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Harsh digital noise issue with POD HD500
by EpicFailGuy on 2011-09-16 11:39:37

I came onto the forums here looking for assistance, and it seems a fair few people have been having the same issue as I have - with clipping and harsh digital distortion on the POD HD. I have looked over most if not all the threads relating to this problem and have tried essentially everything that has been suggested, all to no avail.

Basically, is there anything else I may not have thought of, or is it likely that my unit is just totally broken?

I bought my 500 last Saturday and it was running v1.31 when I got it.  Since then I have reflashed the unit, rolled back the firmware to v1.22 then re-updated, I have done a global reset and I have also booted up the device in test mode and reflashed it from there. I have changed the input settings to 'Guitar' and 'Variax' as per suggestions, I have experimented with the 'Pad/Normal' switch, have made sure to change the output mode to suit whatever gear the unit has been connected to, I have even lowered my pickups but none of these steps seems to have made a difference.

I have mainly been using a Strat with a Seymour Duncan JB jr in the bridge, but have also tried with a Telecaster with stock pickups. The JB is a fairly high-output pickup but the clipping is still present with the neck singlecoil of the Strat or with the vintage output stock tele pickups, which I would not have expected.

I have plugged into both the effects loop and the front of my amp (a ZT Club; it is solidstate) and also through headphones. In any of the output modes clipping is still present. Also, clipping is still present regardless of whether preamp only or full amp models are used.

I have also tried plugging the guitar into the 'aux' input, with no success.

In the case of cleaner amps, the clipping manifests as a really rough-sounding distortion that is impossible to remove with EQ'ing. The higher-gained models are so fizzy and thin-sounding that they are unusable.

In it's current condition the POD cannot be used. Indeed, over the last few days the only times I've played through it have been to attempt so sort it out, each time with no success.

Sorry about the massive essay, I am just at my wit's end and have no idea what to do about this anymore. I have seen enough clips of this unit being used to generate awesome tones so I know it should be possible, and I've also seen enough posts by people on this forum who seem to have suffered from the same problem that I have.

Anyone who can help me out?

Re: Harsh digital noise issue with POD HD500
by hoodcreeper on 2011-09-16 13:46:15

I too have tried everything that you have.  Read and re-read all the posts reguarding "fizz and harshness" and still I struggle to find usable tones.  I have been doing this for months.  I play with a PRS with dragon II humbuckers and a Strat with N3's.   The PRS is tough to make work for me with the HD500 and my better results come from the Strat because I have dropped the pickups all the way down to body height. ( which incidentally makes it unusable with my amp now)  Anyway I missed my return window for the unit and now have simply decided to hang in there and hope things get fixed with firmware updates.  I had high expectations for this unit as I loved my X3 live but sold it.  I used the X3 mainly as a "toy" and have decided that this is basically what the HD500 is as well.---FOR ME.  My other problem on top of the harsh fizzy overdrive on everything is that it always sounds like there is a wet blanket over my tones.  Two or three EQ's can help this issue but really???  The unit is what it is.  A work in progress.  I'm sure there is a way to make it work for me but I decided to spend my time playing music and not spend it all trying to dial in an elusive tone with this thing.  My advise is that if your frustrated and still in a position to take it back then do so.   Wish I had.  Tried selling it but oddly nobody wanted it.  Unless I take a giant loss and sell for next to nothing.  Live and learn I guess.....Que the line 6 expert in now to tell us we are crazy and don't know what we are doing cause this thing rocks it!   Sorry... love you guys really.  You provide an invaluable service here.  I just think this thing fails---FOR ME.  But I'll keep trying cause ....thats what I do.  Peace ya'll.

