Line 6 Dream Stage Streamlines Setup and Maximizes Sound Quality for Musician/Educator Andy Wasserman
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Andy Wasserman is a career musician based in northwest New Jersey who finds fulfillment in a wide range of musical activities. “I’ve been a full-time musician for over 40 years,” he says. “Between performing, composing, recording and teaching, I’ve experienced every major technological advance in music first-hand, and have learned to use that technology to advance the art.”

Recently, while presenting his educational program “Instruments: Ancient to Future” at a school on Long Island, Wasserman (www.andywasserman.com) encountered some technical difficulties. “Basically, my mixing console failed, so I went to the local Guitar Center in Commack to find a replacement,” he states. “What I encountered there was the Line 6 system—and it was amazing.”

In the store, Wasserman was introduced to the Line 6® Dream Stage, including the StageScape® M20d touchscreen mixer and the StageSource® L2t and L2m loudspeakers. “They were doing demos that day, so my timing couldn’t have been better,” he recalls. “Within a few minutes with the Guitar Center guys, I realized that it was exactly what I needed. It quickly became clear that the system would make everything I do both easier to accomplish and better sounding. And the more I explored, the more I realized the vision and intelligence behind it. I ended up walking out with a complete system.”

The StageScape M20d digital mixer has a different look and feel than any other professional mixer on the market. The system’s integration of touchscreen control, intelligent input sensing, and icon-based stage mapping provide the ability to visualize and manipulate sound with an ease and accuracy that previously required an experienced sound engineer to achieve.

It was this synergy of design elements that spoke to Andy Wasserman. His arts in education presentation, “Instruments: Ancient to Future,” involves 40 or more ethnic acoustic instruments, wind, string and percussion, plus a whole slew of electronics, including percussion controllers, keyboards and samplers. Miking and EQing it all, then keeping track of the locations of each item on stage, is a logistical nightmare, both in terms of setup and operation. What Wasserman saw in the Dream Stage was the ability to organize and manage his entire production.

“The Line 6 system literally cuts hours off my setup time, which used to take up to six hours,” he says. “Now I have an icon for every instrument on the mixer’s graphical user interface and can place them in their actual stage positions. So I can see Native American flute here, West African drum there, electronic drum pads there. That’s incredibly convenient, especially when I’m trying to keep track of it all while during a presentation at a school. And by creating and saving different scenes and setups within all the different shows that I do, it gets even easier over time.”

What impressed Wasserman even more was the set-up procedure. It starts with auto-sensing mic/line inputs, which activate a custom channel strip for each channel as it’s plugged in. “In the demo, I saw the five buttons on the left of the M20d, labeled Setup, Tweak, Record, Monitor and Perform and realized—this is exactly what we do! Those buttons, top to bottom, work so smoothly with the touchscreen and the encoder knobs below it, it’s beyond any other mixing experience I’ve had.”

To ensure great sound for his audience, Wasserman uses the Quick Capture capability found on the StageScape mixer. It can grab and loop up to 20 seconds of sound, creating a virtual sound check so he can dial in the sound he wants. He can use the channel strip in either Deep Tweak or Quick Tweak mode, whether working directly on M20d or using a USB Wi-Fi adapter to access the system on his iPad.

“The Quick Tweak mode is an incredible shortcut when you’re a little short of time for dialing in all the EQ, compression and effects on board,” he says. “You just use the touchscreen and slide your finger around. They use words in pairs like open/closed and bright/dark, so you can dial in a great sound really quickly. Being able to do that from out in the audience area is another huge advantage because it lets me tune the sound to the room I’m in.”

To ensure a great listening experience for his audiences, Wasserman uses the StageSource L2t and L2m powered loudspeakers. The StageScape mixer recognizes the speaker models and how they’re deployed, so it actually compensates for their physical orientation—whether they’re used horizontally as monitors or vertically as a PA, and whether they’re on stands or not.

Wasserman points to the interaction between loudspeakers and mixer as a perfect example of the technological synergy found in the Line 6 Dream Stage system. “That’s an incredibly powerful capability to find in such an affordable system,” he says. “But what really amazed me is the sound. Grand piano is my primary instrument, and when you’re playing digital, it all comes down to the speakers. It has never sounded as good as when I play through the L2t and L2m speakers. Even the bass is incredible—and that’s without a subwoofer. When I heard them, my reaction was that it’s too good to be true—especially at that price!”

With a lifetime of musical experience, Andy Wasserman has seen his share of technological revolutions. “I was there for the Macintosh Plus, for advent of MIDI, for sequencers and synths and for everything going digital, so I know true innovation when I see it,” he says. “This Line 6 system is one of those rare pieces of design that is so well conceived and thoroughly thought out, it actually uses technology to put the music first. It takes what I call a high level of mind to create something like that. You can see the depth of design in its flexibility. I use it in education, I use it for my solo gigs and I even use it for recording. And it does all that at a really reasonable price.

“I may sound like some sort of fanatic, but I think every serious musician, every band, needs to check out the Line 6 system. I’m totally serious about this, and I’m not being compensated for saying it. This system is really that good. It’s a game changer, and I encourage everyone to check it out.”