Vox Tonelab SE and Line 6 POD XT Live

Scott Peterson

TGP Co-Founder and Administrator
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37,501
Okay, I have had a few days with each of these pedals so I'll do a quicky comparison.

Form Factor:

Line 6 POD XT Live: 1
Vox ToneLab SE: 0

The Vox is a BIG pedal. Very long; not very deep. But very long. Makes getting to the switches very easy, but takes up a lot of floorspace. The two expression pedals are nice; but there is a severe limitation on what you can do with them (I'll get to that in a second). Extra solid construction; very heavy duty. I like the footswitches. One "WTF?" is the plastic "bubble" over the tube. Pretty? Sure! But, ummm, stupid.

The Line 6 is "just right". Much like the little bear's stuff from the fairy tale; the Line 6 is not too big, not too small and really is "just right". One caveat: it is easy to hit the expression pedal (by default a Volume pedal) when using the tap tempo footswitch.

In the end; one wants the smaller footprint on a stage; at least I do. IMHO, Line 6 takes a point here.


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'Ease of Use"

Line 6 POD XT Live: 0
Vox ToneLab SE: 1

The Vox is a no-brainer. You won't need a manual. Outside of configuring it to run out to a full range monitor/FOH or into your amp; everything is right there - knobs to go. I was flying in seconds. You can plug in midi cables and hook it up to your computer; viola - free software that updates on the pedal as you tweak on-screen in real time. Everything worked perfectly. There are no way, that I saw, to update the internal stuff. You get what you get when you buy this; there are no future upgrades to come AFAIK.I could be wrong, and they might update it via midi, but Vox has had this out a while now and I have not heard a peep anywhere on the net about any further upgrade path.

The Line 6 is not very hard to figure quickly either, but you do need to scroll though options. The Line 6 is *much* deeper; you have tons more to tweak if you like (or not!) and to keep it small as it is, it has menus ala the POD XT bean. Not a ton of menus, and not hard to figure out in a few dozen seconds; but there you are. Stupid award: Line 6 again pushed something to market ahead of small things like a computer editor for the box. AHGHSGSHGHH! Stupid! My back and knees are not talking to me; I was on the floor programing for hours. Ouch. Bad Line 6, bad! On the good tip, one is coming (by end November) and also they are porting some form of Guitarport with a recording app to boot. On the plus side for now; the Line 6 "Monkey" utility app to update everything is brilliant; hands off and no-brainer. Hook up USB to the XT Live; click the Monkey and it checks for updates, installs them if found and it all happens hands-free. Ahhh.

The Vox wins - it is a simpler device, and it is indeed easy-as-pie to tweak on the fly. They have software that works and is, well, available NOW!


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Amp Tones

Line 6 POD XT Live: 1
Vox ToneLab SE: 0

The Vox has 16 amps. Some Fender, lotsa Vox, Marshall, one Mesa and one Soldano. There is a wildcard - "Boutique" which is a Dumble model. (My favorite by a mile for clean tones). The SE excels at pushed cleans; tons to work with and lots to choose from. The "clean" cleans are a bit limited in number, but if you like the basic tone it puts out, you'll like this thing plenty. Its weak area is indeed the heavier tones. Much like the Valvetronix... it doesn't have much to offer. The Soldano model is virtually unusable; there is an extreme amount of hiss on that; no amount of creative knob twiddling could remove it; no cab simulation helped outside of the 8" Champ... but it sounded like poo. So what you have is good; but it is not a full deck IMHO. You can get a good clean, a good pushed clean and a good distortion; but heavier players will be extremely disappointed IMHO. With no upgrades, no "model packs" (Line 6 thing I'll get to...) you just have what you have.

