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October 20, 2010

Line 6 POD HD 500 Review

The new Pod has arrived, after three long years of waiting — ever since the launch of the Pod X3, which provided the same models as its big brother, the Pod XT, and thus disappointed most guitar players. This time, Line 6 engineers have been really busy developing new models to be hosted in three new pedalboards. We tested the flagship of the range: the Pod HD 500.

The new Pod HD Series includes three products: the Pod HD 300 ($330), the Pod HD 400 ($400) and the Pod HD 500 ($500). The main differences between them are the number of integrated effects, the memory size of the loop recorder/player and the connections. We will examine thoroughly the Pod HD 500, the flagship of the series that provides about one hundred effects, a 48-second loop recorder/player, 16 new “HD” models (join the hype!) and comprehensive connections.

This new series does away with previous models which were beginning to show their age. Behind the rather surprising “HD” label, you’ll find new models that will take up the biggest part of this review.

Line 6 POD HD500

But let’s start by unpacking the pedalboard, whose design takes after its older brother, the Pod X3 Live: a display on the left, an expression pedal on the right, pots on the top and footswtiches at the bottom. “Why change a winning horse,” you ask? Specially considering that the Pod X3 Live had pretty good ergonomics… “Old” users won’t be put off, quite the opposite! The plastic chrome knobs (a bit cheap, I must admit) have been replaced with black knobs that feel a bit more confident. The expression pedal is also new and seems quite sturdy. On the contrary, the quality footswitches are the same and the unit is still very bulky. But considering the number of footswitches (12) and in/out connectors it has, we can hardly imagine how the manufacturer could have made it more compact… The look of Line 6 products becomes drier every year, which is not a bad thing. The Pod HD 500 has less chrome than its older brother and its dark gray metal housing makes it more trendy. The unit looks rugged enough, even though the plastic encoders (protected with a metal rod) and the multi-directional button on the right of the display seem flimsy.

Now, let’s take a look at the rear panel of the device…

Connectors, Connectors, Connectors

Line 6 POD HD500

You’ll immediately notice that the Pod HD 500 has very comprehensive connections: the rear panel sports 20 connectors. Inputs: 1/4″ jack for a second expression pedal, guitar input, 1/8″ jack for a CD/MP3 player, aux input for a second instrument, XLR mic input with input level control, and Variax input for the Line 6 guitar, which provides many advantages. Note that the mic, guitar, Variax, and aux inputs can be freely assigned to one of the two signal chains. In short, you can connect two guitars and get a fully different sound for each one.

Outputs: line outs on unbalanced 1/4″ TRS jacks and balanced XLR connectors, headphones out, and a so-called “L6 Link” you can use with the DT500, the manufacturer’s new amp. The L6 Link allows you to control up to four amps(!) with the footboard and vice versa. In this case, both units are synced and the amp will even have the ability to switch between different modes (class A, class A/B, biasing method, negative feedback…) depending on the preset selected in the HD500. Moreover, if you play a Variax guitar, you’ll have the possibility to control everything with your feet. Not bad, hey! The HD 500 also features a coaxial S/PDIF out delivering a 24bit/96-kHz signal.

Line 6 Pod HD Edit

An effect loop is also included: one stereo TRS 1/4″ jack for FX send and a pair of mono TS 1/4″ jacks for FX return. A selector allows you to choose stompbox or line level for the FX loop. Perfect! You also get MIDI in/out connectors as well as a USB port that allows you to use the Pod with a digital audio interface and also edit presets with the POD HD500 Edit software (Mac and Windows compatible). This software editor allows you to easily manage and edit presets thanks to its well-achieved GUI. All settings are transferred to the Pod in real time!

Do note the lack of an on/off switch, which means the device is on as soon as you connect it to the power outlet. This solution is not very practical for home use but it can avoid unwanted switch-off problems on stage!

Also notice that there are three switches on the front panel that affect the connections: one activates a pad to attenuate the guitar input level in case your active pickups are too powerful for the POD; another one, called “XLR Ground Lift,” allows you to avoid ground loops in the XLR outs; and the last one allows you to select line or instrument signal level for the 1/4″ outputs so you can connect the POD to the guitar input of your amp.

Now, let’s take a look at the settings and browsing…

Conclusion

Line 6 is back with a new pedalboard with (at last!) new models. The number of amp models decreased drastically (only 16 amps are available) but the sound quality improved as well. The effects from the M9 and M13 footboards are still very good in most cases, and the Pod’s interface became a bit clearer. We just regret that the factory presets are not always usable. Finally, Line 6 provides us with a rugged footboard with comprehensive connections and nice features, like the 48-second looper. At $500, the Pod HD 500 is a good investment that will fulfill the needs of most buyers. If you think the price is a bit high, take a look at the HD 400 and 300. They provide less effects and don’t use the Dual Tone technology (two amps in parallel); the looper has less memory (24 seconds), and connections are not so comprehensive. However, their price is much lower ($330 and $400).

