May 17, 2012 11:42 AM
After spending years with various modeling units and software, I wanted to go back and buy a true, all-tube amp and trade in my Vox Valetronix head (first edition, "blue" series). Then I saw...this! Damnit!! I couldn't believe the tones and diversity they were getting out of this setup
I wasn't even remotely interested in the DT50 or this "Dream Rig" concept at first. The DT50 is too loud and doesn't have the sort of sounds I was going for (small, low-wattage, boutique style amp) and the POD looked too complicated and cumbersome to manage. I was sure that what I wanted was going to be pure analog with NO digital whatsever, until I encountered this DT25 head video. It really convinced me that Line 6 finally got this hybrid technology right. I went to Guitar Center to confirm what I was seeing and hearing in this video and I was properly impressed The amp, by itself, delivered on its promise of sounding like a true tube amp while emulating the four greats: Fender, Vox, Marshall and Mesa Boogie. Wow! Naturally, I had to buy it. I got it home, plugged it in to my Vox "blue" cabinet with Celestion "Neo Dogs" and maaaan, it sounds sweeeeeet!! I was satisfied, for a little while. After a few weeks, I realized that needed some effects and pedals to drive the front end. Here's where my delima started: Do I, 1) get the matching POD HD500 2) get the M13 and run the "four cable method" OR 3) invest in analog drive and distortion boxes in front with a few delays and such through the FX loop? The HD500 was the most obvious choice because I already had a JTV Variax and wanted that added functionality. So, I went with that and hoped for the best. $1320 later...in the time that I've had the HD500, I've been in and out of love with this whole "Dream Rig" concept. The POD HD exponentially raises the learning curve and has required a LOT of manual reading, searching the community and support forums and watching videos to get even the basics going. It's VERY easy to make it sound BAD and fairly difficult to make it sound good
I was starting to think that the HD500 is not the right mate for an otherwise brilliant concept and design It turns an otherwise simple, plug and play setup that sounds AWESOME into a complicated mess! Adding the HD500 into the chain, I've experienced HARSH tones, difficult gain staging with the volume going from being stupidly loud to way too quiet from one amp to the next The Fender and Marshall "Pres" on the HD500 do NOT sound as good as the amp's built in modeling (and yes, I've read the threads on this; they simply weren't matching up) and HD Edit leaves a LOT to be desired for tone editing (no component presets, no drag and drop effects rack and a weird interface). After a week or so of this suffering, I was reminded of why I have this love/hate relationship with digital modeling When it works, it is out-of-this-world amazing! When it doesn't, it's hard to get ANYTHING to sound right or good to me <sigh> I was ready to take it all back (even the DT25 head) and lo and behold, this morning, I was blown away again. What!?$@*% This thing is amazing!!! Everything was sounding great again. I had the "Plexi 100 Pre" going into the HT25 with my JTV set on "Spank" and "Lester" and it was EXACTLY right to my ears. Throw a "Tube Driver" in front or another OD or DRIVE pedal and I was...THERE! Oh man, why did I complicate my life like this?! Why isn't a simple tube amp and effects unit good enough for me anymore? I'm completely spoiled and tonally ruined by this technology.
So, what changed? I reflashed the HD500 to the newest firmware (2.x) 3 separate times and while I can't prove it, the tone sounded different every time. The first flash was OK, the second flash was hideously harsh and the models lacked their character and by the third flash, it has sounded great (well, so far anyway). The only thing I did different on the most recent, third flash was to unplug ALL of the cables (VDI, AES L6 Link, S/PDIF, MIDI to USB, etc.) Could THIS have made all the difference? I don't know but what I DO know is that this setup is unusually complex for a guitar rig and my experience with the HD500 so far, is that is UNPREDICTABLE and not incredibly stable. I hold out hope that it may just be user error and in time, I will work it out all out.
That's my rant/report on this "Dream Rig". What do YOU guys think so far?
Thanks for reading