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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Moving From HD500 To Firehawk


ppiluk
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Hello All,

 

I have been a long time user of the PODHD 500, which I absolutely loved. Unfortunately for me, it somehow grew legs and walked away from a open blues jam. 

 

So anyway, I needed to replace it. I spent countless hours researching all the options, not just Line 6. I eventually decided on the Firehawk HD.

 

I have only played with it for about 3 hours but I have been able to make a few observations:

 

  1. I am impressed with the tones I am getting out of it. The tones, especially the HD ones, are as good as anything I have been able to get out of my beloved HD 500.
  2. Creating patches is easy but a little weird because you need to start with an existing patch. I wasn't able to find a blank patch in the cloud, but I really didn't spend too much time looking.
  3. The coloured, assignable footswitches are a real handy feature.
  4. Switching patches on the unit itself is easy and the 3 user banks of 4 patches is probably enough for most guitar players so you won't need to drag your phone or tablet up on stage.

I am sure I will have more comments and questions as I play around more but my first impressions are very positive. 

 

 

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I looked at both units before I purchased a few weeks ago.  It's nice that you can take an existing preset (patch), tweak it and make it your own.  The POD HD500 has way more user definable presets, but I don't think I will ever use that many.  I'm a harmonica player and use this board for blues, jazz, R&B, country, folk. 12-user definable presets is plenty for what I need it for. Sharing patches on the community has to be done via the iOS or Android app. Not a big deal for me. What I am finding considering that a harmonica is a very bright instrument and depending on which mic I use, I need to knock most of the highs and mids out and boost the bass or else I have feedback city. I've been a sound man for many years, so when it comes to controlling feedback, I know where to go to control it. I'm in the process of putting together a word document that has the preset, what tunes I will use it on and screenshots of the iPad so I know exactly where everything it set.  I'm using more the American and English Amps/Cab versus the high-gain ones because those are developed more for a guitar. So far, I'm really happy with the unit.  A buddy of mine has the AMPLIFI FX 100 and is looking to upgrade to this unit.  That way we can trade presets (patches).

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.......The POD HD500 has way more user definable presets, ....

Don't forget that you can overwrite any of the factory presets with a user defined preset, so that you can have up to 128 user defined presets loaded into Firehawk at any given time. That equals two set lists in HD500 terms.

 

 

... and btw.... I believe Amplifi/FX100 presets are compatible with Firehawk so you should be able to trade presets now. Just upload/download to/from the 'cloud' on your respective devices.

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Don't forget that you can overwrite any of the factory presets with a user defined preset, so that you can have up to 128 user defined presets loaded into Firehawk at any given time. That equals two set lists in HD500 terms.

 

 

... and btw.... I believe Amplifi/FX100 presets are compatible with Firehawk so you should be able to trade presets now. Just upload/download to/from the 'cloud' on your respective devices.

Very true Silverhead, you can overwrite any of the factory presets.  My buddy in Panama a few minutes ago just got and open box Firehawk FX for $350 US. He's the one with the AMPLIFI FX100.  Your also correct on the compatibility of presets. He can share his, but I can't share mine.  Makes sense since I have different features that he doesn't.  Moot point now that he purchased the Firehawk.

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Those of you using the Firehawk, especially at gigs, can you comment on any latency when switching patches? This seems to be a criticism that's come up often about the Firehawk. I know it was supposed to have been improved with a firmware update but I am still curious.

 

I know it's a lot to ask but I'd love to see a short video/hear an audio clip of someone simply strumming some chords continuously and switching between patches in order to see what the latency (if any) is really like.

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What I miss most about the HD500X is the ability to assign and switch multiple FX with one foot switch ... changing from a lead style delay/verb to a rhythm one. Yes I can create a different patch but being able to change with one footswitch was awesome. I find the Firehawk a bit warmer than the HD.

 

 

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Since last update, I don't notice any latency or delay in Firehawk patch switching, which I do a lot!

I too miss the ability to assign multiple fx to the same switch.

Also miss the number of editable fx blocks. Firehawk has gate, eq, comp and reverb set as permanent blocks, I would that they were wildcards. As a workaround, I have an EP boost and an M5 modeler in my fx loop.

Biggest deal for me is the Ios-Ipad editing, would not willing give that up! The Ipad editing is particularly handy in sound check, no bending over to tweak. I pad is getting a little crowded, my music and mp3s are on it (Planning Center Online), I edit Firehawk, and we are toying with Presonus personal monitoring, (adjusting my own monitor mix remotely, from my location-Ipad). I will add that toggling between Planning Center and Firehawk, PC kicks FH out of the Bluetooth, note: the Planning Center mp3 file will play back through the Firehawk, another huge deal the has STREAMLINED my rehearsal time.

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Having had both Firehawk, and now an HD500X, both have their merrits and faults, I am a deep editing kind of guy, so I love the HD500X for the versitality, on the other hand, the one thing I missed when I moved from the Firehawk to the HD500X was the large selection of effects and amps the Firehawk has out of the box, a much broader spectrum than the HD500X has.

