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OT: Line 6 POD X3 Live Review


DanYmaL X

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A review of the Line 6 POD X3 Live from a bass players perspective:

Bear in mind that these are strictly the opinions of the writer and in no way an endorsement for Line 6 or any other Brand named herein although if you dont go out and buy a POD X3 Live immediately after reading this extremely biased and one-sided review I think you are crazy

 

 

 

Physically, the POD X3 Live seems to be fairly solid, I wouldnt go as far as to say that it is built like a tank, as is the PODxt Live, but it is well built and seems to be pretty sturdy. The footswitches are a possible weak point, but if treated with respect they should last a good long time. The expression pedal seems to be well designed and reliable, and it is adjustable, which might be another weak point but so far it seems to be holding up fine. The display is a bit on the small side for reading standing up. It shows you the chain of effects, which is turned on and in what order it does not show you which effect is being used for each type, though, which I think is a drawback. You cant see what actual effect or amp model you have in your patch without going into the edit mode. (Suggestion: When you are programming patches be sure to write down the details for each patch along with its name and number in a notebook or on a spreadsheet, and also name the patch in such a manner so as to be instantly recognizable by you or anyone who would be using it like Ampeg+Chorus or something like that.)

 

Let me pause here, and clear up a couple of things. Line 6 developed the POD originally mainly as a studio preamp for direct recording. The whole concept of amp modeling is to color your tone to match as closely as possible some of the most popular guitar and bass rigs out there. You will NOT have much success running your Pod straight into the input of a Peavey TKO 115, expecting it to sound like an Ampeg Fliptop or Sunn Coliseum. It doesnt work that way. Youll end up with a muddy mess. Pods are really meant to be run straight into a PA, preferably in stereo, with little or no EQ on the board. For a stage rig, the best bet is a good, clean stereo power amp with a good set of high powered full range speakers. With the Pods that I have owned and worked with I have found that 12 or 15 PA speakers work the best for all around sound. I know they arent bass cabs, but a good set of PA speakers, JBLs or Mackies, for instance, are perfect for the application. The whole point is to be as transparent as possible so the Pods modeling is not colored at all by the live speakers. One worship leader I play with runs his Strat into a POD 2.0 on with a pair of powered JBLs onstage, and it sounds amazing.

 

I know that most bass players have Their Rig, myself included, and I also know that most bass players use very little in the way of effects you can find discussions upon discussions on those subjects in any forum. The Pod is probably not going to be of much interest to those players as part of their stage rig. Where it really shines is in venues such as churches, theaters or smaller rooms or stages with a PA but not enough room for a full backline. It has multiple output options, mono, stereo, split, you name it. Create a dual tone patch and send one tone to the house and the other to an amp or monitor. Send an overdriven patch to the left and a clean one to the right side of the house. Set up separate inputs for a guitar and a mic and send them to different channels on the board. There are lots of possibilities.

 

I dont really want to get deep into all the tech specs and stuff, so Ill get down to the modeling, which is what the whole POD concept is about in the X3 Live there are 28 very nice Amp models and 22 Cabs. Some from the factory are not so useable, some only useable with a bit of tweaking, but I think that most are very realistic and sound good right out of the box, so to speak.

 

So far I think I like the Acoustic 360 and Ampeg SVT amp models the best, and there is a nice 1x12 Boutique cab that seems to really bring out the best of my bass when coupled with one of those two heads. Line 6 has really done their homework as far as the amp models go the Acoustic 360 sounds very close the Acoustic head that was my first bass amp ad the 1x18 cab model (Based on a Mesa-Boogie) and it actually sounds a lot like my first bass rig the Acoustic head with a Fender 1x18 cab. You can also select any preamp or amp model, whether it is for a mic, guitar or bass, and couple it with any combination of cabinet and effects chain for a huge variety of available sounds. I tried running my bass through some of the guitar amps and cabs, and it was actually quite entertaining. Another cool feature is the mic and room simulates the placement of a variety of different mics around your cab for recording purposes.

 

You can also, if you so desire, bypass the amp and cab modeling altogether and use the Pod simply as an effects unit into your rig. Most of Line 6s effects are also models, and they do sound very authentic, for the most part. I can't really compare my Crybaby to the modeled one, since mine is modded fairly heavily, but it still is pretty good nonetheless. Their own home-grown effects are pretty good, as well. I actually like the Line 6 Flanger and Compressor better than most of the modeled versions included.

 

For recording, the X3 Live offers USB 2.0 or S/PDIF as well as the analog XLR and 1/4" outputs. USB is the way to go, allowing for 2-way communication so your PC output can be routed through the X3 back to your PA, monitor, amp or headphones. You can even select which sounds from your PC are routed to the X3 (IE: DAW output only, and the computer's system sounds go through the regular PC speakers.) Most mainstream DAW programs recognize the X3, some have known issues but most work pretty good. I have been using a program called Reaper, which seems to be very robust for the cost. Audacity also works good, but you lack any simultanious track recording ability there. The X3 is capable of recording two tracks at once, which can be stereo output from one source, split output from one source, or two separate sources, just like the live output options.

