Employee Spotlight: Kris Daniel, Senior DSP Software Engineer
Before you came to Line 6, what, if any, was your previous experience working in the music industry?
I worked for a start-up company in Philadelphia called G-Vox for about three years. We made these funny magnetic hexaphonic pickups for electric guitars that would connect to your PC and it would output MIDI, mostly for music education, and some notation. It was a fun place – I used to skateboard and ride the subway on my commute, and having a Strat® by my desk every day was a nice perk. I get that here, too.
How did you come to work at Line 6?
G-Vox went bankrupt and laid a bunch of us off, so I started looking around for another DSP job in the music industry. As much as I love Philly, I was going to have to move somewhere else – there weren’t any more music DSP jobs to be had there. While interviewing for a job in DC, the interviewer asked “How do you think Line 6 does their amp modeling?” I realized then that Line 6 was probably the people I should be talking to instead. At the time, Line 6 was ramping up their GuitarPort® team, and my background fit well with that project’s needs.
[caption id="attachment_1284" align="aligncenter" width="459" caption="Kris Daniel, Line 6 Senior DSP Software Engineer"][/caption]
How long have you worked for the company?
I’ve just passed my 10-year anniversary with the company.
What has your experience with Line 6 been like?
It’s been great. I’m always impressed with the caliber of people that work here – everyone is very dedicated to what they do. I’ve been given a lot of leeway to develop into different interests, and I can’t think of many places that let people do that.
Can you share some of the highlights you’ve experienced at the company?
Line 6 has a company picnic every year and it includes a “battle of the bands” made up of employees grouping together into over-the-top bands. There’s a lot of good humored trash-talking that happens leading up to the picnic. One year my band, Bling Posse, was so involved in trash-talking the other band that we were plastering the halls of the building with slogans, daily. They eventually countered with climbing to the roof of Line 6’s headquarters and hanging a giant 40-foot banner down the front of the building that read “NO BLING!” If you happened to drive by that day – that was aimed at me!
During the HD amp modeling development, I got to open up tons of vintage amplifiers and poke around inside them, and play them at deafening levels. Of everything I’ve done here, that has taught me the most, and been the most fun.
What role does music play in your life?
It’s a big part of my life – I changed majors in college so I could focus on music-related technology. I’ll play music to help me focus, or help calm me down if I’m getting stressed.
Do you play any instruments, and if so, which ones?
I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 12 – I dabbled with keyboards but I mostly sequenced them, never really learned how to properly play piano. My family has a tradition that you get a guitar when you turn 16 – until then, I was stealing my older brother’s.
Have you used any Line 6 gear? If so, what are some favorite products, and how does the gear help inspire you to make music?
Yeah, I’ve used a ton of our gear. M13 is a big favorite of mine, I think the UI design is very smart, and it really serves the purpose it was for without being complicated. It’s great for experimenting around with effects, there are just so many choices available.
Of the new gear, I’m in love with the DT50 – it does everything I want, and sounds gorgeous. I have neighbors, though, so I mostly play a POD HD300 when I’m at home. I don’t use a lot of effects, so it’s just easier to get to what I want with an HD300. I turn a couple knobs and have the tone that’s in my head and can start playing with a minimum of fuss.
What have you learned about the significance of music instruments/products in the lives of musicians?
I’ve learned a lot. Musicians will always use gear in new, unexpected ways. For example, the HD preamp models were designed to mate into a DT50’s analog power amp section to give a really authentic tone. There are users that are finding they like playing the full amp models into the DT50 in its full volume mode – clearly not what we expected them to do, but we wanted to make sure they could try it even if we thought they shouldn’t.
Musicians are just obsessed with gear, I’m glad to be helping make products they enjoy that much.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an astronaut. I actually started college majoring in aerospace engineering, which is where kids who want to be astronauts end up, once they realize their vision isn’t 20/20. I switched majors to DSP after discovering I was getting bored doing the day-to-day work of aerospace, it wasn’t challenging, and at the end of the day you don’t get to play with that billion-dollar rocket anyway.
Kris Daniel, Line 6 Senior DSP Software Engineer, was integral in developing new Line 6 HD modeling – the technology that makes POD HD multi-effects and other Line 6 gear sound so good. Watch Kris discuss the finer points of new HD modeling in this video.