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i. Tone

Is the tone better when using Input 2: Variax (or another unused input)?

In many cases, yes. One advantage is that it reduces the input signal level, which allows the clean amp models to stay a bit cleaner. It can also prevent the signal level from clipping on a guitar with hot pickups.

But besides serving up hotter signal levels, Input 2: Guitar/Same seems to create a very slight out-of-phase tone to the signal. Most people would never notice this it is so slight. It's worst when using a mono-summing effect before the channel split, but even without such you can hear it slightly muddy up leads.

For most simple patches, there's no reason to not use Input 2: Variax. For dual amp patches where there is no mono-summing effect before the channel split, things are a bit more difficult. Input 2 needs an input source or no signal will get to Channel B. One method is to simply add a mono-summing effect - the most transparent would be a noise gate with the threshold set so far down that it does nothing.

If the DSP isn't available to do so, the lowest-DSP-cost mono-summing effect is the FX Loop, but you have to use a patch cable and set mix to 100%. This means you are going through D>A and A>D convertors, and gaining some noise in the process. I find if you can boost the signal before the Loop, this helps improve the SNR.

Another smart solution I've heard is to split the guitar signal before the Pod and run one side into the Guitar input and the other into the Aux input. Then use Input 2: Aux.

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Should I use "full" or "pre" amp models?

This depends on your rig, whether you are pushing your rig into distortion, and your personal preferences. If you have a transparent power amp with plenty of headroom, you may find the "full" models sound more like the amps they are attempting to model, especially the Marshalls or other amps where the brunt of the distortion tone is coming from the power section. You also get more versatility with the "full" amps, as you can lower the Master DEP to get closer and closer to the "pre" tone.

The "pre" models tend to be a little more crisp, but also thinner and more midsy. Regardless of your rig, you may prefer one or the other, or you may use "pre" for some applications and "full" others. Try them both out.

Note that if your real power amp gets some distortion at higher volumes, it may sound mushy or poorly-defined in combination with the distortion from the modeled power amp and pre-amp. But this is not always the case - some layered distortions work very well together. Again, the best advice is to experiment and see what works for your rig and preferences before following any strict rules.

For more on this see here.

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Where should I set the MASTER knob?

This knob controls an analog gain stage that occurs after the D>A converters. It only affects the analog outputs, and it has enough headroom so that it won't distort at its maximum setting. For the best signal-to-noise ratio, Line 6 recommends setting this to maximum (along with setting the amp/line switch to line). Depending upon what you're running your Pod into, this can overdrive that piece of gear. If you find the tone is weird or is clipping or has other unwanted distortion, try slowly backing off this control until the tone cleans up. I have to run mine at around 65% or it distorts the effects loop return on my amp.

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xiv. What does the Master DEP do for amps models where there was no master volume on the original?

Essentially, Line 6 is simulating what the amps would be like if they were modified to include a master volume knob after the pre-amp circuitry but before the power amp. At 100% Master DEP, there is no difference between the original amp and the model. Changing the value allows you to get tones only a modded amp would be able to acheive, varying the ratio of pre-amp to power amp gain available.

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ii. Output/Routing

Can I output dual output modes with the HD-500 or Pro?

Yes, this is possible, but the unit was not designed to do this. I describe how to do so here.

Keep in mind that there are some serious DSP disadvantages to doing this, as you are required to run dual amps, which consume a large amount of DSP. I recommend you bug Line 6 to implement this feature without needing to use dual amps via their feature request form.

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Can I output W/D/W (wet/dry/wet)?

Yes, this is possible, but the unit was not designed to do this. You basically have to give up your FX Loop. Or you can do a mono wet, mono dry output by panning each half of the mixer to different outputs and only placing "wet" effects in one channel. I describe how to do so here.

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Can I reamp over USB?

No, this feature was not included in the Pod HD. The HD Pro features a dry guitar out, which I believe is nothing more than a passive Y-splitter on the guitar input. You can use this to record dry guitar via an analog 1/4" input on your DAW interface. To re-amp, you would need to send the signal back to the Pod's 1/4" guitar input from your DAW.

Ideally, if you want high-quality re-amping capability, you should have a DAW interface that can receive and send multiple analog signals and an active reamping box that buffers the signal and allows you to fine-tune the signal level sent to your DAW.

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Why can't I get any output from Channel B?

The way the signal flows through the Pod is a bit deceptive. All the lines you see for the signal chain are stereo signals. For the very front of the chain, Input 1 is fed into the left half of the signal, and Input 2 is fed into the right half. When this signal hits the channel split, the left half goes to Channel A and the right half to Channel B. So if Input 2 is Variax (or another unused input), if you do not have any mono-summing effects before the channel split, you will get no signal into Channel B. I prefer the tone of Input 2: Variax, so I put a mono-summing effect, such as any Dynamic or Distortion effect, before the split. For more on signal routing, see here.

