In an addendum to its well-known line of guitar and bass PODs, combo amps, and amp/cab stacks, the Line 6 company recently launched four stompbox-style effects units. All share features like heavy-duty metal cases with slick metallic paint jobs, four high-quality stomp- switches, recessed control panels, stereo inputs and outputs (except the DM4), battery/wall-wart power options, and accommodations for the company’s Expression pedal, which allows users to quickly bounce between settings on any Line 6 pedals in the signal chain.
We tested the DM4, DL4 and MM4 pedals through our house gear – a ’73 Fender Strat, a ’62 reissue Strat, and a ’94 Hamer Studio through a Peavey Delta Blues combo and a ’70s Marshall half-stack.
The DM4 distortion modeler features a host of all-time popular vintage distortion and fuzz pedals, along with modern high-gain distortions.
Now, if what you want is a pedal that does a good job of reproducing authentic tones – especially old-school tones – the vintage distortions from this unit may be just what you’re looking for. The Screamer (which emulates an Ibanez Tube Screamer) setting was very accurate in producing the slight overdrive so useful in adding sustain and drive to the Marshall’s distortion. The Tube Drive (Chandler tube drive) was also a very faithful copy, with genuine 12QAX7 tube overdrive feel. The Facial Fuzz (Fuzzface) setting followed suit with tons of fuzz that, when combined with amp distortion and other effects, gave us a great Hendrix sound.
The Line 6 “original” drive and distortion settings were good stand-alone distortions, with lots of gain. Other settings include Octave Fuzz, Big Muff, Jet Fuzz, Tone Bender Box, and Metal Zone.
The DL4 delay/echo modeler emulates vintage tape echos, analog delay, and modern digital delay. It also offers a handy 14-second loop sampler for recording tracks and phrases.
Our favorite setting on this unit was the Tube Echoplex, which uncannily reproduced good ol’ tape flutter and saturation, and threw in some tube overdrive to boot. The multi-head tape setting duplicated a Roland Space Echo with multiple tape delays. The analog delay (Boss DM2) sounds very warm and compressed, like the original. The reverse echo setting was cool, letting you play that reverse-tape sound (i.e. Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” intro). The pedal’s stereo “out” lets you plug into two amps, so you can generate the stereo and other effects to full, umm…effect!
The loop sampler, with some practice, could be used quite effectively for harmonies.
Aother notable feature is the Tap Tempo button, which lets you set delay times on the fly.
The MM4 modulation models 16 vintage and new effects, including our favorites, the Univibe, tri-chorus, and rotary drum and horn (Leslie).
The “U-vibe” (Univibe), when used with the optional Expression Pedal, gave us the same control as the original, letting us go between a wet, wide-sweeping chorus to a machine-gun vibrato sound. The Tri-Chorus impressed us with full and spacious chorus – without a lot of pitch de-tune. Other effects include phasors, tremolos, flangers, and even a ring modulator!
All three units were easy to use, quiet, and had a variety of good, usable sounds. They fill a niche between ordinary stompboxes, which offer no presets and very limited control, and hard-to-use/confusing rack effects and multi-processors.
On all boxes, favorite settings can be stored in each stomp switch, by holding down the switch for five seconds (in lieu of a plain ol’ “store” button). Vintage pedal buffs will love that you can set the controls just like those of the original pedals (i.e. single tone knob, or seperate treble and bass knobs, etc.). Fun, fun, fun!
Line 6 DM4, DL4, and MM4
Type of pedal(s): Effects modelers of vintage and digital effects including flange, chorus, overdrive, distortion, rotating speaker, etc.
Features: Cast metal housing with heavy-duty stomp switches, true bypass,
Contact: LIne 6, Inc., (818) 575-3627, www.line6.com.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Sept ’01 issue.