Music Thing: Line6 Toneport Range

Toneport UX2

Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment:

Line6 certainly aren't shy of offending the pro-audio fraternity with the marketing hype for their new Toneport range of audio interfaces. "In minutes," their website blabbers, "You'll be creating sounds that typically take an entire studio, an expert engineer, and a huge hourly rate to pull off!" You can hear the forums fuming from here.

There's no shortage of interfaces to connect a PC/Mac to guitars, monitor speakers, and professional microphones that need phantom power (a 48v DC current passed down the microphone cable to power an on-board pre-amp). Apple never did get round to releasing their widely rumoured "Asteroid" box (unless you count that as the iControl), but Focusrite, Harmony Audio and many others produce workable boxes with various bells and whistles. So, what can Line6 bring?

Well, they?ve got a nice-looking design (if you like black plastic and VU meters) and their good-but-old-news guitar amp modelling algorithms are built in. New in the Toneport are emulations of some very, very expensive vintage studio gear. It?s one doing a passable digital emulation of a distorted Marshall guitar amp ? quite another thing capturing the subtle sound colouration from a Neve 1073 pre-amp or a API - 550b equaliser. Aside from a few software plug-ins, the only other people doing this digitally are Focusrite (again), whose Liquid Channel is a $3,000 analog/digital hybrid which claims to model a whole range of vintage pre-amps and compressors.

The two toneport units will be launched in Winter 2005. The UX1 is $129 (no phantom power, no VU meters) and the UX2 is $199. Check out more here.