Line 6 M13 Stompbox Modeler
Line 6, line6.com
Originally printed in Guitar World, Holiday 2008
If you love stomp boxes, you know it can be a royal pain to use all of your favorite pedals when playing live. The hassles include signal degradation, impedance mismatches, the cost quality cables to connect everything, and the matter of keeping the pedals powered either by batteries or AC adaptors.
Floor-mounted multieffect units are a decent alternative, but while the effects in most floor units are good, they often lack the personality, quirkiness and individuality that make stomp boxes so appealing. Also, many of these products can be confusing to program, and their bank/preset configurations aren’t as easy to improvise with onstage as a bunch of pedals with separate on/off switches can.
The Line 6 M13 Stompbox Modeler combines the character and ease of use of individual stomp boxes with the convenience of floor-mounted multieffect units and power and reliability of custom pro pedal boards. The M13 offers stunning digital models of dozens of the world’s most desirable vintage pedals, and it’s housed in a sturdy metal case with heavyduty footswitches configured similar to a Voodoo Labs Ground Control or Custom Audio Electronics RS-10 unit.
The M13 combines the models and capabilities of Line 6’s esteemed DL4 Delay, DM4 Distortion, FM4 Filter and MM4 Modulation Stompbox Modelers and Verbzilla Tone Core pedal and adds a few extra surprises, such as compression from Line 6 Vetta amps, to provide 78 different effects. The models include very accurate reproductions of several desirable vintage pedals and processors, like the Mu-Tron Bi Phase, Binson EchoRec, Roland Jet Phaser and Oberheim Voltage Controlled Filter, which individually sell on the vintage market for more than the M13’s street price (when you can find them at all). The M13 also includes a full-featured 28-second looper with record, overdub, half speed, reverse and pre/post effect functions.
The M13 is configured like four different stomp boxes (called FX Units), with a separate looper that’s always available. You can assign any model you want to any FX Unit, but the signal flow always goes from left to right (FX 1 to FX 4). Each FX Unit features a knob for selecting delay, mod, distortion, filter or reverb models, which are color-coded in the display section, plus five other knobs for adjusting effect parameters. Each FX Unit also offers three memory settings with their own dedicated footswitches, allowing you to switch in an instant from, for example, Tube Screamer to Big Muff to Octavia models. In essence, the M13 is like having 12 pedals ready to go at the stomp of your foot. If that’s not enough, you can scroll through 12 different Scenes that each provide an entirely different pedal board configuration of your choice.
A tap tempo footswitch allows you to manually synchronize delay and modulation effects. MIDI jacks allow you to send and receive program change data, MIDI clock and much more. Two expression pedal jacks are provided for manually controlling individual effect parameters. The M13’s stereo FX send and return jacks allow you connect external effect pedals to the unit or send specific effects like delay and reverb to an amp’s effects loop while other effects like distortion and modulation are routed to the amp’s front input. Selectable True or DSP Bypass functions allow you to preserve an all-analog signal path or retain the tails of reverb and delay effects when the M13 is bypassed.
With its heavy-duty construction and outstanding models, the M13 looks, feels and sounds like a fully professional effect processor. Even though the M13 costs as much as two Line 6 Stompbox Modeler pedals, it provides the full functionality of their entire Stompbox Modeler line plus looping and reverb. When it comes to sound quality and versatility, no compromises were made while fitting these effects into a gig-friendly package.
The three-by-five footswitch grid makes it very easy to select just about any effect you want, but unlike multieffect processors the M13 only lets you select effects individually, and you can’t engage and disengage complex presets built from several different effects with one footswitch click. The M13 also lacks a master bypass switch, so if you want to go from a crazy distorted, modulated, delayed and looped sound to bone-dry clean bypass you’ll need to perform some fancy dance moves. Stomp box fanatics who are already used to this mode of operation won’t mind, and they’ll absolutely love how the M13 places dozens of best-loved stomp box effects at their feet in a compact package that can be tucked under one arm after the gig.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Line 6 M13 eliminates the hassles of using a pedal board loaded with classic stomp boxes while providing the same great sounds and adding versatile new functions such as looping. The M13 boasts bulletproof construction and is comparable in build quality and functionality to pro controllers like the Ground Control and CAE RS-10. Considering that the M13 costs as much as one of the many desirable vintage pedals it emulates, it offers incredible bang for the buck.
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