Compact Powerhouses | Live Sound Digital Consoles 2009

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By George Petersen

DIGITAL LIVE SOUND CONSOLES COME OF AGE

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The new TTv1.7 operating software enabling full I/O routing for digitally patching any channel or mix to any output. This enables the U100 and DS3232 to act as a digital splitter in FOH/monitor applications, assigning inputs/outputs to both consoles over Mackie's low-latency, high-bandwidth U-Net audio/control protocol.

Adapting technologies from its larger sibling XL8, the new PRO6 from Midas (www.midasconsoles.com) offers similar audio performance in a smaller-footprint package. The PRO6 system comprises a Control Centre and two seven-rackspace units handling DSP and I/O. Despite its small 54×36-inch size, PRO6 can deliver up to 80 simultaneous input channels and as many as 32 discrete mixes in monitor mode, with all channels having full EQ and numerous dynamics processing options.

The standard PRO6 has 56 channel inputs, eight returns and 41 buses (16 auxes, 16 matrix, three masters and six solos). Also included are eight internal stereo FX processors, parametric EQ, eight (up to 36 max) 31-band graphic EQs, 5.1 panning and 1,000-scene save/recall snapshot automation and show file archiving. Also standard is a dual-redundant (192×192) 100-meter digital snake using Cat-5e copper cabling. With more I/O hardware, the PRO6 network can expand up to 264 inputs and 264 outputs, and the Klark Teknik DN9696 Recorder can be used for live multitrack recording and virtual sound checks.

The PreSonus (www.presonus.com) StudioLive 16×4×2 digital live performance and recording digital mixer features FireWire recording with JetPLL synchronization, delivering 22 channels of recording and 18 channels of simultaneous playback. The heart of StudioLive is the Fat Channel, which features EQ and dynamics on every input channel, as well as on every aux, subgroup and main output. The highpass filter and four-band semiparametric algorithms are based on PreSonus' digital EyeQ equalizer. Other features include LED metering, 100mm faders, talkback, Mac/PC multitrack recording software and the ability to export to WAV file formats for compatibility with any other DAW. The unit has 16 XMAX mic preamps and two programmable 24-bit stereo DSP engines offering reverbs, delays and time-based effects.

Roland Systems Group's (www.rolandsystemsgroup.com) RSS V-Mixing System — which incorporates the RSS M-400 live digital console, configurable digital snakes, remote-control mic preamps/stage boxes and multitrack recording — has been enhanced with new V. 1.5 software. In response to user suggestions, the free upgrade adds numerous features, including more flexibility in compressor and gate assignments, direct output assignment capabilities for interfacing with personal mix systems and recording splits, tap tempo delay settings, the addition of eight matrices, and a variety of user-interface shortcuts for accelerated workflow and improved ease of use.

Another small-footprint/high-performance board is Soundcraft's (www.soundcraftdigital.com) new Si3, with 64 mono inputs, four stereo ins and 35 output buses (24 aux/group, eight matrixes and L/C/R main mix outs) in a single chassis. Standard are four onboard Lexicon effects processors, 12 VCA groups, eight mute groups and bar graph metering for all 35 bus outs. A touchscreen handles console setups; a Virtual Channel Strip with rotary encoders and OLEDs offers analog-style control and FaderGlow illumination along the fader track to indicate the currently active function. A redundant power-supply module, MADI interfaces and AES/EBU input cards are optional.

Soundcraft also announces V. 3 software for its Vi series, along with 96- and 72-channel upgrades for an input-to-mix capacity of 64 or 48 channels, mapped out on 32 or 24 motorized faders for the Vi6 and Vi4 respectively. The Vi6's 96 channels to mix can comprise the 64 stage box mic/line inputs, 16 line inputs on the local rack and the eight stereo Lexicon effects returns. Alternatively, a second stage box can bring mic/line inputs to all 96 input channels.

The V. 3 upgrade also gives Vi4 access to all 35 output buses — without adding a DSP card. Further V. 3 enhancements include automation snapshot filtering; a revised Cue List Management suite with channel label import/export; improved master bay metering; and finer input/output delay trims — all available from the desk or using the Virtual Vi offline editor software for advance show setup/downloads via a USB stick.

Consoles just keep getting smaller, with the prize going to StageTec's (www.stagetec.com) AURATUS XCMC, which reduces the entire control and audio processing functionality of its compact AURATUS mixer onto a single board that slots into a standard NEXUS 3-U Base device. This new mixer-on-a-card supports console configurations of up to 54 audio channels and eight sums, eight aux buses, eight monitoring buses and eight mix-minus sums.

New for the company's AURUS console is the AURUS Virtual Surface, a software application that's ideal for use with a touchscreen tablet PC. Networked to AURUS via WLAN, this roving remote control lets users tweak/store console settings during rehearsals.

With a string of major tours and installs after only one year, Studer's (www.studer.ch) Vista 5 SR console keeps getting better. New is V. 4 software, which includes comprehensive 5.1 input source management and channel panning, but also an alternative Vintage Dynamics package. This offers a more retro style of compressor-gate/expander for a more pronounced, colored effect than the transparency of the standard dynamics, along with wet/dry blending and parallel compression presets. A new dedicated VST host plug-in engine lets users run favorite VST effects either as inserts or on effects sends, with recall on Vista's Cuelist function.

Also standard in V. 4 are functions to speed up live operations, such as View Follows Solo/PFL, offering a choice of full-channel view or EQ/Dynamics/Pan view for faster parameter access during sound checks. And the new ability to copy aux mixes to other aux buses is intended to help monitor engineers dial mixes in quickly.

Just a year old, Yamaha's (www.yamahaca.com) DSP5D puts the functionality of its PM5D-RH digital console — less the control surface — into a rack unit that's controllable from a PM5D. A single DSP5D doubles the mixer's I/O channels, with 96 mono and 16 stereo channels accessible via four fader layers — or the user can add a second DSP5D unit for 144 mono/24 stereo capability. The DSP5D can reside next to the host PM5D or act as a remote stage box (with all I/O accessible on the front panel) with the use of an optional digital cabling unit for communication up to 120 meters away over standard Cat-5 cable.

Designed as the “perfect companion” to its M7CL and LS9 digital consoles, Yamaha's SB168-ES Stage Box is also useable by the PM5D/DM1000/DM2000 consoles and DME digital mixing engine. Unveiled at AES and now shipping, the cost-effective SB168-ES is a scalable solution offering 16 channels of remote-controlled analog mic/line inputs, each with its own high-quality head amp, combined with eight line outputs, all at 48 kHz. Up to four digital Stage Box units can be connected offering a total of 64 inputs and 32 outputs, depending on the number of YGDAI card slots available on the specific console. The inputs/outputs can also be assigned to any of the 64 channels on an AuviTran ES-100 unit for EtherSound connectivity.


George Petersen is the executive editor of Mix and runs a small record label at www.jenpet.com.






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