When I used to play guitar in local bands in the 1990’s, it took me a full rack full of gear to do maybe ¼ of what the new Line 6 POD HD500 does today. The pinnacle of their amp modeling POD hardware, the HD500 gives today’s tech-savvy guitarist a nearly infinite array of tones and effects to craft sounds limited only by your imagination. I picked up one of these as a late-Christmas present to myself, replacing an older model Line 6 POD x3, and after putting it through its paces I’m pleased to see how far modeling software has come in the last few years.
For those of you new to “amp modeling”, the concept is really pretty interesting. Through software and sheer processing power, Line6 sound engineers replicate the tonal qualities of specific highly sought after amps – everything from the legendary Gibson EH-185 and Fender Twin Reverb, to modern boutique amps like Bogner and ENGL. Virtual speaker cabinets are also designed so you can hear those amps through particular speaker combinations, as well as through a choice of microphones to bring out different tonal qualities of the amp. Add to that a library of over 100 effects and stompbox models based on real pedals. Ever wanted that classic 60’s model Jimi Hendrix Crybaby Wah? Well, now you got it.
One thing that caught my eye with the HD500 is a built-in looper that can record segments up to 48 seconds long. So, during a song my band plays, I can record a loop of the main guitar riff for the song, and kick that playback in during the solo section so I have an instant backing rhythm guitar track behind me. Takes a little getting used to, and some concentration to pull off live, but it works pretty well.
To top it off from my technology-geek side, the POD HD500 connects to my Macbook Pro (or PC if you’re Windows-inclined) through USB, and all of the various amps, patches, effects, they all can be controlled and programmed through a well-designed application called POD HD Edit, a free download from Line6 after you’ve registered your device. New sounds and tones can also be downloaded from a shared community site that Line 6 moderates. Think you’ve made the ultimate Eddie Van Halen “brown sound”? Upload it to the community for them to try out and give you feedback, or find that perfect sound that you’ve been looking for. It also connects digitally into most DAW software, including GarageBand, Logic, and ProTools for seamless digital recording.
Built like a tank with its all-metal chassis, this is one piece of tech you won’t be scared to stomp on. The POD HD500 from Line 6 can be had for $499 and is available now.