Price paid: £ 69
Purchased from: County Music (Canterbury)
Sound — 8
I use and have used a variety of single coil and humbucker fitted guitars through this. I normally run it into headphones for practice, It runs well straight to a PA setup, and sounds good through the FX in of my mid 80s Peavey Backstage Plus. Inevitably the HiGain amp models are noisy, as is running into a PC, that seems to be the USB lead picking up noise. On its own, the Pocket POD is not too noisy otherwise, whatever the guitar. Generally the effects are good, its a shame there's no Phaser model, although the moderate Flanger model can come up ith an OK approximation with a bit of fiddling around. Reverb is good and the Spring reverb can get that Fender sound pretty easily. You really need to hook up to a PC to get the best out of what the effects can offer, changing pre-delay and feedback to get "the sound" you are looking for depending on the effect. The amp distortion seems more accurate on the higher gain amp models it lacks a little of the creamy power amp distorion tone that you would expect from amp models for the 60s amps particularly. Don't forget the distortion, drive, bright and EQ toggles that can only be adjusted using a PC, these can make a huge difference to the tone. Overall there is a large palette of tones available whatever you style and the actual sound is good. If there were one criticism of the Pocket POD's sound, I should say that it is overly bright irrespective of model and that the distortion modelling of some of the amps is a little generic.
Overall Impression — 8
I play mostly blues and classic rock, and there are enough presets and amp models to present me with a wide tonal palette within those genres. I've been playing for 30 years and owned and used a plethora of gear in that time I wish that something like the Pocket POD had been available when I was starting out, it would have made a huge difference to my learning and practising. I should certainly replace this if it were stolen or lost, it is invaluable to me. When I bought this, the choice was between this, some small modelling amps or a full size POD, for the price and features there was no competition. Wish list: a Phaser model and the ability to control all the paramters without pluggig into a PC.
Reliability & Durability — 7
This really is not a gigging tool - its far too tricky to get from patch to patch and its far too small to be stable unless its clipped to you belt or lashed to an amp with gaffer tape. For a practice tool its excellent, and stands up to small knocks from over vigourous movements well. The biggest problem is the D-pad takes a lot of wear and needs to be used carefully to register a "down" by now. The rating reflects this as a practise tool.
Ease of Use — 7
I've had this for a couple of years now. There are lots of presets, I think it would be fair to say that, while it will accomodate any musical style the emphasis is very much on ROCK tones. Battery life can be pretty dire, the manual warns that reverb can eat batteries and its more than right. Using a mains adapter makes this a little less portable but its a very necessary investment. Patches can be edited quite easily although the shift function means you have nothing like WYSIWYG looking at the Pocket POD, plus if your shifted and base functions are different you get a sudden leap when you rotate the dial. There are a lot of hidden parameters, from amp presence to cabs to FX and reverb tweaks, that can't be adjusted without a PC, which makes it essential to get the most out of the Pocket POD. There are hidden switches which can make a huge difference to the sound of a patch if they are on or off. Once you've gone online and downloaded the manual this is only adequate. It tells you how to use it, but nothing about the preset patches, the only waty to find out about these is with the Vyzex editor - another free download. This unit has been upgraded to version 1.01, but I couldn't tell any difference after the upgrade. The built in tuner is marvellous, much easier to use than a lot of other modelling fxs and amplifiers. I have found it accurate enough to use for setting intonation at a pinch. Rating reflects the need to use a PC to get the best out of this.