Need to amplify your modeller, but standard PA systems and power amps are kind of unsatisfying? Line 6 has the answer. Words by Peter Hodgson.
There’s something interesting going on in the guitar world. Digital modellers like the Line 6 Helix, Fractal Audio Axe-Fx and Kemper Profiler are great for low-profile stage setups, so touring bands love them because hauling around a full amp rig ain’t cheap. Just plug your processor into the mixing desk, and you’re off and shredding.
But at the higher end of the touring budget, some bands like to still have real speaker cabs onstage for the full ‘rock god’ effect – something to make the pants flap and the pickups feed back when the whole band is wearing in-ear monitors and the stage volume is down to just drums and backing vocals. So those players will use power amps and a range of guitar cabs, defeating the cost benefits of going digital.
But there’s another segment of the modeller‑user market that has been criminally overlooked until recently: the player who wants the sonic benefits of a jillion presets, amps and effects, but doesn’t have a PA system to blast it through. What if you’re playing a small gig where they only mic up the drums and vocals? What if you just want to jam with your buds in the garage?
Well, that’s where the Line 6 Powercab series comes in: an active speaker system designed to get your processor up to a neighbour‑pissing‑off volume on your terms, not some sound engineer’s. It’s designed by guitarists for guitarists, and it’s a much more elegant system than carting around a power amp and a quaddie.
The Powercab 112 Plus is a one-by-12-inch active speaker system designed to deliver an authentic ‘amp in the room’ playing experience when paired with any modeller. But it’s more than just a powered speaker. Sure, set it to Flat mode and you’ll get exactly that: a flat-EQ, faithful rendition of whatever signal is coming out of your processor. But the Powercab 112 Plus takes it a step further by offering virtual recreations of six different speaker types.
The idea is that you bypass the speaker cab models in your processor and let the Powercab 112 Plus take care of all that for more of an authentic amp feel.
Powercab isn’t modelling specific cabinet types like a one-by-15 or a four-by-12, but rather specific speakers, so the idea is that it gives you a more faithful sonic experience. The speaker types included are Vintage 30, Greenback, Creamback, P12Q, Swamp Thang and Blue Bell.
The Powercab 112 Plus has several powerful features that advance above the more stripped‑back Powercab 112, such as a two-inch LCD, 128 user preset locations, MIDI In/Out, AES/EBU and L6 LINK digital I/O, a multipurpose second input, and a USB audio interface. You can also load up to 128 third party speaker cabinet impulse responses (IRs).
The system includes a clean 250-watt power amplifier with a custom hybrid coaxial speaker, which features the same range and power handling capabilities as a PA speaker, but with the rapid transient response of a guitar speaker. This is so the Powercab 112 Plus can give you the feel – the push/pull – of playing through a real guitar speaker, but also the fidelity and headroom to accurately reproduce your fancy reverbs and delays without unpleasant distortion.
It’s loud as hell, too, reaching a landlord‑baiting 125-decibel SPL maximum volume.
The cabinet itself is constructed of sturdy plywood with a curved back for increased rigidity and decreased weight. In fact, it weighs only 16 kilograms, which is pretty manageable. There’s also a flip-out kickstand for angling it towards you, whether in the backline or as a monitor at the front of the stage.
I HAVE THE POWER
I tested the Powercab 112 Plus with a few different modellers, including a Line 6 Helix and my trusty old Boss GT-8. Use it in Flat mode and it’s more or less like playing your modeller through a PA or your home studio monitor. It’s really fun to mess around with the different speaker options and find the one that suits the particular musical situation.
Because the unit is MIDI-enabled, you can program those speaker changes into your device’s presets. Go from a ‘Marshall JCM800 through Greenbacks’ type of sound to a ‘Twin through Jensens’ setting at the stomp of a foot.
Of course, if you want to go much further than the inbuilt speaker, there’s also the option of using onboard IRs in Flat mode to capture the sound of various modelled cabinets, or to use your modeller’s cabs. I get a feeling a lot of players are going to really appreciate the depth and personality of the six speaker models onboard, and might find themselves bypassing their modeller’s speaker section more often than not.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a very functional unit that does much more than just make your modeller audible. It’s a stage-friendly, easily cartable sound solution that becomes an actual part of your rig rather than just a speaker. It also looks really cool, and we all know that’s important – even when we pretend it isn’t.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Choice of flat response or six classic guitar speaker models
• 250-watt amplifier
• 12-inch custom hybrid coaxial driver
• Curved plywood construction
• 128 presets
• Great speaker models
• MIDI is great
• No stereo version on the market (yet)
Ph: (03) 9693 5111