The Line 6 is like another world; I'll cheat and admit I bought the two available "model packs" add-ons (for $98) and that gives you like 72 amps in the box. The range is dazzling, the tones are excellent. I'll state for the record I have owned POD 1.0/2.0/XT and sold them all. Overall, I felt 2.0 was better than XT 1.0 for a variety of reasons. With the XT 2.01 update in this thing; wow. Impressive. Cleans of every sort from Hiwatt to Roland Jazz to Fender (and lots of Fender flavors to boot) to even some sweet Marshall cleans if you keep the gains down. The accuracy of the models isn't my major concern; I just want a range of *musical* and *usable* tones. I am not replacing or substituting this thing for real amps; I just want TONE baby, real tone. Of all colors. You got it here. Dazzling stuff. Line 6 has always had the heavy end of things nailed squarely; now the mid-gain of Vox's shine better (extremely close to the SE's if not better(!)): the pushed cleans of the Tweeds sounds authentic and rich; the clinical dry clean of the Roland JC-120 is uncanny. Impressive and useful.

Score this one a slam-dunk-in-yo-face; the Line 6 has so much to offer (with more model packs supposidly coming yet...) that it is silly. The USB update and loading of the model packs with the Line 6 Monkey Utility is again a no-brainer. Simple as pie.


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Cab Tones

Line 6 POD XT Live: 1
Vox ToneLab SE: 0

The Vox has some nice sounding cabs... and some awful ones. The best of the cleaner type is the Tweed 4x10; it is great!!! The 4x12-75 is the mack daddy of the heavier tones.... but that is because the others are so lame, not because the 4x12-75 is so good. The 2x12 cab simes are okay at best. I found this to be one of the disappointments of the SE. Using cabs not so much because I dug them, but because the rest sucked is, well, not cool.

The Line 6 Cab Sims - in this XT 2.01 version; are very good. It is hard to pick one or another; they all sound pretty darn good. There are more to choose from; and very few are bad. Impressive.


The Line 6 runs away with this catagory.


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Effect Tones

Line 6 POD XT Live: 1
Vox ToneLab SE: 0

The Vox has good usable effects; they are not a weak point at all. The wah is great; the modulation effects are outstanding. The "Stomp" group are good, but here we hit the #1 negative on this product - you can have only one at a time. The Line 6 has this too; to a degree. But there is one thing in particular that knocks the Vox down... you have to assign your "pedal" group to the wah if you want wah. Well, I might want Compression and a distortion pedal for a lead boost..... AND a wah. Can't have but one of those due to the way the Vox is setup. Pffft.

The Line 6, which comes with the "FX Pack" loaded for free, is over-the-top with effects. It lacks some of the killer chorus that the Vox has, but offers so many things - including a wicked cool hold-and-sample feature - and so so so much more; that it is the easy choice. Because it regards Compression as a seperate thing for each preset (not part of the "Stomp"; "Modulation"; or "Delay" groups; you can add compression to any preset no matter what. Same thing holds true for Wah. That is a major feature IMHO and one that puts the Vox SE in a seriously bad position in this A/B comparison.

In short, the Vox is extremely limiting with what you can do effect wise; though its effects do sound damn good. Chalk this catagory up to the Line 6. BOOM!


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Feel

Line 6 POD XT Live: 0
Vox ToneLab SE: 1

The Vox's Ace-in-the-hole. No other modeling device I have ever tried or owned (and I mean pretty much everything date) has the feel of a tube amp. That elusive thing; I call it "bounce" or "pop"; you pick your own term - that you get interacting with the tubes/transformers/speakers. It has give, feel, pop, sag and bounce. The louder you crank it, the more you feel it. Well, the Vox SE is, in this regard, just like a tube amp. The Vox uses the tube in it not as a tone coloring device, but to drive a dummy load for the output of the thing, NOT the tonestack - MUCH the same way the EL-84's are used in the Guytron preamp. They drive a dummy load to give you the feel. It works, and there is no denying it.

Here is where Line 6 takes its lumps. The knock you'll read on Line 6 is that they sound less like an "amp in the room" and more like an "amp on a record"; the feel is flat. The tones are happening, but the "life" give, feel, pop, sag and bounce are NOT there as a player. When you listen back to a recording, you can't tell if it is there IMHO. When you are standing there playing, you can not ignore it.

In short, the Vox is the one modeling unit that gets the tube amp feel right; and the Line 6 does not. Simple choice. BAM!


