Product Reviews

Line 6 M20D - Intuitive enough for virtually every user.

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Review: Line 6 StageScape M20d Digital Mixer

by Strother Bullins

Intelligent and intuitive, this unique digital mixer is the heart of Line 6's ambitious rewrite of what users know about portable PA.

I've come to expect the unexpected from Line 6, a pro audio company with an overall design philosophy that, first and foremost, serves musician end-users. From their first incarnation of the POD digital guitar amp modeler in the late '90s to their 2010 entree to live sound, their XD Digital Wireless line, Line 6 has well served those not tied to the traditional standards of legacy pro audio equipment.

The StageScape M20d live sound mixer is another Line 6 innovation of that kind; at first glance, it's nothing like the channel-stripped mixers of old. Unique and high-tech sexy, it is streamlined, largely naked of knobs and buttons and provides no vertical faders. Paired with complimentary Line 6 StageSource loudspeakers, is built to do things that traditional portable PA rigs do not, such as provide touchscreen visual-based mixing; multichannel recording with soundcheck loop capabilities; comprehensive iPad remote control; auto-sensing I/O; loads of DSP power; and much more, all in an intelligent, digitally-networked rig.

Key Features

Out of the box, the M20d feels rock solid, like a tightly-built MacBook Pro (and it even looks similar, though no relation). In typical Line 6 fashion, this forward-thinking product is built for the expected rigors of a modern gigging musician's life, and its seven-inch, full color touch screen and 20 buttons/knobs brings all the capabilities of the M20d to my fingertips. Its footprint is approximately 16 inches wide by 14 inches deep - compact but large enough for any user, thanks to its uncluttered design and layout.

I/O is comprehensive - a dozen auto-sensing mic/line (XLR or quarter-inch) combination inputs; four quarter-inch auto-sensing line inputs; four auto-sensing monitor outputs (balanced XLR); and two audio-sensing main outputs (balanced XLR). Also included - quarter-inch headphone output with adjacent volume knob; eighth-inch "aux in" for mobile device audio input; dual quarter-inch foot switch inputs; USB PC jack (for recording/playback via standalone DAW); as well as a USB 2.0 dock and a SD card slot (either is recording/playback-ready via the mixer's internal recording software as well as preset and MP3/WAV file storage).

Most interesting within the M20d's I/O category is Line 6's proprietary L6 LINK connection. (click the Read More link below to read the rest of the article)

Read more: Line 6 M20D - Intuitive enough for virtually every user.


Behringer X32 Digital Mixer - our first look, part 1

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by Gary Williams

We've all been hearing the buzz for a long time. A 32 channel digital console with flying faders for under $3000. At first the thought of such a console sounded preposterous. There was much debate as to whether this would be a piece that would be taken seriously in the marketplace. Surely corners would have to be cut, sonic quality would be greatly compromised, and the feature set and user interface would be dumbed-down. There were immediate scoffers, myself included. It would be easy to conclude that the X-32 didn't really deserve a look. Except for one point gnawing at the back of my techie brain.

One word really. Midas. I'd been drooling over Midas consoles for years, and with the Behringer acquisition of Midas, I expected to see a decrease in the quality of the Midas brand, and the opposite happened. The newer generation of the Midas digital consoles are better than ever. With Behringer now signing the paychecks for the brilliant engineering staff at Midas, job security says when the boss asks if using this technology we now own, can you implement this in a product with a street price under $3000.00 it's a good idea to come up with a way to say “yes we can”....and yes, they did.

Read more: Behringer X32 Digital Mixer - our first look, part 1


Radial Firefly - the "best-sounding direct box I've ever heard"

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by Andy Toy, WorshipLeader

Function: Tube direct box

What’s New: New from Radial is the Firefly, a high quality tube DI with tons of features. Set in a heavy-duty metal casing, the Firefly combines a class-A front end with a single 12ax7 tube stage, providing warmth and character of a classic tube sound with the legendary sound quality of the classic Radial direct box. A quick walk-through of the electronics demonstrates Radial’s commitment to quality. The discrete class-A circuit features zero negative feedback, eliminating any phase cancellation in the signal and providing a natural, full sound. The 12ax7 tube gives the DI a warm, smooth sound and the output is isolated by a high quality Radial transformer to eliminate hum and buzz. The result is a low-noise, warm, fat, and natural sounding DI.

Features: The features on the Firefly were made with the working musician in mind. Connected to the input is a drag control that allows the user to adjust the load on the pickup of the instrument connected to it, making all pickup types sound great through the DI.

Read more: Radial Firefly - the "best-sounding direct box I've ever heard"


Just because you like it, why should I? Audix VX5 reviewed.

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A couple weeks ago, the Audix sales rep stopped by with the Audix national sales manager in tow.  I've known both of these guys for a long time, and we've enjoyed a friendly relationship for at least 15 years.  We spent a few minutes catching up and telling stories, and as we talked through the line, the topic of missed opportunities came up.  I often ask sales people if they have products that we're missing out on -- ones that other dealers are selling successfully (and that we're not), or ones that no one is selling, but that everyone should be.  And like a good salesperson, Gene had an answer. 

The Audix VX-5 is a new handheld hypercardioid condenser microphone that he said was becoming very popular, and that reminded him of the old AKG C535.  That got my attention since the C535 was one of my favorite vocal mics "back in the day."

Gene let me unbox the microphone and I have to admit that it had a nice look, and a great feel, but what a mic looks like doesn't matter much to me.  The VX5 is made here in the USA, solidly built, and precise in its fit and finish.  But again, how would it sound? 

Since it's pretty much impossible to get a feel for a microphone in an office setting, Gene left the microphone with me, and I decided to try it out on an unsuspecting vocalist.

Read more: Just because you like it, why should I? Audix VX5 reviewed.


Line 6 Soundscape M20d - feature by feature

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by Doug Doppler,

The Line
 6 StageScape 
M20d does a fantastic
 job of addressing the 
challenges we face each week, 
and it does it all via a touch-sensitive user interface that can be mirrored on one or more iPads.

One of the biggest challenges we face on Sunday mornings is developing a streamlined workflow for sound check, monitor levels, and front of house mix. Workflow is an integral part of how this unit was designed, and is key to its effectiveness in a worship environment.

The five Mode Buttons allow you to toggle between the Setup, Tweak, Record, Monitor, and Perform views in the UI. With the exception of Record Mode, these buttons trace the exact production path you’d follow on a Sunday, making for a streamlined approach on an architectural level.

Read more: Line 6 Soundscape M20d - feature by feature


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What others say

The Countryman E6 mic you supplied arrived very promptly and has worked really well as a mic for preachers in our church. It sounds good and is almost invisible in use.

Rod Webster, Derbyshire, UK