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HD500X amp models quite bright and fizzy - am I doing it wrong?


colmac2000
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I just got a Pod HD500X to try and replace a load of pedals and generally simplify things  :) I have followed the guides from Tyler Johnson and Tony Hanmer and I now have it set up in 4CM (with a H&K Switchblade 100 Head)  and I have started to play with the digital pre-amps, comparing them to the Switchblade's and find some good ones. With a view to maybe not bothering with the 4CM and going straight into the loop return of the amp.

 

Anyway, it seems to me that all of the models sound very fizzy and toppy. I have tamed a lot of that with a parametric EQ (as per Tony Hanmer's guide) but still...I wonder if I'm missing something...why would line 6 make them all sound like that?

 

Any advice gratefully received.  :) 

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Here's one of the POD HD bibles.

 

http://foobazaar.com/podhd/toneGuide/

 

Check out section IX, especially subsections B and C.

 

Many thanks again to forum member meambobbo who wrote this extremely valuable resource. He's not around here as much anymore (we miss him!) but he's been kind and generous enough to keep this site available and up to date.

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Thanks, that looks like a really useful resource. Most of the tweaks he suggests seem to relate to the cabs and mics though but I'm going into the power amp of my Switchblade without any cab sims active. He does suggest using the full amp sims rather than the pre versions which I had been using, so I'll give that a try.

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the 4CM is a good way to use your amp and only the POD effects in various placements, but is not as good to use/try the amp models..

 

if you want use the amp models is much better to connect the POD output to the Return input of your amp FX Loop, so no potential bad tone interaction between your pre-amp and the modeled amp will occur..

 

also, the POD different output modes affect a lot the tone

 

I have it set up so I can toggle between the POD amp sims and my real amp's pre-amp (in the POD FX loop block). I was thinking that if the POD FX block is switched off then this is effectively exactly the same as running striaight from my guitar, through the POD and into the effects loop return of my amp. Is that not right?

 

I think I did try going straight from the POD output to the effects loop return (2 cable method) and I didn't notice a difference. I'll try it again though.

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So I had a go at switching out the 'pre' amps with the standard ones but I couldn't hear much of a difference. I also downloaded Peter Hanmer's free patches from his website (http://www.peterhanmer.co.za/hd500x.htm) and they sounded pretty thin and fizzy to me too. I'm aware that his patches at optimised for direct use and I'm going into a power amp and cab so it might not be ideal.

 

So far the best results I have had are with the Mahadeva model, which I think is the Bogner Shiva one...it comes closest to having the body and depth I am used to from the Switchblade. I'm still not feeling like I'll be able to switch over to using the digital models fully. They just don't seem to fill the cab, if that makes sense...the straight valve amp just feels much fuller and open.

 

Does anyone use the HD500 models via a power amp and cab for live use? I could probably do with some tips.

 

Is the Helix that much better?

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Thanks for those. Some pretty convincing tones in that second one - although they are still on the bright side, I guess. Maybe it's just a matter of taste. It does seem odd to me that the out-of-the-box amp tones aren't really useable without one or two parametric eqs after them - which made me wonder if I was missing something. I think it probably just takes a lot of tweaking though.

 

I might just stick with my existing base amp tones and just use the POD for effects in 4CM for the moment.

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Does anyone use the HD500 models via a power amp and cab for live use? I could probably do with some tips.

 

 

I use the 4CM and use a "mix" between my physical power amp (a Marshall MG 100dfx) and the modeled AMP's of my POD HD500x. For example, I keep the FX LOOP BLOCK switched "On" all the time (after the mixer), I choose the amp I want (an AC-30 full model for example) using the output mode "Stack PWRAMP" and the switches in "Normal" & "Stomp" position. This way I almost "never" fight with fizzy/harsh sounds. It is supposed that the 4CM benefit is that you can use your physical preamp and use the POD for effects only, however I found that I can use both preamps, so for me theory is not useful... my ears are! 

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I use the 4CM and use a "mix" between my physical power amp (a Marshall MG 100dfx) and the modeled AMP's of my POD HD500x. For example, I keep the FX LOOP BLOCK switched "On" all the time (after the mixer), I choose the amp I want (an AC-30 full model for example) using the output mode "Stack PWRAMP" and the switches in "Normal" & "Stomp" position. This way I almost "never" fight with fizzy/harsh sounds. It is supposed that the 4CM benefit is that you can use your physical preamp and use the POD for effects only, however I found that I can use both preamps, so for me theory is not useful... my ears are! 

