Mixing with the Line 6 PODxt

By mic on 1/5/2008

This blog initially was about recording on the cheap. And mixing with the Line 6 PODxt is cheap. We use the POD mainly to get a good reverb and some equalizing and we do not want to pay for alternatives.

The concept is simple: Run a cable from your soundcard output to the POD input, set the POD to "no amp", run a cable from the POD output to the soundcard input, add any effects through the POD that you wish, start playback and record the result.

Here it is step by step:

1) Run a cable from your soundcard output to the POD input;

2) Run a cable from one of the POD outputs, either left or right, to a soundcard input. Which POD output you choose should not matter. Which soundcard input you choose though does matter. We have tried this with various soundcards (Mbox, MAudio, Lexicon) and depending on which input you choose you may or may not get serious feedback. Normally, if we take the left line out then we use the right line in to avoid feedback.

Here is a Lexicon Omega example: I took the left line out from the back of the box and sent it to the POD input. Then I took the left POD output and sent it to line input number 4 on the back of the Omega. Finally, I patched lines in 3 and 4 on the Omega to USB 1-2 with the "USB Assign" button on the front;

3) Turn the cabinet selection knob on the POD (not the amp model knob) to the left until you get to "Manual Mode" (i.e., no cabinet);

4) Turn the amp model knob to the left until you get to "no amp". The reason I mentioned the cabinet knob first and the amp model knob second is that turning the cabinet button in the PODxt also changes the amp.

I am assuming, of course, that you do not want to run anything through an amp. Sometimes you may want to. I have sometimes recorded guitars and then ran the recordings through an amp on the POD. You can do so with other instruments as well. For me though that is rare. For the most part we just want the reverb and the equalizer;

5) Turn the effect tweak knob to select the effect that you want. If you still have all the effects that came pre-loaded with the POD (and if they are the same as mine), effect 40, for example, will be the Spring 1-Lux reverb;

6) Set the POD equalizers (both the knobs at the top and the built in parametric equalizer) to where you want them. You can always play a track and plug in your headphones in the POD to check the end result of all effects;

7) Similarly, set up the POD gate. You can have all three: the reverb, equalizer, and gate working at the same time. We usually deal with those one by one though, as all three (and more, if we count the amps, presence, drive, etc.) give us too many options to deal with at once;

8) Obviously, set input and output volumes on the POD and the soundcard. When we are working with reverbs, for example, our songs are usually already somewhat mixed, which means that at least track volumes and panning have been set. Since we do not want to mess too much with that later, we usually try to make sure that the volume amplitude of the newly recorded track matches somewhat the volume amplitude of the original track. We usually record a few test tracks until we get it right.

This does not mean that you can ignore volumes and panning if those were set before. Adding effects to your tracks will change the song mix and you will have to go through those again in any case. Hopefully, the song will be closer to where you want it;

In principle, you should now be ready to record, but here are some additional comments that will make your job easier:

9) Panning is an issue. Since you are taking one of the soundcards line outputs, either left or right, the volume of what comes out is not really the volume of the track in the song when the track is panned to one side. Hence, if you run separate tracks through the POD, you should try taking the panning of those tracks back to zero (i.e., the middle).

This is important even if you are working with the whole song and not with separate tracks. If you want to keep your panning settings in the whole song, then you should run the left and the right channel of the song through the POD separately;

10) This means that you should take notes of the original panning or otherwise you may forget your panning settings. We usually take notes on panning, but also on all the effects used and we obviously keep the original tracks;

11) You should know that any soundcard will have some noticeable latency (delay). The worst thing is that for some reason the latency of most soundcards is inconsistent meaning that the same soundcard will have different latency at different times. Any latency will make a difference and your newly recorded track will be delayed from the original track. A 20 ms delay will add a phaser to your original track, but I recently ran some hihats through the POD and got a 6 ms delay, which, surprisingly, was also noticeable even when I took out the original track. The newly recorded hihats just did not sound in place. This means that at the end of the day you will have no choice, but to move tracks manually. That is, drag your tracks in whatever digital recording software you use back to their place. Most people know how to do this but I will mention it anyway: If you want to be able to move your tracks to any reasonable place and if 6 ms make a difference, then you probably should zoom in to the millisecond before moving anything and you should keep the original track in the mix to compare to visually until the new one settles it its new place;

12) If you are adding a reverb with the POD, then the amount of reverb is controlled through the Reverb knob. This may be obvious, but the equalizer and gate do not actually have their own knobs.

As I said, this is pretty simple. It is worth mentioning though. I am impressed by some of the results that you can get out of the POD’s built in effects.

authors: mic


1 comment(s) so far...


Actually this post is now quite old. The result of mixing with the PODxt at the end of the day was not that good. The mixes lost a lot of the highs and openness. At the end of the day, we abandoned this experiment...

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