Harnessing Technology

As Marcus Ryle, senior vice president of new business development at Line 6, tells it, audio and technology have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.
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Marcus Ryle, SVP New Business Development, Line 6

As Marcus Ryle, senior vice president of new business development at Line 6, tells it, audio and technology have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. His father had a very technical background, and his mother’s family was very musical, so it was a “natural mix for me.”

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Ryle bought his first synthesizer and started performing in bands at age 12, and was a session musician/sound programmer in the 1980s. He began learning electronics and recording through experimentation and modification of his gear. At 19, he was offered a job as a design engineer at Oberheim Electronics, and after five years of designing synths, sequencers and drum machines, co-founded Fast Forward Designs with his wife, Susan Wolf, and fellow Oberheim engineer, Michel Doidic.

At Fast Forward, they spent their first 10 years developing products for other companies. They were responsible for more than 40 products for Alesis, including the Quadraverb, the QS keyboards and the ADAT family. They also developed the SampleCell sound cards for Digidesign, lighting systems for CAE/ Leprecon, and various other pro audio and music products. In 1994, they embarked on digital modeling guitar amplifier research, which led to the creation of their own brand, Line 6, in 1996.

“Line 6 quickly became our main focus,” Ryle recalls, “leading us to wind down our consulting services and formally change the name of the company to Line 6. As we continually improved and refined our modeling and products, we managed by 2008 to become the number one brand of guitar amplifiers and professional amp modeling pedals and desktop processors.”

Presently, the company is expanding into several areas beyond the guitar market, and that is where Ryle is primarily focused, since Line 6’s staff can keep moving the guitar technology forward. Its first new offerings from this group are the XD-V series of digital wireless microphones.

Ryle comments, “Having been a performing and recording musician, as well as having performed recording engineering and FOH duties, my outlook on technology is simply as a means to an end. How can we harness technology in ways that can inspire and solve problems for musicians and audio professionals? Virtually all of our engineers and product managers have professional audio and music backgrounds, so it is a very natural way for all of us to look at how we approach creating new products.”

Line 6 is headquartered in Calabasas, CA, which is where the worldwide sales, marketing, engineering, ops and finance divisions are located. There are additional California offices in Simi Valley and Sacramento, as well as offices in the U.K., Japan and China. In the field, there is a directsales force throughout the U.S., in Europe (U.K., France, Germany and Benelux) and in Japan. The company boasts about 270 total employees worldwide.

“At Line 6,” Ryle remarks, “our culture is focused on using technology to create valuable, innovative and differentiated products that solve real problems and open creative doors. This philosophy resonates company-wide, and helps drive a highly collaborative environment. My focus is primarily on bringing this philosophy to new markets, where we have a number of exciting initiatives under development.”

Guitar amplifiers and processors (PODs) are the company’s best-selling products. Other strong areas of growth are digital modeling guitars, with the launch of the James Tyler Variax instruments, and digital wireless instrument systems (Relay) and microphones (XD-V).

And how does Line 6 deal with its competition? “Put simply,” Ryle responds, “we feel the need to continually compete with ourselves. We never feel that our job is done. In the case of modeling, this has resulted in the launch of our most detailed and nuanced modeling to date with our POD HD series and DT-50 amplifiers. With guitars, we’re taking it to a whole new level with master luthier, James Tyler. We also enter new markets unburdened by the past, allowing us to leapfrog competition with products like our digital wireless systems that solve problems in ways not yet being addressed by other wireless microphone companies.”

Ryle also points out that there are always several new initiatives underway at Line 6, but the only ones he can talk about at present are its digital wireless business and exploration into mobile music making. “We have the only MIDI interface for Apple iOS devices, the MIDI Mobilizer,” he states, “and over 70 developers are writing very creative applications that enable an iPhone or iPad to be used as a serious musical instrument or composing tool when connected up to a MIDI keyboard. It’s just the latest way technology can provide inspiration, and now do it the most portable way possible.”

Ryle concludes by offering, “Our digital wireless initiative seems to quickly be leading a major sea change in the wireless world. We have the only system where all channels can work anywhere in the world license-free, and we also provide audio quality that is a significant improvement over any analog system. With all of the spectrum changes and challenges going on around the world, it seems we’ve managed to come up with the right answer at just the right time.”

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Company :
Line 6
26580 Agoura Road
Calabasas, CA 91302-1921
Tel: 818-575-3600
Fax: 818-575-3601
Web: line6.com