Portland, Ore. If you see the band Sparta during its current nationwide tour with Velvet Revolver, then you may wonder how Sparta's lead guitarist so quickly switches from the distortion-drenched tone on "Erase it Again" to the sweet vibe of "Air." The answer is not that roadies are running around connecting different amps between songs, but that Sparta's lead guitarist, Keeley Davis, is harnessing a Freescale DSP in a guitar effects "POD" from Line 6 that instantly swaps preset tones.
"The unique collaboration between Line 6 and Freescale is not just using DSPs to convey guitar music, but is actually at the heart of the calculations creating these tonal landscapes," said Erik Tarkiainen, director of product marketing for Line 6 (Calabasas, Calif.).
Line 6's most recent guitar effect processor using Freescale Semiconductor's digital signal processors (DSPs) is the Pocket-POD, but at the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention, Oct. 5-7, in New York, Line 6 will announce its Tone Core Module Development Kit, which enables third parties to program the same Freescale Symphony-based guitar presets into an interchangeable program module that plugs into a Line 6 Tone Core Pedal.
Line 6 switched to crafting guitar tones with Freescale's Symphony family of DSPs for its flagship POD 2.0 (Line 6 used Texas Instruments' 57070 DSP for the POD 1.0). Recently Line 6 did a repeat performance by using a low-power version of Freescale's Symphony DSP for its battery-powered Pocket-POD, which enables musicians to craft preset tones anywhere.
"The Pocket-POD takes advantage of the lower power requirements of Freescale's newest 56364 DSP," said Tarkiainen. "We were able to build a portable effects processor that has all the features of the AC-powered POD 2.0, but in a smaller, pocket-sized version that runs an AAA batteries. Plus we have built in a chromatic tuner. Now musicians can tune up and tweak their presets anywhereeven on the tour bus."
Beside having lower power requirements, according Freescale, its Symphony DSPs also have 24 bits of dynamic range, compared with 18 bits for the POD 1.0, and can execute 100 million instructions per second, compared with 10 MIPS previously.
"We've been working with Line 6 since they switched to our DSPs several years ago," said Sujata Neidig, Symphony Product Marketing at Freescale (Austin, Texas). "Now they have our DSPs their whole range of guitar products, from their modeling guitars to their amps to their effects processors, including their first portable processor, the Pocket-POD."
Even though it's called the Pocket-POD, it's usually clipped to the belt to simplify routing cords into and out of it. The controls are also simplifiedjust four knobs down from 10 on the POD 2.0but by connecting the Pocket-POD to your computer's USB port, all the missing knobs become available for tweaking tone as craftily as on a big POD 2.0.
You can also use your USB port to upload presets into the Pocket-POD from popular bands. For instance, the bands that served as beta-testers for Line 6's Pocket-PODincluding Sparta, Maroon 5 and 311all crafted presets that anyone can now download.
To hear the range of guitar tones that can be crafted by Line 6's Pocket-POD, try this page.
If you prefer the one-effect-per-device of a traditional guitarist's "stomp box," then you may want to wait until next week to check out Line 6's Tone Core Module Development Kit at the AES convention. The kit enables a single preset tone to be programmed into an interchangeable module that plugs into a Line 6 Tone Core Pedal.