The Birth of the POD
An Interview with Marcus Ryle, Line 6 Co-Founder and Senior V.P., R&D
Where did the original concept for the POD
come from? Did you forsee digital model-
ing becoming as big as it has?
of great tones is a great source of musical
inspiration. POD just made modeling’s acceptance occur much faster than we expected.
Capturing this element of the recording
process was a breakthrough for us that completed the signal chain.
Line 6 delivered the first digital modeling guitar amplifiers in late 1996. Since the source of
the tone was software algorithms, we wanted
to make modeling available in more than just
amplifiers. In early 1998, we introduced Amp
Farm, which gave TDM Pro Tools users the
ability to have guitar amplifier and cabinet
models available directly in their recording
environment. Amp Farm quickly became very
popular with professional artists and producers, but could not be used by anyone who
didn’t have a Pro Tools TDM system, which
is a very large investment. POD was our idea
of giving everyone great amp, cab and effect
tones in a product that would work with any
recording system or on any stage, and at a
very affordable price.
Although we felt we had designed an excellent sounding product that broke new
ground, we didn’t anticipate it would be
embraced so quickly. We have always felt that
the potential of digital modeling was huge,
because having easy access to a wide range
Walk us through the development of the
original POD. What were the biggest mile-
stones along the way?
Like many products, the core elements
of POD were evolutionary rather than
revolutionary. We had the experience of
our early modeling amplifiers (AxSys, AX2
and Flextone), and having made a software
modeling product (Amp Farm). Some elements of POD’s goals were evident from
the start: great tone, simple and fast to use,
and affordable. The discovery areas were in
advancing our modeling capabilities and in
deciding that we wanted a new “look” to
make sure this new technology wouldn’t get
lost in the crowd. For the tone, we knew we
wanted to capture the studio element of the
guitar recording chain, which included the
selection of a great mike, knowing where
to place it, and being in a great room with
a great engineer. Research and analysis led
us to what we termed as “A.I.R.”, which
stood for Acoustically Integrated Recording.
You touched on developing a unique “look”
to make the POD stand out; that kidney
bean shape has become rather ubiquitous
these days. Where did it originate and how
was it decided upon?
Early in POD’s development, it was imagined
as a simple rackmount product. But several
folks here rightly pointed out that rackmount
rigs were less in fashion, plus the unique
tonal benefits of POD might get lost in a sea
of rack gear and not be given the chance to
be heard. The tone of POD had a life of its
own and was being described internally as
“organic,” and it was proposed that its look
should be representative of that. After plenty
of discussion and debate, POD’s red kidney
bean design emerged as the best representation of its capabilities.
How have advancements in computing and
digital technology contributed to the matu-
ration process of the POD line over the last
The original POD hits store shelves
with 16 amp models, several knobs
and a big dose of moxy.
The POD gets a makeover with the debut
of POD 2.0, adding 32 models and cabi-
net modeling. The rackmounted POD Pro
also debuts. Both add A.I.R., which simu-
lates a great mic in a great room.
The POD X T packs in 42 models and
60 effects. It is also the first model that
can be upgraded with different model
packs. The Bass POD X T brings POD
to bassists as well.
The POD XT Pro rackmount unit
brings the POD line into the new mil-
lennium with the addition of digital
inputs and outputs.