Line 6 Turns Atlanta’s Tin Roof Acoustic Showdown Into a Dream Stage

Atlanta musician Ian Schumacher professes to be a performer by trade, but it’s clear that he has a bit of organizer/promoter in his DNA as well. Nothing else explains how he pulled together a cool weekly venue, a state-of-the-art Line 6® StageScape® M20d digital mixer, multiple sponsorships including Guitar Center Atlanta, and Atlanta’s diverse music community, to create the Tin Roof Acoustic Showdown competition.

“Atlanta has a huge music scene, but it’s spread out in different neighborhoods and we all gig on the same nights, so no one ever gets to experience what’s happening in other parts of the community,” explains Schumacher. “I wanted to create something that would draw musicians together from all over town.”

The result was the Tin Roof Acoustic Showdown, a weekly competition held at the Tin Roof Cantina—a longtime hangout for local musicians. Each Monday, 12 artists are booked, with fans and competitors selecting two winners. After six weeks, finals are held and prizes are awarded. Then the process repeats throughout the year.

“We got some sponsors to create a pretty great prize package worth $4,000, including cash, gigs, recording time, design services and music gear,” says Schumacher. “Guitar Center Atlanta has been a huge supporter, but what really took it to another level was when they let us borrow a StageScape M20d digital mixer for the finals.”

As a musician who routinely gigs 200 or more times annually, Schumacher was looking for a digital console that would make life easier—both for his own shows and for the Acoustic Showdown. “I had my eye on another model, but Kirby Oliveras, the Assistant Manager at Guitar Center, said I had to check out the Line 6 mixer,” he recounts. “As a demo, they let me take it out to the club for the finals. It was a little scary, since load-in wasn’t until 6:30pm and my set started at 8:00pm. Just by patching this mixer into the house system—which wasn’t hard at all—we set up quickly and got better sound than ever, set after set. The sound just totally floored everyone. I was getting extreme compliments all night.”

Line 6 designed the StageScape M20d mixer for musicians, simplifying the set-up process with intelligent electronics, high-quality preamps and an intuitive touchscreen visual interface. M20d includes a variety of features that make it easy to get great sound. The auto-sensing input system automatically activates a custom channel strip for each channel as it’s plugged in, and an Auto Trim function helps ensure distortion-free input levels. The system also has a catalog of quick-start touchscreen icons that cover most typical vocal and instrument deployments. This is invaluable in situations like the Acoustic Showdown, where quick set changes and minimal soundchecks are the rule.

Ian Schumacher jokes that the biggest problem he had with StageScape was that other performers and engineers crowded around its compact frame. “But I fixed that by the next finals, when I set it up for remote control on my iPad,” he says with a laugh. “That’s truly amazing, to just go out in the room and adjust the sound, then go up on stage and tune the monitors. So powerful, so easy, and much better for the audience, too.”

Schumacher feels that the on-board DSP processing contributes greatly to the ease of use. “I do a lot of production work, and you can tell how much thought Line 6 put into the channel strip design. It gives me full access to every parameter in Deep Tweak mode,” he says. “The reverbs are super natural, and having six sweepable bands of EQ with a visual representation of your sound spectrum is incredibly powerful. I feel it rivals just about any plug-in suite I use. Everything is quick and responsive, with no lag, even from the iPad. It makes mixing effortless… and more fun that I could’ve ever imagined.”

StageScape M20d helps Schumacher quickly dial in great sound—another advantage that comes in handy for the Acoustic Showdown. “As soon as something is plugged in, it sounds good,” he says. “Whether I’m using the Quick Tweak or Deep Tweak, adjustments are so fast and easy, I probably save 20-30 minutes in set-up. Plus, the sounds I’m hearing are just so sweet compared to before.”

StageScape M20d also forms the centerpiece of a full PA system, the Line 6 Dream Stage, which adds self-powered intelligent loudspeakers to the mix. The mixer senses the Line 6 speakers and automatically adjusts the setup for house or monitor deployment. Schumacher had the opportunity to try the Dream Stage for a club gig he had in Auburn, Alabama.

“For that show, I had the StageSource L2 loudspeakers,” Schumacher recalls. “One with the on-board mixer, some without. They have a decent rig in the club, but this just blew them away. The clarity on these speakers is remarkable. Great midrange, with crispness that really gives definition to each instrument. Powerful, but without any harshness or distortion. When you put the Line 6 speakers and mixer together, it’s magic. Really remarkable.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s Tin Roof Acoustic Showdown is approaching its first anniversary and seventh series, and Schumacher’s newest venture, the Buckhead Saloon Electric Showdown, has just begun. “People are coming from all over to compete, listen and join in the infamous late-night jam sessions, which is great for the community,” says Schumacher. “With support from sponsors like Guitar Center and great sound with the Line 6 StageScape mixer, we’ve put on well over 600 acts this year, and we’re going stronger and sounding better than ever.”