Out of the box I would say the HD500 is NOT gig ready. Does it function - certainly...unless defective, but I don't think the Factory presets are good starting points. I think it's also a shame that too many interested players never get to hear what ther unit CAN do. Retails stores never bother to learn how this unit works, online shopping doesn't tell you anything, and apparently the people of the world today have become so used to everything being done for them, or happening so quickly without much thought, that a complex unit like the HD500 is getting bad reviews by many who have tried it, yet not REALLY TRIED TO LEARN IT. Most stores and ALL online store offer 30 days or more to return an item if it's not what someone wants. This should be more than enough time to truly learn how the unit functions, download other users patches and see how other people who are happy with the HD500 create their patches. If simple is what players want, Line 6 offers dozens of other choices. Hundreds of other choices are available from other companies for guitarists to choose from.
I offer my findings as a long user of Line 6 guitar gear exclusively, well almost as that has changed in the past few months) but I digress. When I first got my HD500, I was very disappointed with the very limited number of amps/cabs compared to my Vetta which has 80 instead of the 16 (now updated to 22). I think the factory presets are mostly unusable by most players. The following is what I recommend you take as your first steps to get to know this product properly...
Forget about all your other gear except the guitar (or guitars) you plan to use with this unit. Get a GREAT pair of headphones, DO NOT use an amp at low volumes at this stage. This will seem very strange to you perhaps, and perhaps to any others who read this as well, but there are very good reasons I am writing my suggestions to you in this manner and in this step by step fashion. The end result should make everything very clear - I hope.
be VERY careful with the power supply and how you plug it in, where it sits on stage, and take care to be as gentle as possible with the power connection point as it breaks quite easily. A replacement power supply is about $50.00. and much worse if the jack inside the unit breaks or "falls in". Sure it's all covered by a warranty, but who wants to wait weeks for something as simple as a power supply problem?
Take the time to find and either print or simply save the expanded HD500 Users Guide online. The manual with the unit is far too basic to be much help.
While reading through the expanded manual...use the most recent version of Monkey to upgrade the unit to the full 22 amps/cabs with the added features of bias adjustment, etc. AND the POD HD500 EDIT software!! This requires the use of the Line 6 monkey which is FREE if you do not have the most recent version. then connect via the USB cable to your computers HUB directly and follow the updating procedures.
DO NOT even bother with ANY of the banks of presets in the POD HD EDIT software for the time being. I STRONGLY SUGGEST working this way instead of working only on the unit as it will save you lots of time and make many "hidden" inner workings and signal paths of the unit much clearer. Plus the advantage of copy and paste for some sections of repeated programming is useful.
After all the updating of all the hardware and software is finished, then go to an empty USER BANK and start there with a blank slate. Any patches from any of the presets can be simply dragged in and dropped into any slot you choose and modified if needed. But I would want YOU to get to know which amps are there and what default settings each amp has. Each amp has two versions PRE and FULL. Pre is just that...the PREAMP section of whatever amp you are looking at plus the FX you may choose to add in the signal chain. HOWEVER, if using the unit without any amp you should choose FULL as it will then model whatever cabinets and microphones you desire. Using the headphones automatically puts each amp into this mode. This mode is also adjustable as you will read in the advanced manual. This is an important step BEFORE you plug into the power section of the SpiderValve. Some sounds may sound better for your purpose in PRE and others better in FULL. But that will come later making those choices.
Without turning the volume up too loud and cause your ears to ring, plug your guitar into the 1/4" input jack. put on the headphones and then sit with your HD500 connected to your computer with POD HD500 EDIT running. As you change amps, you will hear each through the headphones and give you the best possible idea of what amps will do the job you are looking for. Also, please do not let the name alone fool you. Just because it's a Vox/Fender, does not mean it can't be used for heavy metal, or Bogner/Mesa can't be used for warm clean sounds. That is a combination of your guitars volume knob setting and the input gain of each amp. Seriously spend time checking out all the sounds in FULL mode as with headphones on -as I wrote before- the unit will default to FULL anyway.
One other bit about why headphones...It is so you can hear what the amp SHOULD sound like when turned up to a volume that the amp was designed to actually run at. And you hear much more detail with GREAT headphones this way as well. Truly great headphones will cost about $150.00 - 300.00 and is worth the expense if you are serious about getting the most from this unit.
LEARN - TRY - ADJUST - TWEAK - REPEAT............this should go on for quite a while until you get to know each and every nuance of each amp model you wish to use.
Once all that has taken place, then simply run the HD500 into the power amp in or FX return and there you have your SpiderValve as your power amp to the preamp of the HD500. You'll know everything you need to know to choose PRE or FULL for each patch you intend to create if you've taken my instructions seriously up to this point.
Last thing before playing out - turn your amp up to the stage volume you usually perform at and then make any final tweaks or adjustments to the HD500.
If you wish to cut some corners, there are TONS of worthwhile patches @ CustomTone.com located from this website.
If after all this you still wish to use the SpiderValve amp models and just use the HD500 as an FX pedal, that is obviously your choice. no matter what I've written, it always comes down to what is best for the player using their gear to get the best performances possible. You might find that you don't need the amp models on the SpiderValve which would give you much more flexibility in WHERE you place your FX in the signal chain. Using the SV amp, you are limited to all your FX being in front of the power section unless we get into the "FOUR CABLE METHOD" and I'll leave that method for others who use it and like it.
I hope this helps you and anyone else who might read this small booklet of one persons findings on how best to work with the HD500.
PS - you can always use your current FX pedals inside the FX loop of the HD500 which also gives you options on where to place those FX in the signal chain. Dual amp sounds are best in my opinion as you create TWO independent signal paths that will both end up in front of your SV power section. In other words, you can have FX in one path that are different or the same as ones in the other signal path. And each amp can be completely different from each other for switching back and forth or combining for wider sonic possiblities.