Sep 9, 2011 Line 6 General
Posted by Line6Miller
Welcome to our 100th blog post! When we asked our Facebook friends what they thought our 100th post should be about, “more info on the POD HD v1.3 update” was a popular response. Well, ask and ye shall receive! Dive deep into v1.3 with Line 6 DSP guru Kris Daniel and find out what’s behind the additional amp models, parameters and concepts of this extraordinary update.
By Mike Levine
How would you like six new amp models for your POD® HD, bringing the unit’s total up to a whopping 22? How about five new amp parameters to give you even more tweakability and control over your tone? You can get all of that when you install the v1.3 firmware update, and the best part is that it’s totally free. If you haven’t downloaded it already, connect your POD HD to your computer via USB, run the Line 6 Monkey™ software, follow the instructions, and you’ll be updated in no time.
Four of the five new models are of the alternate channel on amp models already included in POD HD. “We’re trying to break an old paradigm that’s been at Line 6 for a while,” says Kris Daniel, the Line 6 DSP guru responsible for the design of the models in the POD HD. “That old paradigm states that every amp has only one good channel, and that’s simply not true!”
For instance, the Blackface ‘Lux VIB is modeled on* the Vibrato channel of a “Blackface” Fender® Deluxe Reverb®. When set clean, it’s got that classic Fender sparkly and warm tone. But you also get highly expressive and dynamic crunchy and distorted tones, thanks in part to an additional modeled 12AX7 tube stage.
To augment the Normal channel of the model based on* a “Blackface” Fender® Twin Reverb®, the v1.3 update gives you the Blackface Double VIB, which emulates the amp’s Vibrato channel. This channel offers a separate preamp circuit, and therefore has its own characteristic tone. It’s also got beefed up high-frequencies due to added inter-stage filtering, and like the Blackface ‘Lux VIB, an added tube circuit.
The new Tweed B-Man BRT model gives you a tone based on* the Bright channel of a “Tweed” Fender® Bassman®, offering instant crunch and combo-amp tone. The Bright channel gets its distinct sound in part because it uses the second half of the first preamp tube, which the Normal channel doesn’t. It also has a bright cap across the volume knob for added high-frequency response.
The Brit J-45 NRM model emulates* the Normal channel of the classic Marshall® JTM45 MkII® head. Plug into your POD HD, dial up this model, and listen to the rounder, warmer tone. The Normal channel only uses half of the first 12AX7 tube, and doesn’t have the high-shelving filter that’s present on the Bright channel, but can excel both for crunchy and clean tones, depending on the settings. This is great for getting a classic ‘45 sound with an already bright guitar, like a Strat® or a Tele®.
Jim Marshall designed the Park amp line, which was built in the Marshall® factory but carried the name Park for business reasons. The Park 75 head is held in high regard by amp aficionados, and the POD HD already contains a model based on* its Bright Channel. With the 1.3 update, you now also get Brit P-75 NRM, a model based on* that classic amp’s Normal channel, which offers a somewhat less trebly tone.
The final amp addition is called Line 6 Elektrik. It’s actually the Bomber Uber model from POD HD firmware v1.1 that many users have been asking for. This model began with good intentions, but quickly mutated into something the sound design team just couldn’t control. Needless to say, it’s not your typical amp model. Offering copious doses of super-high-gain tone, it’s been described as being able to make “faces melt and souls weep.” Use it at your own risk.
The new amp parameters that come with the update are active not only on the six new models, but on all of POD HD’s models. “The intention of providing the deep edit parameters,” says Daniel, “was to highlight how far the new HD technology has come, and allow players to bend an amp model they wouldn’t normally play, into something that better suits their preferences.”
Sag controls how much the power supply drops as the amp is played. Lower settings tighten up the response, while higher settings result in a more squashed tone, better touch-reaction, and more sustain. “Giving control over how much the amp sags allows modern players to ‘lock down’ vintage amps so they can play faster,” Daniel says.
Two different types of hum—preamp heater hum and power-tube plate ripple—were modeled for the new Hum parameter. Lower settings clean up your sound, and reduce ground-loop-type hum. Higher settings will add “hair” to distortion and extreme settings will take the sound past the point of coherence.
The Bias parameter impacts the distortion characteristics of the signal, letting you switch between Class A biasing (high settings) and Class AB biasing (low settings). Bias Excursion models a phenomenon that happens only when the power tubes are becoming saturated. Low settings tighten up the sound, high settings introduce more tube-like compression.
The final new parameter, Master Volume, lets you control the amount of power amp distortion, and is interactive with all the other new parameters. “This control gives you more headroom and dramatically alters the style of distortion,” says Daniel. Master volume controls were not typical on vintage amps, so using it with the vintage models in POD HD allows you to dial in some sounds that you couldn’t get from the original amps. “You could potentially alter a high-gain sound to a vintage crunch,” Daniel says, “or modernize a crunch tone to a more strict, aggressive sound.”
If you have a POD HD multi-effect and are running old firmware, follow the download instructions in the first paragraph to get your new HD amp models and parameters!
Mike Levine (www.mikelevine.com) is a NYC-based guitarist, composer and music journalist.
*All product names used in this webpage are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Line 6. These trademarks of other manufacturers are used solely to identify the products of those manufacturers whose tones and sounds were studied during Line 6’s sound model development.