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Line 6 POD HD500 Savior Of The Poor Guitar Masses

Ruprect —  January 14, 2013 — 46 Comments

 

Line 6 POD HD 500
In the world of amp modeling it would seem that the Axe Fx by Fractal Audio reigns as the supreme champion of tone. While the Axe is an amazing unit that I believe is totally worth the price of admission, there is another unit that costs a fraction of the Axe and is every bit as useful in the studio and the live arena.

Comparison Shop For Line 6 HD500

Line 6 HD 500

I purchased the HD 500 in 2010 shortly after it released. I had just lost my ass on a guitar rig that I spent well over $3,500 for(Fryette Pitbull and an EVH3 4X12 loaded with greenbacks). With my manhood in question I decided that tube amps were no longer worth the cost, and that the “tonal benefits” were out weighed by the unreliability.

Live Use

At first I missed the feeling of a nice cool breeze blowing at the back of my legs while on stage. Now the only thing I miss is having something to set my beer on. I can honestly say that the guitar tone that I achieve now with the HD 500 is better than anything else I have owned( Mesa Boogie, Orange, Fryette, Jet City, Fender, Marshall). I show up to a gig with my entire rig in 2 hands, and run directly to FOH. I don’t need to buy a separate MIDI controller to operate it, but it can be used as a MIDI controller for other devices. For me, it really is a one stop shop for killer live tone. I can also use a great deal of fx without having to tap dance on a pedalboard. Ah, the little things in life :)

Studio Use

To say that this unit is easy to use would be an understatement. When I started using the POD I knew barely anything about signal chains and nothing about recording. Being able to go directly from the POD into my computer via USB was a huge help in keeping things simple. The HD edit software adds to the simplicity to the POD, as it’s much faster to dial in tones and so easy a five year old could operate it. At this point in time the POD is still my preferred method to get guitar tones in the studio, even over the Axe Fx or tube amps. To my ears it sounds every bit as good as the Axe and removes some of the more subtle functions that the Axe Fx has that are easy to get bogged down by. I have no interest in virtually controlling the capacitance of an amp. I just want it to sound great and the POD delivers.

Amp And Cab Models

At this point in time the POD HD 500 has 30 amp models that model  the power amp and preamp section, and another 30 of the same amps without the power amp stage ( perfect for using a power amp and external cabinet). The amp models contain all of the usual suspects from Fender, Vox, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Bogner, Dr.Z and others. While some people will have hopes of these being identical replicas of the originals, I personally don’t get too worried about that. They sound close enough to me, but most of all they sound great and have an amp like response when playing through the unit. In addition to the amp models there are also 17 different cabinet models and 8 different mics to choose from. This is one of the areas where I’ve been disappointed with the POD. The cabinet models definitely leave something to be desired and I’ve found that using RedWirez impulses in place of the stock cabs yield much better results. The down side to this is that the POD does not allow 3rd party impulses to be loaded into the unit itself. So until a firmware update facilitates this, 3rd party  impulse responses are not available for live use.

Effects

The POD HD500 comes equipped with over 100 “M-class” effects( I guess putting a letter in front of it makes the tone better). Delays, reverbs, filters, flanges, modulation, compression,distortion and pitch effects are all at your disposal. They are all fun and most of them sound great. The ones that don’t sound great mangle the sound beyond belief which can be awesome for ruining the party for everybody( nothing like turning on an out of control fuzz pedal and  delay with the feedback  turned all the way up to let the band know you’re pissed).  One of the stand out fx in this unit to me is the pitch glide. I’ve had good results using this as an alternative for detuning when playing live and recording. It’s not as good as actually detuning, but it can save your ass if a guitar goes down and you’re in a pinch.

Build Quality

The HD 500 is built very well and can definitely take a beating. I’ve gigged with this unit hundreds of times without any issues regarding durability. The buttons are metal and I stomp the shit out of em….no problems. A few weeks ago a very large drunken cave women tripped over my wedge and landed full force onto the POD. The POD might be emotionally scarred but it’s still running great.

Built In Looper

For all of you guys and gals who love to improvise over chord progressions the HD 500 has a loop function that is easy to access and works like a charm. It also has a feature that will allow you to double the speed of the loop. Pretty cool for tricking people into thinking you’re a shredding demon.

The Sounds

I’ve attached some mp3′s below to give you an idea of what the POD is capable of cranking out. It’s mostly high gain, but there are a few clean and low gain sections slipped in there as well.

HD500 Metal 1

HD500 Metal 2

HD500 Rock

The Good

  • This unit delivers a whole Hell of a lot for the price point it’s at. In my opinion nothing else on the market even comes close. If mine got stolen, I would replace it without hesitation and feel like I got a bargain all over again( don’t steal mine or I’ll end you smiley).
  • I get compliments on my tone almost every time I play out and most of the time it’s by old timers telling me they love how “raw” my guitar sounds.
  • Getting great recorded tones is a breeze and I can save the EXACT tone for another day without having to worry about a mic stand moving or getting knocked over. It’s very durable and the money I’ve made gigging and recording with the unit has paid the cost of admission 10 fold.

