Line 6 POD HD500X Review


It’s fair to say that when you upgrade to a new car, you often look for a similar model but with a little something extra. Lets say you have the outgoing BMW M5 and you want it’s replacement: The brand spanking new BMW M5, you’d expect it to be slightly more powerful, have updated technology, and have updated styling. If BMW were to release a new M5 that has nothing in common with its predecessor, and perhaps decided to style it on the looks of a 1980’s Skoda it may not be so well received.

Line 6 are no exception to this rule, so why change too much, when the HD500 already sounds great and works well. That said after 3 years there are always opportunities to improve, and the rumour is that the Digital Signal Processor (DSP) chip built into the old HD500 is no longer available meaning Line 6 had no choice but to tweak the hardware a bit. So what has really changed:

    A modest increase in DSP and RAM
    All metal foot rugged switches, with brighter LEDs
    Brighter LCD screen
    Funky new name with an X at the end! (This is the go faster stripe)

How will that affect you if you already have a POD HD500? Well that very much depends on how you currently use your POD HD500.  If you’re happy with the POD HD500, and feel that the upgrade would not bring you enough improvement based on the money it would cost you – then why upgrade.  But you may still want to upgrade if you fit into one of the following:

    Do you use the POD HD500 already, but you wish you had a little bit more DSP to realise your dream tone?
    Have you seen the DSP limit reached warning a little too often, and you would like additional breathing space?
    Would you prefer a brighter/clearer LCD screen and or footswitch LEDs?
    Are you heavy footed and you would feel more comfortable stamping down on solid metal footswitches?
    Do you absolutely HAVE to have the latest and greatest technology?
    You don’t actually own a POD HD500 (Why not???).

If your answer to any of the above is yes, then get down to your local music store and exchange some cash for a POD HD500X quickly!

On a more serious note though, there’s been a lot of talk on the internet forums about the actual level of DSP increase.  From what I can gather, the old POD HD500 DSP was a 333MHz SHARC, and the new DSP in the HD500X is likely to be a 400MHz SHARC with similar additional specifications.  Please remember that DSP is only used to actually process sound in real-time, and isn’t to do with additional storage for preset information.  The onboard memory (RAM) would store the presets, and that’s had a boost too, although I’ve been unable to qualify the level of increase or to what extent it will deliver additional benefit to HD500X owners… But it’s possible that it could allow additional amp models in the future – But that’s only my personal guess.

Interestingly, there’s an additional point that should be made in relation to the DSP increase. 
Let’s say that your favourite POD HD500 preset uses 99.5% of the available HD500 DSP. You know you’ve tried in the past to add an additional spring reverb FX model and you hit the DSP limit. Well it’s possible that you may still not be able to add that spring reverb to the same preset when used in a POD HD500X, due to the spring reverb FX model using so much DSP just for that one FX.
BUT – There’s still plenty of DSP available for some of the other reverbs or other FX models. But it’s something to just be aware of.

Also check out my previous article: HD500X – First Play for additional info on using the increased DSP.

I will be recording a more in depth demo video of the additional DSP capabilities soon – So watch this space.