Otherwise, make sure Channel B is not muted in the mixer, or panned full left or right where there is no output cable connected. For the analog outputs, 1/4" will sum to mono if only one output is used. For XLR, they never sum to mono; so you only get what you connect. Lastly, make sure your amp model's Ch. Vol. control is not set too low. If none of the above helps, you probably have an effect that is causing the trouble in Channel B - try toggling them on/off and see if you get output.

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Why don't I have stereo output?

Let's start from the output connections and work backwards. 1/4" outputs sum to mono if only one is connected. If you want stereo output, you must connect both. XLR never sums to mono. So if you connect the XLR left and 1/4" right, you will get the left signal in the XLR, but you get left + right in the 1/4".

Check to see if you have any mono-summing effects behind your mixer block. These will mix whatever stereo signal you had back down to mono before hitting the outputs.

If you're doing dual amps and want one in the left channel and one in the right, you want to pan them hard left/right in the mixer block. If you don't want to keep Channel A and B separate, note that the mixer preserves stereo effects from each channel. So panning hard right on Channel B will not cause the left half of Channel B to get "pushed" into the right half of the signal leaving the mixer. It will cause the left half of Channel B's signal to get dropped entirely.

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iii. Usage

How Should I Level my Patches?

The simplest way to do so is to use the VOLUME knob on the unit, also known as the Ch. Vol. control in HD Edit. This controls the amp block's output level, and it is designed to have no effect on the tone. The problem is that boosting this control too high can introduce clipping into your signal, either by boosting the volume beyond the Pod's internal digital resolution or by overdriving sensitive effects downstream of the amp block. I find the latter is particularly troublesome when using EQ effects, particularly the Parametric EQ.

There are two workarounds I commonly use. The first I use for any single-amp patch. I put all my effects and amp block in Channel A, so that the mixer is the last piece of my signal chain. Then I keep my volume conservative in my patch and use the mixer to boost the final volume to my liking. The second way is to place a Studio or Mid-Focus EQ as the last effect in my chain. These EQ's have a Gain parameter that is not linked to the EQ filtering they perform. So I can use these to boost the volume to the appropriate level, while keeping everything before that conservative.

For more on clipping, see here.

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Why can't I get a natural volume swell with the Exp. Pedal?

Normal volume pedals use an audio taper to create a logarithmic output level given a linear input. In other words, as you move smoothly from heel to toe position, the actual output increases at a higher rate during the beginning of the movement than the end. This corresponds to how humans perceive volume differences.

In contrast, the Pod's expression pedal follows a linear path, which makes it appear to exponentially increase in volume as the pedal is moved smoothly from heel to toe. For a smoother volume swell, bug Line 6 to offer alternative curves for the expression pedal to follow or for the volume pedal effect to behave like a normal volume pedal via the feature request form.

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How do I use the Pitch Glide?

This is designed to simulate the DigiTech Whammy pedal. It can go from -2 octaves to +2 octaves, and you can set the mix of the pitch shifted tone with the bypass tone. The pitch shift parameter is measured in half steps. 12 half steps = 1 octave. 7 half steps = 1 perfect fifth.

I believe the default settings do not use the exp pedal. You have to go to the controllers tab/page, and assign EXP-1 or EXP-2 to control the Pitch Glide's Pitch parameter. This is where things get confusing. You want the minimum and maximum to control the amount of pitch shift you get when going from heel to toe position. If you set min to 25% and max to 50%, this means it will go from -1 octave to unison. So 0% is -2 octaves, 75% is +1 octave, and 100% is +2 octaves. You can set min and max to go the other way, for instance setting min to 50% and max to 25%, so that as you move from heel to toe, the pitch shifts downward an octave.

Unfortunately, percentages do not match perfectly to half steps. There are 101 percentage values available but 481 pitch values available. Since these numbers do not divide evenly into each other, it is impossible to set the percentages to be perfect intervals, other than the octaves just mentioned. For example, to get a perfect fifth up, you would have to set the percent to 64.58333%, which is not available.

If you want this functionality, please bug Line 6 via their product feedback form.

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Does the Pod HD work with Gearbox?

No, the Pod HD will only interface with the appropriate HD Edit software, given your HD model.

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Can I use HD-xxx patches on HD-yyy?