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Thanks for the responses. I'm weighing the pros/cons between Firehawk and Helix and I like both for different reasons. (And of course, the price difference is a major factor.) Is anyone using Firehawk with either an L2t or an L2m (or other FRFR speaker)? I have an L2t and this is what I'd prefer to use with the Firehawk.

 

The thing I really like about the Firehawk is the iOS editing. I'm visually impaired, so having a larger screen is nice (especially now with the iPad Pro). I don't live near any guitar shops that carry Line 6 stuff, so it's pretty much impossible to try these things out before buying.

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I'm getting an Lt3 in 2 days , so excited

Silver head do you use yours in reference mode or guitar mode?

I'm hoping the lt3 will allow me to get good results while using the cab sims in the firehawk

I currently use a fender mustang iii as a power amp and it sounds much better with the cab turned off

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been about 2 weeks so I thought I would update my findings.

 

1) There is a small delay between switching patches. It only really impacts a couple songs I do but it is enough of an aggravation it should be addressed. For example, I do an arrangement of Paint It Black. I have a JTV-69s so I have patch for the intro with a Sitar setting and another patch for the regular guitar.

 

2) The moveable Effects Loop is a killer feature. You can even assign it to a footswitch to turn the external effect on and off. This feature puts the Firehawk head and shoulder above other units.

 

3) The Bluetooth connection is not always stable. I can't be sure if this is a problem with my tablet or the unit because Bluetooth is wonky by nature. Some people have suggested using WiFi instead of Bluetooth but that isn't viable because you might not always have access to WiFi. This is more of an observation rather than a problem.

 

4) The Firehawk is built like a tank and as such weighs like one. I picked up a Gator case for it and it fits like a glove! 

 

5) The HD amps are great and sound pretty much the same as my HD 500.

 

6) There is a patch for pretty much everything but the vast majority of them are Amplifi patches. It would be a great if the app would suggest the HD equivalents if there are any. 

 

7) The ability to stream sounds from your phone or tablet is amazing. There are plenty of apps with metronomes, drum tracks and backing tracks. You can also play along with your favorite band.

 

Overall I have been pleased with the Firehawk. The ultimate judge of any pedal or multi effects pedal is the tone you can coax out of it and the Firehawk are great and are better than the multi effect units I have owned. 

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@shawnmx: I made two videos a while ago, comparing it to my old Boss GT-8:

 

http://line6.com/support/topic/16525-i-recording-two-videos-show-the-latency-difference-between-firehawk-and-boss-gt-8/

Thanks for sharing those. I can see the delay in switching patches on the Firehawk. Not sure it's deal breaker level for me but it's good to see what it looks like in real time and compared to another processor.

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I am adding a "deconstructing" post tot this discussion. I have moved from my Firehawk, back to my HD500X, at least for the Christmas season of performances. Here is why..

1.The HD500X to me sounds a little brighter, Firehawk sounds warmer. I am able to get a little more twang out of the HD.

 

2. The FX loop on the FH has a tone. The FX loop on the HD500X is totally transparent, and is 100% moveable, can be set anywhere in the signal chain. FH has pre-prescribed insertion points.

 

3. HD500X has midi. I have an M5 that I bought to give another effect option to the Firehawk. I am now using it with the HD500X.The good-the bad and the uselessness of it; anything that the M5 can do can be assigned to the block occupied by the FX loop using the HD500X. In other words I can take the FX loop function and change it to a mod or drive or whatever in the HD. The up-side is that by running an M5 effect through the loop, gives me the option to boost it a little using the send/return values. Once again the loop on the HD is transparent. So far, I have only figured out how to run the M5 midi from patch banks 1-6. eg; patch HD500x 1A= M5 preset 1, HD 1B= M5 preset 2 all the way to HD 6D= M5 preset 24. The good of it is the HD500X saves the state of the M5, and allows me a single switchable M5 function at the front of my pedal board instead of the back row. When using the M5 with the Firehawk, I had to scroll through presets between songs to set it if I wanted to use it.

 

4. Due to the number of assignable blocks in each HD500X patch, I can get away with fewer patches, say by adding an extra drive to an existing patch..

 

I do have to run a mini jack from my Ipad to the HD for playback, and I have to bend down to adjust things during sound check.

 

So for the season, I am back to the HD500X...This too shall pass...

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To be fair that's quite an involved set up and I guess firehawk was never really designed with that as a priority , it's more a plug and play kinda thing

I suppose the extra twang your getting is down to the difference in cab sims and so that's unlikely to be changed

I guess we all still search for that one box does it all holy grail, even the helix has things missing which I would find frustrating

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Alas...the Firehawk has been benched, next will be the M5. As I posted earlier, any function that the M5 can perform in the HD500X, FX loop, can be assigned within the 500x and programmed to that FS.

 

I am going to NAAM in Anaheim next month, with a stop by the Line6 booth to get a REAL look at the Helix. Will need to sell a slightly used kidney to buy one.

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