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POD HD 500 vs Boss GT-100

Updated on September 12, 2014

POD HD 500 vs Boss GT-100, Which is Right for You?

Here's a couple of great all on one amp simulator/effects units that serve the casual as well as the performance musician very well. Since the advent of the original Line 6 POD, vast improvements have been made in the art of amplifier tone modeling.

The technology has gotten to the point where there really isn't all that much you realistically can't do with these things. Sure, there are extreme audiophiles out there that will find little things here and there, but in reality, most people are not that discerning - especially in the crowded club or bar where you're performing!

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Mashed by Me

The POD HD 500 and Boss GT-100 are competing for the exact same user market (Digitech also offers a similar product) for floorboard based amp simulators.

Here I'll do a feature comparison of the two models and also show how each one compares to it's predecessor.

POD HD 500
POD HD 500

POD HD 500 Review

The POD HD500 is a HUGE (read GIGANTIC) leap forward in quality over the much maligned Pod X3 Live. Line 6 truly took the user complaints about the physical construction of the preceding POD X3 Live to heart when they designed the HD 500. All metal construction this time without any of those cheap foot switches. I was always worried about breaking the foot switches on my X3 Live, which is why I almost always pushed them in by hand.

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The LCD is only slightly improved. The backlight color is a softer light blue, which looks better than the bright orange of the past. However, the resolution and size should have gotten an upgrade over the X3 Live, which it did not. This is somewhat mitigate by the fact that Line 6 provides excellent software to edit the tones on a computer.

It sits currently at 30 amp models (for some reason the main website still lists 25, although the remaining 5 were added in the 2.10 firmware update). That may seem like a big downgrade from the X3 Live, but in reality it isn't. Many of the amp and cabinet models on the X3 Live were just this side of useless. Line 6's goal with the HD models is high quality over high quantity. While some of the models on the X3 Live weren't all that bad, they absolutely pale in comparison to this unit.

The HD500 has 100 effects, all from the Line 6 M series. The M series provides some of the highest quality effects on the planet, and if you buy an HD500, there's really no need to invest money in an M9 or M13. The HD500 can also string together 8 of these effects simultaneously. I can't imagine using that many effects in a chain, personally, but the feature is there if you need it.

The HD500 also has a usable looper with a whopping 48 seconds of record time, and a slew of editor functions. As with most of these all in one units, a tuner is also included.

Special Features

Special Variax port for seamless integration

Dual Tone Processing (two amps blended)

High Quality USB Audio Out

Pros

Much improved construction, on par with the GT-100

Excellent quality amp models

M-series effects

Excellent editing software at no extra cost

Cons

The LCD screen could be better

Firmware updates lag the HD300/HD400

All in all this is a great unit that gets frequent updates and great support from the manufacturer. If you're considering a POD HD model, do note that there are a few other models available, all with less features. One might be tempted to go for one of them if short on cash. Honestly (and especially in the guitar effects market) i'm not a fan of tiered products in the same category. I highly recommend waiting and saving up that extra hundred or two as you get so much more with the POD HD500.

Check out the POD HD500 Manual

BOSS GT-100
BOSS GT-100

Boss GT-100 Review

The GT-100 is the successor to the popular GT-10, which was widely rumored to be called the GT-12 for quite some time. The GT-100 was later to the game, appearing quite a while after the HD 500 was on the market.

As with the GT-10 (and most other Boss products), the GT-100 is built like a tank, designed to withstand abuse during performance and transport.

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Many of the complaints about the GT-10 were related to the sound quality of the COSM models and the byzantine mess it was when it came to programming the unit. It was often stated that outside of 80's metal sounds, it just wasn't all that great. Perhaps this was more of function of no one knowing exactly what to do with it?

The GT-100 improves the amp and preamp models considerably over the predecessor. The mid-range issues have been fixed (this was one of the absolute biggest complaints about the GT-10 models), and the overall quality of the modeling has been updated as well. As with all Roland/Boss products, the COSM effects are world class, and on par with the Line 6 M series, if not a little better.

The GT-100 is outfitted with dual LCD screens (132 x 64). They seem to be about the same resolution as the HD500. However, in practice, these screens make a huge difference when programming the unit. That's a good thing because Boss really doesn't offer capable, quality computer software to perform the editing, certainly nothing even close to what Line 6 provides.

Special Features

EZ Tone Editing System

Acoustic Simulator Effects

Pros

Really innovative two LCD display system

Much improved COSM modeling

Solid construction

Onboard LED's brightness toned down

Cons

Computer software doesn't hold a candle to the Line 6 offerings

Much less user and company support than Line 6

If your looking for quality amp and effect models, with superior front panel editing, the Boss GT-100 has your bases covered. It represents a significant improvement over its predecessor in terms of programmability and sound quality.

Check out the product manuals here

The Verdict

There are a lot of guitarists out there who will simply get both of these units in the quest for the perfect sound reproduction of their favorite song. If your one of them, great! By all means have the best of both worlds at your disposal. But for everyone else, one of these units will suffice. So in battle of the POD HD 500 vs Boss GT-100 which one is it?

As a general rule, the price of both of these units is around 500 dollars (though the GT-100 is often slightly more expensive), with some packages offered that include gig bags, etc... for a little extra These packages are mostly setup to help online music equipment distributors clear out excess inventory that doesn't sell well on its own. But, you end up getting a little money off than if you were to buy them individually.

Sound Quality

Both units are designed for 'live' performance, but are suited equally for recording. The sound quality of both units is excellent, although the POD HD 500 seems a little 'cleaner'. However, as a practical matter, both units sound great, and with tweaking you're likely to get the sound you need from either unit.

Why you might select the POD HD 500:

If your planning to purchase (or already own) a Variax, there's only one choice - the POD HD 500. Also keep in mind the HD300/400 do not have a Variax port.

Computer tone editing. If you plan to do your tone editing on the computer, Line 6 has by far the best software. It's sophisticated, frequently updated, user supported and free.

User community. The Line 6 user community and CustomTone online tone library is much larger and more vibrant than the Boss user community. CustomTone has an immense number of patches, and the user forums are buzzing constantly. Boss's Tone Room offering is very sparse, at least at the moment.

Why you might select the Boss GT-100:

Ruggedness. It's built like a Sherman tank. Even though the HD500 is a serious improvement over the X3 Live, i'd drop this one 5 feet before I would drop the HD500

EZ Tone. The EZ Tone system makes it relatively simple to get a usable patch quickly right from the front panel. The HD500 doesn't have anything similar.

Acoustic simulator. This unit includes a full range of options to simulate and acoustic guitar using an electric. This opens up a huge number of possibilities - especially for those who don't own an acoustic guitar.

Line 6 POD HD 500 or Boss GT-100 Comments

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