Review of: Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler
Reviewed by: Gabriel TanakaRating:3.5On June 1, 2013Last modified:September 26, 2016
We were very excited about the Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler upon it’s release. The M9 combines over 100 of Line 6’s best effects in a single pedal, and up to three effects can be used at once. In theory it’s a guitarist’s dream come true, packing in 19 delays, 23 modulation effects, 17 distortions, 12 compressors and EQs, 26 filters, and 12 reverbs modeled after many of the best guitar pedals of all time. This could be the most versatile multi effects pedal ever. Does it perform? Is the M9 the best multi effects pedal you can buy? You’ll find out in our Line 6 M9 review.
Line 6 packed in all the effects from their classic Stompbox Modeler series, including the DL4 Delay Modeler, MM4 Modulation Modeler, FM4 Filter Modeler, DM4 Distortion and the Tonecore Verbzilla. This selection gives you an unrivaled amount of precision modeled effects in a single piece of gear.
Let’s put that into perspective.
Buying this insane collection of original stompboxes would cost you thousands of dollars. Even buying the original Line 6 modelers would set you back around $1000.
But the M9 gives you an insane collection of over 100 effects in a single box for just a few hundred bucks. Not bad at all. In fact, that’s pretty awesome.
So the M9 packs every single effect from the DL4, MM4, FM4, DM4, and Verbzilla…
for a fraction of the price? Yes, please!
So how does the Line 6 M9 compare to the M13 and M5?
While the M13 boasts the ability to let you use up to 4 effects at once, its immense size makes it impractical for many guitarists with less space for massive pedals on their pedalboard. And while the M5 offers the same great selection of over 100 effects, you only have access to one at a time. The M9 gives you the perfect balance with a significantly smaller footprint than the M13 and the ability to use up to 3 effects at once. Based on this comparison, many would argue that the Line 6 M9 is the best multi effects pedal of these 3 options.
So the M13 is monstrously huge and lets you use 4 effects at once…
while the M9 is super portable and still lets you use 3 effects.
Let’s get the detailed rundown of what the M9 offers.
19 Delays – Digital Delay, Analog Echo, Analog w/ Mod, Tape Echo, Tape Echo Dry Thru, Multi-Head, Sweep Echo, Sweep Echo Dry Thru, Reverse, Tube Echo, Tube Echo Dry Thru, Lo Res Delay, Digital Delay w/ Mod, Stereo Delay, Ping Pong, Dynamic Delay, Auto-Volume Delay, Echo Platter, Echo Platter Dry Thru
23 Modulations – Opto Tremolo, Bias Tremolo, Phaser, Dual Phaser, Panned Phaser, U-Vibe, Analog Flange, Jet Flanger, Analog Chorus, Pitch Vibrato, Panner, Rotary Drum, Rotary Drum/Horn, Dimension, Ring Modulator, Barber Pole Phaser, Frequency Shifter, Script Phase, AC Flanger, 80A Flanger, Pattern Tremolo
17 Distortions – Tube Drive, Screamer, Overdrive, Classic Distortion, Heavy Distortion, Colordrive, Buzz Saw, Facial Saw, Jumbo Fuzz, Fuzz Pi, Jet Fuzz, Line 6 Drive, Line 6 Distortion, Sub Octave Fuzz, Octave Fuzz, Boost Comp, Bass Octaver
12 Compressors and EQs – Red Comp, Blue Comp, Blue Comp Treb, Vetta Comp, Vetta Juice, Tube Comp, Noise Gate, Graphic EQ, Studio EQ, Parametric EQ, 4 Band Shift EQ, Mid Focus EQ
26 Filters – Tron Up, Tron Down, Seeker, Obi Wah, Voice Box, V Tron, Throbber, Spin Cycle, Comet Trails, Slow Filter, Octisynth, Synth-O-Matic, Attack Synth, Synth String, Growler, Q Filter, Vetta Wah, Fassel, Weeper, Chrome, Chrome Custom, Throaty, Conductor, Colorful, Smart Harmony, Pitch Glide
12 Reverbs – ’63 Spring, Lux Spring Reverb, Vintage Plate Reverb, Room, Chamber, Hall, Ducking, Octo, Cave, Tile, Echo, Particle Verb
Run up to 3 effects simultaneously (with 3 more on deck)
Dedicated knobs for each parameter
Universal tap tempo for all time-based effects
28-Second Looper with dedicated footswitches (Record/Overdub, Play/Stop, Play Once, Undo/Redo, Half Speed, Reverse)
Built-in Chromatic Tuner… bye bye Boss TU-3 and TC Electronics Polytune!
Heavy-duty all-metal chassis and footswitches
¼” Stereo or Mono Ins/Outs
2 ¼” Expression Pedal Jacks
True Analog Bypass or DSP Bypass
Includes AC Power Adapter
Now let’s dig deeper into this Line 6 M9 review.
Sounds & Performance:
I un-boxed it, plugged in the ins and outs, plugged in the AC Adapter, and I was good to go. Operation is very self-explanatory.
Push one of the A or B footswitches under any FX UNIT column to select and activate an effect bank. Then use the model select knob to select the effect you want. Pushing the knob lets you switch effect types (delays, mods, etc.). Then you simply adjust settings as desired like any other stompbox. It’s really that simple.
Be sure to visit the Preferences screen to select your routing preferences. Notice that the 3 effects columns read from left to right (i.e.: 1, 2, 3). You can adjust the effects routing to go in order from 1 → 2 → 3 or reversed to 3 → 2 → 1. Using the second option gives you that right to left feel of typical stompbox chains.
