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  • Line 6 Spider V 120: Pro Review Xpress

    Welcome to another Harmony Central Pro Review Xpress. This time, we'll be taking a look at the Line 6 Spider V 120 guitar amplifier, along with a couple of optional peripherals. For more information on how Pro Reviews work, please check out the Pro Review FAQ and Rules. This is a different format than our Expert Reviews, and is intended to be interactive, so we encourage the manufacturer to participate, and we definitely encourage YOU to participate too, so after you've checked out the FAQ, feel free to express your opinions, ask questions and get involved!

    Note: To be notified when new posts go up on this thread, please click the +Subscribe button just above and to the right of this window.

    Line 6 has been making their Spider line of modeling amplifiers for quite some time, and to be honest, it's been nearly as long since I've checked one out, so this Pro Review Xpress is going to be an opportunity for me to get reacquainted with them right along with some of you. The current generation is the fifth one to be released, and even just skimming the features list I can see there have been a large number of changes made since I last looked at them.

    Here are the basics. The Spider V line is available in four different models (Spider V 30, 60, 120 and the stereo 240), and for this review I'll be focusing on the Spider V 120. It carries a MSRP of $559.99, and regularly "streets" for $399.99, not including the options, which I'll get to in a minute. You can purchase the Spider V 120 from all the usual places - Sweetwater, Musician's Friend, Guitar Center


    Let's look at a bullet point list of some of its main features:
    • 78 amp models,
    • 23 cabinet models
    • 101 effects models
    • 120 watts (mono)
    • 1x12" speaker with a single tweeter
    • XLR direct outs
    • USB audio interface
    • 1/4" stereo headphone out
    • FBV support
    • Onboard drum loops
    • Metronome
    • Looper
    • Relay Wireless ready
    • And more!

    As you can see, this is an amp with a ton of different features! Line 6 also sent a FBV3 ($349.99 MSRP, $ 249.99 "street") and a Relay G10T wireless transmitter ($139.99 MSRP, $99.99 "street") along so we can check into those optional add-ons too, but before we get too far into things, in the tradition of previous Pro Reviews, let's start by taking a look at the hardware with some pictures.


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    The Spider V 120 is a relatively compact combo amp that measures 17.5" H x 20.25" W x 11" D, which is fairly typical for a 1x12 combo amp.


    The controls are mounted on the front panel, with Drive, Bass, Mid, Treble and Volume knobs that have dual functionality - they also serve as controls for the Comp, FX1, FX2, FX3 and Reverb. You can access the amp controls and alternate functions with the two Amp/FX buttons, located just to the right of those knobs. There are other controls and a LED display too, as well as a Master Volume knob and headphone jack on the far right side of the panel, but we'll get into all of those as we progress through the review.

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    One of the first things I noticed as I was unpacking it is the relatively light weight. The Spider V 120 weighs in at only 29 pounds, four ounces. It's not that it feels flimsy - far from it, but if you're used to carting around an all-tube combo of similar dimensions and power, you and your chiropractor will be very happy with the reduced weight.


    Around back you'll find the power switch and an IEC power receptacle, two USB ports (a USB B port for connecting to your Android device or Mac/PC computer and a USB A port for your iPhone or iPad) and a switch to select between them, an 1/8" Aux In for routing sound from external devices to the power amp and speakers, a pair of XLR Direct Outputs and a ground lift switch for them that should be used if you can't disable phantom power on the device you're connecting the Direct Outputs to. You'll also find the connector for hooking up an optional FBV pedalboard, and the Spider V is compatible with the FBV Shortboard MkII and FBV3. This looks like a powerful option since it allows you to not only select presets and turn individual effects on and off, but also control things like the onboard tuner, looper and tap tempo, as well as volume and wah functions via the built-in treadle on the FBV.

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    As you can probably tell from the previous photo, the Spider V 120 features a closed back design.

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    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

  • #2
    Hey Phil - I'm looking forward to this, particularly since I've really become a fan of the Firehawk 1500. If this can do the job for smaller gigs, that 29 lb. weight sounds good to me!