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Wildcards

Line 6 POD XT Live: 1
Vox ToneLab SE: 0

I'll try to limit these to things not mentioned above:

The Vox has the following in its favor:
a) Carrying bag is included (it isn't top quality, but workable).
b) Balanced 1/4" outs; you can use a 1/4" TRS - XLR cable out to go to the snake for FOH.
c) LED is easier to read - not as much info, but bigger is better

The Vox has the following knocks:
a) No upgrade path
b) No "Model Pack" add-ons
c) Expensive as compared to the Line 6
d) Headphone jack is 1/8". Not a biggie, but there you are.
e) No Aux In.

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The Line 6 has the following in its favor:
a) Variax direct input; you can power your Variax with this and switch guitar models with the XT Live. Opens up incredible tonal

palettes. Impossible to ignore.
b) Easy upgrade path
c) Model packs upgrade options
d) The XT 2.0 "Post-EQ" feature. Perhaps the one thing that makes it all work for me - an independant POST quasi-4 band parametric EQ. If the tone is nailed, but you have fizzies - *poof* gone. This is extremely powerful and works perfectly. I am utterly impressed that they added this in; the Line 6 boards have bashed Line 6 over this for a long time; they can all relax now. It works, and it sounds great. Extremely useful feature; the one that "sealed the deal" for me.
e) 1/4" headphone out.
f) Aux in (though 1/8" input) you can plug in your IPod or a CD player and use it to jam along. Kudos to Line 6.
g) The price is a world beater. $400 or under? Ka-SLAM!

The Line 6 has the following knocks:
a) Software not available yet (mentioned above, but it sucks!!!) (10/11/04)
b) Carrying bag.... extra $$$
c) 1/4" outs are unbalanced. Not cool Line 6, shame on you. I need two DI's to run to FOH. Pffft.
d) Variax Cable is extra $$$.



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In the end, the Line 6 POD XT Live is deeper and offers more. The variety, better function set and superior depth of controls wins over the feel of the Vox SE.

Winner? Line 6 POD XT Live.

IMHO. Strictly.
 
T

Todd24

For the life of me, I cany figure out how line6 has failed at this. The nail pretty much everything. Mabye they just cant measure tube feel and therefore belive it does not exist?

Seems like they could add a virtual dummy load to the software and be done with it.

Thanks for the review, it fits in with almost every comparison of the Vox vs Line6 issue Ive read. Im gonna get one as a back up.
 

Jokald

Member
Messages
155
Exellent review Scott. I have not used either of these units yet, but I use a PODxt and shortboard regularly and also had an AD60vt VOX with the VC-12 (large) foot controller and I would think that both were reasonably close in layout. I loved the feel of the VOX but the layout and function of the footcontroller was horrible compared to the way Line 6 has it layed out. The thing with the VOX wah pedal assignment is infuriating, especially with two pedals. It was part of the reason I got rid of the rig. If you are going to have such a great looking footboard and have two pedals, one should obviously be a dedicated wah. If you can't tell it still makes me mad! The other downfall of the VOX was having to switch between making the footswitches run the presets and running the effects. Line 6 is way ahead in the layout of the pedals.
 

Jim Martin

Member
Messages
309
Thanks for the review, Scott. Exactly what I wanted to hear about them.

I know where you're coming from about the feel of the modelers. I don't know that I could reliably tell a modeler from a real amp on a recording, but I can tell when I'm playing through them.

I wonder if playing into a tube buffer (like a VHT Valvulator) in front of the XT Live would improve the feel at all?
 

SeeU 22

Member
Messages
318
"Okay, I have had a few days with each of these pedals so I'll do a quicky comparison."

I hate to see your long comparison if that was a quicky.

Thanks for the review Scott. I am quite excited to read this because of the last couple weeks I have been experimenting with my Vetta 2.03, both miced and DI to the FOH. I regularly gig a Bogner 101b so I am using that as a bench mark.

Modelling is to the point where they have become very effective tools for live performance and recording. This fall is pretty busy for the band and I intend on taking the Vetta out to our next gig for it's debut live performance to see how she hangs.