The Bad

  • The cabinet impulses are not on the same level as the amp models inside this unit are.
  • The inability to load 3rd party impulses feels a little limiting.
  • The only other downside to this unit is the lack of DSP processing power. There have been a few times I’ve needed just one more eq in the signal chain to perfect my tone and not had enough juice.

Conclusion

Line 6 has taken huge steps to improve the sound and feel of the POD. The remarkable thing is that they’ve managed to do it at a price point that poor musicians like me can afford, while still retaining outstanding build quality and tone.
While miked up tube amps can sound great, I think that this type of  unit is the future. As DSP becomes less expensive and more powerful the line will blur even more between what is real and what is modeled. The thing that excites me most about this kind of technology is that at some point it will start to take on a sound of it’s own. I’m not very interested in getting a great tube sound anymore. I’m waiting for the day when units like this create something great that we’ve never heard before and can’t be replicated by tubes. I don’t think that day is very far off. If I could recommend only one product to guitarists interested in recording and trying out amp modeling, this would be it. An absolute grand slam!

 

 

 

 

 

Ruprect

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Ruprect once went carless to chase his guitar tone obsession. This same mindless pursuit of tone has led him to an equally brilliant chase of mega recording glory. He assists Brandon Drury, the super human who runs RecordingReview, and when Ruprect shakes or rolls over Brandon allows him to give his opinion to the world.
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46 responses to Line 6 POD HD500 Savior Of The Poor Guitar Masses

  1. Ruprect first brought in his Line6 HD500 about 2 years ago. I thought it was okay. Another year later he brought it in knowing it in and out and I thought it was the prime time real deal. Running it through impulses only made it better.

    I picked up the Axe FX Standard just to see if it was a notch above. I don’t feel it wasn’t although there are a handful of more-comprehensive features on the Axe FX that help a guy in my position.

    I could never record a real amp again and I wouldn’t feel like I was missing anything. One of these is half the price of a used Royer R121. Times have changed and I have trouble rationalizing the amps most of the time.

    Brandon

  2. “I could never record a real amp again and I wouldn’t feel like I was missing anything. ”

    So Hendrix walks in.. and you want to put him through a modeler>?

    Sounds like a disaster.

    (I know you meant it jovially.. *S*)

  3. I play through an HD500 every week, and I love it. I used to use the POD XT Live and liked it well enough, but the HD500 is light years ahead. I run in “stomp mode” so all eight foot switches are available to control effect slots.

    Like you, I wish there were more DSP power, but I’ve always been able to work around the limit since most of my chains are fairly simple. I tend to stack delays more than EQs, so perhaps that’s why.

    And like you, I’ll never lug a real amp again if I can avoid it. As for the studio, I haven’t recorded a single amp with a mic in the last year, and no one has said anything. In fact, I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on the “killer tone” that is nothing more than the Tubescreamer effect into the AC15 amp model with the 1×12 cab.

    Love it, and I’m glad to see another convert!

  4. I can’t speak for a dead guy, but I’ve got a feeling Hendrix would be bringing his own setup to the studio if he were still alive. Either way,the odds of him using the latest technology now are quite high since he was using the latest technology in his heyday. YMMV

  5. Sounds good. Ever played the game Sauerbraten? Maybe you’re the same guy that wrote the music for that game? Perfect music for a 1st person shooter. haha I don’t know if I liked the game all that much or if it was just as excuse to listen to the music.

  6. It might just be the heavy rhythmic guitars with a clean lead over top that is reminding me of it. Your drum tracks are a little more intense than the game’s soundtrack. I found out the guys name. Marc A Pullen. Anyway nice tunes.

  7. So Hendrix walks in.. and you want to put him through a modeler>?

    I think Hendrix would give it a whirl. He was no purist you know.

    This stuff is getting better and better. I am actually thinking of a laptop with something like IKM modelling amps and FX in it, controlled by the Behringer FCB1010 I already have. I agree this is the future.

    There’s one aspect that I like about tube amps and I wonder if it has gotten better since the last time I tried a Line6 (4 years ago). How does the amp react to the guitar volume? Does it clean up a bit like a real tube amp?

  8. I still use the pod xt live and recorded 175 albums with it, though I stil run it into 2 2×12 solid state combo amps and mic the amps. I got the pod hd500 and is similar to the pod xt live with better effects and the amp modeling is better as well (though I didnt find the amp models to be miles and miles better, but its better). Recording wise, I was hard pressed to tell if I used a pod xt live or hd 500. Though I used an f/x unit with the pod xt live and the effects in hd 500 are good enough that you dont need the external effects. Sweet for under $500.00

  9. “I can honestly say that the guitar tone that I achieve now with the HD 500 is better than anything else I have owned” — I find this hard to believe given your recording experience, and definitely not true given my own recording experience. Hyperbole if you will. I owned a Mesa Mark IV for about 10 years and it sounds better than the Pod HD series of emulators no question. How much better is another question as I do completely agree with many of your other claims. Emulators are now “good enough” for us recording engineers (they may have been good enough for the less finicky a while ago) and I agree that — unless you really, really want an amp that sounds about 5% better for five times the cost — digital amp simulators like the HD 500 are good enough and more importantly so much less of a pain in the ass than recording a full rig. I still think you’re overstating how good these things sound though. There’s always a minor perceptible different in the quality of the high end/fizziness and the tightness and Metallica like chugga quality of the crunch that they still need to improve — from the Axe FX to the Pod HD.

