want the tap tempo to become the default, I have to save it to the patch. Every time one switches back to a patch, it will grab the last saved tempo. Even at that, I will use the tap tempo to micro adjust once I am in the song. Set your tap tempo and then do a simple save. Next time you open that patch, that will be the default tempo.

 

On this subject, and this is only my opine and that is all...I create song specific patches that have timed effects that match the tempo of the song that I am playing. To have my rig go to a default tempo for all delays for instance would not be useful for me at all. I will explain, unless every song I played was the same tempo, I wouldn't want my delays trailing off at a beat contrary to the beat of the song. If my delay is beating against the tempo, in my economy, it clutters up the rhythm. I love when for instance a song has a break, and a long trailing note fades off in the distance in time.

 

I know that this "last saved tempo" is contrary to stomp box technology, it is exactly why I use a multi. I don't want to have to adjust a stomp box before each song. 

 

While we are at it. I used to think volume normalization would be a good thing. Now that I have been using Line 6 rigs for (15?) years now, volume normalization is something else that I doubt will be useful to me. I tend to create patches within a song that can go from quiet super clean intros, to huge over the top, greasy 80's style bridges and instrumentals, and back again. I work hard to balance my patches so that at the tap of a switch, I am in the next zone, and I don't need to ride volume controls and all.

 

All of this said, I AM looking forward to the lag issue being addressed. I have also encountered an occasional "Pop" when switching a patch between songs.

 

Once again though...lovin' the Firehawk.

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For sure, with the tap tempo it would have to be switchable so you could have global or per patch, the ideal scenario would be for drummers to practice to such a high standard that there is never a need for tap tempo, you just set the tempo per patch and it works, unfortunately my drummer has very poor timekeeping and I don't mean he turns up late for rehearsal

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For sure, with the tap tempo it would have to be switchable so you could have global or per patch, the ideal scenario would be for drummers to practice to such a high standard that there is never a need for tap tempo, you just set the tempo per patch and it works, unfortunately my drummer has very poor timekeeping and I don't mean he turns up late for rehearsal

I am with you there McB. Haha! That day will never come. Maybe there is an argument for replacing the drummer with a drum machine  :D But then a drum machine can't steal your money, clothes and girlfriend so where is the fun in that. Haha!

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Is it me, or is the app starting a song out oy library just for kicks? Seems when I connect at a gig live it has a habit of starting a song for some reason.

 

On the good side of things, I took a tweed fender 4x10 cab and re-worked the basic preset till it was just a nice, warm clean tone. Then added the hd overdrive as a stomp pedal. Added the typical verb and delay pedals and it sounded great in the studio monitors. Took it to a job Sat night and it sounded fantastic coming out of my k10 monitor. Tried it at church the next morning and liked it there also. :-) I just may be making friends with this firehawk after all...

 

Things to resolve:

- song turning on for no reason

- lag time on presets

- patch normalization

- app frequent crashing

 

Hoping for those to be addressed in the upcoming update.

That sounds really cool!  Can you share your settings for that, it wou be greatly appreciated!!  Thanks. 

Jay

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I think by normalizing - meaning volumes of each patch are around the same volume level, so there are not any super loud ones, or ones you can hardly hear.

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- Share tone. I attempted it. I shared it and it said published but when I search I don't see it. Tweed 4x10 Dave is what's named. Maybe it takes a few minutes to show up. 

 

- Patch normalization: Yea, for some reason on L6 products especially I have a tougher time evening out the volumes from one patch to another. I think each should have a patch level. If I change a master volume or channel volume that's going to change the amps tone. 

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- .. I think each should have a patch level. If I change a master volume or channel volume that's going to change the amps tone. 

 The Channel volume is effectively the patch level. It does not change the amp's tone. Nor does the Master volume (the big knob on the FH) change the tone but it does affect the volume of all patches, not just one.

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When I had an X3 live

 

Well, I currently own an X3 Live, which I totally love, but I'm considering to buy a Firehawk and keep the X3L as a backup unit.

 

Here's the thing: the X3L allows me to assign the Master Vol to the 1/4 outputs only, leaving the XLR outputs always at max vol -- this is very handy in live situations. The HD500X does not have this feature... does the Firehawk?

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