Line 6 Bass Pod XT Live………Live Review

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by ElMon, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    For those that have read my other live gig reviews, you may notice that I am lucky to have a ‘constant’ in this type of testing: the exact same venue with the same band. This has been invaluable because it ensures that the tonal differences I encounter with different rigs/basses are NOT necessarily related to room acoustics, different stage positioning, etc. Though this review is more for the Bass Pod, I should take a moment and give some props to the rest of the setup:

    Fender CS 58’ LTD Precision Bass:

    Like the one in my avatar. TI flats, foam mute, good to go. This bass has, hands down, the deepest bottom end of any bass I’ve ever owned, but yet remains tight and controlled. I left my tone knob completely up all night and it did everything I wanted. Believe it or not, with the right setting on the Bass Pod, I even got a respectable fonky-Pbass slap tone!

    Aguilar AG500 and 2 GS112’s:

    Can’t say enough about this pairing. IMO, though the Markbass SD800+Epifani UL410 rig I had could put out more decibels than this rig, the Aguilar setup crushes it in low-mid thickness that hits you in the chest with each note. The coupling of the 12’s made my stage tone tighter, and my drummer said I was louder and fuller than usual while not overwhelming the mix. The Markbass/Epifani rig definitely wins on ‘stoopid volume’ though!

    Me and Line 6…..

    To get this out of the way, I used to dis on Line 6 when they first really hit the scene, both as a player and as one who sold lots of bass gear. When the first kidney-shaped model came out, I plugged in and was very under-whelmed by the presets. Terrible quite frankly. It seemed that every person I sold it too, with a few exceptions of course, invariably brought the little bastard back. This attitude went on for a while as the Line 6 product line continued to evolve. Then I remember seeing that Weezer performance on SNL that was completely sans amps, and yet sounded amazing through the TV. I read later on that they had been relying solely on the rackmount Line 6 units. That bowled me over, but I still wasn’t exactly a convert to modeling.

    XT Live

    While I was at GC, I had these come in, and was actually a little more won over on the tone coming out. Most of the presets were fairly weak still, and I couldn’t exactly dive in to tweaking the thing, but it was much better than I remembered. Still, another year and a half went by, and we arrive at 2007, when I kept up my usual pattern of treating the TB classifieds like a GAS-fueled swap meet. The best thing I arrived at was what I’m currently using, insofar as the flatwound-strung Pbass through an Aguilar rig just seems to fit my band and my own tonal leanings. Even still, I felt there was some character missing in the tone, a 3D quality that I have yet to find outside of the DB750 (still my favorite amp).

    I’ve gradually realized that I’m not a fan of the ultra-clean, transparent, get-the-crap-out-of-the-way-of-my-pristine-$6K-boutique-bass type of amp design. I like my tone to sound ‘colored’. And that simply comes from the few occasions I’ve had the pleasure of working with a real engineer in a studio. This was the first time I encountered ultra-hi end mic pre’s and also the first time I came across Pro Tools and Desk Top amp Modelling and Plug-Ins. I used to bring in my fancy amp setup and would ask to be mic’d and DI’d. My long-time friend and excellent engineer, Ryan Zemke, always would over rule me and I’d end up taking a DI, usually an Avalon, into his Desktop Plug-Ins. I turned my nose up at it until I actually heard the final mixdown. I was amazed that he could get a fat Ampeg B15 tone with amazing compression, at the click of a mouse. Amazed, and more than a little jealous that I could not seem to duplicate that pure sound live.

    The AG500 is a fairly dry sounding head compared to the DB680 or DB750 sounds. It was clean and thick, but I thought it kind of lacked real warmth that wrapped each note around the mix. I considered different tube DI’s and Pre’s to run in front of my AG500 when I happened upon Tomixx’s review of the Bass Pod XT Live. Now, I must say that Tomixx is one of those TB’ers whose impressions of gear match up perfectly with my own on the occasions that I run into the same piece of equipment.

    This review got me extremely curious, and I dropped by GC and picked one up. Like every Bass POD before it, only a small % of the presets were usuable IMO and the rest were mostly strange and useless. Like Tommixx reports in the thread above, this pedal will only pay off if you put in the time. And boy did it take some time. I highly recommend that you spend a good 5 hours or so with the headphones and the manual, studying the myriad of possibilities within this thing. I doubt I’ll ever really utilize more than 30% of this thing’s capabilities.

