The 1S from Bose, their latest iteration in the L1 series, is a solid solution for solo artists looking for quality sound and maximum portability.

Ask any seasoned solo or small-ensemble musician about the most difficult or frustrating part of playing live, and the answer might surprise you. Because typically, it’s not stage fright, performance prep, or even sleazy venue managers. No, you’re more likely to hear concerns about sound quality and amplification. And singer-songwriters don’t always have the luxury of playing in a venue large or well-off enough to have a house PA. And even if you’re lucky enough to have one at your disposal, it’s likely something maintained (or not) by the part-time bartender. That’s why owning some sort of quality amplification system is pretty much a must—and a portable system you can control yourself while you’re performing is often ideal.

The Bose L1 1S with ToneMatch and B2 Bass Module offers a nice solution to this dilemma. This latest iteration in the L1 line, like its predecessors, uses 12 focused line-array speakers to deliver detailed sound in a totally portable, easy-to-assemble package. The line array units offer the ability to efficiently deliver a wider spectrum of sound over an expansive area using small, angled speakers. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the L1—and this new, more flexible 1S in particular—provides the power to reach larger audiences without too much extra cargo or hassle.

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"A Wasteland Companion" adds another layer to Ward’s catalog of melancholy, gospel-folk upon which he’s crafted a signature sound.

M. Ward
A Wasteland Companion

Fans of folk journeyman and indie icon, M. Ward, have been eagerly awaiting a new solo release since 2009’s Hold Time. In the time since, Ward has collaborated with the likes of Zooey Deschanel and is one fourth of the supergroup Monsters of Folk with Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), and Jim James (My Morning Jacket). A Wasteland Companion adds another layer to Ward’s catalog of melancholy, gospel-folk upon which he’s crafted a signature sound.

Ward’s legend has been built on a seamless juxtaposition of honest roots music with toe-tapping vintage twang. Opening track “Clean Slate” exhibits the former with honey-soaked, ethereal vocals that dance over minimal instrumentation. But the album’s next three tracks head in an electric direction. Ward makes a flawless transition between melodious acoustic guitar and soaked, heavy fuzz on the rousing, “Me and My Shadow,” which introduces Deschanel on background vocals. The grunge is brilliantly balanced against Motown-esque harmonies and a pulsing Rhodes. The final three tracks are the Portland native in his element: haunting, beautiful, and simple. “Crawl After You” and “Pure Joy” are classic Ward, with solemn strumming and reserved—but always musical— strings and piano.

Aside from its all-star cast, myriad lyrical themes, and sweeping sonic palette, what stands out most is Ward’s ability to write near-perfect songs. A Wasteland Companion recenters Ward as a solo artist and one of the premier folk crooners of his generation. A long-awaited release and a worthy listen, it delivers exactly what fans have been craving while continuing to push the envelope of the genre he has done so much to foster. —Luke Viertel

Must-hear tracks: “Me and My Shadow,” “Pure Joy”

See Petrucci''s live rig with video and photos!

PG's Rebecca Dirks caught up with Dream Theater tech Matt "Maddi" Schieferstein to check out the gear John Petrucci used for the band's A Dramatic Tour of Events fall 2011 tour. Watch the video below (and click here to see our John Myung Rig Rundown):

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