 

There is a ton of available resource material on the Line 6 community pages, such as downloadable tones that other users have created, drum tracks to download and use for recording, a fairly large forum with active Line 6 support staff to answer questions and offer advice... and the always invaluable user community, who share advice, music, experiences and their opinions for all who ar interested.

 

The POD X3 is for me the perfect toolbox. I have been searching for the right multi-effect since I started playing guitar oh-so long ago, and this seems to be the embodiment of what I have been looking for. I play bass, but I also play electric and acoustic guitar, so the ability to have just one unit in my music room is priceless... one rig to learn, one rig to program, one case to load up. The quality of the unit is excellent, both physically and internally. It is very easy to use, very versatile and sounds great. All in all a great package, well worth the price. And, the best part of all is that it makes me play waaay better than I really can. I know there are units out there that do a lot of the same things as the X3, and some that do some of those things better. I've been through several in my quest, from several different manufacturers, most notably the Roland VG Series... I think the VG came as close as anything to perfect as far as the modelling and effects go, but it was too limited in its practical application. The POD X3 Live is like a Leatherman for musicians... once you start using it you can't help but wonder how you ever got by without it.

 

 

 

DX

 

Aerodyne Jazz Deluxe

Pod X3 Live

Roland Bolt-60 (modified)

Genz Benz GBE250-C 2x10

Acoustic 2x12 cab

 

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Nice review! I've actually been passively looking for a multi-effects unit that doesn't suck but the X3 is a bit overbudget for me. As you said, I'd probably be one of those that would just use it for effects and skip the amp and cab modeling part. I can't see myself spending $500 on something like that. But then, I doubt I'll find a "quailty" multi-effects unit for much less. I've been seriously underwhelmed by the abundant Digitechs and one or two Boss units that I've tried over the last few years...as well as older PODs.

 

I probably won't buy any time soon but it's nice knowing that they're getting better and better. Maybe by the time I'm willing to part with the scratch, multi-effects will be so good that everybody will be using them.

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A lot of guitarists are going over to the Fractal Audio Axe-FX rack unit... I got my X3 from one such on craigslist for 350 + 50 for a Warwick Rock Case, in almost mint condition. I've seen a few on several forums who are going the same route, so you may be able to find a used one for a decent price on craigslist or evilBay.

The Bass PODxt Live is great unit, too, if you can find one... and quite a bit cheaper.

I like the X3 because it handles everything for me all in one.

You could also use a guitar PODxt Live and download the bass model pack...

and they are getting cheaper all the time so there is hope...

DX

Aerodyne Jazz Deluxe

Pod X3 Live

Roland Bolt-60 (modified)

Genz Benz GBE250-C 2x10

Acoustic 2x12 cab

 

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I have been passively thinking about trying a Pod again - just to see. I played with the X3 and it is - I think - noticeably better than previous versions. I wish that the Reverb knob was Compression like it is on the Bass Pod.

 

I am not a big effects user, but I do most of my gigs via DI to FOH/monitors so this is a logical "toy" for me. I like the Aguilar model a lot. In the past I have just skipped the cab model and used the preamp/head I like and sent that to my stage amp (bypassing the amps preamp by using the effects return) and the FOH - like a fancy DI box I suppose.

 

I still may trade some un-used gear for a X3 "bean" and play around a bit. I still wish they would have put the upgrades in a "bass" version of this instead of the-all-in-one thing. Oh well.

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From what I've seen in the L6 forums, and other places, it looks like Line 6 is going to rest on their X3 laurels for a while... don't expect a Bass only version any time soon, or even further ventures into guitar only PODs... they have their lowdown amp series to keep us low-life bass players happy for the time being, I guess.

The X3 live has a separate switchable compressor, as well as one in the stompbox lineup... I don't think the Bean has this feature. You should be able to pick up a Live used for the price of a new Bean on CL or Ebay... although living in ND you probably don't have the CL resources like we do here in Denver or any other metro area... I used to live in Lead SD, (Deadwood) so I feel your pain there...

The POD is the coolest DI ever, I think... I just helped two of the worship leaders I play with set theirs up, the POD 2.0 Bean I mentioned in the review and another with a PODxt Live that I sold him... they were trying to run through their amps and then mic the cabs, which sounded terrible, so I helped them get rid of the excess gear and they sound great now run stereo direct into the board. It was fun to see these guys' eyes light up like little kids with the first chords after we got everything set up.

 

DX

Aerodyne Jazz Deluxe

Pod X3 Live

Roland Bolt-60 (modified)

Genz Benz GBE250-C 2x10

Acoustic 2x12 cab

 

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