    After a while, I keyed into the ease of modifying and saving created patches. It’s a lot more straight-forward than previous POD designs. Just remember to save every EQ/Stomp/Mod change that you make, and you’ll be good to go. After you have a good grasp of this process, then its time to plug into your rig. This is also a necessary step. Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT get onstage with this before hearing how it works with YOUR rig, in the mix with YOUR band. The difference between the sweet and buttery tone you conjour up with headphones and the muddy and useless tone you have live is tremendous at times.

    As I turned up loud in the middle of a week day ( I called in ‘sick’ that day to work!), I had a revelation while running through some of my band’s material: I could save multiple banks, even having one bank for each song that gave me a completely different set of tones tailored exactly for that arrangement. Wonderful!! The basic sounds I hit upon that I used throughout the night were as follows:

    Adam and Eve (Eden Mod):

    This was my go-to amp sound live. The only thing I changed was to boost at 300hz, where as the factory preset on that patch has a cut at the same frequency, giving it a muddy scooped-mids tone. I saved my tweaked version of this to every single bank I employed because it really does give my tone a new fullness and a tube-like ‘give’ to each note. IME and to my ears, Line 6 is dead-on with this one. Suprisingly, the Eden Mod through the Aguilar rig worked out better than the Aguilar Mod or anything else for that matter. It kicked my tone up a few notches, and added a syrupy dimension to the ultra-dry punch of the AG500. I find that the Adam and Eve patch on the Cab selection is the best match up, although the 2x15 works well. Another cool thing about saving this amp to each bank was that I could change the Stomp selection on each one. I might like an octave sound to kick in for a tune (liked the OC-2 mod the best), or maybe even some distortion (Brass Master Mod= almost make your drummer soil himself mid-set. Use with caution!). Even though you unfortunately can not mix some sounds together (like adding an octaver or envelope filter to a synth patch), the variety to be had in keeping multiple banks for different tunes more than made up for it.


    I also saved this patch (the only factory preset patch I actually used) to most of my banks as a respectable keyboard bass tone. Impossible bottom-end without getting overbearing or murky. Also, if you add a Lead Synth patch to the stomp portion, you’ll get a disgusting Square-wave sound that really works live. Instant thickness in the mix.

    Slap Tone:

    The best thing I arrived at was to take the SWR mod, put it through the Eden 4x10 on the cab option, and then add a phaser and an auto wah to the stomp and modulation pedals. Even with a flatwound strung pbass complete with foam mute, this sound was down right wicked! I can’t imagine how good a Jbass with rounds would sound with this patch. Also, for tunes that needed a brighter fingerstyle tone, the SWR patch was perfect.

    On the Gig

    This was essentially what I used the entire evening. Using different banks was basically a way to save different arrangements of the same sounds listed above. I made sure to write in the bank to be used next to each song on the set list, and I was left with a well-organized, workable tone machine. I can’t wait to get surgical with this thing, and hopefully next year I’ll be back out there with my Top 40 Neo-Soul Group, where I’ll get to mix and match a bunch of different sounds.

    I’m looking to adding some more basses to my stable this year, in particular a fretless Jbass 4 banger and hopefully (come on Roger!!) a Metro Sadowsky P5, and I can’t wait to hear the variety of tones I’ll have at my disposal between these basses and this wonderful floor unit. I’m real excited about taking the AG500, one GS112, a fretless J, and the Bass Pod to a jazz gig. I got a great fretless tone with my Rick Turner with the Achemist Amp Mod (Alembic Preamp) through the Boutique 1x12 (modded after an EA 112). Line 6 has pretty much won me over on this concept. Even though a large portion of this would never be used in any of my gigs, I consider it money well spent for what it brings to my live sound: a portable, perfect studio tone.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  2. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Bumpage. Thought I might of missed y'all!
  3. CElton

    CElton I'm a new note finder...

    Great review. I use mine for In-Ear gigs and love it. I too like the Eden mod. I also use the Alembic mod a lot. The Bassman mods are pretty good too. I don't use any of the factory presets. I have each channel named for the mod it is replecating. Eden WT300 for instance with the Adam and Eve. Try the Tweed 410 with the Eden...:bassist:

    To be honest, I haven't used much with a stage rig and when I do, I definitely do not use the cabinet settings. I will have to play around with it again with the stage rig. Having the tuner, compressor at your feet is a convenient thing for sure.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  4. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I did indeed try the tweed 4x10 to good affect in the practice room. I found the tone to be slightly anemic without the cab option engaged. I imagine using the in-ear setup would make this quite the portable rig.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  5. CElton

    CElton I'm a new note finder...