 

That's interesting...I assume you have your amp set very clean?

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That's interesting...I assume you have your amp set very clean?

 

Yeah, gain is around 40%. Mid/Treble at my taste. Almost never touch those knobs. My amp is solid state, I think that is why I can mix both preamps and get richer sounds.

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Some Amps sound shrill with the HD's. Some amps don't. It is a fact.

Definitely try everything.

 

Make one change at a time then undo it for the next change otherwise you'l get lost and not be able replicate it down the line. I suggest you record it on your camera speaking out the changes or be writing notes as you go.

Often lowering the gain and upping the amp volume/master seems to unharsh it easily.
 

On my Marshal amp it sounds shrill and I can get a Studio Direct sound though lower in volume using the combo or stack output mode and lowering the focus right down around the mid bass/low mid area and attenuating both the shelves from there.

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Someone recommended a different way of doing 4CM...set up the inputs so input 1 is the guitar and input 2 is AUX, then instead of using the FX loop on the Pod, use the L and R outputs, the main input and the AUX input. Then pan the outputs hard left and right...then distortions go in path A and mod fx go in path B. Cunning, eh? You can't use the looper (I never would) but otherwise it works really well. It avoids the tone-sucky FX loop and means you basically double the number of available FX blocks you can use.

 

So, I have it set up now to use midi so the front 4 switches call up the first 4 presets on my Switchblade and the back row switch on various effects. And I can finally relax and play some music!

 

Cool.  :)

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I'm not sure I'll leave it that way tbh...I'm just experimenting at the moment. I like the idea of the standard 4CM as I can switch between my real amp pre-amp and Pod amp sims at will. So far though, that has just resulted in me spending a load of time A/B-ing real pre-amp with sims trying to get them 'as good' and it was all getting a bit frustrating. :angry: Then earlier today I had a weird thing where I tweaked the volume on the pod and I suddenly seemed to lose both pre-amps...so I was just playing directly into the power amp. I just couldn't figure out what was going on at all :huh: ...I restarted the unit and it seemed to be fine. Not sure if the unit is faulty or using 4CM in that was was confusing it somehow. Either way, I have been verging on going back to stompboxes or maybe digging deep in the pockets for a Helix...I don't think it is nearly as fiddly as the Pod and apparently sounds a lot more convincing.

 

For me though, that kind of outlay feels a bit overkill...I already have a programmable valve amp with 128 slots, so I don't really need the best digital amp modelling in the world. What I need really is a midi controller with easy access to effects. Which the Pod does give me. I partly wanted to try the 'crazy' 4CM so I wouldn't be so tempted to mess with the amp sims and I can focus on actually playing the guitar.  :) Doing it that way also means that any changes I make to my core amp tones on the switchblade and store in one of the 128 slots are applied across all patches that use that stored tone...rather than having to go into each preset and make the same changes to each amp sim.

 

That said, I haven't really noticed tone suck from the FX loop either tbh...I did look at some guides before I got the unit so I immediately set it up to deal with some of the known issues. It actually sounds fine to me. I might go back to doing it that way.

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Try the M13 with your amp.EZ 4 cable method/ minimal suckage and killer effects only no amp / cab tweakage.

 

The best HD500 tones I have ever achieved have been with an open back 1x12 loaded with a 400 watt Eminence PA speaker and an EHX 44 Magnum power amp.Absolutely killer from clean to mean!

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Well, thanks for the help guys but I've decided to give up and sell the Pod. I'll go back to stompboxes for a while. I just can't get it to sound convincing at all for my purposes - i.e. through a power amp into a guitar speaker cab at live volumes. I can see how it sounds cool with headphones or for recording, or maybe going direct into a PA or FRFR setup but that's not a setup that's practical for me to go with.

 

Thanks though!

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Well, I decided to hang on to the Pod after all and persevere a bit. I re-assembled my old style pedal board again, so I can use that for gigging and play with the Pod on the side and see where I end up.

 

I was teetering on the brink of going for one of the high end modellers...but researching the options has made me think that I probably prefer the tones from the Fractal gear, compared to the Helix and while the cost of the Helix is something I can just about live with, the Axe is just that little bit too much!  :) Plus I think I'd probably suffer a bit from option paralysis with the Fractal units.

 

Anyway, I thought it was probably worth persevering with the Pod for a bit and seeing if I can't get what I need out of it.

 

One quick question - I plugged in headphones for the first time the other day, expecting all the direct patches to sound great and they really didn't...they were very bottom-end heavy and fuzzy. Not at all like the direct tones I expected to get - is there some basic setting I should change when using headphones?

