This is my review of the Line 6 Catalyst 100 1×12 100W Guitar Combo Amplifier.
I have been following Line 6 for many years and own several Line 6 products, including the Line 6 HELIX. It was with great pleasure that I researched their latest Catylist series of various combo amps. This review focuses on the 100 W version (other models include the Catalyst 60 1×12 and the Catalyst 200 1×12).
My verdict? The Catalyst 100 combo guitar amplifier is a fine, good looking amp with excellent sounds and effects, ideal for live and home/studio. Some high-gain sounds are a bit muddy, but this is not a problem when you connect the amplifier directly to the PA during live performances.
In this article I will briefly outline the history of Line 6, the control panel and connections of the Catalyst 100, the amps sounds and the effects that the Catalyst has to offer, the customer reviews and some alternatives, before I come to my conclusion. Let’s go!
Line 6 Catalyst 100 – Overview
|Type||Modelling Combo Amplifier|
|Weight in kg||14,5 kg|
|Modelling combo||Can function as both a traditional amplifier and a modeling amplifier.|
|XLR line output||Professional connection to PA or recording devices|
|Effects loop and Power Amp input||Connections for integrating external devices|
|Catalyst Edit app||Edit options on desktop and mobile devices|
|Power attenuator (half, 0.5 W, mute)||Reduced volume|
About Line 6
Line 6 is one of the original pioneers of digital amplifier models. Their history goes back to 1996 with the introduction of the AxSys 212 a combo amp using two 12″ speakers. A few years later, the company made its final breakthrough with the POD, making amp modeling more widely known among guitarists.
The modeling technology has since gone far and wide and is housed in a large number of products, including various amplifiers, the Variax guitars, multi-effect pedals and rack processors. The award-winning HELIX effect processor has become an industry standard for professional guitarists worldwide. Line 6 has become part of the Yamaha group and with the Catalyst has returned to the beginning: the guitar combo amplifier.
Catalyst Combo Amp Series
The Catalyst series consists of affordable two-channel amps that pair state-of-the-art HX voicing technology with guitarist-friendly features and easy operation. Next to the 100W versions, there are 60W and 200W versions released.
The 100W combo looks sleek and good: the deep cabinet houses a 12-inch Line 6 HC100 speaker designed specifically for the Catalyst. The size of the ceramic magnet suggests that this amp has no lack of headroom.
Control Panel and Connections
The electronics are mounted in a rugged U-shaped chassis attached to the rear of the enclosure, with one side of the U forming the control panel. The control panel looks familiar and after the input gives you the choice between the six original Line 6 amplifier sounds and various flavors of reverb and delay. In addition, of course, a three-part tone control with presence, a boost option and the non-programmable master volume control. This thing shines in terms of ease of use. Turn it on, tweak a few knobs to your liking and you’re ready to go. Tweaking the panel is simple and quick.
Nice extras are the built-in tuner and the tap tempo option that can also be controlled from the front panel. On the back are a power switch with the choice of full or half power, 0.5-watt and even a mute option for silent recordings and a usb ‘b’ connector. Also an aux in and headphone output, along with a graceful effects loop and a convenient direct output with balanced XLR (with speaker simulation).
Line 6 Catalyst 100 – Amp Sounds
The Catalyst offers six sounds from the acclaimed HX collection: Clean, Boutique, Crunch, Dynamic and Hi Gain. Realism and responsiveness of all these models are impressive and with the right settings indistinguishable from a real tube amp, even at low volumes. Each sound has its own switchable and programmable boost. For live use, I recommend connecting the xlr output to the PA, as some high-gain sounds have a lot of compression added to them and otherwise sound a bit muddy.
The overall sound quality of the amp is excellent. They aren’t precise reproductions of any certain amplifier. Each of the amp models has its own distinct personality and vibe. The boosts are matched to the amps and, for the most part, appear to work well together. Be mindful that if you have single coils, the boost on the high gain amp will necessitate the use of the noise gate…
The effects are also good and varied. There are 18 in total, divided into three groups (Delay, Modulation and Pitch), each with its own color code. In addition, there are six more types of reverb. You can save a composed sound in the A or B channel by pressing the corresponding button on the control panel. The Catalyst is easy to operate. The (optional) footswitch with channel selection (A or B) and boost will probably suffice, but it is also possible to switch programs via midi. And of course you can also directly control the Catalyst manually. In addition, there is a possibility to control the Catalyst via the USB connection using the Catalyst Edit app. This way you can also download extra sounds from the Line 6 CustomTone marketplace. In addition, you can access the direct output speaker cabinet modeling via the app (choice of three speaker cabinets and 16 microphone options).
Like the HX, the delays and verbs are wonderful, but the modulations are a little bland, and the pitch effects are at most mediocre. The MIDI implementation is a very useful feature. MIDI CC can control almost everything, and also gives you access to the amp’s presets.
Line 6 Catalyst 100 – Customer Reviews
This amp has a good selections of basic amp models. I like all but the high gain model. There are a wide selection of effects and reverb options and each is tweakable. I find myself experimenting with all of the different tones you can get from this amp and using effects I have not used much in the past. It is really entertaining.
I think this amp excels in the cleaner tones and like most of the reviewers, I especially like the boutique model. There have been a lot of comparisons between this amp and the Katana amps. I used to have a Katana Artist and I found the tones in it to be a little sterile. The Line 6 Catalyst seems to have a warmer feel that I really like.
It’s got great sounds and with MIDI it can be an incredibly versatile amp that can cover just about any musical territory.
I am an old school guy who played nothing but a JCM800 for the incredible tube tone and overdrive, but this amp not only brings back my memories of tube bliss but opened the door for every possibility of amp sound with effects built in. I now have 5 guitar amplifiers that will never get used again and will be up for sale soon!
- Amp models sound nice and are responsive for a modeler
- Power attenuator is a great feature to allow use at home without blasting everyone out of the house and the sound does’t suffer at lower power settings.
- Rugged enough to take out to gigs.
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- Direct out to feed into PA.
- MIDI: to get the most out of it you really need some form of MIDI foot controller.
- Loud enough to jam/gig with no problem.
- Can only use one effect and reverb at a time.
- Can only run the delay or the modulation or the pitch at one time, not together.
- Foot-switch not included.
Alternatives to Line 6 Catalyst 100
Boss’s Katana amplifier series offers remarkable tonal flexibility. It features a variety of onboard effects as well as an adjustable power stage output, ensuring a rich-sounding tone at all times. Players can save their favorite settings to eight distinct memory patches (two banks of four each).
This 100-watt combo amp packs a punch while yet weighing in at only 27.5 pounds, thanks to ID:CORE technology and stereo 10″ speakers.
With Blackstar INSIDER’s advanced editing capabilities and the community section’s ability to publish and receive patches, the user has endless tonal possibilities.
Verdict of the Line 6 Catalyst 100
The price of $350-400 of the Line 6 Catalyst 100W is really reasonable for the amp you are buying. For the money, this is a lot of auditory bang. It doesn’t have all of the effects that most other modelers do, but the amp models alone make it worthwhile. The Line 6 Catalyst is simple to operate, but still has plenty of options for tweaking. The sounds and effects of this combo are inspiring and challenge you to play better and get the most out of it.