Line 6 StageScape Expands Income Opportunities at Chicago’s Uptown Recording

Uptown Recording is a professional recording studio located on Chicago’s north side. Boasting two full live music rooms along with three isolation rooms and additional multi-purpose rooms, this 5,000 square foot facility provides state-of-the-art Pro Tools recording and full 5.1 surround post-production abilities, among other services.

Recently, Uptown purchased a full PA system, including StageSource™ powered speakers and the StageScape™ M20d smart mixing system from Line 6. “Beyond recording, we also offer rehearsal/pre-production space for our recording clients, and host events here for indie and national acts, as well as local radio stations,” says Uptown’s chief engineer, Rob Ruccia, “We loved the features on the StageScape mixer and loved the sound of the speakers. Now it’s a permanent part of our West Studio, and we no longer have to rent a PA for the events we host.”

While a full PA system is not something most people associate with recording studios, the Line 6 StageScape M20d and StageSource loudspeakers have proven to be a perfect fit for Uptown Recording. StageScape M20d is designed to allow musicians to create great mixes using its intuitive touchscreen interface, with automatic feedback suppression and loudspeakers that configure themselves as monitors or mains depending on their physical deployment. In addition, the StageScape M20d digital mixer lets users recall scenes and record all 18 input channels plus the mail L-R mix simultaneously.

“For rehearsing, you couldn’t ask for anything better,” Ruccia states. “The touchscreen relates perfectly to anyone with a smartphone or an iPad, so it’s very intuitive for the bands. They may not understand the complexities of EQ, compression, limiting and all that, but they can relate to terms like clarity, punch, and warmth on the StageScape interface. Once we have things set up for a band, it gets saved as a preset. Then when they come back, they’ve got their settings and everyone knows where to plug in because their names show up on the screen under their instrument. That saves a lot of time, which the bands really appreciate when they’re renting a space by the hour. It’s pretty awesome.”

The StageSource L3m self-powered loudspeakers have also proven their worth. “Actually, the speakers were one of the biggest things for us,” Ruccia notes. “Our old 600-watt PA was loud, but these Line 6 speakers have power to spare! They are 1400 watts, they sound great, and the active feedback suppression feature is amazing. I mean, I’ve actually tried to make it feed back and I can’t. That means the bands can rehearse without needing an engineer, which is a great benefit for everyone involved.”

The ability to use StageScape M20d for recording has also been a hit at Uptown. “The M20d records onto an SD card or straight into your computer, and it captures all the individual tracks and the stereo mix,” explains Ruccia. “For rehearsing and pre-production, that’s obviously great, since you have a record of everything you can take home with you. But as a recording engineer, I’m always into redundancy, and this allows me to track to both my Pro Tools rig and the SD card.”

In using the Line 6 StageScape M20d system for live events, Ruccia and the other engineers at Uptown Recording have come to appreciate its sophisticated DSP capabilities. “The effects in the M20d are really nice and very intuitive, but as an engineer, I love the fact that I can go into what Line 6 calls Deep Tweak mode and do fine adjustments using traditional parameters,” he says. “It’s reminiscent of some of the plug-ins we use for Pro Tools, where there’s a single control knob for most common uses, but you can still make more precise adjustments when you need to. In fact, ‘Deep Tweak’ has become kind of a catch phrase around the studio for that kind of thing—it’s like, ‘Hey man, you’ve just got to Deep Tweak it!’ Pretty comical, but it’s true.”

To maintain a smooth workflow, Uptown Recording has also set up the StageScape M20d to operate via iPad®. “Most of us here have one, so we set up the iPad app as soon as we got the system,” says Ruccia. “We bought a USB Wi-Fi adapter recommended on the Line 6 site, for under $20, and it works flawlessly. With clean Wi-Fi, there’s no latency at all.”

Overall, Uptown Recording has found the Line 6 StageScape system to be a perfect fit for its needs, and Rob Ruccia appreciates the system’s incorporation of thoroughly professional features into a user-friendly package. “When you look at what you’re getting for the price, it’s pretty phenomenal,” he concludes. “You’ve got plenty of channels for most band configurations, and the system has tons of power and headroom. In fact, we’re also using the speakers for Pro Tools playback. We have an output coming out of our Pro Tools rig that we can plug directly into the Line 6 speakers in our West Studio so the band doesn’t have to come into the recording room to listen. They just take off their headphones and we play it back into the studio. It’s a very smart system, very multi-faceted, and we’re finding new uses for it all the time. I’d have to say that Line 6 StageScape M20d is one of the smartest equipment investments we’ve ever made.”