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The Line 6 Digital Wireless Story

Technology That Inspires Performance

Until recently, if you wanted the best performance from your mic or instrument, you had to use a cable. Analog wireless technologies are compromised in terms of sound and feel, and performance can be hampered by problems arising from interference and restrictions placed on an increasingly crowded bandwidth. FCC regulations add another level of complexity to the situation. As a performer, it can be frustrating to spend time and money perfecting your sound, only to find that feel, tone and reliability are all diminished when using a traditional wireless system.

The Line 6 digital wireless story starts back in 1995. Like many great technology progressions, ours is rooted in a simple tale of a musician frustrated by his tools. Guy Coker, currently Principal Wireless Product Developer at Line 6, shared the frustrations of many musicians unhappy with traditional analog wireless. He convinced the owner of the small electronics company where he was working to allow him to investigate how to design a wireless system that sounded and responded just like a wired connection.

As Coker began his work, he identified the numerous challenges posed by traditional analog wireless systems: reduced frequency response, limited dynamic range, signal compression, interference, frequency restrictions and reliability problems.

While searching for a solution, Coker discovered that by converting the audio signal to digital before transmitting it, he didn't need any of the preprocessing that affects the audio signal in analog systems. The transmitter converts the audio to digital and sends it over the air, then the receiver converts it back to analog after verifying it's correct.

The result? The signal that arrives at the receiver is exactly the same as if it had traveled down a cable: 10Hz–20kHz audio frequency range and a wide dynamic range up to 120dB.

Coker’s digital wireless platform was the first of its kind to appear in the pro audio market. Professional bass players who had never been able to experience the full frequency range of their instruments quickly adopted his instrument wireless systems, and word spread from there. Coker continued his pioneering work, and his company X2 was eventually acquired by Line 6 in 2008. Coker has overseen the development of the Line 6 digital wireless platform into its fourth generation, the most mature in the market.

Broadcasting in the 2.4GHz band, Line 6 wireless avoids interference from cellphone towers, TV transmitters or other white space devices. Fully FCC compliant, Line 6 wireless is also free from restrictions, offering simple, license-free operation, worldwide.

Recent platform developments include the integration of advanced Microphone and EQ Filter modeling to allow vocalists to tailor the system to their voice, mic position, environment or style of performance. Channel counts have grown to allow up to 14 systems to be used simultaneously. Another recent feature, exclusive Digital Channel Lock™ (DCL) technology, locks out unwanted noise. “It’s like having the signal in a protective armor suit while it is in the air, ensuring that no outside RF noise can be heard through your audio,” says Coker.