I read the review with a great deal of interest because I have been considering picking one of these units up for a back up for live use.

I am glad to read that they included the post eq to the XT live. IMO that is the avenue to getting a great tone out of the Vetta and I use it to some extend on all my presets.

My real quirk with Line 6, besides the feel issue, is why we need to use the post eq to get the models to sound proper. I have discussed this with other users and have found that our eq settings and generally similar. Leading me to believe that there is something missing in the modelling process.

Neil
 

brent

Member
Messages
1,118
Originally posted by SeeU 22


My real quirk with Line 6, besides the feel issue, is why we need to use the post eq to get the models to sound proper. I have discussed this with other users and have found that our eq settings and generally similar. Leading me to believe that there is something missing in the modelling process.

Neil
How are your settings similar?

I picked up the XTlive Friday and have just begun to mess with the post EQ, I haven't spent enough time with it yet but am getting passable and encouraging results, I would be interested to hear from Vetta users how they have implemented the post EQ.
 

cam

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
598
thanks for the review, scott. i'm looking forward to picking up the POD XT live myself.
 

SeeU 22

Member
Messages
318
Brent,

I meant that my Post Eq settings were similar to other Vetta users. I am not sure how the settings will translate to the XT Live. On the Vetta there is a patch called Cliffs of Dover which obviously is an Eric Johnson inspired patch. I use the post eq settings from that patch as a starting point for eqing my vintage hi gain tones( think 80's rock) which are the tones I feel that the line 6 gear has the hardest time mimicing.

I am going out to my rehersal space later today and I will write down some of the eq settings I use.

My main point in the previous post was that most experienced Vetta users know that one of the most important tools for a great tone is the post eq section. I always wondered if my ears were different than the folks at line 6. I also thought that maybe my guitars had certain harsh frequencies that needed to be cut. But I have concluded that some of the models just don't sound right unless you use the post eq to zap out some of the fizziness.

All in all I am really begining to like the Vetta and I am looking forward to picking up the XT live for home recording and to use a a backup live.

Neil
 

SeeU 22

Member
Messages
318
"thanks for the review Scott. I'll wait for the next version of the Vox!'

You might be waiting a long time. Although I would like to see Vox incorporate some of the Line 6's ideas into their product. Or better yet, when Vetta III comes out lets hope they include a tube reactor curcuit. That would be the ultimate.

Neil
 

brent

Member
Messages
1,118
thanks Neil

I've been building patches playing through a 20/20 poweramp and a pair of 1x12's. I find I have to approach each patch individually and that my EQ settings are varying a bit. I'm hampered by not having any rehearsals scheduled for the next 10 days or so, I really feel I need to hear this in context to see if I'm getting there. The fizziness is really easy to address with the post EQ but I'm having some trouble getting rid of some upper mid harshness in some models. I was curious as to what you were finding in context with a band. I'd love to have the XTLive to use as an alternate setup for some of the stuff I do. I figured if I would know from the other setting sif I was in the ballpark
 

retrospex

Member
Messages
279
Scott, my question is : does it make a difference in tone when you use different guitars with different pickups? I have never used a modeler and was wondering if the modeling amps can distinquish different guitars and pickups?
 

Scott Peterson

TGP Co-Founder and Administrator
Staff member
Messages
37,501
Originally posted by retrospex
Scott, my question is : does it make a difference in tone when you use different guitars with different pickups? I have never used a modeler and was wondering if the modeling amps can distinquish different guitars and pickups?
In a word - Yes. A huge difference. Same as any amp really.
 

Drunkagain

Member
Messages
614
Scott, question for you. I've been planning on putting together a modest pedal board for the last few weeks. All I'm using at the moment are a few old 80's Arion pedals I've had forever and I've been meaning to replace them with something better for awhile now. Since my delay just went to **** a month ago now seems as good a time as any.

In your opinion would the XT Live make a decent alternative to putting together a pedalboard? The price is certainly right considering the pedals I was looking at would have run me close to a $1000. I would be putting it in front of a Ampeg Reverb Rocket 2x12. I'm mostly just looking to give my sound some more options.

