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Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by marcwormjim on 2013-03-07 23:31:14

Howdy. I've owned an HD500 since 2010, kept up with all firmware updates, and skimmed threads regularly. Here is a small list of frustrations I've had and still have with the unit (suggestions welcome - especially if I've forgotten fixes in previous updates):

1. Non-tweakable power-amp crossover distortion modeling.

Line 6 apparently modeled the way EL84s get fizzy when you crank the master volume, set every power amp model to 10, then released the unit without a master volume control. After alienating countless players, they rectified this huge mistake with a firmware update that included tweakable power amp parameters. The first thing I did was turn the modeled "Hum" to 0 on all my patches, then adjust the resonance and thump to cut out the unnecessary woofiness that, while a nice way to show off the individual modeling, can overdrive the inputs of whatever you're running the POD into. This also contributes to

2. Goofy volume differences among the modeled amps (in the name of "accuracy"), but no global volume settings to compensate for said differences in modeled volumes of the amps.

A control for the percent of modeled crossover distortion is BADLY needed. The tone of the /13 amp model is one of my favorites, but I personally find it unuseable due to the modeled crossover distortion. I understand that one can compensate (to an extent) with the master volume, mic, and cabinet resonance controls; but it's an unnecessary amount of extra work. Note that the modeled Class-A amplifiers shouldn't be exhibiting crossover distortion (and the "Bias" control being turned to Class-A should remove this from the AB-models); so this may be a partially or entirely-separate issue. Considering that the "tweaked-by-Line-6" models consist of mixed preamps and poweramps, I'm assuming the vaccuum tubes are hard-modeled to their respective preamp and power-amp models, and therefore the behavior of the tubes (desireable and undesireable alike) are non-adjustable. This ends up being a dealbreaker for many of the models. For example, I can overdrive the preamp input on several of the Fender amp models and achieve the fabled "fizz" simply by plugging a humbucker-equipped guitar into the Pod HD. The Pad switch is supposed to be the fix for this, but is a poor workaround that assumes not only the willingness of the user to readjust levels in the rest of the signal chain, but to avoid using different guitars with differing output levels. This is no more acceptable than if you found out you can only use the middle pickup of a strat with the PODHD, because the frequency spikes of the neck and bridge pickups will result in digital distortion that cannot be tamed. Even though that scenario is thankfully not the case, there is an unfortunate inability to tame frequency spikes. This is complaint #3:

3. No (clear) EQ band selection above 2.2 kHz = Untamed high frequencies.

"Just turn down the treble and presence", you might say. Well, if the modeled amp's treble band is 1.2 kHz and the presence is 7 kHz, then by turning them all the way off, you've only elected not to boost frequencies at 1.2 and 7 kHz. But suppose you want to cut them - You can use an EQ block to notch that treble frequency, but the EQ band selection ends at 2.2 kHz with the Graphic EQ model. You don't get a Hz-kHz band representation on the other EQs, so you use the low-pass filter on the mid-focus EQ or the only recently-added "Vintage Pre" model, but realize that, rather than notch out the frequency you want, you're cutting everything above 5 kHz - Throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So you try to compensate by turning up the amp model's presence control, only to realize that really you only want to cut the frequencies between 3 and 5 kHz, and boosting frequencies at 7 or 10 kHz (depending on the mapped band of the amp model's presence control) is just moving things even further in the wrong direction. The only thing left you can think to do is plug your old Danelectro Fish-n-Chips EQ pedal into the POD FX loop, which sucks your tone and only leads you to settle for a tone that bugs you.

4. Looper has bells and whistles, but no quantizing. :facepalm:

I can play my out-of-synch loop both backwards AND at 2x normal speed! You tell me that it's really more of a bonus toy than a "serious" or "dedicated" looper, and that I should just buy a dedicated looper if that's what I need. I agree - So how about not including a looper that's outclassed by the obsolete Digitech GetNex loopers from 2003, and instead making that extra DSP available for use in the rest of the unit - Lord knows the HD500 needs i-DSP LIMIT REACHED.

5. At the end of the day, the unit is a POD X3 Live with much higher DSP demands that it can't meet.

Apologies if it turns out that was debunked, but I remember that being "common knowledge" two years ago. The Preamp-Only models are the workaround for it, but it's still a step-backward from the last generation of PODS that allowed you two amp and fx-chains per patch. I predict this being a bit of New Coke/Coke Classic marketing for when Line6 comes out with the next pod that finally has the processing power and memory to meet the demands of the current modeling algorithms.

----

Sorry if any of my post comes off as snotty - The PODHD has been an indespensible part of my rig since I bought it, and is still leaps-and-bounds ahead of Digitech's RP1000. It's just that these problems have been dealbreakers for many players, and I can see why. But these restrictions have also led many users here to come up with creative workarounds that allow us to emulate more-complicated routing/rigs (such as pitch-modulated, hard-panned stereo delay with pad-like filter effects).

So, any suggestions for workarounds or fixes to these problems?



