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Author Topic: Midas Pro 6 review  (Read 12346 times)

Evan Kirkendall

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Midas Pro 6 review
« on: May 26, 2009, 08:21:04 am »

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e194/HarfordSound/pro6-header.jpg

The Midas Pro 6


After a nice 6 week tour behind the Midas Pro 6, I figured it would be a great time for a hands on review of the console. For those of you who have not yet heard of the Pro 6, here are some of it's features:

-16 input faders
-10 DCA's
-6 "pop" groups
-2 large monitors

The full feature set can be found on Midas's website: http://www.midasconsoles.com/pro6.php


This has been by far, one of my favorite consoles to mix on. Not only is it easy to use, but man, it just sounds good. Midas definitely managed to keep their "analog" sound with the transition over to digital. I've mixed on my fair share of digital desks and the Midas just simply takes it to the next level. No other digital desk sounds this good! ...Well, maybe the XL8, but that's another story all together. If you're a fan of the Midas analog desks, then you will love the Pro 6.

I think one of my favorite things about this console is how easy it is to use. On day one(first time seeing this thing, let alone mixing on it) I was able to get a basic overview of the console and be up and running on my own in less then 10 minutes. Sure, I needed a hand patching effects and routing various things, but all the other features were very easy to find and use. For someone coming from an analog world, I think they'd be very happy with this console.

Feature wise, the Pro 6 is loaded! Plenty of EQ, effects, gates, compressors, and just about anything else you would want. I'm a very simple person when it comes to compressors, gates and effects. I don't like to mess around with a lot of plug ins, and I really don't like to deal with outboard stuff when it's all built right in. The Pro 6 really takes care of you. There are a few different versions of the built in comps so you can really get the sound you need. You can hit these things pretty hard too. 10-15dB of gain reduction is hardly noticeable. Just for fun, I clamped the comp on lead vocals all the way down to maximum gain reduction just to see what would happen. I've noticed a lot of comps just go to shit when you hit them really hard, but the Midas showed no signs of stress. Yes, you could hear it working, but there was no distortion or any signs that the signal was breaking up. They remind me a lot of the BSS DPR404's. Very smooth, and they don't color the sound too much- though, you can choose to color the sound up quite a bit if you want.

The gates are also very, very usable on the Pro 6. I normally spend a lot of time fussing with the gates on digital desks trying to get them to do what I want. One of my absolute favorite things about the gates is that you can internally key them to only open through a certain frequency range. This is a HUGE bonus for me, as I always have to deal with cymbals opening gates, and being able to key in what frequency I want to open the gates really, really helps. I don't have to gate the drums super hard, and I am able to keep a pretty natural drum sound. The gates do get a little clicky when you start setting them super fast, but otherwise, they are pretty solid. They are a good step above what the usual digital console offers!

Fully parametric EQ is always nice too. But, fully parametric EQ that sounds good is even better! One thing that I really miss from time to time is the analog EQ on Midas consoles. No digital desk's internal EQ sounds as good to me IMO. The Pro 6's EQ is very responsive, and sounds very good. I can hear even the smallest changes. The Pro 6 also offers a completely separate set of HPF's and LPF's on the channel strip. Often on other digital desks, you burn up one of the parametric filters by using it as a LPF on the channel- not the case with the Pro 6. You get HPF, LPF, and 4 bands of parametric EQ. My only complaint with the LPF is that is only goes to 2k. It would be nice to go even lower, but that's just a small detail....

Staying on the subject of EQ, how about some graphics...The Pro 6 offers a ton of 31 band EQ's! And again, they are very responsive EQ's. You get a nice fluffy rack of Klark EQ's to insert where ever you desire. I decided it would be smart to put them on the mains. Even a small 2dB cut is noticeable on these EQ's. But, the only downside is that you have no way of controlling the EQ on the faders. You get a bank of knobs where you can control 8 bands at a time. It's pretty simple to scroll through the banks, but it took me a few show to get used to the knobs. It would be cool to have the EQ come up on the faders, but I can live without it...

