Does the Line 6 POD X3 mean the deat of the Bass POD line of products from Line 6? POD X3 is quite capable when it comes to creating fat and funky bass tones. It does fall short of the capabilities of past Bass POD units in a few key areas. Guitarists who want to lay down some bass tracks on their recordings will find POD X3 to be quite capable. Full time bassists looking for a powerful gigging tool may be a bit let down. Let’s explore some of the strengths and shortcomings of POD X3 as a Bass POD XT replacement.
POD X3 and POD X3 Live are very close in their feature set. I will refer to POD X3 universally throughout this comparison except when pointing out particular places where POD X3 Live provides functionality not found on the bean.
Available bass amp and cab models
|Type||Bass POD XT||POD X3|
|Bass Amp Models||28||28|
|Bass Cab Models||22||22|
POD X3 looks every bit as capable on paper as Bass POD XT. They have the exact same amp models, speaker cabinet models, and mic models. What is not accounted for in these numbers is the added feel POD X3 has over the POD XT series of modelers. To my ears the bass amp models of POD X3 have much more presence and are much more lively than those of Bass POD XT.
Amps and Cabs Winner: Tie
|Type||Bass POD XT||POD X3|
|EQ||6 band||4 band|
What is missing from POD X3 are internal crossovers. Bass POD XT includes two internal effects crossovers (augmented by the additional crossover capabilities you will read about in the bi-amping section below). There are two dedicated internal crossovers independent for the modulation and delay/reverb effects modules. This means you could put a chorus on only the upper mids and highs of your bass tone while having a digital delay on everything except the sacred sub frequencies of your instrument. POD X3 has no way to even pretend to try to imitate this functionality. In your home recording studio you can get around this by not recording your bass with effects and adding them later. In a live situation you have no such option.
Bass POD XT uses the same effects block for delay and reverb which means you can only use delay OR reverb, not both. POD X3 has these effects in different blocks which means you can use delay and reverb on the same bass sound.
In general POD X3 outclasses Bass POD XT in the sheer number of available effects. I’m not a big fan of effects on bass so I don’t mind the effects in X3 not including the special tweaked for bass effects versions of Bass POD XT. If you are a big effects player this may be a factor in your buying decision. POD X3 also has full stereo effects while Bass POD XT has all effects in mono. Effects connoisseurs will have to weigh the benefits of true stereo and variety of choice with mono effects that are tuned for bass.
Effects Winner: Tie
Biamp your live bass rig
Bi-amping a live bass rig is a very popular idea for serious bass players. This allows the bassist to split the bass signal to send highs on one channel and lows on another. An example would be a stack with a 2×10 cab with tweeter on top and a 1×15 cab on bottom where the top cab handles the mids and highs while the massive 15 down below cranks out those bowel shaking lows.
- Bass POD XT includes a configurable built in crossover to allow this type of setup with no additional gear.
- Bass POD XT Pro and Bass POD XT Live also apply the bi-amp crossover to their effects loop. This gives the flexibility to run separate outboard effects on the high and low parts of your signal.
- Bass POD XT Pro and Bass POD XT Live keep the XLR outs whole without applying the crossover so you can send the full frequency signal to the PA. It is not generally desirable to send a bi-amped signal to the PA because it is for your on-stage amp.
You can see the Bass POD XT series has very well thought out, flexible, and powerful bi-amp capabilities. POD X3 offers nothing to compare. The EQ of POD X3 is not nearly configurable enough to emulate a crossover. The best POD X3 could offer is a high and low shelving bands with no bandwidth control on its EQ. To create an effective crossover you need high and low bandpass (not shelving) bands with full bandwidth control. Even if POD X3 were to miraculously acquire a more powerful EQ it would still be lacking the routing flexibility needed to send the full frequency signal to front of house.
I use a setup consisting of these Behringer cabs and an old Carvin FET-450 power amp for all gigs that require the power of a full stage stack. The stack sounds great bi-amped but I’ve always found the sound of non-bi-amped stacks to lack some clarity in the mids.
Bi-amp Winner: Bass POD XT
Bass DI out to the PA
When I play a gig where a full bass stack is inappropriate I like to just bring my POD and give the front of house engineer a DI and modeled output. The two signals can then be mixed based on the sound of the venue.
- Bass POD XT provides a DI output that is a mirror of the signal coming in on the input.
- Bass POD XT provides a dedicated micro-delay on the DI signal to allow for slight phase corrections or special effects.
- Bass POD XT allows mixing a configurable amount of the DI signal back into the modeled amp output for those situations where you have limited channel space on the mixer or snake.
POD X3 has dual amp capability which would certainly allow setting up your modeled sound on amp 1 and your DI signal with everything bypassed on amp 2. This will get you by in most situations you will encounter as a gigging bassist. Doing this loses your ability to exploit the dual amp feature of POD X3 but Bass POD XT only has a single amp anyway so you are certainly no worse off. You can fully mix the two amps of POD X3 so it is also a trivial matter to either send modeled out and DI out as separate signals or to mix them together for a single channel out. A classic preamp model can be added to your second DI tone which actually allows you to exploit the dual tone nature of POD X3 to provide a DI signal that already has some old school mojo built in.