    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Anderton View Post
      Hey Phil - I'm looking forward to this, particularly since I've really become a fan of the Firehawk 1500. If this can do the job for smaller gigs, that 29 lb. weight sounds good to me!
      One of the things I plan on doing is opening it up and taking some SPL measurements to get a general idea how loud it will get.

      As you know Craig, I recently moved... I always know where my ear plugs are; now I just need to find the right cardboard box - one of the dozens that I'm surrounded with has my muff style protectors in it. Put those on over the ear plugs and I'll be all set...

      And that comment is only half in jest. Safety first - always use hearing protection whenever it's appropriate folks!

      The doubled-up protectors may be overkill, but my initial impressions are that this amp is capable of getting pretty darned loud. "Smaller gigs" may be underestimating things a wee bit. We'll see.

      Stay tuned.
      **********

      "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

      - George Carlin

      "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

      - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

      "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

      - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

      Comment


      • #4
        Okay, I'm back! The officers were really nice. I think one of them was a guitarist because they only asked me to turn it down instead of hauling me in for disturbing the peace.


        All kidding aside, I just tried a couple of the factory presets with the amp's master volume dimed and a SPL meter sitting on a chair about a meter in front of the Spider V 120. For the test I used my 2013 SG Standard with stock '57 Classic pickups.


        First I tried preset 01C - Silky Deluxe. This is a clean preset with a Blackface vibe.

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        Then I tried preset 01A - Arachnid Rhythm. This is a nice crunchy distorted sound with a mid-gain Plexi flavor.

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        And here are the SPL readings - again, they were taken about one meter away from the amp.


        First while playing clean with the Silky Deluxe setting...

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        And yes, the amp stayed impressively clean even at this SPL!



        And with the Arachnid Rhythm setting, this is what it hit...

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        Notice the peak (Max) reading - I actually hit a bit louder (about 3dB higher) than that when I was first trying it, but I was trying to take a picture of the screen instead of a screen shot and it didn't work out... anyway, it will hit 125 dB A-weighted SPL @ 1 meter, which definitely qualifies as Pretty Darned Loud in my book.

        Just how loud is that? Loud enough that you should definitely wear hearing protection if you're going to explore the higher end of the amp's volume capabilities! You should have no problem using this amp in a rock band - it will easily hang with a drummer and a full band setting for not only smaller gigs, but larger club gigs too. In fact, any gig where it wouldn't be loud enough on its own is likely to have a PA that they'd want to run you through anyway.

        One nice volume related thing that I should point out is that you can get these same sounds at any volume level you want. Unlike tube amps you don't have to turn up loud to get the amp to break up or whatever, so you can still get great sounds at more real-world levels. This would make the Spider V good not only for home use and backstage practice, but also for gigs where you need to keep the stage levels carefully managed. Church musicians, I'm looking in your direction...
        **********

        "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

        - George Carlin

        "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

        - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

        "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

        - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

        Comment


        • #5
          Of course for those times when you really need to keep quiet, there's the front panel 1/4" headphone jack. When a pair of headphones is plugged in, the internal speaker is muted automatically. The main Master Volume knob sets the headphone level. The headphone output can also serve double duty as a 1/4" TRS stereo direct output.

          The two XLR Direct Output jacks on the rear panel are not attenuated by the Master Volume knob unless headphones are connected.

          While the amp itself has a mono power amplifier, the on-board effects are stereo, and so is the signal from the headphone output jack, so you can practice in complete silence if the situation demands it while enjoying a nice stereo spread.


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          While a lot of people use phones and ear buds with 1/8" connectors these days, you won't find a 1/8" headphone jack on the Spider V 120 - but you can always use a 1/8" TRS female to 1/4" TRS male adapter if that's the type of headphones you're using.

          One thing to note before we leave the issue of loudness - the headphone jack has tons of level on tap. It was easily able to drive a set of 36 ohm KRK KNS-8400 studio headphones to uncomfortably loud listening levels.
          **********

          "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

          - George Carlin

          "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

          - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

          "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

          - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

          Comment


          • #6
            Okay Phil, I stand corrected...not just "smaller gigs." SPL meets PDL (Pretty Darn Loud).