Advantages:

  • New amp models
  • M13 effects
  • Very comprehensive connections
  • Rugged pedalboard
  • Ease-of-use
  • Simple and effective looper
  • Two models in parallel
  • Very flexible effects chain
  • Possibility to store 512 presets
  • Pod HD 500 Edit software
  • Accepts two independent signal sources

Drawbacks:

  • Factory presets not always usable
  • Some modelings are lower in quality than the others

To read the full detailed article see: Line 6 POD HD 500 Review

March 23, 2009

Line 6 POD Studio UX2: The Test

Back in Black
Line 6 POD Studio UX2: The Test

Well known for its guitar amp simulators, Line 6 has recently updated its Toneport range of audio interfaces, and renamed it POD Studio while they were at it. Let’s take a look at the new UX2 and see what changes have been made.

POD studio UX2

At around $200, there are many interfaces that are likely to attract beginner home-studio owners. Brands like PreSonus, M-Audio, Lexicon, E-MU, Alesis, Tascam, and Novation usually offer more or less the same thing, technically speaking, both in terms of features and quality. Within this context, Line 6 was able to differentiate itself with its Toneport range, whose success was based on its look, and especially the promise of giving access to the POD’s famous amp modeling through GearBox software. You never change a winning combination, so after a few variations of this basic concept (See the test of the UX-8), the time was ripe to update the TonePort GX, UX1, UX2, which were renamed for the occasion to POD Studio GX, UX1 and UX2. The difference between these respective models remains the same: POD Studio GX is geared at guitarists and/or bassists with only one instrument input, while the UX1 and UX2, which also have mic inputs, are designed to be more general purpose devices and therefore target home-studios. The UX1 is a product that could interest tight budgets (around $150) but which would soon show its limitations, since it only has one microphone input, which in addition doesn’t have phantom power (forget about stereo micing, and especially forget about using condenser mics). For this test, we’ll be taking a look at the UX2, which is much more comprehensive and sold at the very aggressive price of $190.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Even if it doesn’t really change much on the hardware side compared to the TonePort, the POD Studio UX2 interface remains, for around $190, one of the best gear choices a beginner could make, provided he/she doesn’t need a MIDI connection. It’s stable, efficient, and easy to use and has one of the best software bundles in this price range, thanks to the presence of POD Farm which makes it particularly attractive for guitarists.

Ease of use.
Stability.
GearBox changing to POD Farm.
POD Farm, Live Lite, and Reason Adapted: a generous bundle.
Excellent value for money.

POD Farm’s lack of flexibility.
No MIDI connection.
Plastic hull.

To read the full detailed article see:  Line 6 POD Studio UX2 Review

February 2, 2009

Test: Line 6 POD X3 Pro Review

Filed under: Amps, Guitar reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 10:03 am
In POD We Trust?
Line 6 POD X3 Pro: The Test

126518After releasing their POD X3 and X3 Live in 2008, worthy descendants in their own right of the Pod XT, Line 6 felt it necessary to update the POD Pro. So, it’s no surprise they’ve come up with a POD in rack format, offering a plethora of inputs and outputs, called the POD X3 Pro.

The idea behind the Pod Pro was to feature numerous inputs and outputs (analog and digital), to satisfy the most demanding user, either on stage or in the studio. Its rack format makes it easier to integrate it into a studio and therefore it could more easily find its place within professional situations. Though the size of the original POD makes it easier to transport for a guitarist, it’s more complicated to fit it in front of a console, for one thing. The same applies to the Pod Live, which is aimed primarily at guitarists who often play live and want to have the controls of their sound at their feet.

So the POD X3 Pro has the same concept as the X3 and X3 Live versions: it features Line 6’s famous modeling (78 guitar amps, 24 guitar speakers, 98 effects, 28 bass amps, 22 bass speakers, 6 mic preamps and 4 positionnable microphones) and its software, POD Farm, lets you record, edit presets more easily with a nice graphic interface, and re-amp the sound after.

But first let’s take a look at what interests us most: its controls and inputs/outputs!…

Conclusion

Pod X3 pro

Line 6 has managed to improve the POD by adding more models and making it even more complete. The sound quality is good and the number of inputs and outputs makes the POD X3 Pro ready for all situations, in fact it’s hard to find a situation where it wouldn’t suffice. We commend the new interface and screen that makes navigation and editing easier, and the POD Farm plug-in, which opens up new horizons for home studio guitarists. For around $699, the POD X3 Pro offers a POD, an audio interface rich in connections with microphone preamps, and an amp/effects simulator plug-in. A real must for fans of all-in-one solutions!

The number of models
The sound quality
The number of inputs and outputs
The big backlit LCD screen
The GUI – practical and easily readable
The POD Farm plug-in
USB interface with 8 channels

The look
3U Rack, the POD has gained weight
Effects chain not completely flexible
Mediocre mic preamps

To read the full, detailed article see:   Line 6 POD X3 Pro Review

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