UPDATED 5/4: Firehawk First Impressions

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by kiki_90291, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. kiki_90291

    kiki_90291 Member

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    Got my Firehawk yesterday and he are my first impressions after spending a couple of hours with it today, side by side with my current rig (Mesa TA-15 with a bunch of analog pedals). The Firehawk is running direct into an Alto TS110a.

    I use two base tones with my current rig - a Vox clean and a Marshally crunch tone - everything builds off of those tones. So my first step was to try to match something in the Firehawk to my base tones. No effects - just straight amp models. The Vox was surprisingly easy to pull off - I got about 90% of the way there with with the TB model and mic selection right off the bat. Tweaked the mids a touch with the EQ block and got there. I can't say it's 100%, but it's a very pleasing tone.

    The Marshall was a bit of a surprise - it turns out I run my "overdriven" side pretty clean and get most of my crunch from my boost pedal . . . so I wound up just trying to get my crunch sound with an amp alone. I got something I like a lot, but not really the same. I'll fiddle with the EG a little and see if I can get closer.

    Touch sensitivity - check
    Amp in the room feel - check.

    I have to say that I'm really impressed. I even ran my acoustic through it with one of the acoustic models and it sounded pretty good (it will need some eq to kill the piezo-iness of my guitar, but the Variax is looking way more attractive).

    Finally, the app interface (I use an iPad 2) is awesome - truly easy to use with a shallow learning curve (but see below)

    The negatives:
    There is a gap when switching tones - it's not problematic for the songs I tried it on because of how the transitions work, but it could be a problem for other songs. I want to move to a digital board so I can quit tap dancing, but the Firehawk really won't do it - the only way to simultaneously turn multiple effects on and off is to switch patches which triggers the gap. The need a "pedal switcher" mode that keeps the amp loaded and lets you switch pedals in and out (and, no, I don't think the HD500 can do this either - on that you can assign multiple pedals to one switch, but you cant assign one pedal to multiple switches, which is what you need to do more than two "effect scenes"). The gap is better when the Bluetooth is off, but it's still there.

    The Bluetooth connection is really, really flaky. My connection drops constantly and you have kill the app and restart it and then wait for your entire preset list to reload into the app (which takes a couple of minutes) before you can do anything. Very, very, very annoying and could be disastrous if you are trying to changes things on the fly live. Three suggestions: 1) enable a wired mode (USB/Camera Connection kit?); 2) some way to reset the connection from the app (or the device) without having to restart and 3) something faster than a total reload of every preset (maybe store the presets in the app and some kind of table compare to detect changes? There has to be a better way) - it would also allow you to re-organize your presets when you're not hooked up to the Firehawk).

    I suspect the Bluetooth culprit is the several Bluetooth devices in my office - there's got to be a way to fix this without me having to shut everything down to program my unit . . . .

    Bottom line - soundwise, I think it's more than adequate for my needs and will probably replace my current rig. I need to play with my band to confirm, but I'm optimistic. It would be a slam dunk with out the negatives (especially the Bluetooth - there's no other way to program the unit, so this is a deal-killer issue).
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  2. holden_caufield9

    holden_caufield9 Member

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    I've had the firehawk since Friday and this is exactly my sentiment. Great in every except for the Bluetooth dropping connection. At this point I'm pretty frustrated with the Bluetooth and may have to send it back... In fact I just gave up on it tonight and logged in specifically to bitch about the Bluetooth.
     
  3. Mrmeatball

    Mrmeatball Member

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    Aw man the patch switching issue is really worrying for me, I don't have my unit yet but seems a lot of you are finding it very noticeable, I use a zoom g5 which changes patches in 2 milliseconds, in a lot of our songs there is no gap in my playing when I switch sounds, I noticed it in that Paul Hindmarsh demo from musicmesse on YouTube it sounded a mess between patches and if that guy can't time his patch switches correctly then I'd have no chance,
    I'm hoping the bluetooth issue can be fixed and hopefully it's not a problem caused by cheap components or something
     
  4. Greatdane

    Greatdane Member

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    Weird with that silence between patches. It worries me. Gotta try it out before I buy it then.
     
  5. FPFL

    FPFL Member

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    "Hey everyone... can you turn off your ear buds and phones, I need to edit a patch!"😀

    Seriously though I hope they can fix that in software updates.