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by toneman2121 on 2013-03-08 10:32:51

4. Looper has bells and whistles, but no quantizing. :facepalm:   I can play my out-of-synch loop both backwards AND at 2x normal speed! You tell me that it's really more of a bonus toy than a "serious" or "dedicated" looper, and that I should just buy a dedicated looper if that's what I need. I agree - So how about not including a looper that's outclassed by the obsolete Digitech GetNex loopers from 2003, and instead making that extra DSP available for use in the rest of the unit - Lord knows the HD500 needs i-DSP LIMIT REACHED.

now that's a good focking idea. can they do that? (he said rather unknowingly)



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by dbagchee on 2013-03-09 11:08:20

I actually LOVE the fact the looper doesn't quantize. Unless you are playing to a click the loops are never going to be perfect and I used to hate how my slightly off time loops would get truncated or artificially extended by quantization in my old Boss looping pedal. To me it's way more organic and it forces you to be a little more naturally in time.



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by Bushman2 on 2013-03-11 08:55:06

The Looper function has me disgusted and I refuse to use the stupid thing.

I have a Boss RC-2 and was excited to have a looper on my board for working out solos and such, but as of yet I haven't been able to make a loop that connects the start and finish in time. It's always jacked up at the end of the loop.

They should call it a phrase recorder, because it's worthless as a looper.



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by phil_m on 2013-03-11 09:10:33

I've never had any trouble with the looper, honestly. It works essentially the same way as the looper on the M-series pedals and the DL4, and I've seen plenty of people use those products for looping in live situations over the years. It can be tricky if you're trying to loop and play with a drummer, but even having a qunatized loop wouldn't neccesarily make that any easier. I used to have a Digitech JamMan, and it had a quantize function, and I absolutely hated that.



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by Mincer on 2013-03-11 09:14:44

I haven't had any problems with the looper, as far as getting it to work exactly as described. I hate that, unlike the M series and DL4, there is no way to control the volume of the loop with the exp pedal. I have waited a few years for this in an update, but no dice.



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by StephenSLR on 2013-03-11 17:11:53

Howdy. I've owned an HD500 since November of '11

Seeing that it's March 2013, that would make it not even 1 & 1/2 years.

Or do you mean 2 x 1/2 years?

s



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by markbrid on 2013-03-13 14:28:00

Totally agree with your observations after two years with my HD-500, especially the crossover distortion in the /13 and how that makes it unusable.  The crossover distortion in the Rt66 is bad as well.  I build tube amps and have found ways to rid EL84's of that hated fizz; it is frustrating to be able to build an amp without it but have to suffer it in my modeling gear. 

My biggest complaint and frustration is the lack of a global EQ to tailor the HD's tone to various FRFR's that have non-flat frequency responses.  But at least on my HD-500 I can put an EQ in an effects slot to do the same function, each EQ has to be adjusted individually though.  On the HD-300 I use at church I have no EQ options and this is a PAIN.

Another complaint is no "live" mode on the HD-500, where the 1/4" out has no speaker modeling but the XLR does.  It is frustrating and mystifying why this is available on the X3, HD-300 and HD-400, but not on the HD-500.



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by marcwormjim on 2013-03-14 04:30:21

Yes; I typed 2011 instead of 2010. I also understand that not everyone has the same sense of timing, and that their expectations of the looper are more realistic than my own. I got a few people reassuring me that I'm not alone in these frustrations, but am still hoping for a like-minded poster that's done what I haven't been able to, in tweaking workarounds to compensate for the shortcomings I mentioned.



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by jimsreynolds on 2013-03-14 04:39:01

Out of interest, do you have the USB cable connected/HD Edit running when you try and loop?  In some cases, HD Edit can cause a slowdown in control reactions.  


I use the looper to jam out ideas (loop a rhythm part and then work out a second guitar part or lead) and (very rarely) a little live performance when the pressure is off.  I can get a very clean loop with a perfect/near perfect timing but it takes practice without the quantize.

I too prefer to not have the quantization because I don't like to hear the metronome or be constrained by it when I am messing about.  It does put more on you, the player, to hit the button at just the right time though.  For performance this can make things more challenging. 



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by DeanDinosaur on 2013-03-14 05:48:14

I have the pod HD eversince it was released. I have a wish list of my own but the bottom line for me and my own use is how good the modeling in comparison to what's available. The POD HD modeling is way better than X3 and Pod farm. IT's actually comparable to AXE FX I and AXE FX II. So in the end of the day nothing outthere under 1000 is even close to how good the modeling in the HD is. That's my main issue with POD HD500, it's trying to be everything for everyone, It can't and it won't but it's doing one hell of a Job. Modeling is what matters in my personal opinion.



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by bpapina on 2013-03-14 09:16:56

I totally agree with you DeanD. I think the problem with the HD500 is that too many people are using it wrong and are not getting it to roar like it can. I have turned MANY heads with my HD500 from guys with all of the usual high gain metal amps. If you are using the HD500 live and going into the front input on a Peavey Vyper or Line 6 Spider...guess what...your tone will probably stink. How many guys with AxeFx units are going into the front of a cheap amp? Probably none.

