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The POD

The PODFor the unfamiliar, the POD, it is a guitar amplifier simulator/cabinet simulator/effects wrapped in one neat package. Designed by a company called Line 6, the POD uses digital modeling technology to emulates different guitar amps, a couple of tube pre-amps and a fuzz pedal. It is fully MIDI compatible and its settings can be controlled either through a MIDI controller (software or hardware based) or through the optional FB4 floorboard controller. The POD is used for creating quality guitar sounds directly into a recorder, mixer or an amp.

If you’ve plugged a normal guitar distortion pedal directly into a mixer before playing your guitar through it, you probably know it sounds nothing like the pedal does through your amplifier. Instead, it sounds very harsh and nasty – and the sound you get when you try plugging a guitar straight into a mixer is usually rubbery and dull. But, with the POD, you actually get good, quality-rich sounds that sound remarkably close to a well mic’ed guitar amp.

The POD will never replace a good amplifier or a good microphone. Any professional audio engineer who has used the POD will tell you that. But it is an acceptable alternative when a client comes in with a sub-par amplifier or is short on recording time. It’s also fantastic for session guitarists who do commercial work and need to lay down some decent sounding guitar tracks with a minimum amount of hassle. For the home recording musician or project studio engineer who doesn’t have a huge range of guitar amps to choose from, the POD can, indeed, be a very valuable tool.

I’m a direct recording nut. I have quite a few devices that I use, including a SansAmp GT-2, Digitech RP-10, Hughes & Kettner Red Box MKII, Zoom 5000, Zoom 9150 tube pre-amp/DSP, ART Tube MP pre-amp, Ibanez VA-3 Virtual Amp, and, lastly, the POD. What’s fun is that you can often use different direct recording devices together to further warm up the tone. For example, you can run something like a SansAmp GT-2 into one of the POD’s clean amp model patches and get some very nice results that you couldn’t get with either the POD or the GT-2 by themselves.

Actually the same goes for any distortion pedal. You can set the POD to a clean amp model and run distortion pedals into it just as you would a regular amp. This greatly expands the range of tones possible with the POD. However not all amp models work well for this purpose. You have to experiment a little with amp models, drive and eq settings before you find just the right sound. And the POD isn’t just for guitar. It makes a killer bass guitar direct box, helping you get a really nice fat bass track onto tape or disk using its general purpose "Tube Preamp" model. The same model also works great for warming up keyboards as well.

Additionally, the POD comes with computer software that allows you to do a few more tricks and a few more amp models that you can’t access from the POD itself. One cool feature is that you can mix and match speaker cabinets with the various amp models. For example, you can match a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier amp model with an 8" speaker (I wouldn’t recommend doing that, but it can be done). You also have a few more drive and eq settings and greater control over some of the various effects (Chorus, Reverb, Flange, Delay, Swell, Tremolo, Compression, and Leslie). The software lets you store an infinite amount of user settings on your computer, plus you can save those settings onto your POD (replacing the presets, which mostly suck). That way you can take your favorite sounds to your next recording or live gig.

If you’re using the POD for live performances, I highly recommend that you purchase the FB4 floorboard controller. Then you can change to different patches during your performance, leaving your hands free to play the guitar. The FB4 has an expression pedal which gives you access to controls over various parameters, and also gives you access to the POD’s wah effect (which simulates a late 60’s Vox wah). When playing live, if you use a guitar amp, you have to be sure to turn off the speaker simulation by switching a small switch on the back from "Direct" to "Amp". If you are running the POD directly into the PA system then set that switch to "Direct". This will give you the best quality sounds that way.

Overall I think the POD is a fantastic tool for any home studio, project studio, or for a guitarist that plays covers and needs a wide variety of sounds. Even professional audio engineers find it quite handy in certain situations. Gigging guitarists may however want to check out the Line 6 amplifiers that also have most of the same amp models if not more.

If you’d like more details on the POD and other Line-6 products its best to go to the source over at http://www.line6.com. If you’d like to hear some samples of the POD, I have some MP3 samples of the POD on my web page as well as some samples of the SansAmp GT-2 and the Digitech RP-10. All of the samples were done using direct recording methods. My direct recording page is located at http://www.onlinerock.com/musicians/chrisg/POD_Samples.html

Another excellent POD sample site, which also features MP3, Real Audio, .wav, and AIFF formats, is at http://www.tonefrenzy.com/sound/line6

If you have any questions on the POD that Line 6 couldn’t answer or questions or comments about my Web site or this article feel free to email me at chrisgie@txdirect.net

See you all on the OnlineRock Chat room!

Chris Gieseke

Buy The Line 6 Pod Now

 
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