Spider III Spider Jam
jeff.beck, on august 11, 2008 6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 449.99
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features: This amp boasts a 12" Celestion speaker with a 2 inch tweeter for a full audible range. Because of Line 6's software, these speakers can reach dizzying loudness not usually seen in midrange-Watt speakers. These speakers are hardy enough to withstand the signal from a bass without any damage to the system (the manual states that it supports bass as well). The amp has several ports for extremely convenient use. A guitar/bass input allows users to plug in their main instrument and combine it with the effects and such built into the amps software. An Auxiliary input allows a second instrument such as another guitar, bass, or keyboard. It cannot access all the same features as the main input, but can use effects such as compression. An XLR input allows for the use of a microphone easily and has its own dedicated volume knob. The volume knob is great because you can bring down your volume to just under the clip without having to access the software's menu. There is also a CD/MP3 input that uses a 3.5mm size jack. This is very useful when learning songs on your amp as you can have your music directly in front of you. The amp has recording features that will allow you to record the song onto an internal memory for easy access as well. Not used, but worth mentioning, is an SD card slot for downloading updates onto the amp. There is also rumor that this might also be used to store user's recordings on external memory, but there is not yet any confirmation of this from Line 6 as of when this review was written.
There is a 1/4 inch jack for headphones or "POD 2 Style direct out" that. The amp is exceptional as you can still get the full tonal range with headphones as you can without them. There are also two RCA jacks in the back that will allow you to play backtracks/drumtracks/recordings through separate speakers and your lead guitar will be blasted though the amp. There are over a hundred artist and factory tones (most of them AMAZING) that range from glassy Jazz to Metalcore to just plain weird they call all be altered and saved as user-tones. There are hundreds of jam tracks/drum tracks that are factory defined. These are particularly great as they are real studio recorded tracks, not MIDI like you'd find on most guitar accessories. The bad part about this though, is that you cannot change tempo or pitch without effecting the other. For example, if you turn up the speed of a jam track, you get the "chipmunk" effect as everything will get high-pitched. The best part of the amplifier, and actually the main reason I bought this amp over others, is the recording and looping features. The interface allows you to play with a jam track/drum track, without, and loop your signal. After recording, if you so wish, you can remove the drum/jam track, change several of the settings, and record over the existing track (which can be deleted if so wanted). The only negative part to the recording that I could find is that you cannot alter you track via the interface. For example, you cannot crop your track for seemless looping, you cannot merge two samples together into one track, and you cannot change the effects after recording.
This amp proudly has wonderful amp modeling features. Unlike other modeling effects I've heard, these are high quality. For example, I can go from the exact tone that Satriani used in Always with Me, Always with You, play some creamy Blues tones like Stevie Ray Vaughn, then thrash it up with some Metalcore with Killswitch Engage. Chorus/flange, phaser and tremolo, the amp lacks the ability to change the effects parameters individually, which prevents you from isolating the exact sound you want. For example, turning up the Tremolo increases it's depth and speed. The chorus isn't very creamy as well. It works well for the amp modeling, but not as a lead effect. The other knob features time effects with tap tempo. There is delay, tape echo, and sweep echo. Delay, standard, is easy to use and is over all a pretty well done effect. The others, like the first effects I told you about, don't let you control each parameter, therefore, your Sweep Echo can get really tinny if you turn it up too much for a longer decay. The reverb is pretty decent, but a broader range of controls and settings for it would be nice. Very noteworthy is the noisegate. It is not noticeable as it doesn't cut your really quiet sounds, but it keeps the amp completely silent when your aren't playing. Sadly, it isn't magic, and it will not stop those string squeeks, sorry newbies. It is set up as a default on the amp, so it isn't really known by sales reps and most players (unless you play with the settings quite a bit).
This amp has a pretty easy to use interface. Because of the large quantity of features, it takes about an hour to learn them all, but they are easy to remember afterward. It all operates off of buttons and knobs: one directional pad for scrolling and selecting, five buttons, guitar/aux, drum/jam, tone, and settings as well as save. There is also an oversized knob that is used for scrolling and selecting as well (this is faster than the directional pad). There are your basic controls: trebel, mids, bass, master volume, channel volume, and drive. Also, there is one power switch. There are also three DSP effect knobs, one modulating (chorus, flange, tremolo), one time (delay and echos) and a reverb knob. The best knob (my favorite anyway), and the most unique is the amp modeling knob. It has 12 different settings for 12 different amp models. The only downside that I can find to this amp is that, because it is a D-class, you cannot modify it like you could a Fender or a Raven. "D-class" amps are purely digital, they do not feature any analog controls. // 9
Sound: I have got five electrics (A Fat-Strat, Les Paul, Ibanez, and two handmade), two acoustics (a Crafter electro-acoustic and a cheap starter guitar), a bass, four keyboards, and an electronic drum kit, all of which work amazingly well with my amp. The only buzz that this amp produces is a small hum when headphones are plugged in. I don't know why it does this as the amp is solid-state and doesn't need to stay warm. It doesn't buzz when I have my television set or radio next to it, which is nice. The amp is able to put out any tone that you can think to make it emit. Unlike Fender, Marshall, or Crate, this amp doesn't have a set tone. To be a bit more specific, when you listen to a record, you can usually tell what type of amp an artist used by the way it sounds. Line 6 amps don't have that same quality, they can achieve anywhere from a heavily influenced sound to a true bypass. Another "testimony." As I mentioned above, there is a CD/MP3 jack for playing your music as back-track; the audio that goes through that jack and coming out the amp is compatible to an expensive sound system as the amp can put out audio without effecting the overall tone.
