When Line 6 introduced their StageScape M20d mixer, it heralded a new age in computerized live sound. It’s designed to be part of a modular system that combines components through the company’s proprietary L6 Link technology. This allows you to use as many or as few speakers as you need, configuring them automatically, setting up stereo arrays, and generally performing system-wide optimization.
Sometimes this kind of advanced technology is employed for its own sake, but on the evidence of one link in the system – the Stage Source L2t, reviewed here, Line 6 seems to have avoided this pitfall.
The L2t powered speaker system can perform as part of an integrated Line 6 live sound ecosystem, or act as a complete PA on its own. This 2-way, bi-amped unit sports 800 watts of power to provide plenty of clean headroom and enough volume for a house concert or small club. The heavy-duty amplifier and speakers combined with the tank-like build result in a sturdy weight of 40 pounds, but the L2t’s solid handle (that doubles as an angled stand) and graspable end indentations made it easy to carry and position.
A built-in multi-channel mixer offers two XLR/1/4″ combo inputs with -20dB pads; separate Volume, EQ (Treble, Bass, and sweepable Mids), effects (modulation, great sounding reverb), and feedback suppression for each channel. The Acoustic modeling effect available on Channel 1 is based on Line 6’s Variax acoustic technology. It supplements the signal with a physical model of an acoustic guitar’s body resonance and easily added $500-$1000 worth of tone to my test instrument. Locating these controls on the side made them readily accessible, whether the speaker was placed next to me on a table, chair or pole, or angled up in front of me, using the retractable stands.
The back panel adds direct inputs, speaker tunings, master controls and a few more that will interest performing songwriters, such as the Look Thru and Mix outputs. In larger venues, these allow you to use the L2t as a personal monitor and mixer from which to send your processed guitar and vocal sound to the front of house. Anyone who has had to deal with a reverb-happy or monitor stingy sound person will appreciate this feature.
StageSource L2t uses an internal accelerometer, optical sensors and DSP to detect whether you have mounted the speaker on a pole, on the floor horizontally or vertically, etc.; it then automatically adjusts the angle of sound dispersion.
A button on the back selects among six high-power DSP-based Smart Speaker modes to optimize the output for various performance situations: Reference/P.A. mode features flat frequency response; Playback mode is similar, but emphasizes extreme low and high frequencies, making it optimal for playing backing tracks from a CD or MP3 player. Floor Monitor mode is automatically activated when the onboard accelerometer detects the unit is horizontal, providing a small reduction in low-end to counteract any bass added by the coupling effect of the stage boundary (it can be changed to another setting manually if desired). For optimizing use as a keyboard rig, Keyboard mode puts out a flat frequency response with a 3.5kHz crossover frequency that provides a warmer response. In Acoustic Guitar mode, warm and balanced full-range amplification is provided for acoustic instruments. Here, the crossover is set at 3.5kHz and the low-frequency response is adjusted to minimize “boominess.” Electric Guitar mode accommodates electric guitarists who use a modeling device like Line 6’s POD. This mode’s overall frequency response emulates a 212 combo amp. The 10″ speaker becomes full range, while the horn adds a bit sparkle to the highs. These last three modes feature Virtual Tilt-back, which creates an upward tilt to the sound, aiming it towards your ears.
The L2t will cover a wide variety of playing situations. It can easily serve as a self-contained PA for house concerts, coffee shops, small bars, clubs or churches. The ability to place it vertically, horizontally or on a pole – wherever space permits, comes in handy in these space-challenged venues. In larger halls it can serve as a personal monitoring system, freeing you from the whims of mercurial sound personnel.
It comes expansion ready: you can add another L2t or 1400 watt L3 model for more power and stereo; and optional bass subs to provide more low end. Spring for the M20d mixer and you are about ready to open your own club. At every stage you will find Line 6 has employed all this cutting edge technology and DSP processing with an eye focused on things musicians really need.