Line 6 introduced the original POD over 10 years ago...boy does that make me feel old! Will this pint size POD live up to the legacy?
With an aggressive marketing campaign, Line 6 made a name for themselves very quickly and gained as many fans as they did enemies. Some swore by the convenience and consistency in tone while others cringed at the less than dynamic response and slight shrillness of their tone. Line 6 has continued to refine their technology and recently released the Pocket Pod. Based on their 2.0 technology, the unit is small enough to fit into a shirt pocket. I was skeptical that a tiny battery powered device could be usable in anything other than a worst case remote mountain top scenario, so I put it to the test.
The unit is made of plastic and overall feels rather fragile, which I expected at this price.
I found out the hard way that the unit doesn't feature a power switch by examining the little bean 3 or 4 times before simply plugging in; which powers the unit up...or should power the unit up. This one shipped with dead batteries. Bummer. Luckily I had a compatible power supply.
One more time...with feeling.
The Pocket Pod contains a plethora of well organized presets covering any style I could think of and includes specific song and artist based presets. Pretty cool. Line 6 typically gets glowing reviews for their heavier sounds; however I found the presets a mixed bag. Many of the higher gain models had a sameness about them, especially in low end responsiveness. Additionally, the lack of dynamics on the highest gain settings in combination with a slight dullness resulted in an almost detached feeling which I find difficult to describe. Fortunately, this oddness didn't persist across all the presets. Randomly sampling tones, the unit performed quite well overall with my favorites being the tweed and brit models, which were outstanding. Adding a little slapback and reverb to the tweed model was particularly impressive with a realistic tonal depth and midrange complexity sorely missing from their first generation. I also enjoyed the rich mids and smooth breakup of the "boutique" tones which easily covered old school blues and roots rock territory. OK, time to dig in and edit this sucker.
Being such a small device, the controls typically have 2 functions toggled by a "shift" switch. Thankfully it's intuitive and well labeled as the manual doesn't contain any documentation of the unit's functionality. While the tones were happening simply using its limited controls, at this point I wanted more.
A quick trip to the Line 6 website allowed me to download (after registering, a pet peeve of mine and a prime example of Line 6's aggressive marketing mentality) the Vysyz editor to access parameters not available from the tactile controls. The app installation was smooth and fast. I anxiously launch the app and...no dice. Hmmm. The app wouldn't recognize my computer's USB port as an available MIDI port. Well, let's try another port. No. Reinstall it? Still not working. What an incredible disappointment. I didn't have any issues installing Digitech's X-Edit software. In fact, I've never had an issue installing any software (besides user error of course).
All in all…
The Line 6 Pocket Pod is a great option when ultimate portability is necessary or as a backup to an already compact rig. Even though I couldn't get their editor to work, the units face contains enough parameter control to dial in some workable tones.
Pros: Quality tones, Ultra portable
Cons: Couldn’t get the patch editor working, Long term durability questionable due to light weight construction
All samples were recorded direct using Pocket POD presets, a PRS Singlecut SE for guitar, and Rogue LX405 for bass. With the exception of a noise gate on the Heavy track, no additional processing was performed.