What about the built in effects you ask? Well, I gave them all a good workout this tour. The Lexicon reverbs sound fantastic. They are really top notch! I was able to dial in 3 reverbs very quickly and I didn't really touch them again at all during the tour. They've got a nice natural and pleasing sound to them. They make some other effects engines really sounds bad! What about the built in delay? Well, it's just about useless! I played with it shortly and gave up on it. What is it with higher end digital consoles and tap delays? Yamaha did it right on all of their consoles, and I'd hope everyone else would follow in their footsteps... I guess you can't win every battle, right? Luckily we had an external TC Electronic D2 for delay, as I use it a lot and do some rather cool things with it! I played with the phaser and flange slightly, and they did the job, but I really had no use for them live, so I can't really comment on them. But all in all, the effects side of the console is very top notch. There's also a 3 band compressor in the effects section. I had this guy inserted on lead vocals mainly as a de-esser. The built in comp sounded good and I didn't really need to add much to the sound. I just needed to smooth out the top end, and the 3 band comp worked fine.

Another cool feature on the Pro 6 is the population("pop") groups. These handy little buttons make it very easy and very quick to get to all of your inputs. You can assign whatever inputs you want into each pop group so you have very quick access to them. For my use, I had my pop groups set up as follows:

1- Drums
2- Instruments
3- Vocals
4- effects

If my band was headlining, I probably would have gotten a little more in depth with them, but for a 30 minute set, that got the job done. Having everything assigned to these pop groups made it very easy to mix on 16 faders. Well, actually 12 faders! My band is 24 inputs at FOH, and during this tour I used the right side of the console 0 times. Between the 10 DCA's and 6 pop groups, I hardly left the middle of the console. Assigning pop groups is very easy- just press and hold the pop group you want to assign for a few seconds and then select the inputs you want assigned. Rinse and repeat for each item. Since I didn't use the right side of the console, I simply set it up to be my iPod inputs and left it like that for each show.

Let's not forget about the 10 DCA's! 2 more DCA's then every other digital console! These are set up the same way as a pop group, which is very easy. Also, like the pop group, when you push the DCA button, it brings whatever is assigned to that DCA up on the bank of 12 faders on the left. Pretty cool! I had my DCA's set up as follows:

1- K/S/H
2- Toms
3- Bass
4- GTR >
5- GTR <
6- Lead vox
7- Backing Vox
8- Band
9- Delay
10- Reverb

Everything I need quick access to, right there in front of me. How much easier do you want it!

Now, I'm sure you're asking, what other cool features does this board have? Well, if you're an X lighting guy- you'll love this. You can change the colors on all of the buttons to whatever you want. This way you don't even have to read what the input says, you just need to know colors! For me, I had:

Drums- Blue
Bass/DI's- Red
Guitars- Yellow
Lead Vocal- Light purple
Backing Vocals- Dark Purple
Delay- Light Green
Reverb- Dark Green

This made life very simple. I could glance down, see the color of what I needed to change, and change it.

But, what about the durability Evan?

Well, that leaves a little to be desired. Throughout the course of the tour, we went through 2 screens, 3 faders, 1 console crash(pre show) and a few other little bugs. The software was fairly stable, but the actual hardware was a little flaky. Hopefully they can get all of the little issues sorted out over the next few months. Once that happens, they are going to have a killer console on the market.

All in all, the Midas Pro 6 is a great new console, ready to take the market by storm. It's the XL8 everyone wants at a much more affordable price. It's a great sounding, compact console that should do very well in the touring market. I absolutely loved the board, and I look forward to mixing on it many, many more times. The future of the Pro 6 is very promising and I wouldn't be surprised if they become a very popular desk.



Evan

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e194/HarfordSound/pro6-footer.jpg



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Adam Robinson

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Re: Midas Pro 6 review
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 10:28:37 am »

I just got done spending a week with the console and thought I'd add in a few of my likes and dislikes.

