Image via Wikipedia
by M A N @roquesdoodle
What looks like a Hill Giant's kidney and can sound like everything from whispering crystals to Zeus in an alcohol-induced rage? That would be this thing. The POD from Line 6.
To call this thing a simple effects unit would be a gross understatement (I believe they prefer the term 'amp modeler' anyway). Yes, it has some pretty stellar effects, from classic reverbs and modular effects to spot-on replications of vintage pedals. But what the POD is really known for is its amplifier simulation. Wish you were playing through a Marshall JCM-800? Done. How about an old '65 Fender Bassman? Easy peasey. Or what if you want to hear what a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier would sound like running into a single 8 inch Fender Tweed cabinet mic'ed with an off-axis Shure SM57 placed a foot away? Seriously.
The POD has dozens of amp models to choose from, a host of cabinets, and a healthy dose of effects thrown into the mix (and you can choose how to mic the cabinet!). They even offer a wide variety of DLC if the stock options aren't enough to sate your sound palette. If you're looking for more esoteric effects or some additional boutique amps, you can download their extra packages right to the POD and you're ready to go. Plus, Line 6 has a thriving online community where you can share and trade your own custom sound creations. There are thousands of user-generated tones to choose from, all ready to be downloaded directly to your POD through a simple USB interface. No crazy midi set-ups. Just point and click.
What I like most about the POD is that you can not only run it in front of your favorite amp, but that it's designed to be plugged directly into the sound system. No more lugging around a heavy amp or two, or making your roadies hump your full stack from gig to gig (or, even worse, doing it yourself). With the POD, you'll be ready for sound check in less time than it takes to make toast.
Now, many will say that there's nothing that can compare to the real thing. No matter how far along amp modeling has come, a simulated Fender Twin is never going to sound like a REAL Fender Twin. I agree. There's something about the sound of a tube amp pushing air that even a tech marvel like the POD can't quite duplicate exactly. That being said, it's damn close. Close enough that even sound engineers with golden ears may not be able to tell the difference in a side-by-side comparison.
And the POD is just one in a wide range of modeling products from Line 6. The POD itself comes in several flavors, with rack mounted and on-the-floor options, and there are several amp variations to choose from if you prefer. And that's not even getting into their line of pedals or their amazing Variax guitars (the Variax deserves a post of its own).
So if you're a purist who doesn't care about pissing off the neighbors or the back problems you'll have from hauling your favorite Peavey half-stack around, this might not be for you. But if you're looking for a unit that can provide just about any sound under the sun at a reasonable price in a spine-saving package, this is a must-have.
Now, it must be said that I'm endorsing the POD and Line 6 because I truly love their products, not because I have an endorsement deal with them (but if they want to give me one, I'm really easy to find). I really like what this unit can do. I run my guitar into a Damage Control Womanizer pedal for a little oomph, into my POD, into the PA/computer/recording device,etc. I've recorded with this set-up and used it live and it always sounds great. And the price compared to that of an amp makes it a no-brainer. I've been playing with a POD for ten years now and it still makes me happy.