Price paid: $ 195
Purchased from: Facebook ad
Ease of Use — 10
I bought this unit more than a year ago from guy who posted an ad on Facebook. It is very simple-to-use, ready-to-go effect system you can use in gigs, rehearsals or recordings.
First of all, changing amp settings is very easy task to do with it. On the upper right section of the front panel, you have a set of six knobs to do the job. On the most left you will find the GAIN knob to control the gain of any amp; then comes the BASS, MID, TREBLE and PRESENCE control respectively. And the last, but not the least is a CHANNEL VOLUME knob, which you can use to control the volume of each tone patch you create. It has two footswitches labeled with up & down arrows on the left section of the front panel to change the memory bank. There are four dedicated footswithes to turn the amp, stomp, modulation and delay effects on or off. Below them, there are four more footswitches labeled as "A," "B," "C," "D" which you can use to store tones as well as to change patches when you're playing live. There is one more footswitch that can be used as a TAP-TEMPO button and to access the tuner by long-pressing it. There is a backlit LCD screen where you can see the values of every effect parameter. You can even change the brightness of this screen. There are two rotating knobs on each side of the LCD screen. The left can be used to scroll through the pages and the right one can be used the change the values of the effect parameters. Below the screen, you'll find four small soft buttons which can be used to select the various parameters of each effect. On the right section of the front panel, there is big expression pedal to control the volume, wah and other effect intensity.
On the rear panel, besides the power jack and regular 1/4 inch input slot, it comes with a MIDI in and a MIDI out. It has three 1/4 inch regular outputs i. E. LEFT, RIGHT & PHONES with a 3. 5 mm AUX slot. There is also a small knob to control the master output volume and a small switch to change the output mode from LINE to AMP over there.
Well, at first, it is a bit tricky to get the sounds as there are a lot of things to tweak, but once you are familiar with them, you can dial in an array of sounds to work with. However, I strictly recommend to go through the very informative user manual to understand how this thing works.
It has 32 memory banks with each one having 4 patches, leaving you with 164 patches to save your tones. In banks no. 1-8, you'll find the tones to use when your practicing using a headphone. In banks 9-16, there are some decent tones to use on your amp. If you have a Variax guitar, you can use banks 17-20 and the rest (21-32) is for own use, though you can always overwrite any of the existing patches.
Editing a patch is simple. Just press the "EDIT" button, scroll through the pages using the left knob, select the different parameters with small soft buttons just under the LCD screen, change the values with the right knob, turn on or off any effect with the dedicated footswitches each for amps, stompboxes, modulations, delays and when you're set, just give a name to the tone (which I really like) and save it by pressing "SAVE" button.
While you can use this unit to store your tones, you can even use this as a pedalboard. To do that, Just press-and-hold any of the buttons marked as A, B, C, D and on the LCD screen you'll see "Manual Mode." In manual mode, you can use the dedicated four footswitches to turn the amps, stomps, mods or the delays on or off.
I cannot remember the firmware version right now as I don't have the unit in front of me, but I suppose it has been upgraded once and two add-on packs i.e. FX Junkie & Power Pack have been installed as well. If you want to know more about the packs, you can check it here. In short, it is very useful and simple to use once you get the hang of it.
Sound — 9
Talking about the sounds, it has a number effects which are very nice and a number of effects which sounds very bad. I have never played any sort of tube amps as they are a bit costly here in India, so I don't have much idea of how a tube amp sounds and therefore I won't compare the amp models with the original ones. Most of the amp models in this unit are very good. I mostly play metal and progressive rock songs, so I like the L6 Treadplate, Treadplate Dual, Solo 100 amp models along with Killer-Z or Classic Distortion Stompbox effect for the distorted guitar tone. There is a nice built-in Noisegate which can be used to reduce excess noise when using high gain settings. I use the Variax Acoustic, Zen Master, L6 Clean amp models to get a clean sound. For bluesy sound I mostly use the Gibtone or the Zen Master with a little bit high gain.
One nice thing over here is A.I.R. settings, which basically means that you can assign different cabinets, different mics in different positions with the amp models. One of my favourite combination is the Treadplate Dual amp model with a Treadplate 4x12 Cab and the Condenser mic. Along with the EQ system on the amp section, you can assign another 4-band graphic EQ to it to fine tune your tone. Moreover there are 24 modulation, 14 delay, 15 reverb and a number of stompbox effects you can use to get awesome tones. I use this unit with a pair of Audio-Technica ATH MSR-7 headphones and sometimes with a Stranger Cube 80 combo amp.
The Modulation and Stompbox effects are cool. I personally use the Killer-Z, Classic Distortion and Blue Comp a lot. Sine Chorus and Analog Chorus are the best choruses I've ever heard. Among the delay effects, I like the Stereo, Analogue and Ping-Pong effect most. But the Reverb effcts do not sound good to me, a bit digital - you know. You'll find a lot of effects which I bet, you'll never use, specially in the stomp section but there are a lot of them you'll really love.
One thing you should keep in mind is that, when you get the output from the PHONE & LEFT slot, you get the A.I.R. settings active, but when you connect the output cable to the RIGHT slot, they are automatically bypassed.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is built like a tank. It is constructed from solid metal except the knobs and switches. Definitely It will withstand live playing as I've done live shows with it and never had to carry a backup (I don't have any). The EQ knobs were already replaced by the previous owner and the new ones are sturdy. The footswitches are solid. I Never had a problem with any sort of malfunctioning of any parts after purchasing it. There is also a steel iron bar on the front panel that comes very handy. I had dropped it once, but it left a scar mark on the floor... Ha ha... I'm just kidding. I take good care of my gears and I think it will go miles.
Overall Impression — 9
I play metal and progressive rock. So, I need really decent tones to work and this unit is very helpful to develop those sounds. I've been playing for 4 years now and I have learnt not to use so much of gain in my tones and that's where it had never failed me. For distorted rhythm guitar I usually keep the amp gain at around 70% and distotion stomp at around 65% and when I'm playing solo I slightly reduce the amp gain... And in both situations the guitar sounds clean, cuts through the mix and provides full range experience.
I have two guitars: one is an LTD Viper-10 and a Schecter Omen-6 Extreme and I use different set of patches for each one of them. If it was stolen or lost, I would save up more money and buy the POD HD500 or HD500x, rather than buying another POD XT Live. I totally love the whole unit: there is particularly nothing I hate in this unit. My favorite feature is to be able to assign names to the tones. Before buying it I compared it to Boss ME-70 and Boss ME-80, and it seemed more appealing to me and my friends also recommended this over the Boss ones. I wish it had the Metal Expansion Pack because that would've given me a number of "metal" amps to work with.