There are 5 different models of the Pod HD (300/400/500/Desktop/Pro). Each model uses a different patch format (.h3e, .h4e, .h5e, .hbe, .hre). From my limited testing, the more recent versions of the HD Edit software will sometimes convert these patches automatically where there is no potential conflict. For example, I can drag a .hbe file into HD 500 Edit, and it will usually load without a problem.

However, in many cases, the HD Edit software will give an error message about invalid patch data and set the entire patch to a blank patch. The different products have different feature sets that may not 100% translate between units. For instance, the 300 and Desktop do not have an effects loop. The 300/400 use a different signal chain layout than the other units. The 300 does not have effects that are available in the other units. Even where feature sets (related to the patch) are identical, HD Edit may not automatically convert them. For instance, I can't load .hre (Pro) patches into HD 500 Edit.

Ideally, the software should translate what it can, and drop the rest from the patch, and where features are dropped or compromised, the user gets a warning that the patch had to be altered during translation (possibly even saying what was dropped). Bug Line 6 to incorporate such features via the feature request form.

Jzab has made a nice conversion program to translate patches from the 500/Pro/Desktop formats to 300/400. I'm sure this involves dropping some features from the source patches, as the 300/400 architecture is much more limited than the others, but it's better than nothing. Check it out here:

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What is the differences between the Pod HD models?

For a simple table highlighting feature set differences, see here:

Additionally, many of the 300/400's effects are grouped into 4 slots. You can only use one effect from each slot. For instance, slot 1 contains the Distortion, EQ, and Spring Reverb effects. So you cannot use a Distortion + an EQ effect in the same patch. I find this quite limiting. Also, most of the EQ effects are not designed to be an "all-in-one" EQ like a 10 band graphic EQ or the EQ on the Pod XT/X3. I use an HD 500 and find I usually need to use multiple EQ's per patch, which would be impossible on the 300/400.

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Can I use a different power adapter?

Yes, but it has to match the voltage and wattage of the original, as well as provide DC, not AC power. The power supplies from previous-generation Pods will not work.

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Can I modify my Pod HD to gain more DSP power?

No, this error occurs due to the way the software calculates DSP, which I seriously doubt is based upon real-time analysis of the hardware's performance. There is more likely a fixed value representing available DSP, and each effect is assigned a DSP cost based on the maximum amount of processing power necessary for it to work. If the sum of the effects and amp model costs exceed the max value, the error is displayed and the effect is removed from the chain.

If you were able to mod the hardware to increase its horsepower, you'd additionally need to hack the firmware and change the software to change the way DSP usage is calculated for each effect or increase the maximum available.

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Is the variable Input Impedance feature simulating the effect via software?

Line 6 has said that the impedance is actually a hardware-related change, even though it can be switched from software. I've tested active vs. passive pickups, and AFAIK, the feature is implemented via hardware.

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v. Misc.

How do I submit a feature request to Line 6?

Use this form:

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Why don't your patches have enough bass?

I can't say for sure that I nailed the "correct" amount of low-end - it is the most difficult thing to accurately dial in. If you feel my patches are "off", feel free to tweak them!

I tried to dial in my patches on my M-Audio BX8 monitors and Sennheiser HD280 Pro headphones, compared to source material for the artist I attempted to match, using a medium to loud volume. I tried to find places in the source material where the guitar track(s) was playing by itself, outside the mix. I find my patches are comparable to the source material in bass response.

Also, I don't have a professional studio, just a bedroom studio. I have not acoustically treated my room (yet), and I am aware that there are some bass nodes that make it difficult to dial in the appropriate amount of bass. However, these nodes should also be present when playing back the source material. And the headphones don't have such issues.

Often, the kick drum and bass track makes a guitar tone sound much thicker and chunkier than it actually is. Trying to get a guitar tone by itself to have the low-end of a full mix is going to end up muddying a mix when playing with a drummer and bassist.

Finally, keep in mind that the loudness of different frequencies is perceived differently at different volumes ( This means lower volume tones need to dial in much more bass for the bass to seem balanced and thick in relation to the other frequencies. However, as you raise the volume, this bass quickly dominates the entire tone. Using such in a mix would surely muddy the mix and prevent the guitars from "cutting through".

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Do you take tone requests?

I did accept requests a few months ago, but I have work and personal issues that currently prevent me from fulfilling any requests. As soon as I have time to take requests, I will be glad to take them in exchange for a meager donation.

In the meantime, the patches I made and posted cover a wide variety of artists and genres. Perhaps you can use one or two of them as a starting point. See my Patch Demo

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B. Links

i. General
ii. Forums
iii. Pod HD References
iv. Guides
v. Patches
vi. Site Artwork

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