The amp models are supreme. If you were to desire the sound of an Ibanez blasting through a Blackface, you can get it with a turn of a knob, a Fender Deluxe? just another turn of the knob. The models are so good that I can take an electro-acoustic guitar and run it through one of the harsher Metal models and it sounds amazing. The clean channels do not distort at high settings as far as I know, but I imagine it will as it gets played in a bit more. The distortion varies on which amp model you use. The "Green" Insane model is the most brutal as far as distortion goes and gets the heaviest. The distortion on some of the Crunch and Metal settings is really nice too. // 10
Reliability & Durability: I have not used the amp professionally, only as a practice amp for tuning my chops and song-writing. Therefore, I couldn't say if it is safe to carry around for stage playing. I'm sure it's safe for bars and clubs, but I don't know about anything else. Because it is a solid state, D-class amp, it doesn't require really any maintenance. Just the basics-keep things clean with compressed air and Windex. If you blow a speaker due to an over boosted signal, replace the speakers, but there isn't much else. // 10
Overall Impression: I play Classic Rock, Prog Rock (ie Rush), Blues, and any song that happens to catch my ear. Because of my wide range of playing, this amp was perfect. I've played for about six years and I have champagne tastes in my instruments, and I love this amp for it's overall quality. I have several electronic instruments, five guitars, a bass, because of my champagne tastes (and beer budget), I research my instruments and such thoroughly and compare them to similar products on the market. As a result, I knew about nearly everything this amp had to offer. // 10
Spider III Spider Jam
3-R4Z0R, on february 14, 2011 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 550
Purchased from: local store
Features: Most features have been described by jeff.beck before me, so I won't go through them all, just add some sidenotes to what he said:
As far as connectivity goes, it's all there that you need: Guitar in, mic, aux, CD in, headphones out, line out and a connector for an FBV pedalboard. There's unfortunately no effects loop, but as I'm not much of en effects guy, I can't complain about the lack. The Aux-connector is meant for keyboards and is affected by channel volume and probably also EQ of the amp and can't be used at the same time as guitar input.
The user interface is well made and easy to learn as most knobs are self-explaining anyways. After a while, most things can be achieved without looking at the LCD (i.e. when I don't wear my glasses), like setting tempo of the backing tracks.
And this is where we get to the features that I like most about it: The backing tracks. There are both whole backing tracks and simpler drum loops. All of them are recorded in studio quality and offer a wide variety of things, from regular 12-bar blues to exotic ambient stuff and hardcore metal. Personally, the drum loops are where it shines most, since I love to use those either to practise stuff for my band or use my own guitar loop together with a drum loop and improvise over them. It's the main reason I bought this amp (apart from liking my older Spider3 at that time). // 8
Sound: Now that I've had this amp for more than a year, I can say that the quality of the amp modelling is much much higher than in the Spider3 15W and 30W models (which I don't like at all any more). I usually use the red metal channel and the green insane channel for rhythm/lead and green crunch for rock and red clean for pristine cleans. I can't really comment on the effects, as I rarely use them, but they are decent, though not always that versatile.
Additionally the speaker has "broken in" and produces very pleasant tone, even at higher volume (in my room with Alpine hearing protection).
Overall it seems to me that the Spider Jam doesn't have the Spider3 modelling but rather the Spider4 modelling, especially since it's got 12 models and not only 4 like on my old Spider3 15W. The effects models are more dated than the Spider4's, since Line6 has ceased to release updates to this amp (though I can't complain here, I haven't even updated to v2.0 of the firmware yet. // 9
Reliability & Durability: During the time I've had the amp, it has never let me down. I've had it in my room most of the time, but have carried it to friends a few times. I'd say I could depend on it under any circumstances and would gig with it if I could gig. With 75W, volume headroom should be enough for any gigs I'd play anyways. I'm pretty sure that this amp will be able to last many years (20 years?). // 10
Overall Impression: Playing mainly rock and metal with this amp, I'd say this amp is a good match for me. I especially love the integrated drum loops and the ease of use with those (one press on a button and you can start rocking... having an FBV Shortboard as well is especially rewarding with foot-controlled recording).
I'd definitely recommend this amp to anyone who needs a useful amp for both practising and an occasional gig and would buy it again, since it's never let me down. // 9