Since its release two years ago the Line 6 POD Pro guitar amp processor/emulator has proven to be a mainstay in the world of electric guitars. The POD Pro is a rackmount version of the original POD with several additional features and expanded I/O. The box boasts 32 amp and 15 cabinet models, 15 effect combinations and 36 user-memory locations for storing custom setups.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, live sound
Key Features: Numerous digital effects and emulators; AIR technology; MIDI-compatible; compatible with other Line 6 processors; digital output; +4 dBu/-10 dBV operation
Contact: Line 6 at 818-575-3600, Web Site
The rear panel of the 2RU, 7.32-pound, 7-inch deep POD Pro is equipped with a vast assortment of digital and analog connectors, allowing the box to adapt to virtually any situation. A pair of 1/4-inch jacks provides line level input and an unprocessed Guitar Out. The line level input is the key to re-amping sounds already recorded. The unprocessed Guitar Out can be used to record a non-amped version of a part so the final amp, cabinet and effect combination can be determined at a later date. The unprocessed Guitar Out is also a perfect signal source for a tuner.
A pair of 1/4-inch TRS -10 dBV jacks provides a stereo send and return for patching additional effects into the POD’s signal chain.
The rear panel mode switch selects either Live or Studio mode. The Live mode is designed for performance situations and, depending on the output, bypasses the speaker simulation and/or the Acoustically Integrated Recording (AIR) circuitry. The AIR technology provides the realistic (and patented) Line 6 speaker/microphone/room emulation.
Another pair of 1/4-inch jacks provides unbalanced -10 dBV analog outputs and a pair of XLR jacks provides balanced +4 dBu analog outputs. A ground lift switch can be activated to float the ground of the balanced outputs.
Both AES/EBU and S/PDIF 24-bit digital outputs are provided. A BNC connector provides external digital clock in.
MIDI I/O connectors are provided to allow channel memories (via program change messages) to be selected from other MIDI equipment or POD settings to be automated (via controllers and/or Sysex).
The box is equipped with a ToneTransfer feature that allows sounds to be transferred between other Line 6 products and gives the ability to download settings from the Line 6 Web library.
The front panel is beautifully designed in the Line 6 tradition and with its lights, knobs and bright red color, it guarantees to be the center of attention. The front panel layout is both simple and intuitive.
Two mounted 1/4-inch jacks are supplied for guitar/line input (a switch determines which) and headphone monitoring. A second switch determines sync source (internal 44.1 kHz, internal 48 kHz or external). A green LED lights when input signal is present and a red LED lights to indicate input clipping.
The Amp Models rotary switch determines which amplifier is being modeled and the Effects rotary switch selects the desired effect or bypass if no effect is desired. Options include choruses, flanges, tremolo and compression, as well as several multieffects, e.g. delay/flange, delay/compressor, etc. If the tap button is pressed, the Effects switch becomes a Cabinet Select switch where the user can select between 15 cabinets and an additional layer of effects. This button can also be locked-down for lengthier access.
There are separate controls for drive, bass, middle, treble, channel volume, reverb level, effect tweak and output. The effect tweak function varies depending on which effect is selected. If the tap button is pressed, Drive becomes Distortion On/Off, Bass becomes Delay Feedback, Mid becomes Delay Level, Treble becomes Presence On/Off, Channel Volume becomes Volume Boost On/Off, Reverb becomes Digital Output Gain and Effect Tweak becomes Effect/Tap Speed.
Pressing the Tuner button transforms the POD Pro into an instant chromatic tuner. Pressing the Noise Gate button activates the POD’s built-in noise gate. The tap button sets and displays the current tempo or speed of the effects. The MIDI button allows the user to access MIDI functions. The Channel Up and Down and Save buttons allow presets to be selected, saved and recalled.
The optional Floor Board allows access to many otherwise unavailable features. This controller provides a volume pedal, a wah pedal, stompbox style on/off control of the POD’s effects, channel switching, tap-tempo and tuner control. Being the non-guitar strumming engineer that I am, I found that unless I need a wah, I rarely use the Floor Board. With all its killer features, though, it is a must for any guitar player.
I have used the POD Pro time and time again over the past year and I grow fonder with every use. The box is fantastic. A lot of guitarists believe the only way you can get a good guitar sound is by using an amplifier. I must admit that there was a point when I believed that as well. In the past year, time and time again, the POD Pro has proven that is simply not true. I have recorded dozens of songs that have relied solely on the POD Pro for their guitar tones and I have not encountered a soul that can listen and tell that they are not the real thing.
Not only have I had good results using the POD Pro on guitars, but it also gets a lot of mileage on vocals and drums. There have been several instances while mixing rock tunes that the vocal just would not cut through the track. I found that adding a bit of the POD Pro on the vocal track gave the vocal a musical edge and grit that was just what the track needed.
I have had great success in using the POD Pro to accentuate the snare drum ring on several tunes. There was one situation when the producer regretted not trying to get more ring out of the snare during tracking. I sent the snare through the POD Pro, did a little tweaking, combined the POD snare with the original and, Shazam! The producer thought I was some kind of magic man.
My only real complaint with the box is the lack of a digital input. I use the box as often in mix as I do when I am tracking, and having the ability to go directly from my DAW into the POD Pro without ever entering the analog domain sure would be nice. Another potential downside is the lack of higher sample rate support. Once I get in the digital domain I like to stay there. When I record through the POD Pro, I usually go digital out into my iZ RADAR or into ProTools. Though it is still a long way from becoming the standard, more and more often people are recording at 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz sample rates, which are not supported by the POD Pro. Hopefully Line 6 will update the box to support these rates as well.
Many people think the POD Pro is simply a hardware version of the popular AmpFarm plug-in. This is simply not the case. With the flanges, choruses, reverbs and delays, the POD Pro has many features that are not available in AmpFarm. I have both and use them regularly.
The POD Pro remains one of the best bangs-for-your-buck in pro audio. If you need a quick, easy way to get killer guitar sounds without an amp or simply another box to expand your recording creativity, the Line 6 POD Pro might just be what you are looking for.
Apple 400 MHz PowerMac G4; Digidesign Pro Tools v5.1 Mix+, MOTU DP3, Steinberg Nuendo 1.5 DAWs; iZ RADAR 24 with a Nyquest 96 kHz card hard disk recorder; Alesis MasterLink hard disk recorder; Lucid Gen-X-96 clock; Hafler amplification; PMC TB1, Yamaha NS-10M monitors; Mogami cables.