I sold some old equipment recently, and turned the money right back into new equipment... the first item being the latest from Line 6's line of guitar amp modeling devices, the POD HD. I have previously owned the POD 2.0 and the POD X3.
What is amp modeling, you ask? In the recording studio, guitar amps have traditionally been recorded by placing at least one mic in front of a speaker. At the end of the wire is an electronic signal that is sent into a mixing board, and eventually ends up on tape or hard disk. In a nutshell, what Line 6 did was to come up with methods for emulating this signal with digital processing. In effect, they took the recorded sound of guitars played through amps and analyzed the resulting signals, then in software found ways to take the signal off a guitar's output and end up with something as close as possible to the real reference sound.
It's not perfect, but it's
remarkably good, and gives you the functional equivalent of a
warehouse-full of amplifiers that you can simply dial up rather than
have to haul them out and mic them - not to mention the cost of owning
and maintaining them all.
The POD simply makes it wonderfully simple to get good guitar sounds recorded. The HD series has the latest iteration of Line 6's modeling technology and claims to be even more realistic than the earlier models.
How realistic? Well... I'd agree that the modeled amps don't sound as rich and complex as the real amps would recorded through a perfectly-placed mic in an excellent studio by talented recording engineers. But they are pretty darn close, at least to my admittedly forgiving ear. The convenience and capability they offer to a home recording enthusiast make them pretty much a no-brainer.
I'm looking forward to setting up a few personal patches and doing some recording with the new black bean (all the previous models have been red).
Line 6 website
Wikipedia article on Line 6