  10. “I can honestly say that the guitar tone that I achieve now with the HD 500 is better than anything else I have owned” — I find this hard to believe given your recording experience, and definitely not true given my own recording experience.

    Just to be sure, Ruprect wrote this article.

    Ruprect and I spent about 14 hours about a year playing with a Rivera and 5150 using an Audix i5 through a Vintech 1272 > Distressor > Apogee AD-16x. We never got THAT THING we wanted. We plugged into his Line 6 HD500 and got it. Sometimes THAT THING happens with real amps and 2 seconds. Sometimes it takes 28 hours. That’s not a luxury I have, unfortunately.

    . There’s always a minor perceptible different in the quality of the high end/fizziness and the tightness and Metallica like chugga quality of the crunch that they still need to improve — from the Axe FX to the Pod HD.

    Are you saying you could pass a blind test 100% with an emulator competing against a real amp? I probably would, too, because I have so many problems with mud and fizz and such.

  11. Come on, if you can’t get a good sound with a good higain tube amp, cab, guitar and mic, then you should pay a professional who can. Those things are alright for a demo or a mediocre gig, but when it comes to the real deal an engl savage + tc g-major will beat the sh*t out of your line 6/axefx/kemper in no time. even with all knobs set on 12 without any tweaking. I tested ‘em all. Kemper and axe are ‘ok’ and useful for a lazy and incompetent engineer. But don’t wonder if people will prefer to work with guys who do their homework. BTW the track’s sound wasnt great. Could be an boss gt8 as well.

    Now don’t get me wrong: if i had ever heard an amp modelling system (higain sound) that i actually liked to 90% compared to a real setup i would without any doubt stick to it. But there is no such thing.

  12. I have been a fan of Line 6 and POD since the XT Live. I also have an X3 and the HD500. Originally used in my band at church to minimize stage volume, it quickly made its way into our country band. We use wireless in ears and loops/clicks when we play live and used along with a the Roland TD-30 drums, our FOH guy is in love with us. Plenty of room on stage and 99% of those in live venues cannot tell the difference between the POD and mic’d amp; the other 1% will just be lying. Well, you obviously get the point.

  13. when it comes to the real deal an engl savage + tc g-major will beat the sh*t out of your line 6/axefx/kemper in no time. even with all knobs set on 12 without any tweaking. I tested ‘em all

    With that kind of boldness, you’re gonna have to enlighten us with your work.

  14. Hi all,
    I’ve been using line6 for couple years and it sounds good for me, for me its about which one is work best in particular situation, don’t matter its a real amp or digital things like line6 or even the combination. Its all about “the tone” that we want

  15. @ Brandon Drury

    No problem. Our single will be finished this summer. For the time being go to youtube and type ‘ola englund’ and see what’s this guy doing with a normal guitar, a goot tube head, a cheap cab and a sm57. If you will then show me a track of yours with better sounding higain guitars done with line 6/axe/kemper i will have to admit i’m wrong. No offense, Is a sexdoll better than a woman? It’s kind of emulation too, you know…

  16. Al The Rev. McKinnon January 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I’m a blues harmonica player for 40 years. I started with a Fender twin, hated carrying that thing but liked the big sound. Right from the start I liked to play the harp through anything that had an imput. When I was in the band Redhouse I used a Gibson GA9 tube amp, a sony effects box into a Blues Jr., and an MD421 for straight harp and vocals.. Today I use a Summit 2Ba-221 Preamp into a Line 6 HD PRO rack and an Art Elite for delay and a really great flange. If I;m playing live I add my Lonesome Wolf Harpattack pedal last in line for final tone. One small rack case and a pedal and able to play in any type of band. The line 6 and the Summit are worth the money and raised the sound quality more than I could have hoped for.

  17. eugene: For the time being go to youtube and type ‘ola englund’ and see what’s this guy doing with a normal guitar, a goot tube head, a cheap cab and a sm57. If you will then show me a track of yours with better sounding higain guitars done with line 6/axe/kemper i will have to admit i’m wrong.

    Ok. I’ll bite. I went to YouTube and typed in Ola Englund and one of the first hits I came up with was this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_BABYU9aoY

    That’s a KILLER tone he’s getting with a freaking iPhone app! So go ahead and admit you’re wrong.