Having a backup effect on board is very convenient. Imagine you’re using 3 different effects across the “A” row. You could have a Distortion going into a Modulation going into a Delay. On the “B” row you could have a variation, say an Overdrive, another Modulation, and a Reverb. That way even though you can only use up to 3 effects at once (more than enough in most cases), you still have 3 other options easily selectable during a performance.
Another amazing possibility with this pedal is activating 3 effects and creating a unique new “super” effect. Use a single button looper pedal or the footswitchable effects loop of your amp to select the M9 with 3 unique effects engaged for insane possibilities. You could create a whole new sound with this little trick. The possibilities are endless.
Sound quality is pristine and clear. There’s a flavor of effect here for everyone.
I really enjoyed using the Screamer and Classic Distortion for lead boosts. The Heavy Distortion can take a clean amp to very usable tones for metal styles. Overall, there’s a great dirty sound for anything you’re looking for. The distortions are reasonably warm and responsive considering they’re digital emulations.
There’s a great selection of modulation effects including choruses, phasers, and flangers, anything you need to add some dimension to your sound. Try the Ring Mod or Frequency Shifter for some extreme sound-shaping. Not for the faint of heart. You can get classic to ultra-modern with the M9.
I was very pleased with the delay effects on offer. Many people have praised the DL4 Delay Modeler, and I’ve seen guitarists who use up to 4 of them in their rigs. All of the renowned delays from the DL4 are here in their glory although the algorithms are started to sound a little dated compared to offers from the new leaders in emulated delay algorithms. I really enjoyed dialing in rhythmic staggered delays with the Stereo Delay. I also love the Lo Res Delay and the various Echo effects on board.
The Filters are great. There are some really cool auto-wah-style filter effects and great synth sounds. There are several wah emulations to be found as well. Hook up an expression pedal (or two), and you’ll surely find a great wah sound on board. Also, I have to report that the Pitch Glide sounds just as good (if not better) than the latest Whammy. Don’t tell Digitech.
The Compressors and EQs will color your sound nicely, adding in some nice dynamics. There’s even a Volume Pedal option. And of course the Reverbs on board will add further dimension and character to your sound. The ’63 Spring will take you back, and the Particle Verb mangles your sound nicely.
My only concern with the Line 6 M9 is the durability of the hardware. During my first outing with the Line 6 M9 at a rehearsal, our unsuspecting drummer somehow stepped on the top of the pedal and jammed the main control knob, disabling my ability to scroll through and select different effects. The pedal was out of commission before we even started playing! (Fortunately, a friend at a local guitar shop was able to make the necessary repair to get the M9 up and running again.) The protector bar that’s guarding the delicate plastic knobs is a sign that Line 6 is aware of the potential danger that a clumsy foot may cause. My personal concern is that if my Line 6 M9 couldn’t make it through its first rehearsal, how would it fare during extended performing and touring? Solid sounds but with questionable build quality does not a great pedal make. But with the sounds being pretty decent for a multi-effects pedal, the Line 9 M9 may still be worth a look, especially for beginner guitarists looking for some solid sounds to accompany their online guitar lessons.
Let’s see the final result.
The Line 6 M9 does it all. Purists may want to have the collection of gear, but the practical player will be grateful for such an immense collection of quality effects in a single pedal. Its perfect size will make sure there’s room for it on nealry any pedalboard. It may just be the only stompbox you need. The control knobs may be flimsy and its algorithms a little dated, but the Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler is a fun pedal with plenty of cool sounds. As for whether it’s the best multi effects pedal you can buy, not quite. Let’s hope Line 6 someday overhauls their algorithms and makes a step up in build quality..
That concludes our Line 6 M9 Review. Thanks for reading.
Want to buy the Line 6 M9?
September 15, 2016 at 6:58 pm
Still the best multi fx pedal period ! Versatile and easy to tweak, the Swiss Army knife of fx pedals. No other pedal does it all like this one !
January 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm
How does this compare to the Zoom G3? I’ve heard good stuff about both of these multi-effects pedals–I’m curious which one I should add to my pedal board.
July 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm
A great review and very true. BUT…
Let me point out some reality in gigging the unit.
Have you noticed that you can’t physically tap a fast tempo for any delay model? I’ll tell you why. They have set a maximum speed below what we require in a band situation. To understand pick any tap tempo delay unit DL4, echo farm etc but try their own. You can tap tempo any beat tat is possible with your foot. Try the M9. Hang on there’s a cut off point! You have to learn to tap n eighth notes to achieve the results and what live musician can do that or would want to learn to tap in another time value. How many owners have actually noticed? Not many I bet but surely something as important as that for live use would be picked up? I don’t think I have the fastest foot in the world!
Another point. You can not achieve those great sounds of the big box units eg DL4, DS4, try it. Try and get the MXR BOOST COMP setting on the DS4 or the same fantastic feed backs of the DL4 or the cutting square wave term on an MM4. Sounds like simulations of simulations.
This is all probably because the original guys who came up with the cool shit to start with have gone. What we’re left with is technology and companies so big they stop listening to the end users.
In all honesty I like a lot of things line6 do but the sacrifice of the ‘cool shit’ puts me off.
Yes it as advantages but do they outweigh the compromises for people namely guitarists who get off on the sound and how it inspires them.
End of rant.
Ps they are aware of this in California but they won’t do anything about the first point. I suppose the 2nd is a matter of opinion.