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AMPLIFi as a practice tool -- how is it really?

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In the last year or two, I have totally rethought my entire guitar playing life and came to the realization that this is not my living, but rather an intense hobby.  Where I used to think I HAD to have the latest, greatest most awesomest gear just to survive as a player, (lightning in a bottle anyone?) I have since reduced the compllexity of my gear hoarde to basically my acoustic, and an electric guitar setup of Strat/Tele -> A few quality analog pedals -> Fender blackface tube amp.  I am happy with my sound and have no desire to buy every pedal ever made anymore.

Which brings me to Amplifi.  Even though I am happy with my sound, I also resolved to practice far more using my wasted gear surfing time for actually working on songs and techniques.  Still, it would be nice to have a practice tool that does the things Amplifi claims to do, such as bluetooth speaker, MP3 song mixing along with your guitar output through a reasonable facsimile of the tone for the given song and the ability to (finally) control it all through my Android devices.  Sounds like the ticket to me for $400...
 
...except I know how things can REALLY be.  Like bluetooth sound stuttering, firmware update bricking, wonky knobs, funky control schemes and other sundry issues.  So I ask the community - if you use Amplifi, does it work reasonably well doing the things Line6 claims it can do with a bare minimum of fuss, or are there "issues" lurking that will more detract from the goal of practicing than aid in it?

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For practicing/writing I personally think the AMPLIFi FX100 with studio monitors or headphones is more bang for your buck.

Regarding issues, I get occasional stutters with BT music streaming with the AMPLIFi Remote app open. With the app closed it is very rare.
Sometimes the app also loses connection with the FX100, but not very often.
These thing happen in one location of my house, in another location I have yet to lose the connection.
This is both with my Android phone and iPad, although I have not updated to iOS 9 yet.

That being said if I want to jam along with an mp3 I usually play it on my pc or drop it into my DAW.

Not sure what Line6 gear you have, but if your looking into bare minimum set-up for practicing/writing you might also want to check out the POD Studio line.

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For practicing/writing I personally think the AMPLIFi FX100 with studio monitors or headphones is more bang for your buck.

 

Regarding issues, I get occasional stutters with BT music streaming with the AMPLIFi Remote app open. With the app closed it is very rare.

Sometimes the app also loses connection with the FX100, but not very often.

These thing happen in one location of my house, in another location I have yet to lose the connection.

This is both with my Android phone and iPad, although I have not updated to iOS 9 yet.

 

That being said if I want to jam along with an mp3 I usually play it on my pc or drop it into my DAW.

 

Not sure what Line6 gear you have, but if your looking into bare minimum set-up for practicing/writing you might also want to check out the POD Studio line.

What I have now (and is on Craigslist) is a POD HD500 and JTV59 Variax.  I know I can plug headphones and my phone or MP3 player into this for jam along stuff, but it sounds like lollipop that way to me.  I also have a smaller studio now (just moved in June) which puts floor space at a premium now.  So instead, I use my POD Farm and Google Play Music because I have over 15k songs of my own from CD uploaded there, plus the unlimited plan so basically ANYTHING I want to play is there.  Of all the gear I have right now, the Google/POD Farm setup is best when I am in my studio, and basically renders the POD/Variax combination unused and packed away for sale.

 

The reason the Amplifi is now in the picture is for play elsewhere in the house.  I figure if this thing is all that and the bag of chips it claims to be, it would go nicely in the family room along with a Strat (or the Variax?) to just plug in and play there, plus it would make a nice speaker for music playing either there or in the back yard.  I have a Bose Soundlink Color that is great for personal portable use most of the time, but it too does the BT stutter trick (I HATE that personally) as does my car audio BT setup. Still an evolving tech IMO. 

 

In any event, I just want to really measure this thing for the uses I'd like out of them before I pony up the cash.  Make sense?

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There are some things to keep in mind if you're going to spend the money on an Amplifi amp...

