When Line 6 released the POD HD500 way back in 2010 they bridged the gap between the sonic capabilities of a big, bulky and hugely expensive rack-type effects unit and the portability of a multi-effects pedal. And with the POD HD500X Line 6 has offered some minor, but very well thought out changes that really positions the POD series in a class of its own.
Line 6 has always been a company at the forefront of the guitar world’s latest technological innovations. From high quality amplifiers to powerful multi-effects processors, the company has delivered consistently in terms of quality and innovation. And with the AMPLIFi FX100, its latest member of the forward-thinking AMPLIFi range of products, Line 6 seems to be stepping into the future of guitar effects processors. If this step is a hit or miss, however, remains to be seen as I delve into a detailed review of the AMPLIFi FX100.
Bigger isn’t always better. Well, that’s what we tell ourselves. Since we can’t always afford the fully stocked, top end effects pedals (what did you think we were talking about?) with footswitches, buttons and dials covering every square inch of their goliath surface area, compromise is often necessary. Line 6’s M13 is the biggest of the M-series, but unless you’re very serious about your multi-effects, the choice is likely between either the mid-sized M9 or the compact M5. The M5 may be a little poorly-endowed in terms of footswitches, but it still has plenty to offer – packing a lot of the same core features in a considerably more affordable package. But is it really worth it, or in this case, does size really matter?
If Goldilocks were to choose a Line 6 POD HD series pedal, she would undoubtedly moan about the abundance of pedal switches and the sheer mass of the 500 and whine about the relative daintiness of the 300. The 400 falls right in the middle, the Goldilocks-zone for multi-effects pedals. In terms of price, size and functionality, it aims to strike a balance to suit players who play live, but don’t have the bankroll to splurge on the HD500.
The M13 may be the flagship of Line 6’s M-series of multi-effects pedals, but that doesn’t mean you should discount the mid-sized M9. The bigger unit may have twice as many footswitches, but with that extra hands-free capability comes increased size and, more importantly, increased cost. The M9 (and the smaller M5) has the same selection of effects as the bigger unit, though, and with similar features it’s not quite so easy to discount the less-than-goliath pedal. The real question is: does the M9 do enough to compete with its bigger brother? And how does it stand up to its mid-size competitors?
Line 6’s M5 and M9 stompbox modelers have a lot to offer the average guitarist, with plenty of effects to choose from and (on the M9) enough footswitches to get you through the occasional gig without any hiccups, but the M13 takes things further. It’s the big boy of the family, packing a massive 15 footswitches and up to four simultaneous effects, but it’s also the most expensive. However, with Line 6’s own POD HD line and the still-capable M9 to compete with, before you even consider offerings from other manufacturers such as Zoom’s G5, the M13 has a lot to accomplish to make it worth the purchase.
When the original POD was released, it was a revolution in the world of multi-effects, but it wasn’t perfect. The biggest issue was with changing patches, which was challenging to do on-the-fly without the addition of an external foot controller, presenting big problems for using the pedal live. The Floor POD was inevitable for that reason, but as one of Line 6’s earliest footboard-style pedals, it also had a few niggling issues. The Floor POD Plus sees Line 6 refining the same formula, aiming to improve on the standard model and give guitarists something dependable, easy to use and road-worthy. But were they successful?
Coming from the company that made the groundbreaking POD, the Pod XT Live is a natural progression from the classic kidney bean unit to a floorboard unit, while removing the need for a separate floor controller along the way. Mind you, what we’re left with is still a fairly hefty device and probably as heavy as most practice amps. But, for what you get for your money, it’s very much worth it.
The Pod X3 Live is the on-the-floor version of Line 6’s popular X3 kidney-shaped model and is clearly targeted, as the name suggests, towards the gigging musician. Certainly, for all practical purposes, the X3 Live has been designed with live performances in mind. All the technology is protected by a sturdy metal box that comes fitted with Line 6’s innovative steel handlebars.