When Line6 released the Amplifi bluetooh-enabled combo amp I lifted one eyebrow but not two, because I’m an elitist snob running a gear website so why should I be interested in anything you can buy at a major retailer? Too common, you know? Wait, let me crack open this obscure microbrew…
Refreshing. Alright, so the idea of the Amplifi lingered in my head like the bitter aftertaste of a strong IPA, and I started thinking about guitar amps that double to blast your favorite albums. Traditionally, a guitar speaker and a home stereo speaker have been two entirely different designs. This simplifies things a bit, but in a nutshell a music speaker is designed to reproduce the full spectrum of sound with only a hint of positive coloration, while a guitar speaker specifically targets frequencies to cut and others to boost, in order to optimize its response for your instrument.
But the times are changing. With the advent of modeling amplifiers, the need for dedicated “guitar” speakers is less crucial. After all, most digital amp sims model the cabinet in addition to the head. Sure, some are better than others, but the technology is getting better all the time.
So are Line6 ahead of the curve with the Amplifi? Take a look at the combo’s visual design: it’s been styled to gel with the feng shui in your living room, not your music room. The amp seems marketed towards two disparate types of guitarists with oddly similar needs: younger players with very little space (either in college dorms, or freshly graduated in tiny apartments), and settled-down occasional guitarists who can’t justify the purchase of a dedicated amp but needed a stereo in that room anyway so “hey let’s get one I can plug my guitar into.”
Now I’ve talked about the Amplifi before, and it actually does have a 12″ guitar speaker in addition to other cones that optimize the unit for music playback, but I want to broaden the discussion. In general, is the idea of ditching your standalone guitar amp (just at home, not at gigs) appealing? Would you rather have less boxes, less electronics: just a pair of speakers (or an 8.1 surround sound system, or whatever you play your music on) that everything comes out of: recorded tones and your slick sweeps alike? Or are you a purist, either from skepticism of our digital future or simply nostalgia for the tube amps of yore? Personally I think a pristine Mark IIC combo amp would fit the color scheme of my living room nicely, but I’m not sure if my one bedroom apartment can spare the footprint on the floor. How about you?