What is missing from POD X3 is the micro-delay. The micro-delay on the DI out of Bass POD XT starts at 0.0ms and goes up to 12.7ms in 0.1ms increments! Yes, it is in tenth of a millisecond (or 0.0001 second) increments. The shortest delay available in POD X3 is 20ms and adjusts in whole milliseconds. This is not sufficient for the kind of micro-delay you would want to apply for phase corrections or special effects. To be fair I have never encountered a need (or even use) for this micro-delay in all my years of playing bass in live situations. Where it could come in handy is if you are using an on-stage bass stack with the modeled output and are sending the DI output to the PA on a large stage where the PA stacks are far away from your rig. You could use the built in micro-delay to time-align the signal from your stack and PA to avoid phasing problems. If you are playing a gig that large then there is a much better than average chance your sound engineer is already carrying a few micro-delays around with him. When it comes to DI for playing live, both PODs have their strengths.
Live DI Winner: Tie
Bass DI in the studio
In my experience a DI signal on the bass is even more important in the studio than it is live. I always track the bass to two tracks in my home recording studio. One track is the modeled output and one track is the DI sound. Don’t underestimate the mixing flexibility afforded by recording a DI and modeled bass track at the same time. If you are in a pro studio, a studio that is not yours, or recording live in the studio with your full band then you will typically be limited in what you can do with POD X3 in terms of DI. All the same limitations and capabilities of playing live with DI apply here as well. In your own home recording studio (or that of a very open minded colleague) you will be able to take advantage of the ASIO capabilities of POD X3. This is where it shines head and shoulders above Bass POD XT.
POD X3 has a full eight outputs when connected to your DAW via USB and using the ASIO drivers. The outputs are laid out as follows:
- POD X3 ASIO outputs
- Outs 1-2: the main mix (what comes out the outputs of the unit)
- Outs 3-4: amp 1 stereo mix
- Outs 5-6: amp 2 stereo mix
- Out 7: DI input of amp 1
- Out 8: DI input of amp 2
Can you see some of the power and flexibility of this unit by looking at that list? Playing live with DI outs will cause you to lose the dual amp capability of POD X3. In the studio with ASIO there is no such restriction. In fact, POD X3 blows the doors of its ancestors here. You can record a full modeled dual amp rig with possible stereo effects and still have a DI signal. You would only need to record either output 7 or output 8 as they will be identical (they are provided separate for situations where you might be running two instruments through POD X3 and need a DI on each of them).
Studio DI Winner: POD X3
Line 6 Bass POD XT vs. POD X3
I hope this write-up of comparison and contrast between these units has been helpful. Reaching a buying decision is never an easy process. Rest assured these are both great units for bass. I own both! Overall I don’t think I will go back to using my Bass POD XT as my main preamp. POD X3 just sounds so good on everything I use it for. I may end up getting an external crossover so I can still use my bi-amp stage rig with POD X3. If you are very interested in effects, routing capabilities, and ultimate bass tone flexibility then the older XT line of bass modelers may suit your needs much better. If you aren’t too worried about effects or special routing needs of gigging bass players then I have no reservation in recommending POD X3.
Line 6 POD X3
Line 6 POD X3 Live
Bass POD XT
Line 6 Bass POD XT Live
5 replies on “Line 6 Shootout: POD X3 vs. Bass POD XT”
This is an excellent article! I do have just a few slight corrections and additions:
– Bass POD XT is still available – it has not been discontinued. You can find it at many online retailers, though not the one you’ve used to check price on the other items.
– Warble Matic and Tape Eater are both in POD X3 – but they’re found in the Mod effects – the manual incorrectly lists them in the Delay category. (Good catch!) Tape Eater is also a Mod Effect in Bass POD XT, but Warble Matic is not in the Bass POD XT – it’s only in the Guitar Version of POD XT.
– You’re correct that POD X3 does not have the “DI Delay” feature that’s in Bass POD XT. You’re also right that it’s not something you’ll probably miss. I’ve never felt like one of my blended tones was suffering from phasing issues when using Bass POD XT. That feature was put into Bass POD XT because it was a popular feature from the original Bass POD – and it was a much more noticeable effect in that product that often did solve phasing issues.
– The other two big improvements with POD X3 are that the effects are all in stereo. I know it’s not common to run Bass in stereo, but you’d be surprised how many people requested that of Bass POD XT. In addition, if you set up a dual tone that uses one of the tones for a DI, a cool thing to do on POD X3 is to use one of the high end studio preamp models on the DI. This will more closely match the goodness you’d hear as a DI in a studio.
Hey Mark, thanks for pointing those things out! I have updated the part that was not accurate (the “missing” effects). You’ve made some excellent points which are a great addition to the comparison.
This is just a *fantastic* help. You saved me so much time trying to analyze these products on my own from just looking at specs+manuals.
I only record bass in my own little home-studio, so I’m definately going for the X3. Thanx alot :-)
Thanks for all your research and the in depth comparison! I have a Bass Pod XT (so recently aquired that I haven’t even learmed t use it yet) I also play guitar and have a pod XT bean with a FBV shortboard I use for guitar. My role does not usually change in the middle of a gig as I am normally hired as “Just the Bassist” OR “Just the Guitarist”. I only now just learned that the X3 also handles bass. I think after readinng your article that I am going to go ahead and get the X3 and sell the Bass Pod XT, The Pot XT and the Shortboard. I should actually come out ahead $ wise.
Q. Is there any compelling reason (besides the immediate financial) why I should consider retaining BOTH a Bass Pod XT and an X3?
The only reason to do that would be if you absolutely require a feature that Bass POD XT has which is missing in X3. This is very unlikely unless you have very specific and fairly unique needs in your bass rig. The biggest thing would be biamping, but since my 2×10 cab blew out I haven’t even been using that. So the X3 alone has filled my bass needs just fine for quite some time now.