Line 6 POD HD500 Review
- Pros: Extremely high quality amp modeling and effects.
- Cons: Hardly any cons to be mentioned.
- Overall: A powerful and comprehensive multi-effects pedal which can fit into any high-level live or recording situation.
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. Today we take an in-depth look into Line 6’s flagship multi-effects pedal, the POD HD500X.
When we first got a look at the POD HD500 the first thought that popped into our heads was that this was a pedal that looked like it belonged in a professional guitarist’s rig. And like its predecessor, the Line 6 POD HD500X is slick, stylish and yet ruggedly built. The pedal’s outer casing is made almost entirely of metal and feels like it can take some pretty reckless treatment on the road. Line 6 has also swapped the HD500’s chrome footswitches for twelve high-grade footswitches which are each illuminated by a red LED ring. The addition of the LED illuminators to the footswitches seems like such a simple thing, but any guitarist will tell you just how important it can be to have a way to tell exactly which footswitches are engaged in a low-light, high-energy live environment. The switches themselves feel much more responsive and stronger than those of the HD500.
A tiny drawback that must be mentioned here is that Line 6’s designers seem to have still deemed it unnecessary to include an On/Off switch on the HD500X, which was an unwelcome surprise to some guitarists on the HD500.
The HD500X might look intimidating at first glance, but navigating this pedal isn’t all that complicated to be honest. And Line 6’s advanced user guide for the HD500X is refreshingly simple and easy to understand.
The footswitch layout of the HD500X is identical to the HD500. The first two footswitches to the left of the pedal are dedicated to scrolling through the pedal’s banks. The footswitches FS1 through FS8 are assignable to various effects and modulations and the final pair of footswitches on the right of the pedal controls its looper, tuner and tap functions.
The basic control knobs for gain, volume, master, EQ and presence are located conveniently at the top of the pedal and various effects parameters are adjustable via the four knobs located beneath the LED display. A smart little design idea that should be mentioned here is that Line 6’s designers have included a sturdy metal bar just underneath these control knobs to protect them from an unwitting kick while engaging the footswitches.
The HD500X’s LED display is incredibly detailed and offers players a detailed breakdown of their signal chain, which makes editing and creating patches on this complex machine much simpler than one would expect. The four-way control button to the right of the LED screen allows players to navigate across the signal chain, select the specific block they want to change, move it around and assign various modulations and effects to it. Once an effect or modulation is assigned to a block in the signal chain, the bottom of the LED display then displays its adjustable parameters which can be tweaked using the four control knobs under the LED display.
The HD500X is also arguably unmatched in terms of connectivity. The pedal’s back panel includes connectivity options such as a ¼-inch guitar input, stereo and mono output jacks, balanced XLR outputs, aux inputs for CD and MP3, a headphone jack, MIDI in and out/thru jacks and USB connectivity. The pedal also includes a professional quality S/PDIF digital output which is a pleasant surprise for a unit in this price range.
As far as sound capabilities and sheer tonal versatility go, this pedal is an absolute beast. The HD500X has enough memory to store a mindblowing 512 presets, each with up to eight effects/modulations.
The HD500X’s impressive tonal repertoire starts off with its 30 HD amp modulations, which instead of just being limited to select “best of” models, includes multiple channels of various classic and modern amps from manufacturers like Marshall, Vox, Fender, ENGL, Mesa/Boogie and, of course, Line 6 themselves. These HD amp modulations sound incredibly authentic and are also extremely responsive to guitarists playing dynamics, which is a rare quality for multi-effect pedal based amp modulations.
The pedal also includes well over a hundred effects including various types of distortion/overdrive, chorus, flanger, wah, EQ, delay, reverb, compression, synth and ring modulation effects. And what’s really great about the Line 6 and its Dynamic DSP is that it allows players to add any amp modulation or effect anywhere in the signal chain. Players also have the option of creating two parallel signal chains with completely separate amps and effects, which can then be blended out sent out to two different amps. This gives guitarists virtually an infinite number of possibilities in terms of achievable tones. Line 6 also provides players with free software for Mac and PC which allows players to create and tweak patches with an incredible amount of ease.
The HD500X comes with all the additional functions like a tuner and a tap tempo that you would expect of a pedal of this caliber. But one feature worth mentioning is the HD500X’s excellent looper function which allows a robust 48 seconds of recording capacity.
The Line 6 HD500X is not a cheap multi-effects pedal by any measure, but if you are a guitarist who is willing to invest on versatility and pro-level performance, this is one of the best multi-effect pedals on the market.
Line 6 POD HD500 Demo