Well, actually - it is much older.
The HD500 was released in 2010.
The HD500X was not a new design or new programming. The main processor of the HD500 was no longer being made, so L6 had to buy a different one which resulted in a slight bump in RAM (it is not RAM, it is DSP, but most computer users understand what RAM is, not DSP). And, they also started to use different footswitches to make it look like a different unit (a marketing ploy).
But, in reality, the two units are exactly the same. Which means you are looking at a unit that was released 7 years ago. And there is no way to know how long before that the programming existed. The age is one of the reasons why bluetooth, wi-fi, and Android are not being used. Those things weren't as commonplace, or advanced, in 2010.
BUT, fear not, music technology does not move as fast as other tech. Keyboards, as example, were using floppy discs up until a few years ago (2010-ish). And the only reason they stopped --- Microsoft and computer manufactures, stopped including floppy discs as standard equipment. I can stuff hundreds of songs onto a 1.44mb floppy disc because midi technology is measured in kilobytes. MP3 tech, however, is measured in megabytes. Very few of my midi songs are over 100kb, with most being single digits. But all of my mp3 music is at least 3mb.
Firehawk is not replacing HD. Firehawk was made for the coffee drinking selfie-crowd. HD was made for musicians.
The Helix, however, is the latest tech for musicians. L6 will not confirm that HD is dead because they still have product to move, but...
Hey, if you don't chase technology (always needing the newest toy), then get the HD. My biggest fear is that the driver support will stop before I am ready to move on. Like you, my unit replaced my 20-30 year old rig. I mean, I was using an ART SGE Mach II and Rocktron Pro GAP up until 3 years ago. I am too busy making music to be concerned with "oh no, there is a new product available". But I can't imagine that Yamaha (new owners of L6) and Microsoft are going to be interested in allowing me to hook up my HD500 in 2030.
**Oh, also, I had a Rockman Soloist (an original model) in my rig. It not only worked great on stage, but was great for hotels and tour buses when I needed to use headphones.
here's the deal ---
- Any patch you make is going to sound different when you run it through your amp than if you run it direct to a PA (or personal monitor). Amps provide personality/tone. That is why you buy one amp vs another amp, you prefer its tone. A Fender model will never sound like a Fender when coming through a Mesa because the Mesa will all add Mesa personality to the signal. That means that if you ditch the amp in the future, you need to rewrite all of your patches to accommodate for loss of amp tone.
- Also, because you are looking at fx loops, any patch you write will need to be re-written if you drop the fx loop. FX Loop takes up a block in your patch which could be used for something important. Plus, as mentioned above, you need to adjust the tone based on the loss of the amp tone.
- Pack up, load in, set up, sound check, tear down, loud out, and unpack. It will take you a grand total of 10 minutes if you go amp-less.
- It is a lot easier to fly with your rig if you do not have an amp - Making more gigs accessible.
- Many smaller venues are going the way of "quiet stage", amps aren't allowed. Get prepared now.
- Many larger stages require IEM's because there is no way to turn you up loud enough to be heard on the other side of the stage.
- The sound guy will love that he doesn't have to compete with a 100watt 4x10. Your FOH sound will be so much better when you go amp-less. Better sound equals happier fans, which equals more gigs.
- You are eventually going to go ampless even though you have reservations about it now. Resistance is futile. Go amp-less now.