 

For one, it doesn't always take analog pedals very well.  Distortion and fuzz pedals break up easily (and not in the good way) and getting levels right is a pain.  Mixing analog pedals with the digital pedals of the amp also doesn't always work that well.  It does take digital pedals very well though (such as the Zoom G5).

 

Secondly, even though the advertising implies it, you can't magically get a matching tone for every song you want.  In fact, aside from some of the official presets and the rare user tone, there are very few tones that match actual songs.  And even with those tones, it all depends on the gear you're using yourself.  If you don't have the exact same guitar, pickups, etc as the person who made the tone, it won't sound the same.

 

The cloud tone matching system is very poor and most of the suggested tones are horrible.  Auto-tone loading is also a pain because the tones is chooses are usually horrible as well.

 

Next, as a bluetooth speaker, it's not that great.  Even after several hours breaking in the speaker, the bass and treble response is poor and cannot be adjusted.  Bluetooth streaming, even without using the app, is inconsistent at best if there are other things in the area that interfere with it.

 

 

The Amplifi amps have a lot of potential, but they aren't there yet.  It's a shame too, because it really could be a great amp.

 

 

**Edit**

 

I also want to add, that some of the problems people are experiencing seem to be pretty hit and miss depending on the individual amp.  I've had my 75 for over a year now and rarely experienced any disconnect problems and bluetooth problems.

 

But, I was having a problem with the speaker and took it into the shop where I bought it to have it sent out for repair.  Since I bought their 2 year warranty on the amp, I got a replacement 75 to use as a "rental" until my amp is sent back.

 

This replacement amp has been horrible.  I've upgraded the firmware and done a half dozen factory resets.  But it disconnects all the time and the bluetooth is choppy all the time.

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The reason the Amplifi is now in the picture is for play elsewhere in the house. 

....

Make sense?

 

Definitely.

After you get more feedback form the community and if you decide to try one, look for a 30 day return policy so you have time to put it thru its paces.

 

 

Secondly, even though the advertising implies it, you can't magically get a matching tone for every song you want.  In fact, aside from some of the official presets and the rare user tone, there are very few tones that match actual songs.  And even with those tones, it all depends on the gear you're using yourself.  If you don't have the exact same guitar, pickups, etc as the person who made the tone, it won't sound the same.

 

.....

 

 

The Amplifi amps have a lot of potential, but they aren't there yet.  It's a shame too, because it really could be a great amp.

 

Yeah, I personally don't use the tone matching and therefor have the auto-tone loading turned off.

I don't own any of the AMPLIFi amps but I did demo one at GC and the 150 sounded pretty good playing back songs on my phone, but it would be nice if it had some EQing options for the BT stream.

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Yeah, I personally don't use the tone matching and therefor have the auto-tone loading turned off.

I don't own any of the AMPLIFi amps but I did demo one at GC and the 150 sounded pretty good playing back songs on my phone, but it would be nice if it had some EQing options for the BT stream.

 

I turned off the tone matching about 3 days after getting the amp.  And I agree, some EQ for the amp when just streaming music would be nice.  I'm sure they were expecting that users would just use the EQ in their mobile devices instead.

 

But, demoing in a store and using it in real life are two different things.  I have a small Marley bluetooth speaker that absolutely kills my 75 as far as bass and treble response.  And it's only a $200 speaker.  It has far better stereo separation as well.

 

Just to be clear though, the Amplifi as a bluetooth speaker is still good, it's just not great.  These amps are $599 here now, and for that I would expect a little more.  I'm glad when I bought mine it was only $430 at the time.

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There are some things to keep in mind if you're going to spend the money on an Amplifi amp...

 

For one, it doesn't always take analog pedals very well.  Distortion and fuzz pedals break up easily (and not in the good way) and getting levels right is a pain.  Mixing analog pedals with the digital pedals of the amp also doesn't always work that well.  It does take digital pedals very well though (such as the Zoom G5).

