Does the current Line 6 M5/M9/M13 have a good bass synth effect?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Headlands, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. Headlands


    Feb 19, 2011
    I've found much older posts that say the synth FX on it aren't that good, but they might have improved it over the years, so I'd love to hear from people who have the most recent version of it (either the most recent software/firmware or an actual newer unit). I'm thinking of getting a 2016 model used that I found, but only if it has a decent Micro Bass Synth - like synth effect.

  2. J Posega

    J Posega Cat Dad and Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'd wait it out and see if Line 6 updates the M series at NAMM, otherwise everyone seems to like the synth FX in the Zoom MS60B and B3, which is being replaced with the new B3n.
  3. I have a m5 that I mess with at home but never gig with. While the m5 is great at a lot of effects, I'm just not a fan of the dirt and synth stuff in it. It's strengths are really delays and reverbs IMO. It's also a great pedal to have for effects you might not use a lot for example phaser, flanger, chorus, tremolo. It has a boss slicer type of effect that's actually pretty cool.

    For nice synth tones I prefer combining multiple pedals. An analog octave into a fuzz is a nice basic synth sound. And you can add other pedals for example a filter pedal like an envelope filter or a prunes and custard to make it even more synth like. A tremelo at the end to chop it up is also pretty cool
  4. I find the octave down to be stellar on the M5. That's one ingredient of a great synth sound at least.
    adamaarts and jbybj like this.
  5. Nunovsky


    Sep 4, 2004
    Quantized Harmonic and adamaarts like this.
  6. Headlands


    Feb 19, 2011
    Thanks for the great replies, all. And of course, I need to try these out before buying. :) Interesting to see that last's, well, a great "real" synth sound! I would like to have some great dirt and envelope FX to be able to get the Micro Bass Synth sound (the tracking on the Micro Bass Synth is not to my liking, and you can't get an actual pure "synth" tone on it like you seem to be able to in the M5 video above). But if the dirt and filter/envelope FX are not up to par on the M5 I'd like to try to find a multi-FX that has that, but I might not be able to. I personally have very little need for chorus/flanger/phaser, reverb and delay, which are at the bottom of my list of what I'd need in a multi-FX unit. I could probably add one or two other pedals to the M5 to get what I'm looking for, too.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  7. kurotenshi


    Jun 27, 2009
    Amadora, Portugal
    SourceAudio Endorser
    I use the synth / Pitch section on the M9 a lot. So IMO yes!
  8. The M series will probably never be updated at this point, so I wouldn't wait for it. That said, the existing versions have a lot to offer if you spend enough time with them. Most of the Mod, Reverb, and Delay effects are good to very good. Most of the dirts are not good without a blender. The filters are not good with bass, they are voiced too high and aren't thick enough. The synth voices and octaver are usable if you cater to them. It took a lot of twiddling and making sure my technique was squeaky clean, action just right, etc. It is definitely possibly though. Check out Chris Hargreaves and Submotion Orchestra for the best examples of Line6 bass synth. He uses the PodHD500 (which comes with M series effects) and has a massive sound.
    kurotenshi likes this.
  9. Headlands


    Feb 19, 2011
    Thanks Jason. Your comments echo what I thought when I tried it out tonight at GC. Not a contender for me, overall. I might take a look at the new Zoom B3n and see what's happening there.
  10. I love the synth sounds on the M9! With careful tweaking you could get a good range of sounds. I was partial to the Attack Synth, Synth String and Synthomatic engines.

    I will say that they are pretty wild sounds that will require you to play around their limitations. I say try it!
    jasonmitsch likes this.
  11. Also, Line6 has MIDI and Zoom doesn't.

    Forgot to mention Boss SY300. Worth checking out as well. Best tracking by far.
  12. waveman


    Sep 25, 2008
    I had the Line 6 M5 and M 13. No, Their synth, compression, and dirt are not good.

    Just messing around, the Zoom MS-60B/B3 is pretty decent for the price.
  13. I have an original Zoom B3 and MS60b. They are both very versatile and usable pedals, but have some limitations that I don't jive with 100%. I still use them for certain applications, but the M series works better with my ears and workflow.

    My thoughts on the Zooms:

    Dirts are brittle and sizzly like many digital devices, usable only with eq.
    Comps are better than Line6, but too squishy for my tastes.
    Filters sound way fatter and better voiced for bass, the M Filter and Z Filter really stand out.
    Synths sound fat and good, but the tracking lags just a little too much to feel right for me.
    Delays and Reverbs are good, but tap tempo requires an external device or input, and that doesn't jive with me.
    Mods are more usable than the Zooms because almost all have a blend or hipass option.
    Octaver is decent, but not impressive.
    Pitch shifting is horrible and basically unusable. Unless you want a glitchy warbly out of tune sound (maybe sometimes?).
    On the B3, the Bit Crusher is a hidden gem. It sounds great and gets 80% of the awesomeness of my Mobius Destroyer. The other 20% gets lost live anyways, and the Mobius does 1000 extra things I'd never apply to a bass track.

    Numerically, it would seem the Zooms beat Line6 for me; but I'd still grab the M5 or M9 first. I use enough other pedals to overcome their shortcomings, and the M series interface is more intuitive to my workflow.
  14. I forgot to mention a major component:

    Expression pedal!

    The B3 has a lot of useful expression features, but is somewhat limited based on its interface.
    The M series has limitless control of each parameter through expression. This is probably the biggest selling point for me. The M5 receives 1 exp input, and the M9 receives 2 exp inputs. One heel toe sweep can shift +1octave, vibe depth from min to max, and filter from closed to wide open. Or the reverse! or any other combination. Expression inputs of the M series is the true strength of these devices.
  15. The M5 on its own may not offer an adequate synth patch, but as others have noted it has some solid ingredients to help get you there.
    jasonmitsch likes this.
  16. Headlands


    Feb 19, 2011
    FYI: I checked out the new Zoom B3n at NAMM yesterday. It was on headphones so I could only use their amp models (that's not something I would typically use live, but...), but the guy there told me they redesigned the entire thing from the ground up, with new modeling technology for all of the "pedals". It sounded damn good, I must say, especially in comparison to the Zoom B3 I tried out a couple days ago (also on headphones). The bass synths are definitely better (with really fantastic tracking), and most of the other "pedals" were from pretty good to great. The sonics overall were definitely better compared to the previous model, to my ears. The interface is kinda wonky, but that's just my personal taste.

    Since I simply can't go the route of tons of pedals at this time because of the portability aspect, I'll probably grab one of these in March.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  17. Pacodelivery


    May 25, 2014
    I agree with the consensus that the standard order synth sounds on m series are lacking, though combos can work. I do find, however that the synth strings sound is usable, in some limited situations.