Welcome to our Line 6 POD HD 500 review. The HD 500 is the flagship multi effects floor processor from Line 6. It aims to be the complete solution for guitarists looking for a wide selection of emulated amp models and effects from classic pedals for live and studio performance. Will it make you retire your effects pedal collection? Does it offer enough sound options? Does it sound as good as the hype says it does? Is it the best multi effects processor out there? Let’s find out.
There are many other competitors for all-in-one multi effects processors on the market from the likes of Boss, Digitech, Vox, etc. Most guitarists on a budget don’t have the means to go around trying them extensively enough to really get a feel for which one stands out above the rest. In this Line 6 POD HD 500 review you’ll find out if it’s really the best multi effects processor out there.
First, I want to point out the most notable differences that set the POD HD 500 apart from the HD 400 and HD 300. The HD 500 allows the use of up to 8 effects on a preset, whereas the HD 300 and HD 400 only allow up to 6. Also, the POD HD 500 allows Dual Tone Processing, which is basically running two difference amp simulations at once for maximum tonal versatility and double-tracking possibilities.
These could be major selling points for those thinking about settling for one of the lesser units, as the POD HD 500 can create an unrivaled variety of sounds through the combination of multiple amp models. More on that later.
Let’s run down the list of specs from Line 6.
25 HD Amp Models (expanded with updates)
16 Guitar Speaker Cabinet Models
8 Microphone Models
512 User-Writable Preset Locations
100+ M-Class Effects Models (expanded with updates)
Up to 8 simultaneous effects
Dual Tone Processing for using 2 amp models at once
Inputs: ¼” Guitar, 1/8” MP3/CD, XLR + Mic Preamp, Variax Digital Input (VDI)
Outputs: 2 ¼” Unbalanced, ¼” Stereo Headphone, Balanced XLR (Mic Level), S/PDIF
¼” Stereo Effects Send/Return
Built-In Expression Pedal (Controls 50+ Amp/Effect Parameters
External Expression Pedal Jack
Can be used as USB audio interface
5-Pin MIDI Input + Output/Thru (User Configurable MIDI Controller)
Built-In Chromatic Tuner
Read more about the Line 6 POD HD 500 at Line6.com.
Now let’s find out how it sounds.
There’s no doubt that amp modeling and emulation have come a long way over the years. In the beginning many guitarists would scoff at the thin-sounding digital amp modeling gear arriving on the scene. Not anymore. While purists may still argue that nothing beats a good all-valve amp, most tone connoisseurs will recognize that the Line 6 POD HD 500 simply sounds awesome.
HD hype aside, the tones found here are anything but dull. Great tonal representations of many classic amps can be found here. Some of my favorites include the emulations of the Fender Bassman, Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverb, Marshall JCM-800 (2204), and Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier.
When it comes to authentic amp emulation and modeling, there are many variables to consider such as individual amp head modeled, tubes, speaker cabinets, and microphones among other things. While some of the models may not sound 100% perfect to purists, they are all still very warm and responsive to your playing. And with all the great amp choices on offer, there is plenty of flexibility to be found in the POD HD 500 for getting a unique sound all your own.
I highly advise anyone looking for a new sound to start with one amp you like, experiment with cabinet, microphone, and EQ settings, and then use Dual Tone Processing to run another signal chain featuring a different amp simultaneously. With a little tweaking, you can build some phenomenal tones from the ground up. This feature alone gives the HD 500 unrivaled tonal flexibility over the HD 300 and HD 400.
The effects are top notch. Everything from the Line 6 M-Class series of pedals (M5, M9, M13) is here. You have a formidable collection of over 100 of the best guitar pedals from the last half-century at your feet.
You have to put this baby into action to see how well it shines.
First off, the entire board has a real solid feel thanks to its all-metal chassis. The footswitches are responsive and sturdy, while the expression pedal has a nice rugged feel. This is certainly a piece of gear meant to be a workhorse for the serious musician.
I have to say that my absolute favorite feature of this product is the ability to control over 50 tweakable parameters with the expression pedal. That’s more than most people would ever need. But for the tone hungry performer looking for exciting new sounds, you will find options limited only by your imagination.
One simple example of this in action was a preset I made where I was able to seamlessly switch mid-song from a jangly clean sound with delay to a dry fat bass tone one octave down. You can fade effects in and out, adjust EQ settings, and go from simple to insane sounds with a subtle sweep of the pedal. You can get lost for days creating sounds that take advantage of this feature alone.
Running an American Strat and a Gibson SG through the POD HD 500 yields nothing but the best you’d expect. Everything is responsive and warm. You can even roll back the volume knob and dig in for some great breakup. As Line 6 says, “The proof is in the playing.” You have to try it to experience how good this thing sounds. While the factory presets give you a general idea of the sounds on offer, the HD 500 really comes alive when you put the time in craft your own sounds.
If you want to add in external effects, the Stereo Effects Loop has you covered. And an extra extension pedal can be plugged in as well for more control. The board is fully programmable, and multiple effects can be turned on and off from a single switch if desired.
The Line 6 POD HD 500 is a guitarist’s dream come true. With an unrivaled collection of tonal options, the HD 500 will let you find the sound you’ve been looking for. All the effects you could ask for make this your one-stop shop for your tone-shaping needs. If you could only have one piece of gear to go with your favorite guitar, this just might be it. As far as floor-based multi effects units go with amp emulation, the Line 6 POD HD 500 is one of the best multi effects processors available for recording and live performance at this price.
That concludes our Line 6 POD HD 500 review. Thanks for reading.
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