Re: Harsh digital noise issue with POD HD500
by DeanDinosaur on 2011-09-16 17:52:13

The HD series came out in October 2010. It has a one year warranty I believe. Why don't you send yours back to line 6 by contacting customer service. I have no doubt they will honor the warranty! Did you try that?? I woudn't call this harsh didital Fizz, I call it broken and it does happen. I know there are those who refer to fiz and digital harshness , just because it's fashionable to complain about digital modeling sometimes, but at least have the unit sent back to line 6, and you might only pay the shipping, but you will get the issue resolved whatever it is. Even If it's found to be fully functional you can sell it if you don't like the sound of it,  but I know that Line 6 customer service will help you!

Re: Harsh digital noise issue with POD HD500
by meambobbo on 2011-09-17 09:41:10

I've been writing a guide to get the most out of this unit.  Here's my section on clipping:


You will be VERY frustrated trying to dial in the Pod if there's clipping somewhere in your signal chain.  I've experienced numerous types of clipping on the Pod HD 500, so hopefully I can steer you away from my mistakes.

Input Clipping: The very first thing you should do is make sure you are not getting input clipping.  Set up a patch with no effects or amp models turned on (or turn on the tuner and have it set to allow audio passthrough).  Set your pickup to the bridge pickup (generally the loudest/brightest and most likely to clip).  Strum as loud as you would ever actually play your guitar.  If you can hear clipping, you are feeding the Pod too hot of a signal. Many have complained about this as a weakness of the Pod; however, I think it's generally in spec with most other devices.  Just lower your pickup height.  I acheived input clipping on a guitar where I could not adjust pickup height, so instead I raised the action.  To be honest, my action was kind of experimentally low, and I would definitely regard it as "too low" in retrospect.  I easily dialed out the input clipping.  Note that I also have a computer audio interface I can plug my guitar directly into.  Even with its gain at 0, I was still clipping that device as well with the low action. Both devices cleaned up at the same output level.

Some people have also used devices like the Radial Dragster which allows impedence adjustment.  This might help, but I don't think the effect is as dramatic as people have claimed.  If you can't dial out input clipping any other way that's acceptable to you; however, you have to get some kind of such external device to dial down your levels before the Pod.  You can also turn down your guitar's volume knob, but that's kind of difficult to keep consistent, so that your distortion patches have the correct amount of distortion.

The pad switch: Pods come with an input padding feature that reduces the level of your guitar signal.  Personally, I don't like the pad switch.  I find it doesn't work quite as expected (maybe introduces a little compression or something, rather than simply reducing the level across the board), and you can't fine-tune it to reduce your level to a specified amount.  You would think you could use this to get rid of input clipping; however, I've read mixed results on that front.  Generally, you should reduce your level via pickup/action adjustment.  If you are extremely uncomfortable doing that, I would get a simple level controller you can use to reduce your level before reaching the Pod.

Effect Clipping: Some of the effects on the Pod seem to have modeled clipping into them. The most notorious from my experience is the Parametric EQ effect.  I would often run these after my amp/cab and mixer in the chain.  If I had the amp volume or mixer settings turned up a bit, I'd find there was clipping in my signal.  If I turned off the EQ effect, all the sudden the tone cleaned up, even with the same volume level.

Amp Volume: This control is a bit counter-intuitive.  One would think either (a) it controls patch volume, independent of the chain and all effects, or (b) it models the amp model's volume (master volume) control.  It does neither.  Contrary to (b), it is a simple volume knob that does not relate at all to the emulating the amp.  The DEP (deep-editing parameter) "master volume" is what models the amp's volume or master volume knob.  Yet, contrary to (a), this boost/cut does simple boost/cut the patch volume, after all effects processing.  It boosts/cuts at the location of the amp model in the signal chain.  Thus, any effects downstream of the amp will respond differently if they are level dependent.  Don't believe me?  Set amp volume to 10% and put a noise suppressor behind the amp.  Set the suppressor's threshold so that you can't hear any notes being played.  Now crank the amp volume to 90%.  Play. You can hear the notes.

The Mixer: I generally use mono patches.  Thus, I pan both channels to center.  The mixer output levels work generally the same as the amp volume knob; they just occur in a slightly different place.  If you put all your effects between your amp and the mixer, you don't have to worry about the levels here.  If you're like me and have most of your effects behind it, you need to be aware of your output levels here.

