Line 6 POD HD300 Multi-Effects Pedal Review
- Pros: Comprehensive selection of effects, intuitive layout and plenty of accurately modelled amplifiers to choose from.
- Cons: The controls are too small to use effectively on-stage, and you can’t combine them at will like you can on the more expensive models.
- Overall: A great pedal for use in the studio and for bedroom jamming, but serious gigging musicians should consider spending more for additional freedom and better hands-free controls.
- Amazon: Line 6 POD HD300
The marketing for Line 6’s POD HD300 is nothing short of excessive. They claim that the new models are ten times more accurate than their original POD amp modeling, stuffed with “10 times as much amplifier DNA.” If the term “amplifier DNA” didn’t raise an eyebrow itself, the idea that the precision of the modeling has increased ten-fold is a somewhat dubious one that will leave most guitar effect aficionados stroking their chins in disbelief. The marketing hot air shouldn’t sway you, but that doesn’t mean Line 6 hasn’t continued on in their tradition of exceptional multi-effects units.
Introducing the POD HD300
The Line 6 POD HD300 is the most affordable model in Line 6’s POD HD range, and it has less features than the HD400 and HD500. It’s important to know this straight away, because the HD300 is essentially a scaled-down version of the more comprehensive models. Before you even consider the features, usability and sound you get out of the unit, you should remember that this pedal is inherently for less serious players. If you’re a bedroom rocker looking for realistic amp models for a reasonable price, the HD300 was made for you.
So what’s all this “HD” business about? Well, they’re essentially saying that the new modelling technology provides high definition audio, which inherently implies that the previous ones didn’t – contrary to their claims at the time. Line 6 spent three years essentially re-inventing the wheel; starting from scratch and building their modelling process back up from the very foundations. The “DNA” they’re talking about is really just data. With ten times more data to model the behaviour of the amp, things like power supply behaviour and class AB push/pull interactions can be taken into account for an articulate, warm tone.
They tested hundreds of amplifiers and settled on 16 of the best to model with the Line 6 POD HD300. The list includes the Fender Twin Reverb, Bassman and Blackface Deluxe Reverb, the Marshall JTM-45 Mkll and JCM-800, the Vox AC-15 and AC-30, along with many other such as the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier and the Hiwatt Custom 100. These are split into eight pairs, accessible through the main amp model knob on the far left of the unit. It’s pretty easy to operate; turn it clockwise if you want to sound heavier. To the right of this, you have the standard amp parameter controls, “Drive,” “Bass,” “Mid,” “Treble” and “Ch Vol” (channel volume), making it easy to give your sound a minor tweak.
The POD series is famed for its amp modelling, but there are also over 80 “M-class” FX built into the HD300. The M-class of stompbox modellers is primarily known through the M9 and M13 units, and they essentially model all of the major types of guitar effects. With the HD300, there are over 25 distortion modellers, EQs and compressors, over 25 phasers, filters and choruses and more than thirty types of delay, ranging from classic analogue effects to modern digital delays. These are controlled by three dedicated knobs, found directly above the amp modelling dials. You can save awesome set-ups in any one of 128 preset locations included with the unit.
Amp models and stomp boxes aren’t the only thing you get with the POD HD300, though. The pedal also has a built in 24-second looping feature. This is great for the bedroom-rocker, because you can build up a full-band sound all on your lonesome. It’s true that 24 seconds isn’t going to compete with the dedicated looping units out there, but as an extra feature there isn’t much cause for complaint. The looping controls are operated by four footswitches which stretch across the lower portion of the unit. This allows for hands-free control of recording, playback and overdubbing. In other modes, you use them to switch between presets or for a stomp-box life feel when activating effects.
An expression pedal dominates the right half of the Line 6 POD HD300. It has three possible uses, as a wah pedal, a volume pedal and a pitch glide controller. Pushing the toe end of the pedal down switches between the different modes, and rocking it back and forth adjusts the parameters. On the opposite side, a tap tempo button is used to control the rhythm of modulation and delay effects. You also have a tuner built in so you don’t have to unplug to make any adjustments.
Line 6 POD HD300 Photos
A Reliable Multi-Effects Pedal for Home and Studio
The footswitches, pedals and general layout of the Line 6 POD HD300 make the operation intuitive and give it some potential to be used on-the-fly, but there are a few problems which hold the pedal back. The pedals for the looping mode, for example, are arranged unlike virtually any looper on the market. The mainstay of the pedal assignment for loopers is a single pedal for recording, playback and overdubbing, so you can hit the pedal, record a part, press it again to listen back and give it a final tap for overdubbing. The HD300 puts record and overdub together and play on a separate pedal along with stop. This isn’t a huge issue, but it means unnecessary foot movement while you’re playing and eats up space that could have been used for other cool looping features like undoing or redoing the last overdub.
Although the unit has a metal chassis and could take the bumps and bruises associated with going on tour, the size of the controls mean that it isn’t ideal for use in live settings. The screen is comparatively small and then controls themselves are too dainty to be adjusted easily on stage. The inputs and outputs are also focused on use in the studio, so the Line 6 POD HD300 is better if you want to do some recording or compose masterpieces in your bedroom.
The mixture of effects you can create on the Line 6 HD300 is also pretty limited. The effects are arranged into three groups, “FX1,” “2” and “3,” and you can only mix those in different groupings. This means, for example, that you can’t add pitch glide to a distortion effect, or use a hard gate with octave fuzz. The majority of these combinations won’t cause a problem, but in some cases the restrictions can get a little irritating. Line 6 obviously has to hold some functionality back for the HD500, but it shouldn’t really feel so obvious.
Overall, the Line 6 POD HD300 has a lot to offer but it’s not really the pedal it could have been. The marketing hype doesn’t help, either, because although the “HD” modelling has undoubtedly improved the sound quality, ten times better really is a bit of an overstatement. That’s to be expected, though, and the intuitive layout of the controls, ample (if anything, slightly excessive) effects, generation selection of amp models and additional features like the looper definitely make up for it. It’s not the best option if you’re hoping to find an on-stage companion, but it you’re looking for a well-equipped, affordable pedal to use at home or in the studio; the POD HD300 is more than capable.