  18. Hoosierdaddy: Wow! I’m going to try this one out. It does sound digital, but in this case it doesn’t bother me that much! The guy’s genius! BUT:

    1. It ain’t no line6/axe/kemper.
    2. Sounds waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than line 6.
    3. There’s still huge difference if compared to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_61tE7aTwU
    or almost every other head demo.
    4. If you count: iphone (ca. 700 $) + JamUp pro (20$) + the interface itself (20 $) vs the hd500 (500$) it’s still more expensive.
    5. You’ll hardly be able to do a show with it.

    I do realize the advantages of modeling systems and i am myself a heavy user of revalver and amplitube, which imo made the line6/boss/digitech obsolete. But still, when it comes to higain (not only), it’s no match to a good tube amp. Neither on stage, nor in the recording.

    So: No, you’re not my daddy, but thanks for the hint ;)

  19. To answer you Brandon — Yes, I think I could pass a blind test but of course I’ve never tried! What I have done is listen to as many high def youtube comparisons between emulations and the real amps and I could always hear a slight but noticeable difference, always in the quality of high end and the density and saturation of the gain. BUT, it is such as small difference that I in total agreement with the article, I just didn’t agree that the POD was as good as what for me is the holy grail of high gain — the Mark IV. So I’m basing my entire opinion here off of my experience with the Mark IV. The Axe FX in a mix, or the Pod HD, are great and the actual difference is so minimal that it’s not worth (for most of us) all the fuss to mic an amp these days. You had any experience with the bx RockRack? Very simple to use. I’m going to do an A/B with an actual Engl e530 on the same settings going through a cabinet impulse soon…

  20. Hi,

    all things sound quality aside for now (myself, I find the search for the “ultimate” tone to be highly debateable, but we may talk about that somewhere else), for me it’s that ALL modelers leave quite something to be desired when used live.

    Ok, if you play shows that are 1:1 identical each time (which means that both the music played and the room/monitoring situation are identical), then modelers can deliver (at least some can).
    But if you (like me) play different styles of music that allow for a slightly different “personal touch” whenever you feel like adding something like that, then they simply suck.

    I’ll happily explain why.
    Let’s assume you start playing (soundcheck was all fine, but we all know that things can change quite a bit once the actual gig starts) and all of a sudden you notice that your clean sounds are all too low in volume. So, what will you do? You’ll knee down and change the volume of one clean patch. Then you need to save it. Fine (I can do that way faster, but well, let’s say it’s still all fine and dandy) – but what about your other 3 clean patches (using different FX and what not)? Right, you need to call them up, change their volume and save them. Pff. Impossible during almost *any* even remotely professional gig – especially as you may later find out that you turned up the volume too much, so you’d have to go through the entire procedure again.

    For me, turning up the volume of *all* my clean patches at once requires to have, say, a chord ringing, reaching back to my amp and turning up the volume of the clean channel. Done.

    Alright, I already hear you asking: “What, you’re only using one clean sound?”
    Answer: More or less, yes. But I can still so some more or less massive modifications to that patch, such as adding whatever colorations (from EQs, overdrives and what not), without losing that “quick editing comfort”. All I need to take care of is programming my clean sounds with equal levels.

    So, what setup(s) am I using?
    I’d call it a “hybrid” setup (nothing unusual at all). Right now it’s a Boss GT-10 (I prefer that over the POD for some reasons which we may discuss later on – and I may get a GT-100 anyway) for controlling and FX with one of my amps in addition. The amps are a Laney LC-50 (to be changed some time more or less soon as it doesn’t offer enough clean headroom) for small gigs, a Fender “The Twin” (the redknobbed one, hardly used these days) and a Boogie Mk IV (with slightly modified switching, I only need two switches to call up all three channels).
    In addition, on my floor board there’s a Nobels ODR-1 and an MXR Badass 78.
    As I’m usually not playing on really large stages, most ot the time it’s the Laney (as said, to be exchanged…).

    Given a little clever patch programming, I never have to stomp on more than two switches, even for the most drastical sound changes, so the advances of a fully programmed system are rather minimal (and as I’m doing a lot with my guitar volume, I usually get along with one switching).

    Whatever, with this/these system/s, I do have a lot of flexibility (so far I haven’t been running into a situation where I couldn’t “deliver”) and I can still access the most important parameters (for me, that is) in a matter of seconds. These are:
    - Gains. I have two or three amp channels plus my two drive pedals. Instant access.
    (Oh, fwiw, I control the rhythm/lead channel switching via the GT-10, with the Boogie I can then pre-select another slightly driven rhythm channel by using an extra switch)
    - Levels for clean, drive and lead.
    - Overall reverb level (the GT-10 offers such a function in it’s system menu, I find it invaluable).
    - Overall EQing (again, the GT-10 has a global EQ), very nice if you play with different cabs.
    - Overal noise gate threshold (again, the GT-10…). Yes, that *can* become useful.

    Hmpf. Long story.
    Anyway, what I’m saying is that *NO SINGLE* modeler system is able to deliver even remotely the same amount of quick access to certain parameters that might become highly important in a live situation. They are ALL falling short on whatever “utility”options.

