Review: Line 6 POD HD500X Multi-Effect Processor
Not too long ago, if you were shopping for a multieffect floorboard you were limited to a choice of affordable models with semi-pro-quality effects and moderately rugged construction or prohibitively expensive units with pro effects and tour-worthy durability.
When Line 6 introduced products like the M13 Stompbox Modeler and POD HD500, it bridged the gap between affordability and professional performance. The new Line 6 POD HD500X is the company’s most impressive multieffect floorboard to date.
With it, Line 6 has significantly increasing the power and flexibility of its best-selling POD HD500, and done so without increasing the list price.
Like its predecessor, the Line 6 POD HD500X includes more than 100 different types of effects, covering pretty much every conceivable sound a guitarist could want. They include various shades and colors of distortion, compression, flangers, chorus, wahs, EQs, delay, reverb, and even synths and ring modulators. Even more impressive is the HD500X’s selection of 30 HD amp models, which include multiple channels of classic amps (rather than just a single “best of” model of each amp) and even uncommon classics, like a Thirties Gibson EH-185, a Sixties Supro S6616 and a Seventies Park 75 (including both the normal and bright channels). Virtually any combination of these amp models and effects can be configured in any order and stored in 512 preset locations. You can even assign dual signal paths to emulate playing through two different rigs at once with the same guitar to layer sounds like many pros do.
The POD HD500X is housed in a rugged metal case and has 12 durable illuminated footswitches as well as a full-sized foot treadle for controlling volume, wah effects and assignable parameters or morphing between multiple amp and effect parameters. Eight of the footswitches are fully assignable, one pair is dedicated to scrolling up or down through presets, and the remaining two are dedicated to engaging the 48-second Looper function and Tap Tempo/Tuner functions. Basic amp-style controls for gain, volume, master and bass, mid, treble and presence are located on the top panel, and effects parameters and other programming tasks are accessible via four mini knobs situated below the detailed LED display.
The back panel has a full selection of connectivity options, including a 1/4-inch mono guitar input, stereo and individual mono output jacks, balanced XLR stereo outputs, CD/MP3 and aux inputs, a jack for an additional optional pedal controller, a mic input, a stereo effect loop, a headphone jack, MIDI In and Out/Thru jacks and USB. Here you’ll also find a pro-quality S/PDIF digital output (unexpected for a unit in this price range), an input for Line 6 Variax guitars, and a Line 6 Link jack that allows communication between the POD HD500X and Line 6’s DT Series amps and StageSource Series loudspeakers.
Anyone who has ever struggled to configure a rack during the Eighties or Nineties (or even yesterday) will weep tears of joy when they encounter the versatile power, pro-quality sounds, rugged durability and compact portability of the POD HD500X. The quality of amp models and effects is the best that Line 6 has ever offered, with the amps in particular offering touch-sensitive dynamic response and an incredible level of refinement and detail. If you’re looking for a particular sound, chances are good it’s already in there. If not, it’s pretty easy to dial the sound you have in mind, thanks to deep amp model parameters for bias, bias excursion, hum, sag and more. Effect parameters are similarly deep, allowing guitarists to dial in effects with precision and duplicate them perfectly every time a preset is recalled.
All this power and depth means that the POD HD500X can be a little intimidating to program at first, but its functions and corresponding controls are logically laid out, and the graphics on the large LED make it easy to navigate through the various pages and parameters. Line 6 also provides free Line 6 POD HD500X edit software for Mac and Windows computers, which significantly speeds up the process of editing and programming patches in fine detail. Line 6 also deserves kudos for its well-written manual and advanced guide, which are uncommonly easy to understand and refreshingly helpful.
List Price $699.99
Manufacturer Line 6, line6.com
More than 100 effects and 30 amp models provide a vast palette for duplicating classic tones or creating new, modern textures with your own sonic signature.
Pro features include a 48-second looper, comprehensive MIDI controller functions and digital audio I/O via USB.
Variax and Line 6 Link jacks allow the POD HD500X to communicate with various other Line 6 products, including guitars, amp and loudspeakers.
Editing and programming presets is significantly simplified thanks to the free Line 6 POD HD500X edit software package for Windows and Mac computers.
The Bottom Line
In addition to offering a staggering variety of pro-quality amp models and effects, the Line 6 POD HD500X is a powerful command center that also functions as a MIDI controller, the brain of a Line 6 Link system and even an I/O device for digital audio recording.
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