            I noticed you said the effects were stereo but the power amp is mono. Is there some kind of jack or connection for an extension amp if you wanted to add another Spider for stereo?


            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Anderton View Post
              Okay Phil, I stand corrected...not just "smaller gigs." SPL meets PDL (Pretty Darn Loud).

              I noticed you said the effects were stereo but the power amp is mono. Is there some kind of jack or connection for an extension amp if you wanted to add another Spider for stereo?

              No, there isn't a dedicated jack for that, and I agree that it would be cool if there was a slave connection of some kind that let you run two Spiders locked together for stereo.

              The closest workaround I can think of would involve using the two XLR direct output jacks and sending them to the PA for stereo over the house system, or alternately, to an external stereo power amp and a pair of full-range speakers and doing it that way.
              **********

              "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

              - George Carlin

              "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

              - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

              "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

              - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

              Comment


              • #8
                From the amp's name we know that it has a 120W power amp section, and from my SPL tests we know if can get loud, but the speakers are important part of that too and deserve their own mention. Not only does the speaker efficiency factor into the loudness equation, but in a traditional guitar amp the speakers are bandwidth limited and contribute significantly to coloring the sound the amp makes. However, Line 6 is using a different approach, and the Spider V 120 has a pair of speakers built into it. One is a 12" low / midrange driver and the second is a high frequency tweeter. Between them they provide a comparatively full-range frequency response.

                I'm not sure what the size of the internal tweeter is, or what the actual crossover frequency is. Line 6, can you weigh in here please?

                A full-range response is important because it allows the Spider V's modeling to take care of the sound shaping, including the speaker cabinet models. All the amp needs to do is make it louder, and the built-in speakers recreate what the amp is doing as accurately as possible, adding minimal coloration of their own. Swapping out the stock speakers really isn't an option here like it is with traditional amps.

                **********

                "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                - George Carlin

                "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                Comment


                • #9

                  My initial play tests with the Spider V 120 were done with a regular guitar cable, but the Relay G10T kept calling my name and I was really curious about how it worked, so I decided to give it a try. It's a 24 bit 2.4GHz wireless transmitter, and the receiver is built right into the Spider V. The G10T is a very basic looking unit that is only about 2" long (not counting the 1/4" plug) and is only 1.25" wide.

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                  The small size and "unwired, with everything built into the plug" format make it a lot easier and less cumbersome to use than wireless systems that use a separate body pack and cable configuration. Here it is plugged into my SG and ready to go.

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                  I wondered how it would fit into a recessed jack like you'd find on a Strat, but as you can see, that's a non-issue. It works fine with side-mounted jacks too, like you'd find on a Les Paul or Telecaster. Yes, I tested it with both of those guitar models too.

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                  The Relay G10T is surprisingly simple to use with the Spider V. First, you "dock" it by plugging it into the amp's input jack while the amp is plugged in and turned on. The amp then automatically charges the transmitter and configures it, selecting the best available wireless channel. When the G10T is plugged into the Spider V a bar graph meter and lightning bolt icon appear on the amp's LCD display. When the graph shows three bars, the transmitter is fully charged.


                  The G10T will work with practically any guitar. There is a small switch built into the plug that turns the transmitter on when you plug the G10T into your guitar. As long as the unit can fit into the jack on your instrument far enough for that to be depressed, it should work with whatever you've got.

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                  A LED mounted into the end of the G10T shows you its status. When you have the G10T docked it turns green and flashes to indicate that it's charging up. Once it's fully charged it stays a steady green.


                  When you first plug it into your guitar the LED glows orange for a fraction of a second and the signal remains muted - then it quickly unmutes and the LED turns green. This brief muting prevents any pops or other weird sounds as you're plugging in. What about if it's unplugged? It mutes instantly. All of which means it would be very easy to use a single G10T with multiple guitars. Even if you need to do a lot of guitar (and G10T) swaps on stage, you're not going to be dealing with any wireless transmitter annoyances or superfluous noises.