    The H9 Bluetooth is rock solid, so it's not a terrible idea if implemented right. The H9 also has a few real buttons for editing without a phone/pad or I wouldn't have bought it.
     
  6. micycle

    micycle Member

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    Argh!! They can put a man on the moon but they can't make all affordable multi effects units have quick patch changes. That's a deal breaker for me due to the constant quick changes in my music - it's the first thing I look for when I pull something out of the box. You just spared me from ordering one and finding that out on my own and returning it.. so thanks for the review! Line6 and Digitech need to take notes from Zoom and the Boss GT100 on that end of things.. maybe in exchange for improving their speaker sims. In a perfect world...
     
  7. kiki_90291

    kiki_90291 Member

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    UPDATE 5/4:
    Note - full disclosure: after posting the above review, I was invited to beta test some FH software by Line 6. I'm currently participating in that test. The above notes were on the commercial release. I'm currently running the beta code.

    I had my first band rehearsal with the Firehawk last night - the Firehawk sounded as good or better than my analog rig, was smaller and easier to set up, easier to manage volume and got more variety in sound. I'm sold.

    The acid test was my bandmates, who really, really liked my old rig and looked skeptically at the little black box on the floor when I revealed it. They loved the way it sounded and when I asked them if they had a preference, they pointed at the Firehawk.

    This was running the Firehawk into an Alto TS110a, sitting in front of me like a monitor. It was great to hear my self clearly without blowing out everyone in the room. I was also able to run my acoustic through the same rig instead of the PA (which is making me seriously consider the Variax).

    I did not do any editing on the fly - which surprised me. I guess I did a pretty good job of dialing in things at home. At home, I had it sitting next to my old rig and was able to get things to sound pretty close, so that probably helped. I suspect as I start developing new tones without a point of reference I'll probably need to tweak more on the fly.

    So, overall, I'm really happy with the Firehawk and the Alto. My last attempt at going digital was the HD500, which I gave up because I found it too complicated to create patches from scratch. The Firehawk is much more streamlined is this regard - I'm still a little confused by the number of control points for volume, but I'm definitely not having the signal chain leveling issues that I had with the HD500.

    I also never really had a decent amp setup for for the HD500 - I was running it into a variety of different rigs which never worked that well, so I think the Alto is a key component to making the modeling setup shine.
     
  8. Mrmeatball

    Mrmeatball Member

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    Did this new software seem to fix anything from the previous version? Is it just an updated app or have you installed new firmware to the pedal? I'm especially curious about whether it fixed the lag when switching patches
    Cheers
     
  9. leftty

    leftty Member

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    Just got mine as well and I too run in through my Alto 110. So far compared to my Hd500 and Egnater I like it better then both as does the rest of the band but that being said I hope there are some changes that Line 6 can make. The BT issues is a pain but I have found it does not happen when using my Galaxy tab, maybe something to do with IOS. The too many volume points can be a bit of an issue but it has not been to bad to deal with. Two other issues are the ability to completely move around any effect anywhere in the chain and believe it or not I would like to see a PC based editor. While the iPad, Galaxy or any mobile device is great for on the fly editing I still prefer the USB hardwired Line 6 edit for when I am putting together certain patches, moving patches around or setting up set list, the layout on the Line 6 edit is much better for those things. Compared to the Hd500 it is nowhere close to as complex which for some may be a plus or a negative, for me I have found it a joy to simply pick an amp throw a few things in and I get a good tone. I still gig and use my Hd500 because I already have several patches road tested so it will stay at our studio. I wanted something for a backup, play at home and occasional jams I have, for this the Firehawk is a keeper.
     
  10. johnrea_77

    johnrea_77 Silver Supporting Member

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    I loaded up the new 1.10 firmware as well as the new USB driver and Android app (which you pretty much have to, they all work together). Seems like the bluetooth works better so far.

    They did do something to speed up the patch changes and make them smoother. I do notice a "pop" when I switch sometimes and I think it has something to do with switching the effects loop in and out. I have two "4CM" bands that the effects loop is always engaged on. I'm trying a band that has the same effects algorithm and effects and loop placement to see if that has any impact. I also set up two non-4CM banks using the amp models (w/o cabs) to use into the effects return on my amp. I'm hoping I can eliminate or at least minimize the popping noise with one of these methods.

