Behind the Scenes with Co-Founder Michel Doidic
Michel Doidic, co-founder of Line 6 with Marcus Ryle, reflects on the company's founding and its pivotal product introductions.
Line 6 is the industry leader in digital modeling technology, and has been the pioneer in bringing a host of modeling products, both hardware and software based, to musicians worldwide. In the following Q&A, Michel Doidic looks at Line 6's roots and how the product line has developed since its founding in 1996.
Your background was originally in sound design for other electronics companies. What made you decide to branch out on your own?
Michel: As employees or consultants with existing firms, we only had an input in the technical aspect of their products, but not so much the general direction of the line – its look, its features, and probably most importantly for me, the "spirit of the business." Starting Line 6 gave us a chance to experience all of that. Luckily we were ignorant enough to dismiss all the headaches that would also come along with it.
Line 6 introduced patented modeling technology in 1996 with the AxSys 212. How was it developed, and how did it change the way guitarists create music?
Michel: The ability to dial the specific sound of a classic amp or effect allows guitar players to experience sounds that many of them could not have obtained before. This is especially true for the people who do not have access to expensive classic gear, but who can now enjoy their unique tonal qualities. I believe that modeling has contributed to make guitar playing a much broader and satisfying musical experience.
Can you talk about the development of the POD product line, and what that meant for Line 6 and for guitarists?
Michel: The original POD was a direct derivation of our first guitar amplifier, the AxSys 212. For this first amplifier we had concentrated our efforts on emulating tubes with digital signal processing, but the POD, not having a speaker or a physical cabinet, obliged us to go further and develop algorithms to reproduce speaker and cabinet behaviors. Other guitar processors of that time were rather deficient on these points, and the POD was the first to achieve a good level of realism.
"The POD was a key component of Line 6's success. Its broad acceptance by the guitar player community made us realize how much of a need people had for accurate modeling of classic gear, and for easy access to a wide palette of sounds."
I think this product and its successors have allowed guitar players to enjoy their instrument on a new level.
In a relatively short time, Line 6 has produced world-leading products like the Vetta, Variax guitars, Spider amps and many more. Is there a common vision or purpose behind all of these products?
Michel: We love music, and anything we can do to get musicians to make more of it is a good thing.
Can you describe your musical background and influences, and how they shape the choices you’ve made professionally?
Michel: My background as a musician is dismal. I thought for a while that I could play guitar, but whatever pretention I may ever have had in this area was instantaneously crushed when I heard some of the extraordinary guitarists who now work at Line 6.
Luckily, I can still contribute to the music experience through my engineering background, and in fact I am quite happy to concentrate on the instrument itself, and let the real musicians use it to produce something worthwhile.
As far as my original musical influences are concerned I must admit, to the risk of dating myself, that the synthesizer work of Wendy Carlos got me irreversibly into the electronic music field.
"Since Carlos' Switched-On Bach, I have always been fascinated by whatever equipment can produce new sounds."