Like Evan said, it sounds like a Midas and I think that's its biggest flag to wave.  Warm up the preamps and the desk takes on a new life.  I do have to say that I am not a fan of their gain system though.  You are given an analog gain control that gives you 5db steps from -10 to 40db and any fine tuning from there happens with a -40 to +20 digital trim knob.  I really would have preferred just a continuous gain knob and not had to mess with two settings here.

It's EQs respond extremely well, possibly better than any other digital console I've worked on, however I found the lack of EQ knobs to be a bit annoying in my situation where I was getting it set up and using it for just a week (having it for a tour would make this a totally different situation).  The EQ section consists of only 3 knobs (gain, Q, and frequency) and you have you bank up and down your four bands to access them, rather than having a set of knobs for each EQ band on the console surface like others in the Pro6's market.  I would also like to see the EQ bands all be variable from 20-20k, rather than having a more "analog" range per band, and the HPF and LPF having more range.  I liked how the graphics had both proportional and constant Q modes, but found the "overview" function of changing 4 bands at once a bit ridiculous.  Regardless, my rig had a KT Rapide hooked up and I was able to do my graphic EQ changes on physical faders (no, you cannot flip a graphic to faders on the console itself, although I had no issues with this because the Rapide was great!)

The layout of the console is something that classic Midas users will be very comfortable with.  My friend who purchased the pair that I played with, and admittedly not a "computer guy," said that he felt the common layout and midas color coding probably lead him to subconsciously know where things were.  He had no issue finding things or getting his first shows started.  I agree with this, as I got up and going very quickly.  I do have to say that Midas does do some things a bit differently and while laying out the console I was stumped on a few more advanced channel functions.  I was unable to find a "move channel" function but thankfully didn't need to use it.  

Also like Evan mentioned, I found the comps and gates to be very useful.  The comps had four modes that could select from to dial in your sound with.  Out of the box with default settings, I found the comp a bit noticeable and "grabby," but some timing and knee adjustments fixed that issue.  

As for the FX, I wasn't as bowled over as Evan.  They are decent sounding and useful, although nothing wowed me as other sonic features of this desk did.  They're also not Lexicon, they're Klark. I used 3 KT780 reverbs, and played with the flange and pitch shifter a bit.  The desk does not have a chorus setting built in, although I played with other variants a bit to get close to the sound I was looking for, but not close enough for me to ditch the external unit I had brought along with me.  I agree with Evan that their delay is pretty useless and I'd really like to see a LESS fully featured, more simplistic delay that is just easy to use.  You also can't assign the tap function anywhere, although there's a bank of assignable knobs and buttons under the screens.  Clearly this is a function of software that can easily be addressed, and I'm surprised being able to tap a delay without grabbing the mouse the clicking the tap button was ignored by programmers.

My input list was a bit more involved than Evan's, almost 48 channels, but I too was able to nicely lay out things with my VCAs and Pop groups.  My main Pop group was called "USE" and had the 12 channels I need to touch most in it (mostly guitars and keyboards).  I kept my 4 vocals locked to the right 4 faders so I could keep them handy at all times.  

I attempted to change an IO card on the back of the desk to give me more XLR outputs, but the stock console case's doghouse is too shallow to get the cards in or out.  I would have had to pull the console away from the doghouse to accomplish this and simply ran out of shop time and really didn't 'need' those extras.

I'm also a bit disappointed that I was unable to combine two mono faders into one stereo fader.  On this console, you've got 64 inputs, but only 56 faders.  The last 8 are effects returns that come back on rotaries in the center section.  The returns, aux masters and matrix masters are all controlled from these rotaries and are not assignable to faders.  

I had no reliability issues with the desk by any means, but I've heard more than once about the issues on Evan's tour.  The guys at Midas were baffled by this and told me that they completely replaced the console (at the time I spoke to them) and are sussing out why that one console was having issues.  Speaking of the guys at Midas, the support team was fantastic.  I called Mitch many times during my shop week with the desk asking crazy little questions about fancy automation stuff I was trying to do, features I couldn't figure out, and whatnot.  He was always a pleasure to talk to and would go into depth with his answers that probably addressed other questions I didn't know I had!