    The stompbox compressors really help bring up the level in some channels. The red and blue comps add some grit. I also use slight tube echo on some channels and it sounds nice.

    Do you have any suggestions setting up the gain stages between the Pod and your amp?
  6. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I put the Pod's output knob at about 25% and was good to go. Don't know how I would set that for an active bass though. Thankfully, matching levels was fairly easy, though I did have a problem with the Ampeg B15 mod. I couldn't get the output volume of the B15 anywhere close to my Eden patch without putting the B15 into overdrive. I'm probably going to save the B15 patch for low-volume Jazz gigs as it is. Also, the SVT mod was way to muddy for my tastes.
  7. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
  8. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Inactive

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    Glad to see another person liking the line 6 stuff :D

    Sub-dub is just that awesome!
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  9. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Yeah, my drummer wasn't prepared for the lowend thru his monitor and almost missed a cue!!
  10. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Inactive

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    :D lol
  11. StringThing


    Dec 6, 2007
    San Diego
    So well said. Thanks for the great review.

    I got the Pod XT after a loud recording session that did not at all produce the tone I was after. Needing to buy a tuner and another pedal at the time, I saw the pod XT was only a bit more than what I planned on buying. It is an absolute bargain considering the amount of virtual gear in there!

    It allows you to really explore, experiment and enjoy your instrument. It is an ongoing process of subtle improvement.

    Worth noting is the Software interface and the ability to back-up and save files. You can share and upload sounds as well. Much cooler to tweak sounds on a computer screen tahn bending or a LED fiddlin away.

    Think about your patch layouts.
    I have 1A to 1D for the Jazz 5 string
    2A to 2D for the Warwick
    3A to 3D for the fretless

    As are always my "working" sounds
    Bs are my dirtier sounds
    Cs are my Slap sounds
    Ds are my "out there" sounds

    In the heat of battle just landing on the right letter will usually suffice till you can tap dance. There may be a better way, but think about it and use the software to organize and name them. Oh I have to play barefoot to not hit two patches at once. But hey I live in Pacific beach and now I have a strangely identifiable thing going.

    Test the output levels in a live practice situation, or you will look regret it.

    Write down some key facts and locations of the patches if you have changed them. The pod can be a layer of confusion when you are preforming if you don't.

    Why you might as well get one, if only for these features:
    - A built in tuner.
    - compression
    - Volume pedal for quick quiet bass changes

    It Allows you to "equalize" the volume and different EQ settings for having many basses on the stage. Active Warwicks, passive fretless, 5 strings etc all had me readjusting the amp or running a compromise setting.

    What would be a nice touch if they had it:
    - An output level or a peak indicator.
    - Undos for the software.

    You really will need to spend time. Lots of time. But it made me a much more knowledgeable and curious bassist in the process. The difference in going straight into my amp and using the pod is tremendous. I only know cause I forgot my power supply once. It really made me realize how much I dig this Pod. Musicians take notice of it as well. I throw this in a backpack with a bass on my back and ride a beach cruiser to shows sometimes. That sure beats a head and cabinet for a practice or a small non-paying gig.

    Amp modeling is an progression of recoding and performance. I imagine that the first amplifier instruments were scoffed at equally as much as modeling is today. I can see how someone could not want to bother if they are happy with their rig and sound. Or if they only had 1 bass, 1 sound and 1 project this Pod might be a sinister distraction. However if you consider yourself a musician in this day and age, you might find yourself in a situation where you are backed into a modeling situation. Rather than scoffing, you could pull out some sweet patches you've been perfecting and save the engineer some trouble.

    Hope this helps!
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  12. XmattX

    XmattX Guest

    Nov 25, 2005
    Photographer, Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG
    Just a little add to the info already here: the new pod X3 is also designed for bass and has better sound quality which won me over. (On the XT, I always had a 'not-really-but-close'-feeling about the sounds).
  13. CElton

    CElton I'm a new note finder...