    Has anyone else using the Firehawk in four cable method noticed this ?
     
  11. kiki_90291

    kiki_90291 Member

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    Thought I'd update this now that I've had a fair amount of time to try out the new firmware (I'm no longer Beta testing anything - this is the standard release). I've also been playing it with a JTV59, which I'm really enjoying. It took me a while to sort everything out, get a good workflow in place and assemble a set of patches that works for my band. I've now had a few sessions playing with the rig in a reasonably organized state and gotten my hands used to the JTV (I'd been playing my Ric for several months straight and I'm having to transition back to a normal string spacing :) ).

    Overall, I love this rig - I can absolutely dial in what I was getting from my Mesa/analog rig, but also a bunch more. Just way more variety and I'm surprised how much I'm using the various guitar models as well. The Firehawk is very easy to set up and get patches going that work well off the bat. A huge improvement over the HD500 I had a few years ago in terms of ease of use (there are still aspects of the HD500 I miss, like assigning multiple pedals to one switch and the Variax is making me see the potential of dual amp paths).

    The artifacts between patches are mostly gone - I get an occasional pop going from a very noisy patch to a very clean one, but the weird bloops and other weird sounds are gone. Bluetooth is dramatically more stable. I can't remember losing the connection once in the last couple of weeks.

    The remaining issue is the gap between patches - it only bugs me on a couple of songs we do, but it's bad enough that I'm changing how I play the songs to get around it (songs wehre I need to dramatically change the tone). On other songs where I need to change, I try to keep it to one pedal . . . kind of defeats the purpose, though. I'm hoping a future update will allow you to change mutiple pedals within a patch (or fix the patch-to-patch gap).
     
  12. MikeyG

    MikeyG Supporting Member

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    Does this replace the HD500 as the new flagship?
     
  13. lilwisper

    lilwisper Member

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    No, this would be one of their new middle ground offerings. There might be a new flagship down the line ***soonish***.
     
  14. Digital Igloo

    Digital Igloo Member

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    POD HD500X replaced HD500 as the new flagship less than two years ago, so it's not going away anytime soon. Here's a comparison chart.
     
  15. mosaic

    mosaic Supporting Member

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    Remember, it's the "year of the guitarist" for Line 6:) Looking forward to the rest of 2015!
     
  16. Plague Dog

    Plague Dog Member

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    I've started to use the volume knob to get my clean-ish tones instead of going to a clean patch. I started off thinking I would have maybe 10 patches I used all together, but it turns out I've written a patch for almost every song on our set list. I do use a medium crunch tone on several songs using the Matchless amp. I have a couple pretty heavy patches using the JCM 900, the Engl and the triple rec... I thought I would like the JCM 800 more but I'm getting those tones from the Matchless I mentioned before.

    Something weird happened the other day, there is a patch I had used for a specific song, but when I went to it this time it was tuned a half step down. I know I didn't change it, I know no one else changed it... so I'm wondering, when we played this song the last 20 times since I set up the Firehawk, have I been playing a half step off of the bass player? I don't think the Firehawk could just mysteriously change on its own. The JTV was in the right position too. Oh well, one of life's little mysteries.
     
  17. Mrmeatball

    Mrmeatball Member

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    If your Variax was switched to an alternate tuning and you saved the patch on the Firehawk I think it will remember that setting on the guitar when you next recall the patch, ie; you don't have to adjust the tuning on the app it can also be done on the guitar, you most probably realise that but it's the most plausible explanation I can think of
     
  18. DylanGuitar

    DylanGuitar Member

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    I bought this because my x3 live (which sounded pretty good) had a mechanical switching problem on one of the channels. I have a normal pedalboard/amp gig, but I use a floorboard modeler for a lot of local Top 40 type gigs where convenience is an issue.
    I can't believe line 6 would release this out into the wild with such a glaring flaw (lag time between patch changes.) I feel like my intelligence has been insulted if that makes any sense. Are they not marketing this thing to professional musicians? I was excited to buy it. What a big let down. I'm taking mine back tomorrow.
     
  19. Mrmeatball

    Mrmeatball Member

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    They are working on a fix for the lag, not ideal I know, but at least it's in the works
     

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