January 19, 2012

Line 6 Stagescape M20d – First Look at NAMM

Ok, we just had our first look at Line 6′s new stage monitoring/ FOH all in one solution. The new M20d 20 input smart mixing system for live sound is one of those products that, on first look, produces a bit of head scratching. After  few minutes though, you realize this might be one of the coolest things ever. I hung out for a quick demo of the system and have to admit I was pretty impressed. The device is incredibly minimalist in design; with 7 buttons on the top panel, one big dial and 12 rotary encoders. The rotary encoders themselves are not labeled. Given current tech trends, you have probably guessed that that giant screen in the center is a touchscreen interface and that these dials are multi function depending what devices you have selected. (You’re so smart. That’s why we like you… and you thought it was all about your body…but enough about you.)

What’s really cool about the way the touch screen is broken down vs. rotary encoder operation is that the devices within this thing can run in smart modes as well as plug and play modes. While I haven’t seen this functionality demo’d for every effect/instrument/device in the unit, I did see a very exciting compressor demo where an initial “simple mode” view consisted of moving an X/Y type control node around the touchscreen towards words like “punch.” Just when the overeducated audio goon in me was feeling limited by this function (that will definitely be useful to those who don’t treat audio like a lab experiment), our helpful demo wizard toggled an icon that looked like a graduation cap which then switched the interface to a proper compression dialogue (ratio, threshold, etc.) Naturally, our previously mentioned multi-function rotary encoders immediately lit with the newly available functionality.

The features on this thing start stacking pretty rapidly, making “first look” more like “short book.” Among other things, a USB port on the top panel allows for wireless capability that will let you use an app to mix remotely from the unit with ipads. Monitoring and FOH sound can all be mixed using this nit- and with this addition, multiple engineers can be in on the action. Players who are extra picky about their monitor mixes might just love this feature ost of all. Just imagine getting your monitor mix exactly how you like it without hassling the monitor guy who obviously wants to kill all of you because your singer is a freak on wheels!

That’s the tip of the iceberg on this thing, but it’s a pretty versatile little problem solver for everything from small venues to churches. I haven’t even talked about the fact that it doubles as a USB interface. So, you know, ponder that. It’s pretty rad.I’d keep going but… well… this show isn’t gonna cover itself…