 

Secondly, even though the advertising implies it, you can't magically get a matching tone for every song you want.  In fact, aside from some of the official presets and the rare user tone, there are very few tones that match actual songs.  And even with those tones, it all depends on the gear you're using yourself.  If you don't have the exact same guitar, pickups, etc as the person who made the tone, it won't sound the same.

 

The cloud tone matching system is very poor and most of the suggested tones are horrible.  Auto-tone loading is also a pain because the tones is chooses are usually horrible as well.

 

Next, as a bluetooth speaker, it's not that great.  Even after several hours breaking in the speaker, the bass and treble response is poor and cannot be adjusted.  Bluetooth streaming, even without using the app, is inconsistent at best if there are other things in the area that interfere with it.

 

 

The Amplifi amps have a lot of potential, but they aren't there yet.  It's a shame too, because it really could be a great amp.

 

 

**Edit**

 

I also want to add, that some of the problems people are experiencing seem to be pretty hit and miss depending on the individual amp.  I've had my 75 for over a year now and rarely experienced any disconnect problems and bluetooth problems.

 

But, I was having a problem with the speaker and took it into the shop where I bought it to have it sent out for repair.  Since I bought their 2 year warranty on the amp, I got a replacement 75 to use as a "rental" until my amp is sent back.

 

This replacement amp has been horrible.  I've upgraded the firmware and done a half dozen factory resets.  But it disconnects all the time and the bluetooth is choppy all the time.

 

 

Definitely.

After you get more feedback form the community and if you decide to try one, look for a 30 day return policy so you have time to put it thru its paces.

 

 

Yeah, I personally don't use the tone matching and therefor have the auto-tone loading turned off.

I don't own any of the AMPLIFi amps but I did demo one at GC and the 150 sounded pretty good playing back songs on my phone, but it would be nice if it had some EQing options for the BT stream.

Thanks for the replies.  A lot to think about here, no doubt.  The lack of EQing options is a bit troubling, and it sounds like a crap shoot on getting the right amp as well.  I LOVE the idea of Bluetooth streaming and when it works, it's great.  But there are those other times, when it just plays like crap, disconnects or otherwise flakes out and makes me just go back to XM radio or whatever.  I really want this to be a relaxing and trouble free experience rather than another fight to get the tech working right, because it really detracts from practicing when that happens.  I had a Korg Pandora that I still kick myself for letting go, because it was really very simple to use.  Which reminds me that I also have a Boss Micro BR recorder kicking around here somewhere that I can probably just keep handy for jams in the basement family room. My wife hates me leaving gear all over the house aanyway.

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The best advice I could give would be to buy one from a store with a good return policy (my local store's policy is 30 days as long as it's as-new when returned) and give it a try.

 

Or hold off until the new firmware update is released (we keep being told it will be "soon") and get a sense from the forum whether any of the connection issues were addressed.

 

You'll never know how well the amp will work for you and your playing habits until you try it for yourself.

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I wish there was a way to maark more than one response as the "answer".  Thanks all for the info!

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If you're looking for something just for practicing and having fun with a garage band not intending on using it for gigging then it's a great deal.  Yes there have been some issues but they've been worked out for the most part.  Any songs you have on your smart device you can play through the amp at 1/2 speed which comes in handy for learning solos or really trying to hear a subtle chord change.  I use it to listen to music and it's not going to replace a $1000 dedicated stereo but considering the other things it does it's good, true you can't adjust the EQ for music playback but my iPhone has an EQ and that works well as a substitute.  I think it's unrealistic to expect a $500 product to replace $3000 - $5000 worth of gear.  For what it is it's good, at the time (yes not that long ago) it might have made more sense to buy than it does now as there are so many more options.  If I were buying today I'd put the $500 toward a Helix and SoundSource speaker but again cost-wise it's comparing apples/oranges.  Like I just mentioned in another thread, if you're just practicing you can use it for that and save the wear & tear on your $3000 boutique tube amp.  Really depends on what your needs are.   

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