Line 6 POD HD500 Modeler Review
November 1, 2010 by G-v Rover
Over the past decade, I have always used some variation of POD for recording. It is by far, the easiest and fastest method of recording guitars. But when I’ve tried taking those sounds to the stage, they have sometimes fallen a bit short.
So when I was approached for my take on the new POD HD500, and I was told that “all-new” Line 6 HD modeling technology “represents a giant leap forward for amp modeling” and delivers “previously unachievable realism,” I plugged in with some skepticism.
Gimme The Cake
Do the models actually sound and feel like the real amps? Do they behave as uniquely as the classics they aspire to be? When I back off my guitar volume, will the amp model clean up and maintain the similar tonal characteristics of the original tube amp? The answer is a very emphatic, yes.
Each and every last one of the 16 HD amp models created with this new generation of modeling technology sounds and feels like the real deal to me. There is a very authentic, overall tube warmth that has been oh-so-close but not quite there in earlier generations. The HD amp models responded as I expected to the varying dynamics of my playing. Subtle differences in pick angle and force were plainly evident. Switching from pick to fingers, even using the most overdriven, maxed-out high gain tones, elicited the tactile reaction I hoped for.
Most remarkable to me was the natural from-end compression and power amp “sag” that happens when you crank a tube amp and dig in with your playing. This very real feel and response was also found when I began to add overdrive and distortion effects to the front end of the signal chain. Every amp’s front-end will react differently to the same pedal, and the new Line 6 HD models responded like they should.
Thick Layers of Luscious Icing
Ever the skeptic, I thought perhaps with all the focus placed on building the new modeling technology, and selecting, restoring and modeling a new collection of vintage amplifiers. Line 6 may have been forced to skimp on the effects. Nope.
POD HD500 contains a full compliment: over 100 pro-grade effects found in their acclaimed M-Series pedals. 30+ distortions, EQs and compressors; 35+ analog and digital delays, echoes, wahs, and reverbs (from surfy springs, to studio plates, to cutting-edge digital rooms); 45+ swirly phasers, filters and other mods including opto and bias modulating tremolos, choruses, and rotary speakers. And if that’s not enough, there’s a 48-second looper and pitch/intelligent harmonizer effects on board as well.
Easy to Digest
In what I believe to be the true test of a company’s ability to think like a guitar player and design a unit that performs well during a heat-of-the-moment, middle-of-a-song tweak, I refused to look at the POD HD500 manual. (Not only am I not going to take the manual to the gig, but I’m not going to spend hours burning the midnight oil studying it like a law student preparing for the bar.)
The new interface Line 6 developed for the POD HD500 is a guitar player’s dream come true. The display shows a series of easily recognizable icons laid out in a signal path just like a real-world amp and effects rig. Spin a knob and select an amp model, which loads with the appropriate speakers and cab. Don’t like them? Spin the knob and audition them all until you find the one you like. Add your effects anywhere in the signal path—before or after. Don’t like it there? Hit the “Move” button and place it somewhere else, just like you would in the real world.
Literally, within minutes, I had created and saved half dozen tones using unique amp models and effects rigs that truly sounded as distinctive as their real world counterparts, without looking at the manual.
Going Back for More
From the first not I played through the new POD HD500, I knew something was different about it. And not just in the quality of the tone but in the feel, which, at the end of the day, makes all the difference in the world.
Source: Musician’s Friend
– Jack Sonni
Line 6 POD HD500 Guitar Modeler