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Line 6 POD vs. Vox ToneLab ST

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Postby Nuno » April 24th, 2012, 3:22 am

Lately I am playing mainly guitar and I am using the Pandora 4 with headphones. I use the Pandora for bass, it has very nice amp emulations but the guitar amps are noisy (I use clean amps, perhaps the crunchy or distorted emulations are better). So I must use the bass amp emulations for guitar playing and, although I am currently playing lots of jazz pieces, I'd like to add some 'bright' to the tone without those noises.

I was looking for and it seems there are two possibilities: a Line 6 POD (the Pocket POD or perhaps the 2.0) and the Vox ToneLab ST. The POD is a classic box for recording and home playing but the ToneLab has a tube (12AX7) which surely I will improve the tone.

Any experience with those multi-effects?

Thanks!
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Postby imalone » April 24th, 2012, 2:38 pm

This is only going to be half useful, since I have a Pocket Pod but neither a pandora nor a tonelab to compare to. Also Jazz is beyond me, so my experience with this is for blues / rock sounds. You're after good clean sound, which I think might be one of the harder things for modelling.

Since getting the Mustang I haven't really used my pod much and have just spent a bit of time on both to try and figure out why (using both through headphones). I don't think the Pod models are as responsive as the Mustang ones, but don't have a point of reference for the Pandora. That's not to say the Pod isn't responsive at all, actually the cleaner amp models are a bit more friendly than the very heavy ones (which I think saturate quite easily) and you can get a bright crunch from the Tweed and Vox models. The major reason I don't use it quite as often any more as I find it more convenient to plug into the amp than guitar->pod->amp. Also can't really leave the Pod plugged into anything (like a pedal you need to unplug the input to turn it off and the same for USB), so I just found it a bit more fiddly. The range of effects on the pod is okay, though you can only have one plus reverb. I'm not sure there's any difference with the Pod 2.0.

The tonelab is a higher end unit (basically a Valvetronix floor unit), I think you're right it'll get better sounds out, plus who doesn't like an expression pedal?

If you do get the pod get rechargeable batteries or a power supply, it really burns through batteries.
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Postby Nuno » April 24th, 2012, 3:21 pm

It was very useful! You confirm my idea on the Pocket POD. I was reading some reviews and they also refer the problem with the batteries. The batteries and the portability were the main advantages. I have read there are not important differences between POD 2.0 and Pocket POD, it seems they use basically the same hardware. The Pocket POD has more patches and the USB port and the POD 2.0 is easier to operate, it has more knobs.

The tube and the pedal expression are the advantages of the ToneLab... A guy in YouTube has a nice demo of each amp. But YouTube sound is an approximation to the real sound.

btw, I have read very good reviews on the Mustang. I think Justin Sandercoe recommends it as practicing amp. It also could be a solution: to get an amp with a good clean and headphones output. I have a small tube amp without headphones output.
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Postby imalone » April 25th, 2012, 3:45 pm

I'm not really sure how long the batteries last (and it'll depend what type and possibly what effects used), people seem to suggest about 3-5hours, which seems about right. Which doesn't amount to many sessions if you sit and play for hours at a time: don't plan on feeding a Pod single-use alkaline batteries, because you'll need a big box of them. Not too much of a problem for me as I can usually just unplug it and use the amp if it runs out while in use. If you have a spare set you can just swap over when they run out, or use a DC supply. Settings are actually quite easy to adjust on the unit though I don't like the multi-function-knobs-jump-to-their-current-position-when-adjusted operation, but that seems to be pretty common across manufacturers.

I do like the Mustang. They're physically big though, I think it's the biggest among comparable amps. It's not AC30 big, but it is still pretty sizeable. Adjusting effects is also a bit of a mystery (no display on models I&II, need a reference for selector knobs), I leave it plugged in to the computer and use USB if I want to edit effects (also means recording is just a case of pressing 'record'), but most of the time I actually just use the presets. Hadn't really tried it through headphones until doing the comparison with the Pod, and didn't do a very scientific test, but it has a nice rich sound.

Did try the Mustang against a VT40 in the shop, and picked the Mustang mainly because I couldn't get the VT40 down quiet enough for what I needed. The Vox stuff takes a very different approach to the controls and, for the amps at least, everything is meant to be adjusted through the panel and there are sufficent dials to let you do that, though a (little) bit of practice would be needed.

Edit: I'd hope a shop would let you try a ToneLab if they had one, a Pod maybe less likely as it's a smaller item and they might find fiddling with batteries and things a hassle.
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Postby Nuno » April 26th, 2012, 2:34 am

Yes, I will try to check a ToneLab. As I have the Pandora (and also a Zoom unit and the amps), I am not in a hurry so I can make the decision with all the info available. I play unplugged many times, too.

Thanks!
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Postby Crow » April 26th, 2012, 5:30 am

My experience is solely with the Line 6 Pod 2.0. When I got it 12-plus years ago I stopped looking for modelers and preamps, because I haven't come close to exploiting all it can do.

The 2.0 is not battery-powered, and you certainly can leave it plugged into things. The company sells a bracket that allows you to mount it on a mic stand OR strap it to the handle of an amp. My preferred church bass rig at present is the 2.0 on a "Black Panel" or "Line 6 Clean" setting into the church's keyboard amp -- full-range output with tons of possibilities for tweaking. For guitar I find the 2.0 about as responsive as my vintage tube amps; less so than my 1942 National, more so than the '60s one. The touch-sensitivity was what sold me on the Pod to begin with. I'm also seeking jazz tones these days, and while the '42 National just oozes jazz, the "Tube Preamp" setting on the 2.0 can do interesting things. There are tons of other "clean" settings in the thing -- just turn the knobs to reduce the saturation. Jazz guitarists are mostly tone snobs & would sneer at the Pod or anything digital for jazz, but if you can live with that I'd encourage you to find one & try it out.
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Postby Nuno » April 26th, 2012, 11:48 am

If it has good clean settings, it would enough for me. I don't look for a specific tone, I just want to replace my noisy Pandora for practicing. No problem with the "pure jazz tones", I listen from Charlie Christian to Pat Metheny and I even like "crunchier" tones as for example Scofield. I'll try to check it out.

So, you are seeking jazz tones... the Tele has a nice jazz tone, too :wink:

Thank you!
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Postby Crow » April 26th, 2012, 12:12 pm

Nuno wrote:So, you are seeking jazz tones... the Tele has a nice jazz tone, too :wink:


:cry: :cry: :cry:

8)
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