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Pros: Great sounds, excellent choice of amp and effect models. Easy interface.
Cons: Footswitch (not included) is required for expression functions, better control of looping features, and for proper “live” use.
Line 6 has been on the forefront of “modeling” guitar rigs for the better part of a decade. With their POD HD they’re going beyond the normal guitar rig.
While it is configured as a “desktop” unit, there should be no problems using this in a live setting, either connecting it to an amp’s power section, or running it into a PA system. There are two choices on inputs, either XLR, or 1/4″. The outputs are also 1/4″ (left and right side), and there is a headphone out, as well as a standard USB port. A connection for their foot controller rounds out the I/O setup.
Editing sounds using the LCD display isn’t that tough, but downloading Line 6’s editing software and connecting the pod will make it even easier.
Fender/Marshall/Vox amp models are here, as usual, among some newer and some rare models such as Park, Supro, Divided by 13 and Dr Z. The amp sounds are very responsive to dyanmics and volume, the actual “feel” of the amp is very much there. It’s easy to set up a stereo rig, from having separate effects and individual speaker cabinets to microphone choices. Some of the higher gain settings combined with overdrive stomp boxes can get a bit noisy, but there is a noise gate that doesn’t cramp the tone, and still cuts down on unwanted noise.
The effect sections can get real deep, from analog choruses to modern synths. The delay choices run the gamut from simple tape echoes to ping-pong delays. The ability to place any effect in any part of the signal chain gives you a lot of tonal options. The fact you can run multiple versions of similar effects enhances this ever more so. The selection of the not so “usual” effects are great – synths, filters and pitch shifters really gives the player tons of choices in sound. The blending of the traditional and non-traditional sounds really takes the idea of “modeling” into a whole new area, which can be very interesting to play with.
The looping function allows the ability to record a riff, and then play over it. It’s relatively simple, but with the optional footswitch it seems like it would be easier. Some of the guitar effect parameters also can be assigned to their footswitch’s expression pedal. Without the pedal some of these features aren’t really accessible, like wah pedal and whammy effect control.
Overall it’s a great studio/recording tool, and it’s not difficult to set it up into a live situation (although their footswitch will be needed to change patches on the fly). For electric guitar it’s great, but there are also patches set up for bass and acoustic guitar, so it becomes an even greater studio tool with these options. Using this instead of plug-ins on a DAW could free up a lot of CPU power, and the ability to take those tones from the studio to the stage will really keep your sound consistent. With the choices of boutique amps and unique effects, it’ll be tough to find something as flexible and easy to work with, that sounds as good as the real thing!