Price paid: $ 300
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Ease of Use — 9
The free editor software is key to user friendly, easy patch editing. The on board menu isn't bad but it's much easier on a computer. It does seem easier to coax a better sound out of this unit than it has been with the older/competitor's models as far as I'm concerned. Like most modelers there is some tweaking involved but it doesn't take nearly as long as it used to since all the models sound better right out of the gate. The new amp models are a big step forward for Line 6 as is the added flexibility you have with patch editing and control combinations. The new editor software is kind of like a combination of Gearbox, Line 6 Edit and POD Farm. It's really well laid out in my opinion and is much more accessible than using the device it self's menus.
Sound — 9
There is a lot more feel of depth and warmth to the sound on the HD series. I heard it runs about 10x the sound information at any given time compared to their previous models and it definitely shows. You can build the setup of your dreams now that you can load any pedal type in any quantity (DSP allowing of course) and in any order. The amp sims sound great. There are less of them than on the XT/X3 units but quality over quantity is certainly the case here. They've always done pretty well with the mild/medium distortion and clean stuff in my opinion but came up a bit short in the high gain department when compared to the sims real life counterparts. I like the fact I can use both pre/post distortion EQ's and noise gates now, it really helps tighten things up without a lot of additional processing like I would have to do with the older models. The only thing I wish they would have done is given the option to use multiple mic models like Guitar Rig does, but other than that every gripe I had with their previous units is solved.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I haven't done anything live with it yet but it seems pretty sturdy. The switches do feel a little bit cheap I guess but they are really responsive and haven't failed yet. Live I would guess as long as you don't spill beer all over it or jump straight onto it you would be fine. There are plenty of different output options to fit whatever you need. I've tested them all and they work like a charm as long as you are using the proper settings. I only mark it down to an 8, which is still good but not perfect, because I haven't tested it live but I think it would hold up. I bought mine used online from a Guitar Center in IL and I don't what or how the previous owner used it for but it didn't have any cosmetic damage and everything works like it should.
Overall Impression — 9
I think it's a great step up from their previous lines. They went back to the drawing board and re-coded everything for an entirely new experience sound-wise and you can make it control exactly how you want it to with the assignable switches. For people on a budget like me I think this is a great option for anyone who needs a wide variety of sounds or just wants to dial in a few specific sounds. I'm actually pretty blown away by it. I've tried pretty much all of Line 6's gear as well as their competitor's stuff and to me this unit is a fantastic value for what you can achieve with it. I haven't tried the latest Boss pedal or the Axe FX hands on but I have literally tried every other similar product and this one is by far my favorite of the bunch. It is pretty much exactly what I wanted the jump from the XT to the X3 to be, minus the option to use multiple mic sims as I mentioned earlier.