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Line6 M9 in the effects loop

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Digital Larry, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    I have two tube amps set up side by side always on into my mixer via XLR.
    Laney L5 studio has XLR DI built in, analog cab sim.
    Mesa/Boogie Express+ 5:25 goes into a Two Notes Captor-X for load/cab sim.

    I wanted to add effects loop type effects (phaser, chorus, delays, reverbs) to the two amps and decided to re-buy a Line6 M9. This is a stereo unit so I can just route that to the 2 amps' mono FX loops.

    I had one for a number of years which I sold last year when I got my modeler, thinking I'd never need it again. But with these tube amps I do need something. Silly me! Got one used for about $200 at GC and I can return it within 45 days.

    The issue I'm having is that some of the patches really sound bad, as though they have a thick layer of digital fuzz on them. And others sound "ok". Now, I do understand with the M9, they are modeling some old tube and/or tape delay which sound like **** on the best of days. Maybe that's all that's going on here and my expectations are too high. However, I recall some Space Echoes in my distant past and they did not sound this bad or nobody would have used them.

    Initially I tried it with the Boogie, then I switched to the Laney. Seems like I get a bit more clean headroom here. However in either case I can get enough level to eventually start distorting the unit. The issue is, sometimes you want to goose the channel level because that's how you dial in the basic toanz in this thing.

    I realize that when playing through a DI one is no longer bound by "that's so loud my ears are bleeding" which used to be ONE way that we judged gain. And I'm thinking that it is likely possible to goose the preamp level so that the FX loop out will distort whatever's in the loop.

    There are no clipping indicators anywhere. The Laney DOES has a 0 dB/-10 dB level switch on the FX loop which is promising (I had it set initially on 0, will try it again on the other setting).

    Boogie's manual says "effects loop works best with rack units". OK so I get that I shouldn't put a Fuzz Face or wah pedal in the loop. btw I already have a separate input FX chain that is individual pedals. I just move the cable when I want to switch which amp I'm using.

    Now, for $200, which is less than some single pedals, if I can get a handful of OK sounds I'm not too upset. At the same time I wonder if it's possible to put that money towards something better. I've looked at HX Stomp and the TC Plethora... OK but also 2 to 3 times as much $$$$.

    Whattya think? Should I take up stamp collecting?
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  2. doghouseman

    doghouseman Tele-Meister

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    in your head man....
    Lots of questions here, but are you trying to run a stereo setup? Because there are better ways to get stereo spread, and easier.

    Try at first just going out of the M9 and directly into your two amps.

    Then you need to listen to see if all of the effects are in stereo. Some are and some are not.

    Running the XLR of your amps creates a layer of complexity that most people dont bother with for stereo setups
     
  3. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    Ah, no, the question is not about stereo although I get what you are saying.
    The whole purpose of this FX unit is to be post preamp. The fact that it's a stereo unit is incidental at the moment. It's simply that I can run the same unit to two different amps, which means that I can separate the effects/amp business conceptually. It's not quite as easy to do that with the modeler. wrt to XLR, this is all part of a recording setup and it's actually working pretty well.

    My question really is mostly to do with setting levels and trying to avoid distortion in the M9. I know that if I run my guitar directly into it, likely I won't be overdriving it. But what if the Boogie FX send puts out 12 V peak to peak when I have my toanz dialed in just so? Well, I have a scope, I can always check to see what's really going on. Just wanted to gauge other people's experiences.

    Thanks!
     
  4. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    The M9 is "instrument level" and from what I see it has no option to set it to "line level".
    if you hit the input of the M9 from a Mesa effects Loop (line level +4) it will produce the horrible "digital fuzz" sound you are hearing.

    You say your Laney has a 0 or -10 setting.... trying it at -10 would be your best best but still no guarantee it will work. Unless you find a way to attenuate your Boogie's effects send it can't be used.

    The newer Line 6 HX Effects has the ability to accept different input levels.
     
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  5. doghouseman

    doghouseman Tele-Meister

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    in your head man....
    boogies have really weird effects loops. I think mostly they are designed for rack units.

    Yes, as the previous post says, you might have to change the M9 effect levels. I am sure it can do that. For the boogie, it might have to be really hot, I am not sure.
     
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  6. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the replies. One thing for sure is that "Sweep Echo" is really sensitive to signal level, BUT the funny thing about it is that if I select the "Dry Thru" option, the dry bit stays OK as far as I can tell, but the echoed part fuzzes out at higher levels. So it's not an overload of the input ADC. And other delays do not sound quite this way either. I'd made an FV-1 effect some years ago that is similar (you put a sweeping filter in the feedback path of a delay) and it was not all fuzzed out like that as long as you didn't clip the thing. Since the filter is resonant there's always a chance of clipping. Without a little LED to blink it's hard to tell if it's intentional or not.

    The Boogie's gain value sets the clipping level and the master volumes are really weird in that there is hardly any change over the last 50% CW rotation, like they are using a linear pot. Which they might.

    If there's an option to set the levels I am sure missing it. There aren't that many screens and the online manual doesn't say anything about it. The HX Effects, yes. Now there may be one of those in my future as well. I looked quite a long time at the TC Plethora also. That one looks cool and the interesting thing about it is that they are promising and delivering firmware updates with requested features. THAT is really unusual IMO.
     
  7. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    Here's an interesting tidbit of info... the Boogie's effect loop is totally post input channels, which makes sense. The master volume has no impact. I plugged my 2 HB guitar directly into the Boogie's effect return and even with just that I am able to get some mildly crunchy sounds out of it. Now there are a lot of things in the chain (Captor-X, mixer, etc.) so I need to check this all carefully, but I do have a scope and it should be possible to see power amp distortion.

    I also plugged directly into the M9 to run the sweep echo from the guitar, just to see... but then I heard the distortion leading me to confirm the above. So if you process reverbs in the Boogie's effects loop, they're likely to get additional distortion, I mean cough cough WARMTH, from their trip through the effects return. Can anyone confirm or deny?
     
  8. DeepDangler

    DeepDangler Tele-Meister

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    You could get an EQ pedal and run it post effects loop for just the mess and use that to cut the volume to bring it down to line level.

    If you only need a few effects, I’d personally just buy a few stereo Boss pedals rather than play with a multi FX unit.
     
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  9. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    I'm going to do some tests today with the M9 just for laughs.
    a) Go directly into the front with a guitar and out the back to the mixer to try to get the optimum "clean" sound.
    b) Use my Peavey Tele copy, ASAT Special, and Italia Maranello (2HB) to cover the range of pickup output levels.
    c) Try the M9 in the FX loop of the Eleven Rack (which is switchable between -10/+4 IIRC)
    d) Try the M9 in the FX loop of the Laney M5
    e) Plug my guitar right into the FX return of the Laney M5
    f) Put the two amps on the back porch turned up as loud as possible, play a lap steel through a Boss synth pedal putting out parallel 4ths, see how long it takes the neighbors to tell me how much they love it.

    I've been looking a lot at the Line6 HX Effects box - looks ideal for what I've got going on. Even has a configuration to integrate with two tube amps! Not sure what might happen if those amps are not the same variety.
     
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