My point is that you can make the HD500 sound massive live without much work. My rig is simple, HD500 --> Tube Power Amp --> v30 4x12

Things to remember (or consider) for live use using a tube power amp into a v30 cab (or equivalent):

1. Always create a patch at show volume. If you don't your tone will probably kill peoples ears at show volume.

2. Less is more (amps with excessive fx can kill your tone....or add, depends on what you are trying to do)

3. Don't kill yourself trying to make your patches stereo (stereo doesn't always work well live. In fact, stereo can cause phase issues with a mono PA system and totally cut the 'beef' out of your tone). All of my patches are mono

4. I always use the preamp models and turn off the cab simulation (why model something that I already have...)

5. Don't be afraid of using the distortion fx in the HD500. They do a great job of tightening up your tone...if you do, use less overall amp gain (but play with it until you have something you like) and reduce the distortion gain to a very low level

6. If you have a tube amp head and are trying to figure out how to do the 4 cable method. Your tube head might not be the best or maybe you haven't gotten your gain/tone under control (or invested in a good noise gate). If it has a series fx loop, then take the output from your HD500 and put it in the FX Return on the amp...guess what, you are now using your power amp section of the tube head and bypassing the preamp. Your world will open up if you do this (if you don't like it...change it back). The control over every aspect of your tone just took a huge step forward.

7. I personally use the Combo Power Amp output option because it tends to have a little extra oooph (at least to my ears)

8. I know that a TON has been written about how to setup the Input 1/Input 2 settings but I ALWAYS stick with Input 1 - Guitar and Input 2 - Same

Things to remember (or consider) for live use thru a solid state power amp into a v30 cab (or equivalent):

1. Same as above

2. Same as above

3. Same as above

4. With a SS amp I like to use one that has enough power. If you are trying to use a SS amp that is below 200 watts...it probably is not going to cut it (of course, it does depend on the amp, style of music...etc). I use a SS amp with 400 watts into 4 ohms. Works great with my 4x12 cab and doesn't overpower the cab.

5. I use the standard models (not the preamp models). I take advantage of the power amp sims and again cut off the cab simulation.

6. Not a big fan of using the FX return on a SS amp head or combo for power...just doen't seem to cut it since most SS combos and heads are only 100 watts. Remember 100 watts of tube power does not = 100 watts of SS power. (but it will work...just doesn't compete with a live drummer very well).

7. Same as above

8. Same as above

Things to remember (or consider) for live use thru a PA (no amp or speakers):

1. Follow the same method for creating the tone in step 5 above, except turn on the cab simulation.

2. Remember, Live PA systems are usually run mono so....

3. If your patch sounds good thru headphones or your home monitors...it probably won't thru a huge PA. If you get a chance to play your POD thru a full PA...DO IT. You will be surprised at how much tweeking you may have to do to make it sound good. The Cab sim low cut parameter WILL be your best friend (sorry HD300 and HD400 dudes)

4. I use the Studio/Direct output option

5. Live sound can be handled SO many different ways that I find that it is really NOT a good idea to count on the soundguy to get you your tone into the monitors (also because most live monitors sound TURRIBLE and you will not be inspired...especially when the soundguy BLARES the vocalist thru your monitor and you can't even hear what you're playing...good times). Basically what I am trying to say is that you are better off owning your own monitor and using it live. There are many powered monitors that sound great. Dweezil Zappa is using QSC 12" powered monitors for his live rig on stage. The stagescape monitors are another perfect combo for this type of application. I've got a friend that created a 4x12 'baffle' that he puts in front of his PA cab on stage and it looks dope...cause yeah, a PA speaker behind a guitar player just doesn't look kewl.

Anyways...I guess my point is that the POD HD is an incredible processor series and really can compete with the big boys if it is setup properly.

BTW: I am an old 80's rack system guitar player. I spent years recording and playing live in California and Nashville I have played through almost everything you can imagine and I am SO happy with my basic HD500 setup (and yes I have played with the AxeFx and the Kemper <---which are both SUPER cool. Can I tell the difference between the systems? Well...yes...but can I tell $1,000 - $2,000 dollars worth of difference...NO!)

Rawk on!!!



Re: Thoughts after 2 1/2 Years
by dbagchee on 2013-03-14 10:10:19

This! You hit the nail directly on the head bpapina. This is exactly what I do and I'm very happy with the tones I get. The other detail I found with the tube power amp setup is that you have to get the levels right between the tube master and the pod master volumes to get the desired stage volume and really open up the tones. Ideally you would have the tube power amp at 100% and the pod master at 100% but sometimes that is just too loud. I've found setting both to about 75% with my amp switched to 50watts works great.

I also setup patches for lower volume playing through my Blackstar HT-5 and use the poweramp sims in that case since I'm not able to turn the tube amp to the sweet spot.




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