By {{Lincoln Brewster}}, courtesy {{Christian Musician}} Magazine

For those of you that think the Pod is something from a Star Trek adventure or something that peas grow in, I'm here to enlighten you. The Pod is a portable, software based, amp modeling direct box. When I first heard about the Pod, I was really pumped. It sounded too good to be true, considering its list price of around $399.00.


When I first got the Pod, I was very excited to try it out. Being a Pro Tools user, I already owned the Line 6 Amp Farm software, and love it. I had wanted to use Amp Farm when playing live but it wasn't practical to take my computer to the gigs. I needed something much smaller and more convenient. I thought the Pod might be the answer. I plugged the Pod in and tried out the internal presets first, and for the most part, I wasn't that impressed. So I decided to switch to manual mode and just use it like a straightforward amp. I tried a few of the amps and came across the British Class A amp model and was blown away. This thing sounded like a real miked up Vox AC30. I then tried the other amp models and found that I liked them as well.


In my opinion, the best way to get the initial tone you're looking for, is to look at the Pod as simply a replacement for a miked up amp, forgetting the effects section, and focusing on the bass, middle, treble and drive knobs (just like an amp). After doing that, then you can decide if you need some reverb, delay, tremolo, chorus, and flanger etc. I tried the effects out and they are surprisingly good.


The great part about the Pod is it's like having sixteen different amps at your fingertips and you can fit it in your gig bag! I definitely am a purist at heart when it comes to guitar tones and I found the Pod to deliver absolutely convincing replicas of the amps that are modeled, both in sound and in feel.


Keep in mind, I was listening to these sounds in a studio environment. I found the Pod also reacts exactly like an amp when used with stomp boxes. I bought the optional Floor Board by Line 6, which can be used with either the Pod or the Line 6 amps. The Floor Board can access the Pod's built in tuner and tap tempo delay, both of which can be accessed without the Floor Board as well via the Pod's front panel. The Floor Board can also access the Pod's internal distortion, which is a stompbox model, boost, a modeled 60's Vox wah, and a volume pedal, which is modeled after the Ernie Ball's volume pedal sweep. The wah, boost and distortion cannot be accessed from the Pod. You must have the Floor Board to get to these. I found the Floor Board fairly key for doing a live setup.


Since having the Pod, I have tracked one entire album with just the Pod itself, which will be an upcoming Hosanna music release, and have used it on every project I've played on since I've had it.


The Pod comes with Emagic sounddiver software, which allows additional editing. This is very cool. It gives you the ability to access 12 more amplifiers, giving you a total of 28 amps to chose from. You can also edit the effects in greater detail, change speaker cabinets and there's a very cool ambiance. With this software you can also save entire banks of presets for different applications and download them to your Pod via midi. I thought was a very helpful feature, seeing as how I use the Pod for both studio and live dates. On the main outputs of the Pod, there is a switch labeled "Direct/Amp" which contours the main outputs of the Pod to suit either direct recording or running the Pod into the main input of your amp. The first time I tried running the Pod into the front of a combo amp set to its clean channel I was absolutely blown away. The amp, which shall remain nameless, was an amp supplied to me by the youth camp where I was playing with a friend of mine. This is an amp I normally wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, but it was amazingly transformed into an awesome sounding combo with just a short bit of tweaking on the Pod. Keep in mind, in order run the Pod effectively this way, you may end up with some rather unorthodox EQ settings on your amp. For instance, on some amps, you may need to roll the bass and treble to 0 and the midrange to 10. The idea here is to have your amp create a rather flat response so the Pod can do its thing. But as always, let your ear be your guide.


On one particular date, I ran one side of the Pod into the amp and ran the other side into the PA. I left the output switch on "Direct" which I found adequate for the amp input, being as I wasn't miking up the amp, and was just using it for stage volume. I've done this several times since, with a variety of amps ranging from about the cheapest, smallest thing your can find to some of the best amps available. It works incredibly well.

While playing summer festivals with {{Michael W. Smith}}, I decided to try the Pod out on Michael's stuff at our last sound check at Wolf Trap Amphitheater in Vienna, Virginia. The Pod seemed to make sense, considering that we're using In Ear monitors and I have no stage volume as it is now due to my cabinet being isolated in a road case. My first concern was to check with the front of house sound guy to see how it compared to my existing setup and I got a big thumbs up. Everybody in the band who heard it kept saying, "Wow, that's the Pod?" After discovering that it was going to work for performances, the next thing was to program the MWS set into the Pod since I would be using it from there on out for all of our dates. This is the ultimate for me because, whether it's a fly date or bus trip, my sound will be consistent.


The Pod is well constructed and durable, good for players of any level. It has cool accessories available, like an optional carry bag and brackets to mount it to the top of an amp or a mic stand. When it comes to guitar sounds, when it sounds good, it is good. For what you get in price, size, portability and quality, this is the biggest breakthrough since the string.

{{Lincoln Brewster}} is a worship leader with Integrity Music. He also tours with various musicians, including {{Michael W. Smith}}. Read his latest news, bio and album review by clicking on his name.