    I have heard the processor is better, but I have also heard there are still some bugs they are working out. Have you experienced any problems?
  14. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK

    Right on man. I'm officially a modelling convert. I imagine that, for those players who have to make due with cheaper amp equipment, this pedal would be a Godsend.
  15. 5StringPocket

    5StringPocket Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Good thread! I have a Bass Pod XT Live but have barely scratched the surface of what this thing can do. I find the Eden model most useful for a general purpose sound, the SWR for slap, and the Aguilar for aggressive fingerstyle. It's quite time consuming fiddling with all the parameters to cook up some choice tones to use but the Line 6 Monkey USB interface is a nice tool for saving and restoring. It's very helpful to see what is working for others. I'm looking forward to see what this sounds like through my CA9 and Berg HT322's.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  16. CElton

    CElton I'm a new note finder...

    I used it as a pre/power set up and it's great. The only downfall for me was EQ'ing for different rooms. You will definitely get a more true modeled voice with that set up.
  17. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    I've had my Bass PODxt Live for nearly a year now and use it for both recording and live performance. It's a great little unit and I pretty much concur with everything others here have already mentioned. But I thought I'd also add one more little observation I haven't seen mentioned yet concerning the Presets.

    I also own a Line 6 Variax 705 (5 String Modeling bass). I actually bought the xt Live after the Variax to use with it, as it powers the Variax through the Variax Digital cable you can buy for it.

    The Bass PODxt Live also has the ability to change patches on the Variax by just changing a patch on the BOD Live. This allows me to quickly change from a P-Bass with flats, to a J bass with rounds, to a Ric sound for 70's progressive, to a slap sound using a 'Ray model, to even a servicable URB sound (not exact, but it works).

    In any case, when I use these same patches with one of my other basses, they sound nothing like they do with the Variax. The preset when using the Varix sound very good, but they need to be tweaked a bit to get them to sound even close to as good with a normal bass. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that the presets in the Bass PODxt Live were created using a Variax and not a regular bass. They just sound so much better with the Variax, that I've had to create separate patches depending on the bass I use. And to be honest, the Variax has slowly become my standard bass, in large part due to this (just wish it was a 6er, but that's a different thread. lol...)

    Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there into the conversation. ;)
  18. Vanceman


    Feb 14, 2007
    So. Cal.
    Just thought I'd throw my two cents in....

    I've been using the XTL for about a year now in a live situation. We play such a variety of music, I actually use many of the presets, with some tweaking, to capture the general vibe and sound of the songs. I included the 'Calibration' in my go-to banks for the Walkabout sound. What is everyone setting the 'What are you connected to'? I'm using the Live w/horn.

    I created one particularly wicked sounding patch for 'Sweet Dreams' by the Eurthmics. Tube preamp, Octiver, Analog Chorus, and Small Room reverb, all engaged together. Pretty cool sound.

    I read a post on the Line 6 forum about delay from the bass input to the model/di output being 2 ms. I was also concerned about the impedence differences between the pod output and the bass output, and how it might affect the sound since I'm connected to the passive input on my Walkabout. I recently added a double a/b switch so I could bypass the pod altogether, and compare. This also allowed me to easily match the output of the Calibration patch to the bypassed volume, so I could easily compare different patch volumes also.

    The jury's still out concerning any differences in sound.
  19. Its a shame that Line 6 don't actually take notice of this forum. I have to say that I agree with most of the views here. It does tick a lot of boxes on terms of functions but misses a few others.
    A/ It has 3 compressors. groovy! BUT.... you can only control the amount. Really cool compressors let you control threshold attack, ratio, and release.
    B/ Several flangers and choruses but they all sap tone, and curiously, they all reduce your volume.
    C/ You can't Stack effects. You can chose a "stomp" effect, and a "mod" effect, and a "delay" . What you cant do is chain 2 stomp effects, or 2 delays.
    D/ THe DI out isn't balanced XLR. Thats the 1st thing I would expect from an expensive floor box.
    E/ They never once updated the software to include new effects/functions. You can't even buy them. No one have cracked the software either.

    The best sounding effects and amps seem to be Line6's own.

    I like it, but I wish that, instead of making good "models" of other companies effects, they had just made a "good effects" box
  20. XmattX

    XmattX Guest

    Nov 25, 2005
    Photographer, Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG
    Well, the first unit I got had the now infamous 'pressing anywhere on the unit changes the channel'-problem, but the replacement works fine so far (3 gigs and countless rehearsals). I also heard the combination of the 1.01 firmware and new units being made slightly differently hardware-wise has cleared up most of the issues people get.

    I'd say go for it, the improved soundquality and (maybe even better) improved effects tweaking interface on the unit itself are worth it.