    Now, I am not saying that all that stuff is important for all guitar players, but for me, it defenitely is as important as any kind of sound related stuff gets. I seriously can’t remember the last gig when I didn’t change one or even several of the parameters mentioned above. And it’s always been a pain with modelers only, a breeze with my hybrid setup.

    Oh, in addition, I find the typical monitoring wedges that you may have on your average gig to be not too great to deliver a proper “stage spread”. Usually, you need to stand pretty close to them to get an enjoyable sound.
    Let alone that us guitar players are the last persons on stage to get their own monitoring path.
    Usually it’s 1-2 singers, the keyboarder, the drummer to get the 4 (if at all) paths available.
    More than 4 paths, a dedicated monitor mixer, in-ear stuff – usually not available at the jobs I’m playing.
    So, using a modeler, you will often have to bring your own monitoring system as well. I can actually do that, but I prefer the ease of whatever amp that I may take with me.

    Alright, that’s it.

    Ah, one more thing: Forget about a firmware update allowing the POD HD to use impulse responses. It’s simply not powerful enough (low/no latency IR useage requires quite some computing horse power).

    Cheers
    Sascha

  21. Honestly, I can’t believe you weren’t able to get better sounds out of a Mesa or VHT amps than this digitized distorted garbage I heard in the samples.

    Maybe that’s the sound you were after all along, and the tonal complexity, depth and warmth of both above-mentioned amps were actually taking away from that goal.

    I still find most almost all modelers uninspired, clinical and not worth the $ when it comes to a real audio production. Well, usually each modeler does one or two things right but I won’t chuck any of my gear for one. The difference might not be so noticeable live but when it comes to the studio where you want to capture the best performance with the best possible gear, they fail to bring realism…for me.

    I did use Boss GT-10 live for effects and midi switching, while I kept the rest of my rig analog. It did suck some of the tone out but it wasn’t that noticeable live.

    I prefer to take a badly miked tube amp with a sm57 any day over this digitized garbage…unless I am recording a NIN type of band.

  22. Al The Rev. McKinnon January 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I think it is good to have both. Most of my studio is hardware and I use software for mastering. I love buttons and knobs. I love the sound that comes out of my tube amp when on stage I can change the sound by getting closer to the amp speaker, doesn’t work so well with my line 6 through a pa speaker, to much feedback. I also can’t afford to buy all the amps the line 6 can model. Don’t quite understand comparing old and new . I liked the line 6 better than the other modelers and hope to do strange things with it as I search for sounds. Some things are just a matter of taste.

  23. notsofasthoney: Wow! I’m going to try this one out. It does sound digital, but in this case it doesn’t bother me that much! The guy’s genius! BUT: 1. It ain’t no line6/axe/kemper.

    No. You’re right. It’s a freakin’ iPad plug in!

    I must tell you, I’ve worked with a Kemper now for about six months. I have downloaded numerous profiles from their site as well as from Anderton’s music and various other fan sites. And the sounds I’m getting from it are simply amazing. In fact, in some cases I like the profiled sounds better than the originals. Take these profiles for example…simply amazing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VBFk9yOK4g

  24. @ hoosierdaddy: well it’s definetly better than line 6 and the quality of marshall soundi is very good. you van actually recognize the sound. But it’s mot reslly something what i call modern higain.

  25. notsofasthoney: well it’s definetly better than line 6 and the quality of marshall soundi is very good. you van actually recognize the sound. But it’s mot reslly something what i call modern higain.

    Where did I say anything about high gain? I just said it sounds great…which it does. And it is identical to the original sound. I’ve heard this same guy A-B between the actual miked amp and the profile and they are exactly the same. Zero difference. And speaking of high gain, how about Sneap? Does he have enough high gain cred? The man owns an arsenal of high gain amps. Yet he claims the Kemper can model them so closely that – all other things being equal – he cannot tell the difference.

    By the way, you golden eared high gain players kill me. “I’ve played my amp on stun all my life, yet I can hear the hairs on a gnat’s ass rubbing together.” Sorry. I don’t buy it.

  26. And by the way…here ya go. High gain city.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-wZUxgO6jM

  27. What about Sneap? lol, the guy is getting paid for advertising a product. I was at some serious backstages and saw setups of people like megadeth, hypocrisy, kreator and many others. I will not tell you what they use for its their professional secret, but i never saw no line6 no axefx or a kemper running. They’re setups are mostly complicated, but there aleays a tube amp in front of it. The differences you try to describe as subtle, are pretty obvious. Telling that an emulation is better than the original is a very absurd statement. So regarding to what you wrote i can only think of few things:
    1. You do not hear the difference for real (tonal difference, playing feeling, response, cab pushing the air) which means your either have hearing problems or no musical hearing at all.

    2. you try to advertise that peace of gear in the hope to get paid for it. But hey, you’ve got to do better than that. The ‘mixes’ posted are sounding rather as a few presets thrown together. I’d never consider buying a product with a demo sound like that.
    3. You have a completely different idea of how a guitar should sound, than people who chose tube amps over emulations.

