After Line 6’s release of an update for their Mobile Pod guitar and effect app, which opened it up to pretty much any iOS guitar interface, I was eager to have a go of it. After all, it is not every day that you get a new amp sim package on iOS. So is it a Bias beater? Does it beat Tonestack into a bloody heap? Lets find out.
There is much about the Pod that is familiar. You get a range of amp sims, cabs and effects. But it quickly becomes clear that there are fundamental differences in the approach of Pod compared to Tonestack, Jamup and Ampkit. The focus in Pod is very much on amps, with 34 amp models ranging from the usual suspects like the BAssman, Fender Twin, AC30 and your Marshalls and Mesas – to outre models based on Line 6’s own modeling.
In contrast, the effects are much more prosaic. A delay, some modulations effects and reverbs and that pretty much is it – these are decent effects, but there is very little of the range and character that you get in Jamup and especially Tonestack.
But being just about the amps has not done Bias any harm, so Pod should find a market if the models are good enough.
And I found two separate experiences here, Pod seems to love, love humbuckers. Clean amps had a lovely warm smoothness and clarity (the Line 6 Clean and Tiny Tweed seem especially good), warm things up and there is a very good AC30 tone here as well as a cracking Bluesbreaker. The Marshall amps as a whole work very well with humbuckers and are frankly as good as I’ve heard on an Ipad. Wind things up and there are some astounding noises to be got from the Mesa Boogie models – the Treadplate has an incredible depth of tone with oodles of sustain – but still has great clarity.
SO all that sounds pretty good. But single coils are another matter. The heavy stuff still sounds great – that Treadplate is sooooo good -but as things clean up things get messy. I tried a Strat and a Tele and with both there was a harsh transient attack to the tone that I could not get rid of – sounding pretty close to Amplitube in this respect (which is not a compliment), and the clean amps that sounded amazingly good with humbuckers had a distinct digital edge to them with single coils. I A/B’d the same single coils through Tonestack and Jamup and the clean tones were much more satisfying on these.
There are other limitations – the screen is hard to read on an Iphone and works much better on an Ipad and effects are limited by the lack of any overdrive or distortion pedals at all. On the plus side, there are a huge range of presets onboard, including a vast number of user presets from the Line 6 community site. And there is only one payment required to open up the entire app – a perfectly reasonable £13.99.
So if treated as a complete guitar signal package, then Tonestack or Jamup are much more complete. But treat it as a pure amp sim, like Bias, and it does make much more sense. It fits very neatly into Audiobus (in fact you can load Pod amps and effects separately which is a nice touch) and into Inter-App Audio, so you can mix and match the amp models with other effects. There are a number of great amp models there – especially for humbuckers but be aware that it may not agree totally with your guitar. It won’t completely replace your current amp sim but I don’t think it is designed to – it will certainly add to the setup you have and give you access to a range of very solid amp tones. And for £13.99, that ain’t bad.