                  The G10T is good for about 8 hours of total playtime on a single full charge. The LED turns red and flashes when you're down to less than 30 minutes of time left. A full charge takes about three and a half hours, but you can safely charge it for less time if you need to use it in a hurry. Fifteen minutes of charge time will result in about an hour of play time, and a 30 minute quick charge will give you about two and a half hours of play time, which is plenty for most gigs. Another nice power-related feature is the power-saving sleep mode. After about four minutes of silence the G10T goes to sleep and awakens automatically when you start playing audio through it again, so you can leave the transmitter plugged into your guitar, even between sets or after soundcheck without draining the built-in battery.


                  The range seems to be pretty good too. Line 6 claims it has a 50' range and true to that claim, I was able to get a good fifty feet away from the amp, with three walls AND a wifi transmitter in between it and me before I started having problems. In the "more good news" category, nothing funky happened when I got out of range beyond some dropped notes. There's no glitching, weird noises or other interference, and moving a foot or so back towards the amp resulted in contact being instantly and automatically restored.


                  How does it sound? I doubt most people would be able to tell the difference between using a quality 10' cable and using the G10T in a true double-blind listening test. There's no discernible latency (beyond that which you'd expect, even when using a cable, as you move further and further away from your amp) and the sound quality is excellent overall.


                  You can manually configure the G10T using the Spider's menu and controls, but it works so well when letting the amp auto-configure it that I doubt many people will ever bother with that.
                  **********

                  "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                  - George Carlin

                  "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                  - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                  "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                  - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Frankly, the G10T looks like an accident waiting to happen...Especially if one is given to theatrics and windmill chops...
                    http://thebasement.createaforum.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AlamoJoe View Post
                      Frankly, the G10T looks like an accident waiting to happen...Especially if one is given to theatrics and windmill chops...
                      That's a reasonable concern, but I don't really think you'd be a lot more likely to hit it than you would a regular straight plug and cord. Of course, it depends on what type of guitar you have, and the wildness of your playing style. As I said, the G10T will work with just about anything, but on some guitars (especially those with top mounted jacks, like the SG), I tend to prefer right-angle plugs that keep the plug and cable closer to the guitar body than a straight plug - which is basically what the G10T is. Obviously the G10T sticks out farther than a right angle plug does, and would take a bit of adjustment if you're used to wildly thrashing around. It would be much less of a concern if you used a Les Paul (or Tele) with a side-mounted output jack.

                      Thanks for jumping in Joe! That's the spirit of Pro Reviews, and once again, I encourage questions, comments and discussion!


                      *********


                      By the way folks, here's a picture of the Relay G10T docked...

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                      And one of the amp's display, showing the "charging" lightning bolt and bar graph...

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                      **********

                      "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                      - George Carlin

                      "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                      - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                      "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                      - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Three questions...

                        Question 1: What happens with the G10 if there's a 2.4 GHz cordless phone right next to it? I found with the early Line 6 wireless mics, I couldn't have the two too close to each other.

                        Question 2: You mention the full-range speaker cabinet. One of the things that really impresses me about the Firehawk is the full-range response. Line 6 doesn't push it as a keyboard amp, but it's great for that. It also means that if you stream audio via Bluetooth, it ends up sounding extremely good (and also extremely loud, if that's what you want). I'm assuming the Spider doesn't do Bluetooth streaming - that seems more like an AMPLIFi thing - but I'd be curious to hear what you think about the Spider as a keyboard amp.

                        Question 3: The USB interface on the Firehawk is much better than average with Windows, it's real ASIO instead of class-compliant MME or something equally problematic. If you get a chance to check out the Spider V USB with Windows, I'm curious if it too does ASIO.

                        Thanks Phil, carry on...
                        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Anderton View Post
                          Three questions...

                          Question 1: What happens with the G10 if there's a 2.4 GHz cordless phone right next to it? I found with the early Line 6 wireless mics, I couldn't have the two too close to each other.
                          This one I can answer already. In the manual Line 6 does mention that it's a good idea to keep cordless phones and wifi transceivers away from the amp and G10T. Having them really close to either one could cause issues. But in my range tests, I had both my cordless phone and wifi transmitter in between me and the amp. Neither was right next to the guitar/G10T or the amp, although I did walk past both of them (as well as a wifi-connected laptop) with the G10T (within about ten feet of each), with no issues to report.

