Hands-On Review:Line 6 Pocket POD
POD has a little brother who loves the road!
In 1998, Line 6 hijacked a myriad of classic sounds from popular amplifiers and stomp boxes, re-created them through the use of digital technology, and put them right on your studio’s desktop. The result was tonally pleasing, as well as visually appealing, yielding a cute, smallish, red kidney bean-shaped device called the POD. In no time PODs began turning up in studios all over America. Players and engineers enjoyed having hours of setup time eliminated. POD not only revolutionized the way people recorded in a professional setting, it also helped fuel the home studio boom.
Over the years, Line 6 has continued to improve on the versatility and features of POD, packing more tones, more amp models, more cabs, more effects, and more options into its 10"-wide casing. To satisfy guitarists’ different needs and various niches, the company expanded the line by producing new POD variations—floor models, rack models, and bass models—that gained appeal with a wider audience. So, what’s next? How do you expand on a big idea that comes in a small package? Make it even smaller and more portable!
Let’s get small
For years, guitar players developed their tones through an amp or set of amps, and a series of pedals placed on the floor in various configurations and settings. That’s fine for those guitarists who have spent years building their rig, especially those who have a roadie to help with moving, setting up, and tearing down. But for the rest of us, what could be easier and more alluring than a pocket-sized, all-encompassing tone factory?
The Pocket POD packs in every tone and effect that you found in Line 6’s second-generation POD 2.0 design. Only now, it’s all housed in a tuner-sized case that fits, well, right in your pocket. “Take your tones anywhere you go” is the company’s slogan, and it’s spot-on.
Powered by AAA batteries, this little powerhouse is the definition of portable. It’s great for recording, and onstage, it makes an incredibly versatile sound board. Like its larger siblings, the Pocket POD will be a godsend for guitarists in cover and wedding bands who need to replicate lots of different sounds of recordings.
If you’re not familiar with POD by now, you should know it already has a reputation for delivering an extensive library of great-sounding tones. This particular edition comes packed with over 300 pre-programmed, impressive, and very diverse sounds. Many of the newer presets have been professionally dialed-in by groups like Hoobastank, Sparta, P.O.D.—too many to list here. There are 124 programmable presets available to store your custom tones. Even though the Pocket POD is smaller than any previous POD (5" wide, just over 3" tall, and less than 3" deep), the knobs are ergonomic and the controls are logically laid out and clearly labeled.
The interface for editing sounds is easy to use. If you’re used to sending text messages from your cell phone, using the Pocket POD will be a piece of cake. One of the best features is the ability to connect to a computer directly through a USB output. It helps make tweaking or “deep diving,” as Line 6ers refer to it, quick and simple. The software is included. Just install and dive in.
If you’re looking for a specific tone or sound from a specific song or maybe you want an even larger variety of tones, there’s a seemingly endless amount of presets available—all for free—online through Line 6’s CustomTone.com. It’s a vast collection and just keeps growing. I spent a good three hours downloading various tones into the Pocket POD, testing ’em out, then trying new ones. The downloaded sounds are so faithful that a buddy of mine who walked in thought it was an original recording that was playing instead of me playing through the Pocket POD.
The sound engineers who develop these things must constantly challenge themselves to put as much into as little space as they can. Think of the Pocket POD as the MP3 player of guitar tones.
The 32 amp models replace a room full of amps with the famous names you’d expect, giving you a wide variety of classic and modern guitar amp sounds that are right there for you at the turn of a knob. With Pocket POD, though, it’s not just about having a lot of modeled amps; it’s about the fact that they really sound great, capturing the quality and feel that makes each amp special.
The 17 effects make up a real sonic rainbow as well, and include Delay, Chorus, Reverb, Flanger, and Tremolo, with each one sounding as good as any stomp box I’ve ever used. The 16 speaker cabinet models re-create a who’s who of classic cabs from the ’50s and ’60s. The Pocket POD also includes a built-in tuner and a noise gate that keeps the effects from getting too noisy so the silence between notes is really silence.
Ultimately, this thing is a real keeper. Pocket POD is great for beginning and aspiring musicians who want to experiment with different tones. It’s also ideal for the touring professional who wants to sit in the back of a tour bus and practice his chops. The Pocket POD is versatile, flexible, and, above all, portable. The quality of tone and range of sounds are worth twice the price; and the affordable price tag makes it a no-brainer.
Features & Specs
Line 6 Pocket POD
- Pocket size: 5"W x 3-1/2"H x 2-1/2"D
- Lightweight: 6 oz.
- Legendary POD 2.0 tone
- 300+ presets, 124 programmable for your personal settings
- Endless amounts of available presets online
- 32 guitar amp models
- 17 effects including Delay, Chorus, Reverb and more
- 16 cab models and A.I.R. Mic/Room Emulation
- Noise gate
- Built-in tuner
- USB for Mac & Windows
- Tone Edit software and online Tone Library
- 1/8" headphone/line output
- 1/4" amp/line I/O
- 1/8" CD/MP3 input
- 4 AAA batteries included for 4 to 6 hours of use
- Optional 9V DC supply
- Belt/strap clip