    Oh yeah! One more thing: You wrote about playing HUNDREDS of gigs with pod hd500 since 2010? Who are you? James Hetfield? I seriously doubt it. I’d rather say an amateur who never performed on a pro stage. Stop fooling other people please.

  28. What about Sneap? lol, the guy is getting paid for advertising a product. I was at some serious backstages and saw setups of people like megadeth, hypocrisy, kreator and many others. I will not tell you what they use for its their professional secret, but i never saw no line6 no axefx or a kemper running. They’re setups are mostly complicated, but there aleays a tube amp in front of it. The differences you try to describe as subtle, are pretty obvious. Telling that an emulation is better than the original is a very absurd statement. So regarding to what you wrote i can only think of few things:
    1. You do not hear the difference for real (tonal difference, playing feeling, response, cab pushing the air) which means your either have hearing problems or no musical hearing at all.

    2. you try to advertise that peace of gear in the hope to get paid for it. But hey, you’ve got to do better than that. The ‘mixes’ posted are sounding rather as a few presets thrown together. I’d never consider buying a product with a demo sound like that.
    3. You have a completely different idea of how a guitar should sound, than people who chose tube amps over emulations.

    Oh yeah! One more thing: You wrote about playing HUNDREDS of gigs with pod hd500 since 2010? Who are you? James Hetfield? I seriously doubt it. I’d rather say an amateur who never performed on a pro stage. Stop fooling other people please.

    It pleases me to know that this article has you all butt hurt. I can respect your opinion on the sound of the clips. Not everyone has the same tastes and the mixes certainly aren’t perfect. I never claimed them to be. As far as me being paid by Line 6 to do this review, that simply isn’t true. The goal of this article was to make a suggestion and hopefully help a few people in similar situations to what I was in when I started recording. I DID make some bold claims about tone in regards to this unit and I honestly believe them. My hearing is just fine. Those are my tastes.You have your opinion and I have mine. And I actually HAVE played HUNDREDS of gigs with this unit. I gig 8-10 times a month. You can do the math. You might be able to get more work if you didn’t get butt hurt so easily. :)

  29. notsofasthoney: What about Sneap? lol, the guy is getting paid for advertising a product. I was at some serious backstages and saw setups of people like megadeth, hypocrisy, kreator and many others. I will not tell you what they use for its their professional secret, but i never saw no line6 no axefx or a kemper running.

    Ok. So now we’re gonna have one of those dick swingin’ “I’ve got more music cred than you” arguments? *sigh* Ok. Here goes.

    I’m the primary drum tech for one of the largest metal festivals in the US. No. It’s no Wacken to be sure. Metal fests just really aren’t that big in the US. But we’ve been at it for fourteen years and we sell it out practically every year so we must be doing something right. Anyway, through the years we’ve worked with a HUGE number of bands…mostly from Europe. Some of the premier bands from practically every metal sub genre – power metal, prog metal, black metal, etc. And I can tell you that I have seen/heard MANY Line 6 products being used. And I do mean MANY. Every year. Year after year. And I have seen at least two Axe FX users. No Kemper users. But then it’s really a recording device and not designed for live performance, so that’s not surprising.

    And as far as my musical ear is concerned, I’m quite confident. I know good tone when I hear it. And the Kemper puts out great tone. Sorry you can’t deal with someone who disagrees with your opinion.

  30. @ Ruprecht – if the sounds you posted were what you were after, I am not surprised you couldn’t find them with tube equipment. Maybe with some solid state amps you could.
    Considering now that there are tons of affordable small tube amps that do a lot of genres right, I can’t justify the purchase of a modeler for recording alone. I can’t for the life of me justify Axe-Fx or one of the more expensive modeling amps when I get most of my sounds from very capable and reliable amps. I do write on modelers but that almost always gets replaced by a real amp in the final mix.

  31. As an owner of an Axe-Fx, this thing definitely has its perks and anybody who denies the power and potential of this box is an elitist who refuses to mix with their ears and not their eyes.

    I own a standard and this thing alone provides huge tone. Bands can come in and create unique tones. Takes me 7-10 minutes tops. Then I save the preset and I have it for the rest of the life of the machine. Amp doesn’t play nice with the guitar? Who cares! I’ve got at least 30 amp models on this thing and they all sound different. You can record high gain guitars without the issue of cranking the amp. Live performances are a synch. Just hook it up to the PA and done. No lugging around hundreds of pounds of equipment.

    If you are content with your gear. Perfect. No one is telling you to sell it for these devices. However, these offer extreme conveniences that a lot of us cannot afford to pass up. There’s little compromise (At least with modelers of this caliber, I’m not too fond of the floor PODs) in terms of sound quality. Let’s face it. If your guitar tone sucks because you use a modeler like the POD HD Pro, Axe Fx, or Kemper, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t get a good tone on a real amp anyway.

  32. Hm, you guys seem to take it very personal, aren’t you? I did not expirience any butt hurt at all, i just wrote what i think about your posts. But since you revealed additional information it became clearer to me why you actually use these items.

