Hands-On Review:Line 6 PODxt Live

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Line 6 PODxt Live

The ultimate guitar tone box hits the stage and wows 'em!

By Shatano Cruz

Since the first POD was introduced a few years back, this power-packed recording preamp modeler multi-effects unit (it takes all those words just to say what it is) has taken the guitar world by storm. If it isn't eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something's wrong. It has had a monumental impact, enabling guitarists-especially those with more music than money-to make their music sound the way it does in their heads.


For relatively minimal cost, a POD provides a world of guitar tones-models of all the major amps, high-quality cab emulation, plus a whole slew of effects. All this in a compact, easy-to-use unit with all the right connections and pro quality sound. In short, a POD makes it possible for the average-joe guitarist to record really pro-sounding tracks, even on a family-PC-based recording setup.


Although primarily intended for direct recording, PODs have found their way onto many a stage. I use mine on gigs and wouldn't play without it. It turns any plain old amp into a sophisticated modeling rig, gives you world-class effects, and a dream selection of stompboxes. For a cover-band guitarist such as myself, it has been an unbeatable one-box solution ... until now. Now Line 6 has improved upon it with a version of the POD that is optimized for onstage use-the PODxt Live.


Look ma! No hands
Basically the same as the bean and rack versions of the PODxt Live (Read Phil Montoya's review of the PODxt on Musician's Friend's Web site if you're not already POD savvy), has been transformed into a fully committed floor unit. It has been fitted into an appropriately rugged metal case, a wah/volume/expression pedal has been built-in, and big floor-style switches added for handsfree control.


Line 6's forte is intelligent design and attention to detail, and the PODxt Live

has obviously received a big dose of each. It features an ample backlit screen. It's the same screen used on the bean version, but here the light and dark have been reversed and the text made larger. As a result, the screen can actually be read from a distance of five or six feet, as it needs to be for live use.


A roll bar protects the knobs on top from being damaged if your PODxt Live ever gets dropped on its top and also serves as a convenient carry handle. A beefy cable guide at the corner of the unit is intended for anchoring your power cable, but can also be used for your instrument cable, keeping you from yanking it out of its jack should you roam too far. Selection switches can be tapped for step-by-step changes or held down to scroll. Such details add up to make the PODxt Live a wonderfully practical floor pedal.


On the inside, the PODxt Live is basically the same as the bean and rack units, providing 128 presets. Banks one through eight are optimized for studio/direct recording. From bank nine up, the sounds have been tweaked to sound great feeding into the front of an amp for live performance. I've always thought my bean sounded great live, but the PODxt Live's tweaked presets do sound better through an amp. It's subtle, but you hear it at higher volumes.


Stompbox paradise
The 84 stompboxes alone make the PODxt Live easily worth the price. Spinning through the selections is a journey through stompbox-junky paradise, and because you can access them so easily onstage, the PODxt Live opens the door to in-the-moment creativity.


Variax nirvana
Perhaps the biggest difference between PODxt Live and the earlier PODs is the Variax connection (Variax is Line 6's modeling guitar). While you can plug any guitar into PODxt Live's standard guitar input, plugging a Variax into the Variax connection increases its power exponentially. It makes it possible to choose your entire rig-from guitar to stompbox to amp to speaker cab-by stepping on a single switch. Having the right guitar sound is a huge factor in nailing any particular sound, and with a Variax guitar and the POD, you've got it all.


Still a studio powerhouse
Although PODxt Live is built for the stage, it still has all the finesse and refinement needed for studio recording. It gives you the same awesome sounds as PODxt and PODxt Pro and even includes the USB connection for direct digital recording. It is also fully compatible with Line 6's unique online tone library that lets you download sounds matched to those of the greatest guitarists' songs and gear of all time.


To sum up, the PODxt Live is an awesome live performance or studio tool. It is also an incredible value since it includes all the tones and recording strengths of the popular PODxt, along with the footcontrol power of an FBV Shortboard plus the Variax connection. And since PODxt Live gives you all of it in a single package, it is more cost-effective. Whether you're looking for great effects, perfect stage or studio sound, or an upgrading of the sound of your amp, PODxt Live is a unit that will provide them all and a lot more.


Features & Specs



  • Rugged steel case
  • 11 channel select and effect on/off footswitches
  • Large backlit display designed for easy reading
  • Built-in wah/volume/tweak pedal
  • Bright LEDs, easy to see on lighted stage
  • 84 pro-quality stompbox and studio effects
  • 36 updated amp models
  • 24 cab models
  • 4 A.I.R. II-based mic models
  • Tap tempo features support for modulation and delay effects with note divisions
  • Technology and sounds from the award-winning Vetta II amp
  • Authentic reverb sounds plus full-time compression
  • Flash-based memory supports future operating system upgrades
  • Manual mode for WYSIWYG operation
  • Custom Tone libraries available online for preset expansion
  • Compatible with FBV and Shortboard
  • Chromatic tuner
  • 128 programmable presets
  • Variax digital input
  • USB digital I/O
  • Line 6 Edit computer editing software available online
  • USB direct recording drivers available online
  • Jam-along input for CD/MP3 player/drum machine
  • Input level control