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This article was originally published in issue #22
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Line 6 revolutionized guitar amps with easily affordable modelling technology. Now the US company is applying its high-tech skills to band PA that can also double as guitar backline. Tim Slater samples a PA system claimed to offer 'studio quality for the stage' and designed specifically for guitarists. It's the third element in Line 6's 'Dream Rig' - so check out the guitar and FX components in our main reviews!
Solo guitarists who also sing usually turn travelling light into an art form and choosing the right powered enclosure demands compromises, especially when it comes to nailing a decent vocal sound alongside a workable electro-acoustic or electric guitar tone. Line 6's StageSource L2T offers a unique proposition to solo performers wondering how best to make those compromises.
The L2T is a powerful and very user-friendly two-channel powered enclosure that takes a lot of the guesswork out of setting up your portable PA. Six separate switchable preset EQ curves automatically configure the LT2 to operate either as a front of house PA enclosure, a floor monitor or a dedicated backline for vocal and acoustic or electric guitar. High quality digital delay and reverb and acoustic guitar modelling is also included to enable the L2T to function as a stand-alone acoustic guitar combo.
Rated at 800 Watts the L2T provides plenty of clean headroom for small to medium pub or club-sized venues and from a stylistic standpoint its clean elegant lines suggest a product conceived in some trendy Italian design studio, rather than a Californian electronics lab.
Ergonomically-speaking the L2T looks very impressive. Twin kickstands unfold from the chassis, allowing the enclosure to be angled backwards at 60° (30° using the integrated handle) when the enclosure is used as a wedge. Its twin handles are large and comfortable, making easy work of lifting and transporting the L2T’s 17.7 kilos (39.1 lbs). Perforated steel speaker grills protect the enclosures 10-inch woofer and 1-inch high-end compression driver and all-in this is a very sturdy yet portable enclosure.
The L2T belongs to Line 6’s StageSource series of ‘intelligent’ active PA cabs, so-called due to the Line 6 Link technology that allows Line 6 guitar amplifiers and effects processors to synchronise into one seamless rig whose settings change at the single tap of a footswitch. Likewise, StageSource enclosures use the onboard Link connection to designate which speaker is on the left or right channel when used as a pair. Its onboard digital processor also selects the appropriate crossover frequencies whenever the enclosures are teamed up with subwoofers as part of a full-range Line 6 PA. Elsewhere in this issue we have also reviewed Line 6's latest Variax guitar and POD processor and both of those could easily be integrated with this StageSource cab, making for an exceptionally clever system with mind-boggling potential in the hands of the right user!
The onboard processor can also sense whether the L2T is used as a PA cab or a floor-mounted wedge or backline, its onboard sensors detect which way the cab is oriented and adjusts it accordingly by fractionally reducing low-end when the enclosure is laid down horizontally.
A set of buttons on the control panel selects between six separate operating modes: Reference/PA, Playback, Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Floor Monitor or Keyboards. Elegantly simple as this system is, we nevertheless have to admit that we made a tiny error by not checking which mode was selected when we initially plugged in our electro-acoustic guitar. None too impressed with the boxy sound, we adjusted the prodigious EQ but didn’t seem to able to get the L2T to sound right; at least until we checked the rear panel and discovered that we hadn’t selected the acoustic guitar preset! Doh! Our lack of familiarisation actually helped to highlight the accuracy of the L2T’s presets because once we had found the correct acoustic setting the enclosure instantly transformed into a crisp and articulate-sounding acoustic amplifier. Phew!
Channel 1’s Acoustic Modeling rotary control helps to dispel some of the electro-acoustic guitar’s inherent brittleness by blending the original input signal with a digitally modelled guitar body, adding extra depth and resonance that can be adjusted with a simple rotary control. The onboard digital reverb and chorus also contribute a pleasing level of ambience and there is also a built-in 12-band automatic feedback suppressor/limiter that pounces on any unwelcome frequency peaks that might otherwise mar the performance by generating feedback.
Naturally, as we had them in the studio at the time, we hooked up a Line 6 POD HD to test the L2T’s capabilities as an electric guitar amplifier and in this context it also acquits itself very well. The POD’s highly refined modelling technology notwithstanding, the L2T makes a very capable stand-alone guitar combo that is ideal for the guitarist who either works alone or as one half of a duo, perhaps accompanied by pre-recorded backing tracks. The cab’s tight punchy sounds fractionally more clinical than a conventional tube combo but then again many guitarists working in this context will enjoy the L2T’s clarity, projection and accuracy. Whether you are using a good quality FX processor or playing clean Jazz, the L2T offers one distinct advantage over a regular guitar amp in that it offers the user total control over their onstage and front of house sound.
Self-contained, thanks to its own comprehensive EQ and effects, the L2T allows the user to dial-in their own sound before sending it directly to the front of house, negating the risk of suffering an unsatisfactory mix out front or on stage if you are working with an unfamiliar front of house or monitor engineer.
The Line 6 L2T is an ideal solution for the solo performer or duo but its Mix output also allows an external mixer to be connected for recording or connecting to a larger PA. This isn’t the cheapest active enclosure around but it’s very focused choice of applications and great build quality make a convincing argument in its favour. In our opinion the L2T represents a very worthwhile investment for the singing guitarist who doesn’t want to compromise the integrity of either their vocals or guitar sound.