Thanks.
 

Scott Peterson

TGP Co-Founder and Administrator
Staff member
Messages
37,501
Originally posted by Drunkagain
Scott, question for you. I've been planning on putting together a modest pedal board for the last few weeks. All I'm using at the moment are a few old 80's Arion pedals I've had forever and I've been meaning to replace them with something better for awhile now. Since my delay just went to **** a month ago now seems as good a time as any.

In your opinion would the XT Live make a decent alternative to putting together a pedalboard? The price is certainly right considering the pedals I was looking at would have run me close to a $1000. I would be putting it in front of a Ampeg Reverb Rocket 2x12. I'm mostly just looking to give my sound some more options.

Thanks.
Yes - and if you think about it; it makes a great backup rig should your amp ever go down.

IMHO.
 

Drunkagain

Member
Messages
614
Fantastic! Thanks man, this saves me quite a bit of money. Of course I'll no doubt think of something else to spend it on.:D
 

avenerjimmie

Member
Messages
269
long time listener, first time caller. :) this thread's got me intrigued though, and so i've got a load of questions:

how does it work if you want to run it into an amp?
would it sound horrible straight into the front of your amp's clean channel?
would you be able to apply the unit's effects to your amp's tones, and then be able to switch to the unit's amp tones? i don't really see how this could work, but if it would be possible, it would be amazingly versatile.

i owned a vox ad120 and loved it for that versatility, but had to sell it for a few problems it had. i miss that convenience though, and i'm trying to figure out a way to combine the tone of my shiva half stack with the convenience of the modellers. i'm not opposed to having a-little-les-than-perfect effects tones, and i seriously want to be able to have piles of patches with set tempos on every effect without setting a whole rack system. would this be able to do it? thanks.
 

Scott Peterson

TGP Co-Founder and Administrator
Staff member
Messages
37,501
Originally posted by avenerjimmie
long time listener, first time caller. :) this thread's got me intrigued though, and so i've got a load of questions:

how does it work if you want to run it into an amp?
would it sound horrible straight into the front of your amp's clean channel?
would you be able to apply the unit's effects to your amp's tones, and then be able to switch to the unit's amp tones? i don't really see how this could work, but if it would be possible, it would be amazingly versatile.

i owned a vox ad120 and loved it for that versatility, but had to sell it for a few problems it had. i miss that convenience though, and i'm trying to figure out a way to combine the tone of my shiva half stack with the convenience of the modellers. i'm not opposed to having a-little-les-than-perfect effects tones, and i seriously want to be able to have piles of patches with set tempos on every effect without setting a whole rack system. would this be able to do it? thanks.
You are going to like the answers.

1) It can be run into the amp; it has a setting for output into different amps; and overall EQ correction to do so; you can match the output EQ to your amp/cab.

2) One big footswitch is for the amp/cab sim - easy to turn off in any patch. And easy to turn on. You can run the effects (they are grouped as "Stomp" "Mod" "Delay" "Reverb" (one of each)) to any given patch. And turn on/off any one of those effects "groups" at any time. On the fly. Tap Tempo; dedicated footswitch. Silent tuning; on the fly.

3) You can setup all the patches you want; rough the tempos in; and use the tap tempo to adjust on the fly if needed.

I have owned a Valvetronix 212, a Bogner Shiva half stack, and a Bogner Ecstasy Classic Half stack too. I know where you are coming from.
 

avenerjimmie

Member
Messages
269
awesome! i'm seriously considering one of these things man. there are so many good things about it. i'll have to play one through my rig of course, but i mean, a four hundred dollar back up amp/ effects rig that weighs next to nothing? i see no downside whatsoever.

on the shiva, your posts on here were actually one of the reasons i ended up getting the amp, and i have not been dissapointed. that amp is just a joy to play. the other guitarist in my band has a rake, and your positive words for that amp helped solidify that purchase as well. we both love them, and you certainly helped us make the decisions. figured you would want to know that. :)

thanks for the response by the way. i'm already feeling welcome.
 




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