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Line 6 Studio 110 LowDown Bass Combo

This is not the best bass amp in the world by any means, but for the money this amp is a solid value and sounds better than I ever thought an amp this small could possibly sound at this price point.  Because of the portability I use it way more than any other amp.

I wanted a light easy to move amp to replace an 80 lb rehearsal combo I was tired of dragging around.  I tried out a MarkBass 12 inch combo and liked everything about it except the price, but was about to pull the trigger on it anyway when I saw the little Line 6 Studio 110 and tried it out.  If I was gigging with a small combo on a regular basis and it was my only amp, then I could justify spending way more for a more powerful combo.  But the only application I was seeking to cover at the time was rehearsals. 

The MarkBass is a much more powerful and better sounding amp partly because it has a piezo tweeter.  What it came down to was, how much power do you really need for rehearsals?  Just enough power to be heard is the answer.  It was easy to talk myself into trying the smaller Studio 110 and keeping nearly $500 in my pocket.  If it didn't work out I could sell the Studio 110 and then get the MarkBass combo.  Over two years later I am still glad I gave the Little line 6 amp a shot.

The Studio 110 is not super loud and isn’t going to cover any gigs with my loud-as-heck old school R&B band without a PA direct out feed because everyone else is either direct or miked up including the drummer with his 7 microphones into a mixer just for him.  I have played small indoor gigs with the Line 6 patched into the PA with no problem.  While the Studio 110 can’t deliver foundation shaking lows with only 75 watts pushing just one ten inch speaker, I do hear the bass enough to know what I'm playing.   Even with a cymbal happy drummer in a rehearsal setting I hear it fine.  This amp actually works great when using it as a stage monitor with a direct out to a beefy PA.

Anyone that says it is not loud for the size and weight should try this trick! After pushing a preset button jiggle the MASTER knob.  That’s it!  For some reason mine likes for you to tweak a knob after a preset change and when you do the jiggle it gets much louder.  Maybe yours will respond in a similar fashion.

I’ve not found another amp at this size, weight or price that has this kind of volume, tone and versatility.  It is more versatile than anything else in the size/price class.  It sounds very clean with no hiss or hum or noise that shouldn’t be there and can be dialed in so that it sounds totally professional.

Does it sound just like the amps it is supposed to model?  In stand-alone use the answer is a definite no for the 3 models I’m thoroughly familiar with.  I owned a used mid 60’s Ampeg B-15 from 1968 till 1970, a new 1971 SVT and a new 1974 Marshall Super Bass.  All these amps were used with multiple 15 inch speakers except the B-15 which had only one. Therefore a lone 10 inch speaker can not possibly move as much air or create that buzzy sternum vibration that a 15 incher does.  I’ve never owned an Eden so I can’t say how close the CLEAN model is, however there is no tweeter or horn in this combo and I suspect you really need one to nail that Eden sound. 

I can say for sure that when the Line 6’s XLR out is patched into a PA system with adequate subwoofers or into a mixer for recording you hear much more of the character of the vintage amps.  To me the R&B setting into a mixer still doesn’t sound exactly like a B-15 because it is more midrange heavy than I recall my B-15 sounding.  When I bought it I expected the R&B setting would be my very favorite, but my favorite tone actually turned out to be BRIT and second favorite ROCK.  R&B comes in third with me. 

I think the BRIT tone is very rich and full range with layered overtones that compliment a passive bass making it the best all around tone for me.  It also records well.  Unlike the larger Line 6 bass amps, the BRIT tone is a “HIDDEN FEATURE” and you have to read the manual to find out how to turn "BRIT" on.  Once turned on BRIT replaces the CLEAN model until you go through the process to switch the models around.  Not having fast access to CLEAN is OK with me since I do not use CLEAN much at all unless I'm using a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver.  The CLEAN is so pristine that it could be used for an acoustic electric 6 string or as a PA at a small function in a pinch.  You can also use CLEAN with the tone controls all set flat when adding something like a SansAmp or Line 6 Bass Pod.

The ROCK tone is a velvety bass heavy model that works great for ballads and old school R&B.  I also like this tone best with a pick, but I don't use a pick much at all.   

A tone model I do not use is "GRIND" which does not suit my style at all and sounds like an amp on the verge of self destruction.  If you play hardcore rock or metal the distorted GRIND tone might be precisely the tone you want instead of the vintage tones that I prefer. 

The SYNTH emulation could actually be useful as a novelty, but since there is no way to turn it on and off on the fly with a footswitch and because the controls are so intricate to manipulate I think the SYNTH tone is strictly for recording in a multi-track environment.  The SYNTH also does not track finger slides or hammer-ons and offs.  I’d prefer the Studio 110 come with a chorus effect or an envelope filter instead of the SYNTH.