    I can’t think of any metal band doing 100 gigs a year. 8 gigs a month sounds like playing at a local club/bar two times a week, which sounds like a cover band. Ok, with no roadies, i would rather kill myself, than transport my whole setup 2 times a week. And in this case the use of a line6 or boss gt could be justified. But it’s all quantity above quality. And remember, humans tend to get used to things that are around them for a period of time. It ain’t no different story with human hearing. About ‘dick swinging’: not my case, i was just sharing my expirience. The only line 6 product i saw at pro backstage was a wireless system. I do not want to change anybody’s mind about anything, i simply don’t understand how guitar players can actually not hear the difference. And i also did not say you got paid for the review, i wrote hoping to get paid :)
    I’m very confident with my setup and i’m sure not going to switch to an emulation. For guys who do not have the cash, i’d rather advised to download revalver/amplitube/guitar rig
    for they sound like their physical rivals, if not better + cheap used midi controller. Then save up some cash and buy some serious devices. Didn’t mean to assault anyone, so excuse me if anybody experienced negative emotions due to my posts. cheers.

  33. HAHAHAHAHA! I love how some of these old farts get so angry when gear that costs a FRACTION of what they shelled out for their set up can run head to head with them. You can see it evident in these responses here even though they won’t admit it.

    I have a POD HD Pro. I have been recording my own material for less than a year. I have been getting incredible tones, getting my ideas down and just find myself making a lot of music instead of struggling to mic up a decent tone from my cab.

    The AXE FX II is a totally different monster. With the the tone matching ability. You can leave all your expensive amps at home and just take a “copy” of your tone on the road.
    Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCp8vE1ZT0g
    That bass tone coming from an AXE-FX II unit. The patch was tone-matched in the studio with the bass running through a darkglass b7k pedal. TELL ME THAT TONE SUCKS!!! :D That’s probably one of the sickest bass tones I’ve heard live.

    All the guitarists in the band are also using axe-fx units instead of amps.
    Music is evolving. There are a lot of amazing young producers popping up that are making some killer music and breaking new grounds in the digital realm.

    Plus, you have companies like Slate Digital pumping out some amazing sounding plugins to give mixes in the box a more “out of the box” feel.

    Face it, old timers. Digital is starting to become an extremely viable solution for recording. In the end its about making awesome music.

  34. About a year ago an old friend that plays came to me with a dilemma. That is, his Line 6 modeling board did not sound good with his modern cascaded gain stage amps. It became too noisy, to over sensitive to minor volume adjustments, overly tinny/brassy etc. So, he asked me to build a handwired tube slave amp. I tried to tell him that it would be very low wattage without some sort of preamp because the Line 6 does not put out as much signal as a couple of 12AX7′s. But he said, ‘go ahead’. So, I built it. It sounded quite good with the modeling board only not very loud. He admitted that I was right and so I built a completely new board and installed it in the chassis. I really have to admit that it sounds quite good as he runs it through a 2X12 cab. He uses a Carvin V3B on the left side and the “Baby Lix” on the right side in stereo for live performances. I started playing in 1965 so my heart lies with the traditional old tube amps where you just turn up and maybe use a power booster and distortion pedal but for the modern heavily distorted sound at a lower level the Line 6 seems to work quite well for someone wanting that sound. Remember, different strokes for different folks as one sound is not necessarily better than another, just different. There are songs done with the Line 6 under “baby lix and Wathenclan” and soundbytes of most of the amps that I have built on my website, http://www.lixamps.com. Thanks Brandon for an excellent website/information.

  35. Ruprect: I think this was a really good review and I enjoyed reading it as well as listening to your tones you posted up. That said, in a sense, some of what notsofast had to say holds true with me also. Though I think his tact was way out of line (sorry notsofast, you got some good points…but your delivery needs work) there is something about having a good 12AX7 pre-amp section that makes it hard for me to accept these modelers. Even the AxeFxII. As incredible as it is and what it does for me, 12AX7′s are just a necessity for me and these modelers just don’t quite deliver that.

    I can not only hear it, I can feel it. Not to mention (and though this is a huge thing with me that may not bother anyone else) the sound of pinch harmonics using tranny rigs annoys me. There is something in a pinch harm using a tube pre section that just hits me in the chest that I have never been able to get with ANY modeler or VST that’s been offered. So that tube thing to some of us is still important. I don’t need output tube power though….because I’m not loud enough for that to kick in and have such a good front end pre-amp sound, there’s no need for excessive volume.

    At the end of the day, everyone will always have a different take on what good tone is. I think you achieved good tone in those clips and they served their purpose as well as the review you posted. There’s no doubt in my mind this little baby would be a great addition to anyone doing small gigs or having something cool in their studio with lots of options.

    I did have one question for you though. How is it changing patches? Meaning, do you get a little glitch/delay in the patch change to where the sound dies while the algorythms change? THAT totally annoys me and would be a deal breaker for me no matter how good a processor sounded. I have a beautiful Tri Axis here that I bought years ago. It sounds killer…but man, it’s useless live because of the gap in patch changes. Anything like that happen with your POD?