                          I suspect / assume (based on what the documentation says) that part of the automatic configuration of the G10T that occurs when you dock it to the Spider V is checking for a clear channel in the 2.4 GHz band that doesn't have anything interfering with it.


                          Question 2: You mention the full-range speaker cabinet. One of the things that really impresses me about the Firehawk is the full-range response. Line 6 doesn't push it as a keyboard amp, but it's great for that. It also means that if you stream audio via Bluetooth, it ends up sounding extremely good (and also extremely loud, if that's what you want). I'm assuming the Spider doesn't do Bluetooth streaming - that seems more like an AMPLIFi thing - but I'd be curious to hear what you think about the Spider as a keyboard amp.
                          I have not tried this yet, but I agree it's something worth exploring. I'll try to test that out later today. My first thought is you'd want to create a preset specifically for this purpose - starting with turning off the speaker cabinet emulation.


                          Question 3: The USB interface on the Firehawk is much better than average with Windows, it's real ASIO instead of class-compliant MME or something equally problematic. If you get a chance to check out the Spider V USB with Windows, I'm curious if it too does ASIO.
                          I finally just finished getting the studio all set back up post-move last weekend, but while my Mac is rockin', I'm still having some issues with my PC. I'll try to get those solved and once I do, I'll be sure to test this out too.
                          **********

                          "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                          - George Carlin

                          "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                          - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                          "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                          - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                            The closest workaround I can think of would involve using the two XLR direct output jacks and sending them to the PA for stereo over the house system...
                            I'd be curious to hear how that sounds.
                            .com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Question 2: You mention the full-range speaker cabinet. One of the things that really impresses me about the Firehawk is the full-range response. Line 6 doesn't push it as a keyboard amp, but it's great for that. It also means that if you stream audio via Bluetooth, it ends up sounding extremely good (and also extremely loud, if that's what you want). I'm assuming the Spider doesn't do Bluetooth streaming - that seems more like an AMPLIFi thing - but I'd be curious to hear what you think about the Spider as a keyboard amp.

                              Okay, here's what I did.

                              I started out by creating a preset from scratch on the Spider V specifically with keyboard use in mind... I'll be going into the details about editing presets next, so stay tuned for that. There are four blank User presets (32A-32D) that are perfect for such experiments.

                              I used the Line 6 Tube Preamp model, with no cabinet and no microphone. I stuck with the stock EQ settings and left the EQ completely flat. For the effects I left the compressor off and called up a digital delay, a rotary speaker sim for the modulation, and a Medium Hall verb. Of course, you can turn those on and off as desired, and the FBV3 makes that super-easy. I thought those effects would be a good selection for use with various types of keyboard sounds.

                              I then patched in my Kurzweil SP2X and started playing...

                              And the result? It sounds fine as a keyboard amp. I was easily able to get 110dB SPL without anything breaking up, although you do have to watch your keyboard's output volume level - most of them have hotter outputs than your typical guitar, so it is possible to overload the input of the amp and get undesired distortion that way, but as long as you are mindful of your gain staging, it will work and sound fine. You don't have quite as much weight or authority on the very bottom end as you would when going through a big PA system or larger keyboard amp, but the sound was generally balanced, without the lack of highs that you'd get when running keys through most guitar amp & speaker combos. I'd have no problem using this as a keyboard amplifier for coffee shop, lounge, and even small club gigs.

                              The effects worked very well with keyboard sounds too, as I suspected they would.

                              I even tried the G10T with the keyboard. Obviously since I only have one transmitter and the Spider V 120 only has a mono input everything was in mono... but even the wireless transmitter worked fine. Take note folks - if you use a battery-powered wireless keyboard onstage, this might be worth considering if you want to be able to move around.

                              Which brings up another question for Line 6 - if you had two Spider V 120's and a pair of G10T transmitters, would it be possible to use both transmitters with the stereo outputs from a single keyboard, or would they interfere with each other if the two transmitters were physically positioned that close together?
                              **********

                              "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                              - George Carlin

                              "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                              - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                              "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                              - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                              Comment













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