Line 6 HX Stomp Review
Verdict and Review Summary
Though the interface learning curve is a bit steep, the HX Stomp is one of the most powerful and best-sounding multi-effects pedals we've ever tested. It's hard to resist wanting to just let it replace your entire rig, which it can easily do.
The Line 6 HX Stomp is a multi-effects processor offering a ton of the features and sounds from the extended Helix family. Players already familiar with the Helix range will be able to jump right in with the footswitches, menus and color-codes which mirror those of previous products. In the case of the HX Stomp it's in a compact, small-scale format, with up to eight blocks of effects processing and some fantastic onboard presets.
The HX Stomp can be integrated into your existing pedalboard as an effects stompbox, hooked up to an amp’s effects loop using the four-cable method, or used as a standalone/backup rig by plugging straight into a FOH speaker system with amp and cab emulations.
It can also be used as an audio interface.
An interface with a steep learning curve notwithstanding, its value is solid given that it can replace entire pedalboards and/or entire rigs while likely adding more versatility.
We'll take an in-depth look in our full Line 6 HX Stomp review.
Quick HX Stomp Review Card
BEST FOR: Rig replacement, recording, delay and ambient sounds, amp modeling, styles with a lot of clean tones, and pedalboard consolidation.
- Onboard presets give you pretty much everything
- Ambient sounds and delays are incredibly good
- Digital models don't sound cheap
- Color coded switches are always helpful
- MIDI controller really opens things up
- Addictive and fun to tinker with
- Navigating the display is a significant learning curve
- Difficult to adjust on the fly
Tone Quality of the HX Stomp
Line 6 was one of the earliest developers of amp modeling and multi-effects gear dating back to the original PODs and the Spider amp series. Fast forward to the HX Stomp and you have a vastly more powerful and better-sounding box. There are a ton of effects included and nothing sounds bad.
Bonedo's HX Stomp YouTube Demo
I'd recommend checking out Bonedo's demo of the HX Stomp. He always does a fantastic job.
I liked the ambient sounds most, particularly the delays I got from the existing presets. A lot of them were combined with involved reverb algorithms and pitch shifting. These all melded together well and sounded really good.
Distortion and fuzz sounds were good, but not quite as satisfying. As we often point out, it's usually better to get distortion from a physical amp.
Read more: Should I get distortion from a pedal or amp?
If you're going to use the HX Stomp as a full amp replacement, it's going to sound best when playing more of a clean-centered guitar style.
As a result, a lot of people use the HX Stomp for church and worship bands.
But overall, the algorithms and digital models sound great. There's just nothing to complain about, especially when compared to the tones of years past. Digital models are becoming increasingly competitive with analog circuits, and Line 6 has been at the tip of that spear for a long time.
Strengths and Features Overview
In this section we'll go over some of the other strengths and highlight some features in the HX Stomp.
Inputs and Outputs
The HX Stomp includes the standard quarter-inch stereo TRS in and out for hooking up instruments and other pedals, plugging into amps, or sending a balanced signal to FOH sound systems. These inputs and outputs are preconfigured to take instrument level, but this can be switched to line level in the Stomp’s global settings.
The headphone output can be configured as a separate send, and the HX Stomp also receives and sends MIDI. There’s a USB out for using the Stomp as an audio interface (more on that below) and for updating your firmware. New updates are frequently being released by Line 6, so I'd recommend updating, at least a few times a year. There’s also downloadable firmware included for importing IRs and managing your patches.
Read more: Helix and HX series download page
Line 6 HX Stomp Display
I found the HX Stomp display to be a bit small and hard to figure out, at least at first. The screen display is basically just a mini-version of the Line 6 Helix display, and is divided into two sections controlled by two different knobs and menu buttons, with three more knobs underneath the screen.
As mentioned, it takes some glancing at the instruction manual to figure out how to select effects for your own presets (aside from testing onboard presets, that's all I really wanted to do). I even pulled up a few YouTube videos to help me get oriented.
A lot of times I found myself tweaking knobs that I though would change something but just didn't do anything.
But once you go through the interface a couple times, it gets easier to use.
Onboard Presets and Effects
The HX Stomp has 126 total presets and over 300 effects including electric guitar, bass, and acoustic guitar sounds. These are arranged by instrument type and application (direct to PA, effects only, four-cable amp, etc.) making them easy to navigate and add to banks in Play View. In terms of effects, there’s a huge range with both newer and ‘legacy’ options. Again, I really enjoyed the wide range of delay algorithms with the Transistor Tape, Cosmos and Adriatic Swell delays producing some really unique sounds.
Line 6 HX Stomp Price and Value
There are several factors that give the HX Stomp an edge in the value department. First, it includes the same powerful effects and presets as the HX Effects, while also including the amp and cab blocks which the HX Effects lacked, which is how you can use it as a standalone rig without the need for external amps or cabs. The fact that it contains these mods that the HX Effects does not (while being smaller and cheaper) is really impressive.
My Line 6 HX Stomp Review Conclusion
The HX Stomp’s versatility and sheer range of presets and effects make it a great choice for a wide range of guitar players and multi-instrumentalists. Its amp integration possibilities make it a good fit for both studio and live performance roles. The price would probably make it a risky option for beginners, so we'd recommend early intermediate players and higher in terms of skill level.
And like we talked about in the tone section, styles with more clean tones are going to be particularly well-served by the HX Stomp. Let us know your thoughts about the HX Stomp in the comments below, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any help setting yours up.