Line 6 POD HD Effects Processor

February 14, 2012

POD HD’s front-panel controls make it easy to create and edit complex signal paths, thanks, in part, to the informative LCD.
POD HD is the latest iteration of Line 6’s extensive series of guitar processors, however, the stand-alone unit is not simply a refresh of a legacy product. The classic desktop version now contains the same high-level amp and effects models that are in other Line 6 HD products, as well as offering greater editing capabilities. And while POD HD remains the most portable of the bunch, it sounds great whether you’re listening through headphones, studio monitors, or running it through your favorite amp.

Like the other products in the HD line, POD HD features an LCD where you access the menu system using a 4-way navigation button, a pushbutton rotary encoder, and four multifunction buttons that surround them (Save, View, Enter, and Move). Below the screen are four additional multifunction rotary encoders and buttons. While the number of contextual controls might seem a bit extreme for an amp modeler, the interface is surprisingly intuitive, especially considering how extensively you can edit things. The LCD shows you a graphic of the signal path, and with the onboard controls alone, you can reorder the elements, select an amp or effect for editing, and step through presets, among other things. You can figure out the basics in about 10 minutes without opening the manual. (Surprisingly, the Advanced Guide, available online from, provides the best introduction to the unit.)

The lower row of buttons can be used for selecting patches or to control the built-in looper. The looper includes reverse and half-speed controls, the latter of which can also give you double-time playback if you record at the lower speed. You access the internal guitar tuner by holding down the tap-tempo button.

Around the perimeter of the POD HD are eight additional knobs—Drive, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence, Tweak, Volume, and Master—most of which are self-explanatory. The Tweak control is user assignable and can be used to adjust any parameter that you feel is important in a patch. You can even set a minimum and maximum value for the tweakable parameter. And as you turn the knobs, the controls in the LCD screen follow.

POD HD boasts 22 of Line 6’s highdefinition virtual amps and over 100 effects from the company’s M-series stompbox modelers. The amp selection includes classic Fender, Marshall, and Vox models, as well as examples from Bogner, Engl, Hiwatt, Mesa/Boogie, Divided by 13, Dr. Z, Supro, Park, and Gibson. Next, pick from the 16 virtual speaker cabinets (from many of the same manufacturers), and then select one of eight mic models, from Shure and Sennheiser dynamics, to Royer and Coles ribbons and Neumann condensers.

The effects categories include distortion, modulation, dynamics, filtering, reverb, EQ, delay, and pitch change. There are common effects you’d expect, as well as a number of surprises. Looking for intelligent harmonization, tube-echo, vocal-formant filtering, octave-fuzz, or a sequenced filter? You’ve got ’em. But check out the Pattern Tremolo. It steps through four rhythmic cells at a tempo you select, and each cell can have 1 to 16 tremolo waves, stay level, or be skipped. It took only a minute to set up a repeating pattern that alternated between 16ths and quintuplets. Righteous!

The effects can be placed before or after the amps, in series or parallel. You also have the option of placing two amp models in parallel in the signal path. This allows you to create some very sophisticated sounds, especially if you take advantage of the unit’s stereo capabilities. Many of the factory presets demonstrate this very well, even if they might not be the most practical patches for your own music. The good news is that there are hundreds of user slots to save your own presets.

Connect the POD HD to your computer via USB and use it as an audio interface, or record directly to your favorite DAW.
While it’s really easy to assemble a signal path that fits your real-world preferences (e.g., a “Fuzz Pi” going into the vibrato input of a ’65 “Blackface” Fender Twin Reverb, miked off axis with a Shure SM57), at some point you’ll want to ditch your preconceptions and explore the vast sound potential of the POD HD. But the signal chain is only the beginning: You can get very deep into tone sculpting, and there’s a remarkable amount of detail available in the models. For example, in the amps you can adjust tube bias, sag, and even the frequency rate (50 or 60Hz) of the virtual AC hum found in the modeled vacuum-tube heater supply.

To facilitate editing, Line 6 offers POD HD Edit (Mac/win), a freeware editor/ librarian that simplifies the task of patch creation so much that it makes programming fun. You’ll need to connect the POD HD to your computer using the USB port and the included cable, and then download the software from the Web. I had no hassles setting everything up to work with my MacBook Pro.

Once you’re connected via USB, you can also use POD HD as your audio interface and record directly to your favorite DAW software, or listen to audio files once you’ve connected the device to your studio’s playback system. Besides the ¼" guitar input, the processor has balanced ¼" outputs as well as an XLR input (with dedicated gain control) for a dynamic mic. There’s even a S/PDIF digital output that allows you to send your dry or processed signal to an external audio interface or digital audio recorder. POD HD’s digital resolution is 24-bit, with sampling rates from 44.1 to 96kHz.

To unleash the full potential of the POD HD processor, you will want to combine it with one of the Line 6 footboard controllers— the FBV, FBV Shortboard, or FBV Express. Besides having an expression pedal for volume and filter effects, the switches allow you to select presets, bypass effects, tap in the tempo, or engage the tuner. And the pedalboard makes it much easier to use the POD HD’s looper.

Using the editor and controller is the most convenient way to handle the POD HD’s vast modeling resources in any recording or performance environment. But even on its own, POD HD will give you plenty of creative mileage.


Contact Line 6;


Price $549 retail/$399 street
Inputs 1/4", XLR mic
Outputs Stereo headphone, balanced 1/4" (2), S/PDIF, USB 2.0 port
Kudos Built-in Looper. Excellent sound quality. Easy to edit and arrange amps and effects. Works as USB interface.
Concerns Can’t use condenser mics because it lacks phantom power.

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