Line 6 Sonic Port VX iOS Interface and Microphone
By Chris Loeffler |
Line 6 Sonic Port VX iOS Interface and Microphone
Studio-Quality Recording... Anywhere
By Chris Loeffler
From the beginning, Line 6 has been in the game of pushing the boundaries of what a guitar player can do with digital technology by marrying a reverence for classic tones and “the way things used to be” with a desire to break through the limitations traditional gear impose. Having made and maintained their reputation as the industry leader in guitar, amp, and effect modelling almost two decades ago, Line 6 has conspicuously turned their focus to integrating the guitar experience into consumer-focused devices and tapping in to a rich ecosystem of mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. The Line 6 Sonic Port VX is their latest foray into this world and features a price-point, feature set, and ease-of-use that is meant to make it a must have for all players.
With superior 24-bit/48kHz audio quality and a 120dB dynamic range, the Line 6 Sonic Port VX is a zero-latency, all-in-one mobile audio interface made to connect a guitar (or other instrument) to an iOS device or standard PC/MAC for practice, jamming, and recording. Building on the guitar-centric input/output feature set of the original Line 6 Sonic Port, which includes a ¼” input for guitars, 1/8” stereo input, stereo/mono ¼” guitar/line-level output, and 1/8” headphone output, the Sonic Port VX replaces the ¼” output with two balanced ¼” outputs to run independent stereo channels into studio monitors or a mixer. The included USB and 14-pin to Lightning cables provide comprehensive connectivity to all supported devices.
Where the Line 6 Sonic Port VX branches out in interesting and inspiring ways from the base Sonic Port is the addition of stereo and mono condenser mics built directly into the unit. Supported by professional mic preamps, both microphones actively capture acoustic instruments and vocals with a toneful depth, clarity, and presence that is mix-ready. A small toggle switch on the side selects between guitar/instrument, stereo microphones, or mono microphone modes, expanding recording possibilities to include capturing ambient sounds on the go (or even in the studio) without hassle or the need for additional gear. The included tabletop stand is well-designed, adjustable, and flexible enough to address almost any miking application.
Aimed at guitar players, the Sonic Port VX stacks the deck with recording-quality ready modeling via the Mobile Pod app. The Mobile Pod app (available for free via the iTunes App Store) is central to the Sonic Port VX ecosystem, giving users access to over 32 highly customizable guitar amp models, 16 speaker cabinets, and over a dozen guitar effects via a visual, user-friendly interface on any iOS device. The models can be mixed, matched, and tweaked to the players’ content and then saved for instant access later on. While traditionalists will continue to grumble about anything less than a $3000 tube amp, the amps, cabinets, and effects all breathe, respond, and (most importantly) sound so accurate that listening to a playback yields a negligible (if any) difference from the real thing. With room for hundreds of user and factory presets and access to tens of thousands of tones from the Customtone.com community sortable by style and artist, there is no end to sonic inspiration. Players looking to never leave the Mobile Pod app will be happy to find their entire iTunes music library is available to jam over within the app. The Sonic Port VX integrates with GarageBand and Jammit; making recording as simple as opening the GarageBand app with the Sonic Port VX plugged in and jamming as simple as selecting a song in Jammit (preset tones included with each song).
One of the biggest factors to Line 6’s success has been the ability to take cutting-edge technology and make it accessible and intuitive to guitar players raised on “crank it and forget it” analog gear. While a certain number of players have the desire and aptitude to go deep into recording technology, most just want to capture their performance with as little fuss and as much quality as possible. The simplicity and utility of the hardware makes the Sonic Port VX practically a manual-free startup for most players, and the graphics-driven user interface of the Mobile Pod app completely mimics the knob tweaking and signal-chain shuffle players have relied on for decades.
Budget-minded players looking for a high-quality interface to capture guitars, vocals, and acoustic instruments will find a flexible, fully fleshed out solution in the Line 6 Sonic Port VX. The ability to record innspired flashes of creativity anywhere at a sound quality level that is mix ready is a true boon for singer-songwriters looking for an affordable method of capturing their music.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.