When the Lowdown Studio 110 bass amp came up for review around here at L2P, I was pretty amped, (okay – excuse the bad pun, it’s been a long week for me). But lately I’m doing almost daily bass gigging and rehearsals and I am VERY excited about the new big-sound-small-package gear that’s been coming out the last few years. Did I say very excited? I meant ecstatic. Nothing takes its toll on you as a working musician more than the constant gear haul.

Though the name might fool you into believing the Studio 110 is really just designed to be a souped up direct box for your home recording setup, believing that would be an enormous mistake. Packed into this 25 lb, 75 watt, one 10” speaker little powerhouse are a truckload of great tools that make this little amp a contender for MVP in the working musicians toolbox.

Let’s start with what Line 6 is best known for – the modeling. The 110’s most noticeable feature is the four pre-set buttons on the top panel. Each a model of a classic amp, which include the Eden Traveler (Clean), a 1968 B-15 Flip Top (R&B), a 1974 Ampeg SVT (Rock), and an SVT overdriven with a Tech 21 Sansamp PSA-1 mixed with direct signal (Grind). In addition, the Clean preset has a hidden model called Brit based on a 1968 Marshall Superbass that can be accessed by holding down the Clean and R&B buttons while powering up. Tweaks to the pre-sets are savable by holding down the button for a few seconds and waiting for the blink confirmation.

Paging through these options, you’ll find that all of them sound great and offer a wealth of tonal options and mimick the original so well that you won’t believe your ears. More importantly, the massive amount of tonal choices offered by the Studio 110’s second line of offense – drive, EQ and compression – are astounding. Seven solid and smooth as silk knob deliver options for drive, bass, lo-mid, hi-mid, treble, opto comp, and master volume. The opto-comp is modeled after the LA-2A® Compressor. Unlike a lot of onboard compressors, the opto-comp doesn’t sound cheap or crappy. Nor does it totally squish the life out of your sound or playing. More punch and sustain and a more directed signal focus are immediately apparent.

But that’s just the beginning.

Line 6 takes the power of small one step further in the 110. Hold the R&B and Rock button down simultaneously and the 110 delivers up a seriously badass bass synth model, and converts those same seven knobs into a twiddlers delight. Change cutoff, resonance, envelope, attack/decay, and the waveform (you have 9 to choose from). From spaceships to booty shaking funk filters to driving Radiohead-like lead lines – the palette seems almost endless. In the studio, it’s pure tonal joy. Plug in the XLR out and shut off your keyboard bass because you’re not gonna need it anymore. For once someone has delivered an easy access affordable experimental tool for bass that puts the power of the real instrument back in the studio. This is perhaps why they named the thing “Studio.” I was more than happy to dump the MIDI on my last project and connect the 110 and just go wild with real-time live string playing. Heaven.

Other features include a -10db attenuation switch, ground lift switch, CD/mp3 player 1/8” input, headphone jack, and ¼” preamp out. Add to that the endless number of real-world applications it delivers and the Studio 110 is worth far more than what you’ll pay for it.

I’ve gigged with it in small to medium rooms, an outdoor beer garden, and a medium sized lounge open to the casino floor plugged into the PA and in every case the guys can’t believe how good it sounds and how much it pumps out. Rehearsals are a breeze without sacrificing power or performance, and the CD/mp3 jack is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time – clean, clear and well balanced. You can even use the Studio 110 as a mini sub onstage or at rehearsal for your drummer so you can really lock in when the rocking gets hard.

There’s only a couple things that could improve the 110 – most notably being a footswitch for easy travel between presets and a few extra effects, but those things are offered on the LD150, LD300 Pro, and LD400 Pro in slightly larger cabinets if they were deal breakers for some players.

In a blaze of maximum bang for your buck, Line 6 really delivers on the Lowdown series, and in particular, the Studio 110,  providing working bassists with features out the wazoo at a working player’s price. Gone are the days when your choices were full-size rig or crappy practice amp.

This baby is an absolute must have.

Line 6 Lowdown Studio 110
MSRP: $419

Originally posted 2010-09-13 22:15:13.