Input Settings: I do not bother changing the input settings for each patch.  I use the default of input 1: guitar, input 2: same.  This results in a strong intenal signal, but I don't find its a problem if you're congnizant of the amp volume and mixer settings.

The Solution: My solution for effect clipping is to start with both mixer output levels set to -8db.  I leave amp volume at 50%.  Then I'll start making my patches.  I pretty much assure myself I won't clip any effects this way.  Once I've finished tone-tweaking on the patch, I'll compare the volume level to other patches.  I'll then adjust the patch's amp volume knob to match the levels.  If I have to set the amp volume knob above 70%, I'll move it back towards 50% and raise the mixer levels instead to achieve the desired volume level.  The rationale is that it's easier to adjust with the amp volume knob; however, I want to leave myself wiggle room so that if I'm playing at a different volume level and my patches seem off, I have room to adjust using the amp volume knob.  So instead of setting a patch with amp volume at 95% and giving myself no wiggle room at a later time (when I'll likely have to adjust much faster), in such a case I'd rather set the amp volume to 50% and adjust with the mixer levels.

Another thing to keep in mind is that certain effects can also boost the signal. I try to avoid ever boosting with an effect.  For my EQ's, I put all the EQ's that cut first in the signal chain and the boosts last.

Clipping external devices: if you find you are clipping an external device, try flipping the line/amp switch on the device to amp.  Generally, I use line - line-level effects should be able to handle such. Also, it is the preferred setting if you are running into a real amp's effects loop return (also known as power amp in).  Also, you can configure the Pod's FX Loop send/receive levels

“Digital” Clipping on "full" amp models: some of the amps modeled use a "hot" bias even at 50% and can have a very fizzy, nasty sounding power amp section.  You can clean them up by using the DEP's (deep editing parameters).  Set Bias closer to 100%, and turn down "Master Volume".

The Master Knob (not to be confused with "Master Volume" DEP): The Master Knob on the front of the unit sets the general output level of the Pod, for all patches.  It affects all output connections (as far as I know), except for the SPDIF output level (which is set in the system menu).  The Pod HD Getting Started Guide recommends turning this all the way up to get the best signal-to-noise-ratio; however, some users have reported their tone suffers when doing so.  I generally keep it between 40 - 90%, using it to adjust general volume.  For gig/practice applications, I set it to 90%. Also, keep in mind that the Pod is designed for high resistance headphones.  The headphones I have are 64 ohm, far below what Line 6 suggests using. If I were to turn up the Master Knob when using headphones, I'd deafen myself.  I make sure to turn down the Master Knob to 30-60% when using headphones.

Re: Harsh digital noise issue with POD HD500
by meambobbo on 2011-09-18 10:26:28

If you turn off EVERY effect in your chain, including the amp model, does the sound clean up?  If not, what if you keep lowering the volume knob on your guitar?

If the unit simply won't clean up from doing the above, either your unit or your cable is messed up.  Sometimes cables short out, and it'll affect the tone on the Pod or other digital units much differently than on an analog device.  Have you tried using different cables?

I don't think it could possibly be the electronics in your guitar - it would be highly unlikely that both your guitars have a short or something like that.

RE: Harsh digital noise issue with POD HD500
by Line6Hugo on 2011-09-19 16:45:45

Can you please provide us audio examples of the noise that you are experiencing? Also, please detail what you have set up within each recording. Better yet, please provide the preset file for each of the recordings for us to duplicate.



Re: RE: Harsh digital noise issue with POD HD500
by Line6david on 2011-09-22 16:39:53


It has been at least 48 hours since we've heard from you. We're going to assume your question has been answered and close this support ticket. If you feel your question(s) have not been answered, or, if you have further questions, please feel free to re-open a support thread within our support community and we will answer your questions accordingly. Thanks!

Line 6 Support

The information above may not be current, and you should direct questions to the current forum or review the manual.