 

Thanks.

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Dont use headphones. All these modelers sound awful through the headphone output. If you must run the headphone out into a small mixer and it will help. I have a tiny Kustom FRFR speaker I use to build patches/ set levels instead of the headphone out.

 

good luck!

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If you are using headphones make sure the output setting is STUDIO/DIRECT.  And make sure your patches use the FULL amp models with SPEAKER simulation on.  Then tweak/adjust each patch to taste.  Use the LOW CUT in the speaker settings to address too much bottom end.  Also, make sure you are using good quality headphones with a good frequency range.

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If you are using headphones make sure the output setting is STUDIO/DIRECT.  And make sure your patches use the FULL am models with SPEAKER simulation on.  Then tweak/adjust each patch to taste.  Use the LOW CUT in the speaker settings to address too much bottom end.  Also, make sure you are using good quality headphones with a good frequency range.

 

Hmm...I don't think I changed the output mode. I naively assumed the headphone output would be optimised for headphones...I can't remember if I tried different output modes. I will tonight though!

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For me it was a big help to cut the fizz by using the global EQ (try a Lowpass somewhere at 4.000-5.000 kHz) to get my tones in the ballpark and see the POD working for me. After that I went over to a PEQ per patch solution but the GQE was an eye-opener for me somehow.

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  • 1 month later...

Just thought I'd do an update on this...I have been using the Pod for rehearsals for a few weeks and it's sounding pretty good. I'm running it into an inexpensive power amp (Harley Benton GPA400) and then a Marshall 1936v. I really like using the expression pedal to control the amp model gain...it's an amazingly versatile way to set up a patch. I'm really just using a single patch to cover the whole set. I'd struggle to go back to traditional amp and pedals tbh!

 

I have cabs switched off and I've settled on the Treadplate amp at the moment...I stuck a parametric eq after it to dial out the top end nasal nastiness that seems to be in all of the amp models (thanks Line 6!) and also used the same eq to boost the low end. TBH it sounds monster - really fat and full.

 

I got good comments from my bandmates at the last practice ("have you been tweaking it? Sounds good!"). That was after changing from the Uber model to the Treadplate.

 

I'm pretty happy  :)

 

I find the other higher gain amps a bit boxy sounding...I wonder if it's a better approach to choose a low gain one and add overdrive pedals...

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It took me months to get the PODHD sounding like I wanted.  Damn near returned it a few times.  It takes a while to find the combination that works with your setup and tastes.  Gott'a remember this unit is built to work with who-knows-what for an amp and speaker.  Hang in there and keep tweaking.  In the end you'll be happy.  Fractal doesn't magically work perfectly with every amp and speaker combination either.  Nothing can cause they're all different. 

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Yeah, I pretty much decided to sell it a few weeks ago - packed it up, took photos. I think I even listed it on ebay. Then I had a change of heart, unpacked it again and had another go. I'm not sure if the HD500X is particularly difficult to dial in - people seem to say it is. I have had a GT-8 and a GT-10 in the past...as well as a POD XT live. My sense is that the Pod HD is actually easier. The Boss units were insanely complicated. I found it incredibly hard to configure anything on those.

 

Anyway, I am starting to feel like I'm getting my head around the Pod and I'm not sure that one of the high end modellers would offer me much more when it comes to tone. I'm sure they'd be easier to dial in but I don't know if I'd really appreciate the difference in terms of pure tone. Maybe I would - I'd love to try but I don't really want to shell out £1500-2000 for the privilege!

 

Out of interest I pulled my Orange TH-30 head out of the cupboard the other day and tried plugging straight into that...and also running the Pod straight into the FX return. The valve power stage certainly adds some life to the tone and I thought it sounded really, really good. The amp by itself sounds great too...but if I'm honest, I think I preferred the sound of the Pod into the fx return! The flexibility of the Pod sells it too. I'd love to try a Helix through the same setup. Or a AX8. Or a Headrush, if they ever hit the stores!

 

 

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That's how I run my PODHD.  I plug it into the FX return of a Marshall JCM900.  btw - do you have your PODHD set to Studio Direct for the output ?  I never saw the question asked in this thread.

 

I have it set to Combo Power Amp...I tried them all and that sounded the best. Even though I'm using a stack.  :)

 

I tried a EHX Magnum 44 today and it sounded really good! Better than the GPA400 I think...although I have only tried it at home volumes so far. It's really weird to get such a monster sound out of such a tiny box! Very cool.

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