We met the Powercab family when Line 6 dropped the 112. It proved to be a hip, loud, lightweight way to amplify modelers of all stripes, with what Line 6 describes as an “amp in the room” feel and response that is difficult to come by in the digital realm. The Powercab’s big sibling has arrived in the form of the 500-watt stereo Powercab 212 Plus, a full-featured, high-end solution to amplify your modeling device. I tested it with a Line 6 Helix, a Kemper Profiler Stage and my trusty old SansAmp Tri-OD pedal.
The Powercab 212 Plus is a beautiful-looking amp, with a classy grille cloth, understated logo and sexy rounded edges. It has a comfy rubber handle as well as cutout grips on either side, but at only 47 pounds (thanks to its neodymium speakers), it’s an easy schlep with one hand. Connections are straightforward: 1/4-inch or XLR ins, or, with a Helix or Pod HD, an L6 Link cable for a fully digital signal chain. There are stereo XLR outs, MIDI in and out, USB connectivity, and that’s it. The top panel has two knobs for volume and speaker selection, a home button and a save button.
The 212 can be operated in Flat mode (FRFR) if you want to use the speaker sims in your processor. If you want to save some valuable DSP, you can peruse the 12 onboard speaker models, which evoke classic designs as the names Vintage, Green, Cream and so on would suggest. But that’s not all. You can mix and match the various speakers for cool combinations, and you can load third-party impulse responses (IRs) for even more flexibility. Any combo can be saved as a preset and called up via MIDI.
I first plugged in the Kemper Profiler Stage with a Boogie profile, using the Kemper’s cab sim and running the Powercab in Flat mode. It sounded huge and felt great, way cooler than playing through a powered monitor. Despite their full-range capabilities, the Powercab’s speakers are guitar speakers, and they react like them. I auditioned the onboard speaker models after defeating the Profilers, and many of them were quite good. I found myself making subtle adjustments to the Profiles to bring out the best in the speaker sims. Flat mode sounds so good with the Kemper, though, that I might just choose to run it that way. After all, if it ain’t broke…
Although you can use the Powercab 212 Plus with any modeler, it really is the ultimate companion for Helix. I connected one via the L6 Link XLR cable and went to town with a Marshall-style crunch tone with a ping-pong delay. It sounded big and mean, and I could really hear the stereo-ness of the delay, even though both speakers are in the same cab. Here’s where things get really interesting: In addition to its stereo operation, the 212 Plus can also be run in dual mono, which can take two-amp patches in the Helix to a freaky-cool level. Think about it: You have a tone with a big Engl Powerball–style tone on one side and a sparkly AC30 sound on the other, and now you can send the Engl to a Vintage 30–type speaker and the Vox half to an Alnico Blue...or any other speaker. And this can all be saved and called up instantly on a gig. It’s pretty mind blowing.
From that state-of-the-art rig, I went to the other extreme and plugged my SansAmp Trio-OD and a delay into the Power cab. And you know what? It sounded great. It was funny to look at that little pedal while hearing a monstrously loud tone in the room. And talk about a convenient backup rig on a gig if, heaven forbid, something went weird with my fancy equipment.
The Powercab 212 Plus is a very well-thought-out piece of gear that addresses a big need in the industry: how to best amplify modelers. Running into the effects return of your tube amp is flawed at best and isn’t really what modeling devices were designed for. As attractive as it might be to think you don’t need an amp and can just rely on wedges or in-ears - “because then you’re hearing exactly what they’re hearing in the house, bro” - that has never worked for me. I still need an amp onstage. And why, when you’ve spent $1,500 or more on your modeler, and countless hours dialing in your sounds, would you want to amplify them through a cheap little monitor? This cab is loud, lightweight, smart looking, super-flexible and stereo. It’s the most guitar-y solution for unpowered modelers that I’ve tried. If you’re really all-in on modeling technology - as more and more of us are - you owe it to yourself to try the Powercab 212 Plus.
Powercab 212 Plus
PRICE $1,399 street
CONTROLS Volume, select
SWITCHES Home and save buttons
I/O 1/4”/XLR combi inputs x 2, XLR outs x 2, L6 AES/EBU in and out, USB port, MIDI in and out
POWER 500 watts
WEIGHT 47 lbs.
KUDOS Great “amp in the room” feel and response. Ample volume. Perfect solution for amplifying modelers