Line 6 Pod Farm 2 (Mac/Win, $49 to $299)
Flexibility and ease-of-use are the name of the game with Line 6''s release of V. 2 of its industry-standard amp-and-effects modeling software, Pod Farm 2. The complement of amps, cabinets, effects, and mic preamps is unchanged, but you can configure and manipulate them in many useful new ways. You still get two Tones (complete signal paths), but a new onscreen A/B/Y box lets you switch between individual and parallel operation. With the addition of MIDI support, you can now use any footcontroller or desktop controller to manage amp and effects parameters. Eleven Element plug-ins let you zero in on individual categories (guitar amps, bass amps, tuner, and individual effects types) rather than using several instances of the full Pod Farm 2. Beyond that you have complete graphical control of the setup: When you want to rearrange the order of effects or move an effect before the amp, just drag them around in the GUI. Line 6 has always had a winner with Pod Farm, but the usability enhancements in Pod Farm 2 make it especially noteworthy this year.