Hands-On Review:The ultimate guitar tone box gets even better!


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By Phil Montoya

 

Line 6 PODXTYou already know about the POD. It's the unit that really put amp modeling on the map. Line 6's new PODXT incorporates all the POD's tone magic with features from Line 6's flagship amp, the Vetta, plus 49 classic stompboxes and studio effects. The result is a one-stop studio workhorse that's turning up on stages everywhere.

Ultimate interface
I've been using the POD in my studio since it came out. I have a large closet full of classic amps, but when you put bread on the table cranking out jingles for car dealers and pet stores you don't want to spend half the morning trying different amp/mic/processor combinations. I just plug into my POD, turn a few knobs, press a few buttons, and I've got the tone I'm after in two minutes instead of two hours.

While I couldn't see much room for improvement, the
PODXT proves that the Line 6 guys could. The improvements are obvious, immediately accessible, and profound. Most obvious is the Vetta-like multifunction backlit LCD. Just crank the Select knob and cruise through 16 banks of 4 user-editable presets. They're named after famous songs, making it easy to spot the kind of sound you're after for any application. These presets are so accurate and useful the PODXT would be adequate for my purposes with just the Select and Output knobs for controls.

But that's just the beginning. Turn the Amp Models knob and the LCD becomes a series of graphics of the control surfaces of 32 classic amp models. Their Drive, Bass, Mid, Treble, Presence, and Volume knobs are at optimal presets, but just crank one of the real knobs on the POD and the graphic instantly responds, along with the tone. A little marker tells you where the original setting was, so you can return to it.

Turn the Effects knob and the LCD presents you with 64 effects memories, each of which can be easily adjusted with the Effect Tweak knob. Five buttons give you instant on/off access to the four basic effects types and cab modeling. Double-punch one of these and the Effect Tweak knob presents you with a series of stompbox faces on the LCD. Push the button below the parameter of your choice and adjust it instantly with the Effect Tweak knob.

The first ten minutes with the
PODXT made it clear Line 6 knows its greatest strength-accessibility-and is keeping its engineers on the straight and narrow.

Click to EnlargeMic modeling mojo
Just about any cool speaker cab you can think of-22 in all-is immediately accessible and generally quite convincing. But the
XT takes it a step further and adds Shure SM-57, SM-57 off axis, Sennheiser MD-421, and Neumann U-67 mic models to replicate the sound you would get from miking all these cabs in the studio with various mics.

If that weren't cool enough, Line 6 has even recorded amps with mics from varying positions in the room and with varying amounts of room ambience, then modeled these specific sounds. You can tweak the sound you're after with the same types of changes you would make in the studio. You might think such things were too subtle to model accurately, but I'm amazed how useful these new parameters are in recording sessions.

Routing flexibility
This time Line 6's engineers really bent over backwards to please studio control freaks like me. Not only do you have free access and total control over almost every stompbox effect you've heard of, you can decide where to mix it in the signal. Run it up front like a standard stompbox, or after the amp to get the vastly different sounds that some effects provide when you run an already-conditioned signal through them.

This provides an amazing amount of freedom. You could, for example, run your guitar into a Fuzz Face, put that through a Sweep Echo, then into a '68 Marshall 'Plexi' Super Lead and a 4x12 Green 20's cab recorded by an SM-57 on-axis mic with 14% room presence. You could then tweak the amp or effect controls and arrange them a number of different ways. It's very much like actually having all this stuff in the studio, sans setup hassles.

Click to EnlargeFull-range ins and outs
The
PODXT's 24-bit converters and 32-bit floating-point processing generate a true studio-quality ultra low-noise signal that holds its own against rack processors costing five times as much. You can run the signal out via stereo 1/4" connectors that are +4dBu balanced or -10dBV unbalanced. Or there's a USB connector that lets you run a digital signal directly into your computer. If you don't have an expensive sound card, this can result in a higher-quality signal for your guitar tracks.

MIDI in, out, and through lets you automate every move on the
PODXT and an optional foot controller lets you run it with your feet. Of course this is handy for quick changes if you're the recording engineer and guitarist at the same time, but I've been seeing it more and more often in stage rigs. A lot of players recognized the POD's potential for live performance right off the bat. But the PODXT, with all its Vetta technology, makes using a POD for your stage rig still more appealing. You can even run directly into the PA and still get big, rich guitar tone.

An obvious choice
A high-powered headphone out, amazingly accurate and easy-to-use tuner, and tap tempo are just a few of the additional features that make the
PODXT the ultimate studio partner for guitarists and recording engineers. For most projects I'd rather have a PODXT on hand than a room full of vintage gear. Line 6 definitely did it again.

Let Musician Friend make you a super-friendly deal on the
PODXT today. Your success in the studio will leave no doubt that you made the right choice.

 

Features and specs:


 

  • Award-winning Vetta amp-modeling technology
  • 32 amp models
  • 35 classic stompboxes and studio effects
  • A.I.R. II-based mic models plus amp and cab mix 'n' matching
  • 64 channel memories
  • Full MIDI control
  • USB I/O enables direct recording and access to more downloadable models and effects
  • Authentic reverb sounds
  • Full-time compression
  • Tap tempo features support for modulation and delay effects with note divisions
  • ToneTransfer libraries available online for expansion of presets
  • Compatible with FBV and FBV Shortboard foot controllers
  • Chromatic tuner
  • Manual mode for WYSIWYG operation
  • Flash-based memory supports future operating system upgrades