LINE 6 Pocket POD

Modeling Processor
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Web Clip: Hear an audio example of the Pocket POD

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Though small enough to fit in a guitar-case pocket, the Pocket POD offers the same model set as the full-size POD 2.0.

Line 6's Pocket POD ($129.99) is a hardware-based guitar modeler that has the distinctive red color and kidney shape of its POD predecessors but is only about one-third as big. Despite its size, it is no slouch in the sound department. The Pocket POD offers the same model set as Line 6's POD 2.0. Its combination of price, sound, and size makes it perfect to throw in your guitar case when you don't want to schlep your full rig around.

The Skinny

Because the Pocket POD is so small (it measures roughly 5.5 × 3.5 × 1.5 inches), Line 6 wisely kept the number of knobs and buttons to a minimum but gave them each multiple functions. For example, there are four knobs on the unit, and each does double duty. Pressing the Save button while turning a knob enables its alternate function. From left to right, the knobs edit Drive/Bass, Effects (level or speed)/Mid, Delay/Treble, and Channel Volume/Reverb, respectively. You get a Tap tempo button that also accesses the tuner (which you can set for silent operation), and a 4-way navigation button at the top left, which changes different parameters or functions depending on which of its four sides you press. I initially found this button to be counterintuitive, and after testing the unit over the course of several weeks, I still don't feel entirely comfortable with it.

The display is a small but useful 1-line LCD. Its backlight comes on when you're making a parameter change, but after a few seconds it shuts back off to save power. The Pocket POD is so light that it slides around a tabletop or desk from the slightest tug on the cables plugged into it. It does come with a belt clip, which allows you to use the unit live without it moving around.

The back panel is equipped with a ¼-inch guitar input, a ¼-inch mono Amp output, a jack for the optional DC-1 power adapter ($14.95), an ⅛-inch stereo Direct Out/Phones output, and an ⅛-inch stereo jack for plugging in CD or MP3 players. Unlike with other PODs, there's no input for plugging in a foot controller.

Out of the box, the Amp output is set to be used with an open-backed guitar amp, so the cabinet simulator on the Pocket POD is disabled. You can change the output for use with a close-backed amp or cabinet, with a power amp (with either close- or open-backed cabinets), or as a DI, with the cabinet simulator on.

Not all of the Pocket POD's patch parameters can be edited from the front panel. However, you can access them all by connecting the unit's mini USB port to a computer using the included cable, and editing with Psicraft's Vyzex editor-librarian software for Mac or Windows (available as a free download). Vyzex has a nice graphic display, replete with virtual knobs and switches, and lets you easily set up and edit patches and send them between the unit and the computer. Each patch can have an amp model, cabinet model, preamp EQ and drive settings, reverb, compressor or modulation effect (chorus, flanger, tremolo, rotary speaker) or Swell effect, and a delay.

The Pocket POD's USB capabilities are for patch data only. You can't output audio through USB, nor does USB power the unit. Power comes from four AAA batteries, making it the only battery-powered POD that Line 6 makes. According to the company, typical battery life is about four to six hours.

The Phat

I was impressed with the sound of this unit for direct recording (see Web Clip 1). I found its tones to be warm and generally quite usable. You get more than 300 presets, which are organized into 3 major categories: Style, User, and Band. The latter consists of presets programmed by guitarists from a variety of contemporary bands, including P.O.D., Hoobastank, Maroon 5, Hawthorne Heights, and many more. Some of these sounds correspond to particular songs, while others are more generic. The Style heading has several subcategories, including one called Song, which consists of factory presets designed to sound like guitar tones from a range of (mostly classic) rock songs. Many of these are quite impressive and succeed in capturing the essence of the well-known guitar tones they emulate.

All in all, the Pocket POD offers a lot of bang for the buck. If you don't mind editing your tones using your computer, you can have much of the power of the POD 2.0 in a highly portable unit for about $70 less.

Value (1 through 5): 4
Line 6

Web Clip: Hear an audio example of the Pocket POD