Line 6 DL4 MKII Delay Pedal Review
Verdict and Review Summary
All the original ambient models of the DL4 are included, plus 15 new MKII algorithms, all based on the HX series. Additional features we've wanted like MIDI control and additional presets have also been included. Line 6 absolutely delivers on a tough act to follow with the MKII, albeit 23 years later.
All of the modeler pedals from Line 6 have gone out of production - except for one. The popularity of the Line 6 DL4 has literally spanned decades, and has been one of the best-selling digital delay pedals of all time.
It has stayed in circulation long after its release year, not unlike the Boss DS-1 and EHX Small Clone.
People just keep buying it (myself included) and for good reason. For those interested, we've published a thorough review of the original Line 6 DL4:
Read the full review: Original Line 6 DL4
Now, we have the long-awaited reboot of that pedal - the Line 6 DL4 MKII - delivering new modes from the HX processor algorithms, and features that we've complained about not having in the original DL4.
This is our full Line 6 DL4 MKII review.
While we make every effort to thoroughly research or buy/test the pedals we review, it's important to keep in mind that these are the ramblings of lunatics, are probably wrong, and therefore opinion. Take them with a great of salt, especially when you share in the comments section.
Compare to Similar Preamp Pedals
As we review pedals, we collect ratings that help with simple comparisons of the pedals at hand. In the table below, we have both DL4 pedals while adding a couple more from Strymon and Walrus Audio. If you want to add more pedals to compare, click one of the compare buttons and use the plus sign in the corner of the bar.
The compare buttons will also pull each pedal up in a table for a quick look.
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Line 6 DL4 MKII
Line 6 DL4
Strymon Timeline Delay
Walrus Audio Mako D1 Delay
Pricing from Popular Vendors
Price updated Mon, October 02nd, 2023.
Pricing Table (Amazon only)
Price Alert Tool (excluding Amazon)
Price History (excluding Amazon)
Price History for Line 6 DL4 MkII Delay Modeler Pedal
|Current Price||$329.99||September 29, 2023|
|Highest Price||$329.99||July 17, 2022|
|Lowest Price||$249.99||February 2, 2023|
Last price changes
|$329.99||August 4, 2023|
|$249.99||May 26, 2023|
|$329.99||April 3, 2023|
|$249.99||February 27, 2023|
|$329.99||February 27, 2023|
IDEAL FOR: Fans of the original DL4, ambient modeling, recording, playing live, dressing up clean tones, lead and rhythm guitar alike, MIDI-controlled rigs
Overall Tone Quality
As I mentioned, we break the delay algorithms into two categories, giving us a massive total of 30 algorithms. Those two categories are essentially the old and new delay modes:
- 15 legacy modes (the original Line 6 DL4 tones)
- 15 MKII or HX modes (the new Line 6 DL4 MKII tones)
There's more emphasis on combination effects, with reverb, modulation, and pitch-shifting worked into several modes, especially on the MKII side. Everything just sounds cleaner, more pristine, and more refined. The legacy modes are still fairly similar to the original, but they seem to sound better as well.
The quality of digitally modeled effects overall, especially ambient pedals, has gotten dramatically better since the release of the original DL4.
Plus, the algorithms in the HX series are just top notch.
Porting those to the new DL4 was a great move, bringing some continuity and consistency to the Line 6 series, and giving the DL4 MKII its most significant upgrade in the process.
We'll get in to some of the tone characteristics and distinctions below.
First, we're a big fan of Bonedo's demos. He always does a fantastic job and doesn't do any talking in his vids. We've embedded that video below if you want to hear each algorithm (he covers all thirty).
Algorithms are one of either pure delay, or a mixture of delay/reverb, delay/modulation, or delay/pitch shifting. There isn't a single effect that sounds bad or unusable. Everything is applicable in at least some context.
The pedal is very rhythmic, almost as much as it is ambient. It's certainly not a reverb-heavy delay pedal, though it does work some reverb ambience and trails in on certain modes.
I'll break down each aspect of the tone separately.
As I mentioned, most delay modes are punchy and rhythm heavy.
