What does ‘Pro’ really mean… yeah ok, you got me, of course it means Professional. But what does that word mean to you? Does it mean a job.. A career.. Or perhaps a vocation? When listening to your guitar heros (and playing air guitar to their uncommonly good chops) do you dream of a day when you too could be a guitar hero with others listening to you on their iPods, etc. Would you then consider yourself a Pro?
The reality is that whether you’re a pro guitarist, a studio owner, a bedroom axe slinger, or play in a pub covers band, your personal preference or requirements may dictate that you need/want a rack mounted processor with the most comprehensive I/O options in the range. Line 6 say it well with the following quote: “POD HD Pro processor delivers supreme flexibility in both tone and I/O for everything you play and everywhere you play it.”
But let’s get down to the important business of reviewing the POD HD Pro so you can understand the reasons why the HD Pro may be the best choice for you.
“To Pro, Or Not To Pro, That Is The Question”
To kick off, it’s perhaps worth looking at what’s similar and what’s different about the POD HD Pro compared to the other devices in the POD HD family (the floor based POD HD300, HD400, HD500 and desktop based HD Bean).
Check out my recent POD HD comparision document, to compare the specs of all POD HD devices against each other: Comparison Guide
The Pro is of course rack mount (did I really need to state the obvious?) so it’s better placed to be in a studio or in a rack rig (if that’s what you prefer). To support its studio roots there’s more input/output options than the other POD HD devices. Some of the extras are worth singalling out here, like the Line inputs, and the dry output. If you want a rack mount FX processor for general use, then the inclusion of the line inputs makes it very flexible. I’ve tried it out in the FX loop of a tube amp, and used the line inputs to make sure the signal path didn’t suffer from the different impedance of the instrument input, and the tone of my tube amp wasn’t negatively affected at all. I had it set on +10db, but there’s a setting for -4db if you do want to plug in an instrument level device. Some of you will of course have already realised that as the POD HD Pro has all the FX from the M13, that it is in fact basically an M13 Rack of sorts. The benefit is that the HD Pro has more DSP than the M13 and so can run more than the 4 FX at once that the M13 limits you to. The Dry output is particularly interesting though. For example you could have a Pro and an HD500 with the dry output going to the other PODs guitar input, then use MIDI for PC control (to change presets in sync) and you have potentially a rig that allows you to use dual amps and lots of FX without running out of DSP, and all for a very reasonable cost (did someone just shout “It’s less than half the price of an Axe-FX II”?). Of course the HD500 would be your foot controller, and the end result would depend on your actual requirements for a dual tone rig, but there are some great possibilities there.
There are some more obvious additions, such as all metal chassis, meaning that it’s certainly fit for being on the road. The screen and controls are laid out very well, and are simple to edit quickly even on stage if you need to make a last minute adjustment at sound check. There’s a feature packed microphone input on the front of the chassis too, if you want to use the POD for vocal FX processing, with some handy features not seen on any other POD HD. There’s a clip indicator, a larger more pricise input gain control, a high pass filter, -20db pad, and phantom power for condenser microphones.
Perhaps the one thing that I would have liked to see would have been a 2nd guitar input on the rear panel. Why I hear you ask… Well for those of you who like to travel light (like I do), you may put this in a 3U rack case with the Line 6 Relay G90 wireless receiver. Now as these are about the only two rack products that Line 6 make, but the G90 has the 1/4″ main output on the rear panel (for connecting to an amplifier etc), and the HD Pro guitar input is on the front panel… All this means in reality that I need to leave a gap between both of them and run the cable from rear to front… But as most outputs on FX processors are on the rear, it would have made sense to have a guitar input on the back too to facilitate integrating a little easier with other rack devices.
For anyone that needs AES/EBU digital I/O or S/PDIF I/O then the POD HD Pro fits the bill once again. There are also some more in depth settings in the Pro to output over digital at the same time as outputting over the analog outputs, so there’s some scope there for some serious flexibility of connecting to various up or downstream devices….. The possibilities are almost endless.
HD Amp models & M Class FX
Unless you’ve been in a guitar playing induced coma since April, you’ll likely be well aware that Line 6 upgraded the HD amplifier model count from 16 HD amp models to 22 HD amp models on all the previous POD HD units (HD300/400/500) and at the same time the POD HD Bean was released and already included the same upgraded set of 22 HD amp models… Well there’s no surprises then that the POD HD Pro also includes the very same 22 HD amp models that the other POD HD units all include. The M Class FX from the M5, M9 and M13 series devices from Line 6, are really high quality FX, which is a welcome upgrade from the generally good FX on the previous POD XT and POD X3 series devices. From the rich and warm reverbs down to the biting raw tones of the more extreme distortion pedal models, to the transparancy of the EQs, the effects would happly sit next to their real world counterparts that they’re modeled on and would give them a run for their money. For more information on the specific FXs models, as well as in depth explanations and sound demos, check out the Deep Dive series looking into the POD HD Series FX models with Line6Miller.
The POD HD Pro is the latest POD in the POD HD series, and is the 4th generation POD Rack processor from the pioneers of amp modelling: Line 6. It doesn’t have the ‘usual’ floor multi FX type format (although you can buy an FBV MKII foot controller) that so many other FX pedals follow, but it is more designed for the studio or for the stage. It includes some great extra features, whilst not losing any of the important features of its siblings, like the all important HD amp models that we already hold in such high regard. Is it the right POD HD for you… Only you can decide that!
Pros: Ready to tour, the same great HD amp models and M series FX, power on/off switch, Digital I/O
Cons: No 2nd dedicated Guitar Input on the rear
Rowbi’s Verdict: Top Notch Pro Gear 9/10
For more information on the POD HD Pro, please visit http://line6.com/podhd/pro/