Bottom line:  this is a fantasic console.  I had a great time mixing on it.  Coming other top market consoles like the Digico D5 and SD7, I do not believe it to be the "Jesus Christ" of consoles, but it's definitely got a place in the market and I wouldn't hesitate to use it again.  The one thing it offers that no one else does is the classic Midas sound and yes, IT SOUNDS LIKE A MIDAS!  Although with a price tag at almost $100k and a channel count of only 56, I do not feel it's going to knock anyone out of the game.  Regardless, I think we'll see more and more of them on the market as we all look to get that classic Midas XL4 sound in a much more compact and still quite powerful package.

Special thanks to long time friend Jay Waller at Stage Pro for letting me come play with his new toys haha.

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Adam Robinson

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Re: Midas Pro 6 review
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 10:29:10 am »

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Adam Robinson

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Re: Midas Pro 6 review
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2009, 10:29:52 am »

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Phillip_Graham

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Re: Midas Pro 6 review
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2009, 12:35:50 pm »

Evan,

I suspect you were one of the most experienced ( Shocked ) BE on this tour.  How did the least experienced engineer do with the board layout?

How many insertables per channel?  Could you do 2 comps AND a de-esser?

How high did the HPF go?
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Franz Francis

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Re: Midas Pro 6 review
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2009, 12:10:28 pm »

Evan which I/O configuration did you have for this console?

Was there another Pro 6 on stage for monitors? If there was can you share with us any feedback from the monitor engineer, running this console in monitor mode?

Franz
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Evan Kirkendall

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Re: Midas Pro 6 review
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2009, 08:46:13 am »

Phillip Graham wrote on Tue, 26 May 2009 12:35

Evan,

I suspect you were one of the most experienced ( Shocked ) BE on this tour.  How did the least experienced engineer do with the board layout?


Well, the other 2 engineers never set up pop groups, or VCA's, so they just kind of rolled on the console's faders. They'd end up switching between layers a lot, but still managed to do just fine on the board. Seems like they made it more difficult for themselves, but what are you gonna do? One of the guy's show files managed to get deleted on day one, so come show time, he had to roll from scratch. He got a decent mix up and running fairly quickly!

Phillip Graham wrote on Tue, 26 May 2009 12:350


How many insertables per channel?  Could you do 2 comps AND a de-esser?


You know, I have no idea! I never tried to insert anything else, so I can't say yes or no.

Phillip Graham wrote on Tue, 26 May 2009 12:35


How high did the HPF go?


I think it went to about 600hz.


Franz Francis wrote on Wed, 27 May 2009 12:10

Evan which I/O configuration did you have for this console?

Was there another Pro 6 on stage for monitors? If there was can you share with us any feedback from the monitor engineer, running this console in monitor mode?

Franz




I don't know about the I/O config... They had a PM5D on stage for monitors. The monitor guy was more comfortable on that desk.


Evan
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Adam Robinson

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Re: Midas Pro 6 review
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2009, 10:36:47 am »

Phillip Graham wrote on Tue, 26 May 2009 11:35



How many insertables per channel?  Could you do 2 comps AND a de-esser?


one comp, one gate, and one other insert path.  I experimented with using a KT Square One unit in my 8th FX bank so I could have a full band comp (on the channel) and a de-esser also.  Although the SQ1 unit will de-ess, the software code to "pop up" the rotary value of the key frequency has not been written yet so it was hard to determine what frequency I was on (the knob went from 600 to 16k in a quarter turn) and I unfortunately got into other things and didn't have time to mess with it.  

Quote:

How high did the HPF go?


I also remember either 500 or 600.  the LPF goes down to 2k.

My I/O was 48x16 on stage (the stage rack accommodates 64 i/o in whatever combination you configure.  My on-board I/O was 8 analog in, 8 channels of insert (8 send and return on TRS), and 8 channels of AES in and out.  Additionally, the desk has 6 full assignable outputs: Monitor A L&R, Monitor B L&R, Center, and LFE.  The ins and outs on the insert card can be used as standard ins and outs also.  I used the outputs to drive the PA and just used a few TRS to XLR connectors.


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