Eight months ago Line 6 released their latest and greatest POD to date: The POD HD. Within this new series of PODs, incorporating HD modeling, the POD HD300 is the lion cub within the pride, but think of it more as a Royal Marine trained lion cub with an assault rifle than some fluffy pet your kids want to take home from the zoo. Now also add that Line 6 has just released a free update [v1.31] which includes 6 additional HD amp models and deep edit control of the original and also the new amp models. This increases the total HD amp models to 22, so there’s even more choice of sounds for us tone freaks to choose from.
Line 6 was kind enough to send me a POD HD300 to review with the latest v1.31 firmware already loaded.
Like the POD XT Live and POD X3 Live before them, the POD HD floor units all share a lot of similarities, and some differences. All units have the same amp models, and the same base set of vintage and modern FX models [taken from the M Series pedals]. The POD HD400 and HD500 do have a few more FX added but when I look down the small list of differences, I’m not seeing a single FX model I have used much. For me, the important FX models are digital delay, tube screamer, hall and cave reverb, and occasionally a few others. The POD HD300 ticks all those boxes as do the POD HD400 and POD HD500.
Next, there’s the I/O compliment that I need from a POD:
- Guitar input
- MP3 input
- Balanced outputs
- Unbalanced outputs
- Line 6 Link (to connect to my Line 6 DT50)
- Headphone output
- USB audio output
It’s got it all, and that’s all I need when I play with my band, and when I practice and record at home. Check out the video linked at the end of this review: In that video I used the USB audio output to record some of the new amp models in v1.31 firmware.
Now here’s where it starts to get interesting. The POD HD500 in all its glory can run dual amps, can move FX around in any combination you like, can be a MIDI controller, etc… I have one of those too (and a POD HD400 for good measure) and they’re both great units. But I hear lots of people who just go out and buy the HD500 (because it’s the most expensive and has a few more features) but in my opinion, if the HD300 ticks the boxes for what you need then it is the best option over the HD400 and HD500. ‘SHOCK HORROR’ Yep that’s what I said, in my opinion the POD HD300 is the best and here’s why I think that:
- It’s easier to dial in – After dialing in lots of tones, most can be done easily by turning the few knobs on the top of the POD HD300. Only occasionally do I feel the need to go into the deep edit menu and tweak further. This is great for those new to PODs or amp modelling, and even for those of us who have owned every generation of POD that Line 6 have ever made. I like playing
guitar, so the less I’m dialing in tones, the more I can play.
- There’s less going on – Don’t take that as a bad thing, more is only better if you can make use of it. Would a sports car or a Smart car be the best all round vehicle for driving in the centre of London? That’s the same as buying the POD HD500 just because it can do a few more things. If you only need a POD HD300, just get the HD300.
- It’s more portable – The POD HD300 is lighter and shorter than the POD HD400 and HD500. For anyone that’s travelling to gigs [for example] on the tube in London with a guitar in a gigbag, your POD HD300 could easily fit in an average rucksack (I tried it with one I have here).
- It won’t break the bank – For any average gigging musician every gear purchase needs to be paid for, and that’s another feather in the POD HD300’s cap (It’s starting to look like Big Bird). The POD HD300 has all the same amp models, and all the main FX that the HD400 and HD500 has, so it’s the best value of the whole line.
With all the info above, you’ve got to be wondering where’s the catch? Well there aren’t really any big issues here. Sure there are always little things that could be improved, and I think 1 of them would have been to have the new amp models editable on the main amp model selection knob. As it is they are still easy to get to, it’s just a button press or two away, and there they are in the edit menu. Another being a right angle DC plug on the power cable. But these aren’t show stoppers for me at all.
Pros: All the same amp models and most of the FX that the larger POD HDs have. It’s cheaper, smaller and lighter. Easy to dial in tones generally.
Cons: New amp models not on main amp selection knob, and a right angled DC plug would make pedalboard mounting a little easier.
Rowbi’s Verdict: Top marks with 10/10
Download the 3 tone files from that demo video HERE