What: Back in 1998, Line 6’s Amp Farm for Pro Tools TDM
systems introduced the world to amp sims—and the company
has kept pace with significant updates over the years. POD
Farm 2 is their latest native software for VST/AU/RTAS systems.
Put 10 effects per chain, in addition to your amp/cab combination, in virtually any order. POD Farm 2 retains the “Rolodex” gear selection of version 1.
Why: Although POD Farm has been well received as the successor
to Line 6’s GearBox software, a couple vexing limitations
remained and POD Farm 2 addresses them.
Installation: You can obtain a license code to use POD Farm 2
with compatible Line 6 hardware (e.g., TonePort interfaces) or
an iLok authorization for using the software independently of
whatever hardware you have. Prices differ: The basic POD
Farm 2 costs $49, while the Platinum version with extra models
costs $249; the iLok versions are $99 and $299 respectively.
Various upgrade paths are available.
Learning curve: Not particularly difficult, as Line 6 has adopted
a guitarist-friendly drag-and-drop interface. Any subtleties are
easy to figure out, and there’s excellent documentation available
on the Line 6 website.
Best bits: POD Farm had numerous restrictions on where
you could place effects in signal chains—for example, you
couldn’t put EQ before a guitar amp, only after. Now you can
pretty much put anything you want anywhere you want,
excepting orders that make no sense (e.g., placing a
speaker cabinet before a guitar amp). This includes
putting the excellent mic preamp models right after the
amp cabinet, and you can have up to 10 effects per
chain (with up to two parallel chains) in addition to the
amp and speaker. The GUI is a little smaller, so it doesn’t
take over your screen quite as much, and the individual
effects are now available as separate plug-ins called “elements”—great for laptop setups, as you needn’t
insert an entire POD Farm instance just to use, for example,
the delay on a vocal track. Another major feature: Far more
intuitive and sophisticated MIDI assignments and control, and
you can use various floor controllers if you’re into using POD
Farm 2 on stage.
Limitations: You can’t have more than two parallel chains, and
modulation options are limited to whatever is built into individual
modules (for example, there’s a cool sample-and-hold filter
effect, but you can’t apply the S/H waveform to other effects).
Bottom line: I’ve always liked Line 6’s amp sims—but only after
I tweaked the presets to my liking, as they seem designed for
players with a lighter touch. However, the limitation on effects
placement was frustrating, so having the freedom to put effects
anywhere has made a huge difference in customizing sounds.
Also, BREAKing the plug-ins down into elements means I’m using
more of the effects, more often, on more different signal
sources. For POD Farm fans who like to create their own
sounds, this upgrade is a no-brainer.
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