Price paid: £ 90
Purchased from: Anderton's
Sound — 10
I was blown away in this aspect. I'm the type Who gets real anal about how an amp feels. I don't even like having true bypass pedals in a chain - any more than 1 cable seperating guitar and amp and I'm not happy - no matter how much I may want that particular effect. That said, I was thoroughly impressed by the sounds on offer with POD Farm. For one I was able to use all these different effects in a chain without losing that responsive feeling. one thing to bear in mind is that the sounds come through your hifi like a recording. in other words they don't feel like having amp X in the room with you but sound just like they would on a CD. This is not a bad thing. I have a nice little valve amp to play about on but to record - POD Farm can do much better than I could even if I had all these Vintage amps and effects. Its a crazy feel if youve always played real amps. going through the preset (most are named after songs) and playing the song the preset is based on with the guitar they recommend and it WILL sound like the Original recording. At "All right now" (Free) I was impressed. By the time I hit "Barracuda" (Heart) I had this huge grin on my face. The amp sims (I stuck with the classics and haven't tried the metal ones much) are great and really have the character of the amps (deluxe reverb, bassman, plexi, 1974x, AC30 etc). They respond to picking dynamics and guitar volume just like real tube amps. I like the effects. Never used a compressor before but the one included is really good (transparent too) and is good for getting a more finished sound. Reverbs are nice but need tweaking at high settings to keep things together. Same goes for having a very far microphone placement. The phasers and choruses are cool, as are the tape Echoes and delays. there's also a load of weird synth effects that I'm sure have their use... Somewhere. Bass sounds are good too, if not so extensive and I'm looking forward to trying all the mic preamps when I get a mic.
Overall Impression — 10
I play in a bluesy kind of style in terms of tone for the most part and this actually nails everything pretty well surprisingly. My preconceptions were that it would have good cleans and hi gain but be crap at in-between settings. Luckily I was wrong there and although the clean sounds are beautiful, the in-between stuff is superb. Never really used the high gain tones so I'm not much of a judge of metal tone. Sounds good to me though. Overall it is probably the best 90 ever spent in the cause of playing guitar. Does so many things so well. If I didn't already have an amp, this would definitely do for playing at home/practice. Plus it has opened the doors to dabbling in recording. As it is also about the cheapest of all comparable competing products I think I'd buy it again if anything happened to it. Gives a nice complete package and not, as I learned, at the expense of tone.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Don't know what to say here. It involves a computer therefore unreliable? the unit itself is as reliable as any of its competitors are likely to be and although ive crashed ableton a couple of times, POD Farm has always kept running.
Ease of Use — 10
This is my first delve into recording, computer based or otherwise, so I'm hitting it as a complete newbie. If youve done it all before, skim through but if you haven't some of this may help... SETUP If you have some computer skills and understand what the box does (I read bit's of the manual etc whilst shopping around before I got it) then it is pretty straight forward. stick the POD farm disk in and it will install all drivers and ask you to plug the UX1 in to a spare USB socket when its ready. thats it! The difficulty comes in all the options and different ways of setting it up and I see a few people having problems with monitoring etc. Since I don't have mixers or other outboard stuff apart from this, the UX1 is my main audio interface with the computer. I plugged the audio outs from the UX1 into my stereo amplifier (hifi) and set the computer to use it as the main soundcard. This gives a far better sound than the computer's motherboard soundcard and means I'm not messing about switching audio sources. I set the ToneDirect buffer to as low as it'll go for no latency and wacked the ASIO recording buffer up to the highest it will go for the hell of it. This way it feels just like my tube amp in terms of immediate response and records without my computer feeling any pain. Just be sure to turn off the monitoring on the recording software or you will hear double. POD FARM Stupidly easy to use. At first there was a bit of a faff registering the box with Line 6 Monkey. Just involved sending me off to their website where I got a username and password in exchange for my email address. Going through the presets is good fun but it is so easy to get a setup going. Just a case of going through the pretty pictures till you find what you want and dragging it down onto your chain. You can press the dual Switch at the top of the screen to split the signal in 2 to allow dual amp setups or whatever takes your fancy. Double clicking any bit of gear brings up the settings for it - knobs on an amp, face of an effects pedal etc. Really its a nice program and is intuitive to use. RECORDING If this is your first attempt like me, this will be the biggest hurdle. I spent a good few hours building projects just to find I couldnt get on with the DAW software. I went through various demo downloads and reaper etc and got stuck with all of them but I ended up sticking with Ableton Live which came with the UX1. Riffworks is more of a scratchpad really but probably a good place to start once to find your feet. There is a steep learning curve here but it isnt the UX1's fault.