The new labeled time and note division knob is extremely helpful for dialing this in, and the tap tempo is an absolute must. If you're looking for more of an ethereal delay pedal with more emphasis on ambiguity and reverb, this might not be the best fit.
Even then, we wouldn't deviate from recommending it.
Yet the delay algorithms shine brightest when used in a rhythm context.
Sounds are very clean and full, almost with a crystallized sparkling quality. When you do hear modulation or additional ambience, those take a back seat to the base of the delay effect.
Modulation in the MKII is subtle and more "liquid" then a typical chorus pedal. It just kind of adds an ambiguous layer behind the delay effect, and really helps to dress up a clean tone, where you might want a little less definition and a sound that's harder to discern.
Additional Reverb Trails
When you add reverb to delay you get an intensely ethereal sound that does a good job of following the timing of the base delay effect and doesn't overpower the sound. Again, it's great for adding layering and ambiguity, thus further expanding the already fantastic sound of the delay.
Adding pitch shifting is where you get some really unique sounds and bouncing patterns. Combining this with delay produces almost a laser-like tone quality, which is distinctly heard after the original dry notes are played.
Control and Versatility
There are three main areas of control where the DL4 MKII has been improved significantly over its predecessor:
- Timing and subdivision labels
- More presets and MIDI controls
- Tap tempo LED indicator and preset selection LED indicator
Otherwise, all the original controls are still intact. The Tweek and Tweez knobs are back, which change functionality depending on which mode you select. Usually they function as a rate and depth modulation control.
Just like in the original DL4, you have dual functionality in each footswitch that controls the looper. As I alluded to previously, I never really used the looper in the DL4, so it was kind of a waste for my rig. But for those that do/would use the looper, it's pretty intuitive and easy to control.
Note that there's also a button for switching between legacy modes and the new MKII modes.
Though you can set presets and switch between any combination pretty quickly
There are six onboard presets, doubling the three we had to work with in the original DL4.
That was one of my main complaints about the original, so this is a feature that I'm probably most excited about. If you add a MIDI controller, you can get up to 128 presets, plus the onboard six.
Read more: Best MIDI Foot Controllers for Guitar
How it Compares to the Original Line 6 DL4
At this point we've covered most of the distinctions between these two pedals. Unless you want the classic and retro vibe of the original DL4, the MKII has made it so that you have no real reason to buy the original.
Everything we love about the original DL4 is still there, with spot on corrections that we've been wanting for years.
Here's a quick list:
- 15 new algorithms based on the HX series
- MIDI control
- More presets
- LED Indicators
- Smaller form
- More expression pedal options
Overall Value (price)
If you buy the original DL4 knew, which I would assume is going to get more difficult now, you'll spend about $250.
The MKII bumps up to $330, which is a significant price increase.
Though you can't ignore the dramatic improvements in the MKII, and you can't really fault Line 6 for pushing up the price. With a slew of new features - digital and physical - there's no doubt that it's costing them more to produce the MKII.
With that in mind, the current asking price for the MKII is completely fair.
Ideal Fit and Context
There are some guitar players that just don't use a lot of delay, or they have a simple delay pedal where they don't need to do much tweaking. The MKII (and the original DL4) are overkill for those people. However, those guitar players are the exception and not the rule.
Most guitar players who use delay rely heavily on more advanced features and sounds, especially a good tap tempo, a decent amount of presets, and plenty of algorithms to choose from.
If that's you, there aren't many situations where I wouldn't recommend the DL4 MKII.
It's great for recording, performing, and everything in between.
Line 6 released the original DL4 in 1999. A lengthy 23 years later, and the follow up is absolutely spectacular.
By the way, thanks Wikipedia for using our photo.
We'll get some original pictures for the new MKII as well.
For those thinking of buying, it's a bit of an investment at $330, but we're comfortable recommending it in most situations, and would always recommend it over the original DL4 - unless, of course, you want the nostalgia and the cheaper used pricing ($120 in some cases).
If you have questions about the DL4, the MKII, or our review process, hit me up in the comments section below and we'll chat.
See you there.