Jan 24, 2011 12:06 PM
Well folks, I am sad to say it, but I give up on the DT50. It is an amazing sounding amp by itself but the promise of "complete integration" with the PODHD500 simply was not realized in its current iteration. I think Line 6 had a GREAT idea but really flubbed a number of the core details of how to make it a reality. Furthermore, the numerous bugs, etc. have plagued this setup. What I - and I suspect many customers - really wanted was something akin to a Vetta II Tube Amp. They really NAILED the Vetta in my book. If they took that platform, upgraded the preamp models with the HD models, and used the Bogner Power section, they would have had a real winner. Especially if they retained the stereo operation.
Some other interesting observations from my experience that may benefit other L6 users here:
- Preamp Models - I know L6 says otherwise but I am quite sure that the preamp models on the v1.1 of the PODHD and DT50 firmware were NOT the same. The DT50 had different, and to my ears, much better preamp modeling. I know there are posts on the boards that say otherwise, but the differences were too severe for that to be the case. And I fully understand all the PODHD output modes and DT50 topologies and such. The bottom line is that they were different.
- PODHD/DT50 Firmware Update v.1.2 - The second I played the PODHD500/DT50 combination with the updated firmware, I could hear a big difference - for the better I might add - not withstanding the well document complaints with the Uberschall revisions. I am SURE the L6 Techs read these boards and internally discuss and respond to our feedback. The 1.2 firmware sounds much better than the 1.1 - especially the cleans. Having said that, it too is buggy and like many users, my PODHD stopped recalling the DT50 power amp selections I saved. When recalling presets, all the settings went back to their default values. I did not have this issue in 1.1, where these functions worked perfectly. I know they'll eventually get it sorted out, but why do we have to be beta testers to such extremes when plunking down $2K for the "flagship amplification" setup from L6? They can and should do better!
- Control of the DT50 from the POD - Whether its using L6 Link, or MIDI, they current crop of user manuals are severely lacking. I would think for the "fully integrated" setup, I could control the topologies, etc. from the PODHD. Also, why is there not a full MIDI implementation manual. I would have been happy if I could have used my PODHD as a glorified FBV pedal for the DT50. There is so much that should be possible on the integration front that currently requires lots of workarounds. Why make the DT50 fully controllable by the PODHD? Why can't I use my DT50 preamps and the PODHD effects to free up DSP space and get the best of both? This combo has such potential, but its just not there yet. And where the heck is the DT50 Advanced Users Guide
- Background Noise - I know this issue is well documented but for a $1300 "flagship amp", the think is way too noisy, in ALL operating classes. And please spare me the "that's just normal for a tube amp" comments. I have owned and played TONS of tube amps and NONE of them have the level of hum at rest as the DT50 does. It is super annoying and from what I understand, L6 is aware of this issue. I got one of the very first DT50s to hit the market and I suspect I have an early production model that has some kinks, because the amp is way too noisy.
- Interestingly, after applying the firmware updates, I plugged the PODHD500 into my Vetta II Head's effect returns jack, set the output to studio direct, and was BLOWN AWAY by how good the PODHD sounded throught the Vetta Head. It was infinitely better than any sound I have ever got out of the PODHD with the DT50 and was DEAD QUIET at rest I might add. I was SHOCKED at how much better it sounded, as I tried this setup with the v1.1 firmware and thought the DT50 sounded better at the time. For what its worth, I still think the DT50 by itself sounds the best out of all combinations. They really nailed the tone. Its the platform and the integration - and the background noise - that sinks the total ship.
- My new setup is going to be the PODHD500 going through the Vetta head, which will allow me to really take advantage of the dual amp tones and stereo effects, as I have a (2) L6 Spider Valve 4x12s. I can't believe how much better the PODHD sounds through the Vetta than through the DT50, and all of the switching and control options I want are in that package. Line 6 needs to revisint the Vetta III concept. I think they should come out with the "Vetta HD" and give us what we tought the PODHD/DT50 combo really was
- In conclusion, I remain a huge L6 fan but they really blew it on the DT50/HD500 integration. My DT50 is going back to Sweetwater tomorrow as I've given up. The platform is just not there yet. L6 should also revisit its communication policies. For sure, trade secrets and competitive/future products information should remain highly confidential. However, if there was better transparency and communication around known issues and plans to address them, foks might hang in with the company and the products a lot longer. This is especially true as appears that L6 is moving upmarket into thinks like boutique-class tube amps in such. For a $300 Spider IV, I'll be patient for a good product at a low price point. For a $2K "Flagship Amplification", "Fully Integrated" platform, my patience is dramtically less. Something to consider.
OFFER TO LINE 6 - I will offer to do beta testing for you for FREE on future products. And I will be very happy to pay full price for any future products that I might ultimately purchase after providing product testing. I am a 20-yr. IT consulting professional and very well off so I am not looking for income or product free bees. I am simply a devoted music fan and longtime L6 user. I just love making music and L6 products so if you ever need another set of educated ears and thoughtful feedback, let me know. Thanks - Tom