    -Danny

  36. I’m glad you enjoyed the review Danny. You made some very good points. Playing through this unit live is absolutely a different animal in terms of sound and feel. Standing behind a wedge is nothing like standing in front of a half stack that is super loud. It took some getting used to but now that I am used to it I don’t think I could go back. Certainly not if I had to carry all my gear around. I absolutely understand why people are hesitant to go this route, but for me it has been an all around great move. As far as the patch changing goes, it has a VERY slight change time. So slight that it isn’t noticeably really. It’s also important to note that the band I play for has a PA that is probably worth over $20,000,and a damn good FOH engineer. If I had to rely on questionable sound systems I would probably have a small combo or a power amp and cab to run the unit through.

  37. I use the POD HD500 with a G-Major in the FX loop. It’s all connected to a Crown power amp into 2 large JBL speakers and it sounds awesome!

  38. I enjoy the article. It evident that you’ve a great deal information on this matter. Your points are well made and relatable. Thanks for composing interesting and interesting material.

  39. Picked one of these up the other day after reading this quite some time ago and doing a good bit of research. So far I’m pretty happy, and I have only just scratched the surface of what this thing can do.

    I found this insane guide to getting good tones out of the POD HD which I figured I should share:

    http://www.foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/quickGuide

  40. “What about Sneap? lol, the guy is getting paid for advertising a product. I was at some serious backstages and saw setups of people like megadeth, hypocrisy, kreator and many others. I will not tell you what they use for its their professional secret, but i never saw no line6 no axefx or a kemper running.”

    I can tell you that Chris Broderick most definately used the Axe FX live. I don’t know if he currently does but his endorsment of the product is genuine.

  41. Sounds awesome man!! Would you be able to upload your tones?

  42. really epic demos. Can you provide your presets and also the way you have recorded it? Post Eq and e.t.c

  43. Before describing or attempting to create guitar tones you should really fix the drum program you are using. It makes everything sound like ass.

  44. “Before describing or attempting to create guitar tones you should really fix the drum program you are using. It makes everything sound like ass.” – Metal man

    I’ll be sure to email Toontrack IMMEDIATELY and let them know that Superior Drummer 2.0 needs to be “fixed”.

    “Sounds awesome man!! Would you be able to upload your tones?” – LukeW
    “really epic demos. Can you provide your presets and also the way you have recorded it? Post Eq and e.t.c”- kread

    I’ll try and dig up the tones I used for this and maybe a few newer ones I’ve come up with since for you guys. Glad you enjoyed the review!

  45. I have the HD bean and I am starting to find some good lead tones. I will share the foundation of the patch and my approach in case it helps anyone.

    I don’t think it will help much sharing the exact patch as every guitar and player sounds different.

    First off, I wan’t a really creamy but controllable tone that really brings out all the detail of the pick and muting and harmonics without sounding gritty or saturated. Along the lines of Andy James guitar tone.

    The amp I chose is the treadplate and the knobs all sit near 50% (drive is a little less than 50%)
    Thing to watch for are don’t raise the bass up more than it takes to get a little percussiveness in the muted notes.
    The presence can get pretty pointy sounding so dont bring that up too much just to try to get it more present. There is more shaping that can be done in the fx

    FX. Start with a screamer. I start with the bass cut a bit and near 50% with mids and treb. Almost no drive or no drive. Output fairly high (>70%) Tone controls here are good for overall balancing of the tone

    Next i have a wah. I will try to update with the model. It is set static, i dont have a wah pedal in use right now. It is closer to the pedal up position. I will share more settings when i can get to my workstation and look at them. The point is to just get a bit of that stringy bite that happens when the wah starts to open. There is some tone controls here too that can be tweaked to balance the tone.

    Digital delay.. basic.. adjust to tempo… one tap maybe.. this one is to taste. I turn it off for shreddy stuff.

    Facial fuzz – This is where you can get that creamy sound that makes the notes want to jump out and sustain.. there is also tone controls here to shape as well but I would say mix this one in carefully. This effect can be pretty extreme pretty quick. I keep the drive down around 25% and only mix a little bit of it in. This effects the feel of the pick response quickly as well. If i make adjustments to the tone controls on the fuzz it is just to try to tweak the details of the tone.. not the tone itself. For example, if I don’t hear as much of the pick scrape as Im hitting a big note bend with tremelo (the ones where you rake like 3 muted strings prior to releasing your soaring bended note just to give it that big scrapy introduction) i might boost the highs on the fuzz.

    Gate – play feel is affected a lot here if the gate is too aggressive.. set the threshold where you just notice the feel start to change, then back it off a bit.

    I will hopefully have some work to share shortly that highlights the line 6 tone.

    The cab parameters are kid of confusing.. i move em around a bit but leave them near 50% cause i cant tell all the time exactly what it is doing.

    It may be me but i set the input impedence to 3.5. The pick attack It seems like it feels spongier to me.

    Cheers

  46. Hello, did you used for record those attached mp3′s only pod hd500? thank you

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