One of the best things about this amp and the other Line 6 Low Down bass amps is the compressor, which is one of the more musical compressors I’ve ever used because it allows dynamics.  The Studio 110’s compressor lets you play louder or softer unlike other compressors that squash everything to the same volume no matter how hard or soft you play.  This compressor sounds totally natural!  The XLR out sounds really good. I’ve never used the quarter-inch preamp output, so can’t comment on it other than other people use it to feed a bigger power amp or another combo to get the same emulation.

It has a CD/MP3 mini-input for CD/MP3/IPOD devices. I take it with me on vacation and business trips with headphones and use it for practice with my IPOD and it works perfectly. A built in tuner would be welcome on trips too.

There is one input instrument input jack with a push button pad for passive/active instruments and if you are not careful you can accidentally push this button plugging in your instrument. One input jack for passive and one for active would be much better and probably have cost about the same.

The more I use it the more confidence I gain in it.  I would never hesitate to recommend a Studio 110 as a great practice/rehearsal/recording amp and even passable for small gigs or to amplify an upright.  It will not replace my gig rig in the loud R&B band where the drummer uses 7 microphones, but that isn’t what the little amp was designed to do.  I find the larger Line 6 amps so heavy that I might as well drag the stack around as use one of them.  I sure like walking into rehearsal with amp in one hand and bass in the other and gear bag over my shoulder.  That is easy in and easy out in one trip instead of 3 or more. 

In January of 2010 I went into rehearsal with an orchestra consisting of two keyboardists both playing electric piano, two guitars (one into a Marshall Plexi half-stack with the second into a Fender Blues Deluxe), a strong drummer behind a plexiglass shield, Latin percussion, sax and flute for a local stage production of "FOOTLOOSE:  THE MUSICAL."  I planned to bring my gig rig to the theater for the actual performances, however the sound tech said the Studio 110 was plenty loud enough at rehearsals to use in the show and did not want me to change it out.  When we got into technical rehearsals the band moved from the floor to a series of elevated platforms of varying heights at the very back of the stage which doubled for a bridge in the show.  Actually I wound up turning the amp around to fire toward the back of the stage instead of forward into the audience due to the actors all wearing wireless microphones in front of the elevated orchestra.  Anything much louder wouldn't blend as well because of the live acoustics of the room and the fact that there were at times ten to twenty actor-worn wireless microphones all live on the stage some of which belonged to the actors who were trying to sing.  I did not even patch into the house sound system.  The Studio 110 did great all by itself.  I used my regular pedal board with Selector A/B/Y switch, Aphex compressor and Tech 21 SansAmp with the Studio 110 set on CLEAN.  This experience is one of the reasons I say the more I use it the more confidence I place in it.   

While more expensive than typical starter amps, this is possibly one of the best “FIRST” amps an electric bassist could have because it can take you from lessons and home practice to band rehearsals and jams, to home recordings and even those first gigs.  Instead of having to buy different amps at each development stage all you need is this one and you'll wind up spending less in the long run.  If I could have only one amp, I probably could get by with a Studio 110 so long as I could patch out to a PA with adequate subwoofers.  It may come to something like that because my current gear seems to be getting heavier and heavier all the time.   Every guitar player is always amazed at the little Studio 110's volume output and it gets the job done in rehearsals.  

I’d like to see a “LIVE 110” model with the additional following features for more money:  1-Add a button for the “BRIT” tone and ditch the "SYNTH" and put a chorus and/or an envelope filter in place of "SYNTH."  2-Add interface electronics and jack for the Line 6 Shortboard pedal controller.  3-Add a built in tuner and a tuner mute switch. 4-Add an additional input so you can plug in one passive and one active instrument simultaneously. 5-Add a “TILT BACK” bracket such as the one on the new Ibanez Promethean bass amps. 6-Beef up the power some to maybe 100 to 125 watts but try to keep it to a 10 inch speaker and the 12 inch cube design.  8.  Adding a small tweeter/horn with level control would also be great but not if it made the cab larger.   I realize all this would cost more money and be a tad heavier, but these features sure would make the little Line 6 far more ideal for playing live.

Probably the biggest test of any instrument or piece of gear is the question, “What you would do if it broke or was stolen?”  I’d be ordering another just like it!  This amp has already given me my money’s worth and it just keeps going.  The only micro amps that would suit my needs for a rehearsal amp as well as the Studio 110 cost at least twice as much.  No way would I upsize to the Line 6 150 watt combo.  It is too heavy to move as easily and too big to take on vacation or trips with golf clubs, luggage, groceries and all the other stuff I have to take.  The only two amps I've seen I would consider as a replacement for it are the MarkBass CMD 121P and the Ibanez Promethean 1x10.  Both are better sounding, far more powerful and way more expensive.  However both of those are also a little bigger and one thing I like about the Studio 110 is the micro size.  It is a 12 inch cube.

For a good economical cover, I use one from “BS Covers” they are a very affordable quality product and are about $30 delivered.  Until I bought the cover I just used a kitchen garbage bag to cover it when moving in the rain.  That worked good too.

If you are considering buying one, Line 6 has a demonstration video you might enjoy here:  http://line6.com/lowdown/movies.html

 

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