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Randy "razz" Mann:
I am a teacher and have been charged with researching a new sound system for our auditorium. It seats about 700.

I've been advised that a Yamaha LS9-32 is a great board to get. My question is, from the stage to the FOH, is digital more preferential than a 32-8 snake? Is digital more reliable? What equipment do I need for the stage end of the cable? Would it be a fiber-optic cable or a cat5?

There is a huge learning curve to this digital stuff, and I can't find much about it. Any links for information would also be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance.

Jordan Wolf:
I suggest researching audio install companies in your locale.  Most have a gallery of pictures or a list of places that they've serviced.  Find similar venues to yours and see what is required for that type of space and the types of performances in it.

That will be your best use of time.  A number of people on this forum work for install companies; I recommend listing your location so we can perhaps be of more assistance.

Randy "razz" Mann:
Wyoming  -  The closest guy I've found that is both honest and knowledgeable is in Denver. I hate to keep bugging him with "simple" questions, so I thought I'd try to bug a different group of people.  

The bigger issue is that my boss wants to be "cutting edge" but it looks to me more like the "industry standard" is not digital until you get to the mixer. (standard snake) In your opinion, is the industry converting to digital, running a small cable front to back? i.e. Will this be what everyone is doing in 10 years?

It is also supposed to be "user friendly" - if I were to keel over dead, could the next guy come in and run it?

What are some examples of AD equipment to go on the stage end, so I can get some idea of what we're talking about and how it works?

Brad Weber:
Currently it is still by far the most common approach for all stage connectivity to be analog at the stage itself.  What is becoming increasingly common is digital transmission from the stage to FOH.

Can you tell us more about the situation?  For example, it sounds like it is an existing system, would you simply be replacing the existing copper wiring with an equivalent digital transport system or are you also expanding or modifying the actual connectivity at the stage?  If you are making extensive modifications then that may justify any cost associated with converting to digital at the stage, if you are maintaining the same connectivity then a digital snake may represent additional cost with limited benefit.  If you did got to a digital snake from the stage to FOH, do you have the pathways and access to get the stage cabling to stage boxes somewhere near the stage and then the CAT/UTP or fiber cable from there to FOH?  Would the console always be at one location or do you want to be able to easily use it at multiple locations?  Might you at some point add or need to support a separate monitor, recording or broadcast mixer?

Are you really committed to the Yamaha LS9?  One aspect of this is whether a digital console makes sense for you in general.  Will your operators be familiar with it or will there be someone there familiar with it to handle most of the basic console configuration and to guide other users?  Would you still have a large collection of outboard effects and processors that you'd use?  Will the scene presets and recall it provides be a significant benefit?  Another aspect is how it potentially affects a digital snake.  Some digital consoles are basically a direct analog console replacement approach with significant analog inputs and outputs on the console itself while others are configured from the start around a digital snake concept.  The LS9 can be configured to take advantage of a digital snake, however the default configuration is much more a direct analog console replacement with analog inputs and outputs on the console whether you use them or not and configuring it for a digital snake would entail additional costs.

The overall point is that there is no one answer, it all depends on your specific situation in terms of what is existing, the facility, the use, the operators and so on.  It is not unusual for me to go through a conceptual design and pricing exercise for multiple possible approaches and products before deciding which solution is the best fit for that particular project and it doesn't always turn out to be the approach or mixer I initially envisioned.

Ivan Beaver:
Digital snakes can have their advantages-and disadvantages.  It is usually cost.  Which can be more in some cases and less in others-as compared to an analog snake.

In a simple setup like yours (no recording mix-no seperate monitor console-relatively short run etc) there is no way I would recommend a digital snake-unless you do not have a path for a regular snake-like say you only have a 3/4" conduit.

The digital snake would cost way more, and if you should have a problem-with either the console or the snake-there is no way you could substitute another console out in an emergency.

Just because it is "cutting edge" does not mean that it is better.

We install about 70% digital consoles and around 0.01% digital snakes.

In some situations a digital snake makes sense-but in most normal situations (like yours) I feel it is a waste of money and an area that is opening itself up to trouble.

There is no performance advantage to be gained from a digital snake-in your situation.

Technology can be great IF it solves a problem.  But using technology-just for "technology" sake or because somebody thinks it is "cool" is not smart in my opinion.  If it solves a problem that cannot be overcome otherwise, then that is fine.  But to use it "just because" is foolish.

A digital console can offer you lots of advantages (scene recallability being the biggest) along with lots of control over the individual signals.  But that control is a double edged sword.  It allow great flexability for the person who knows what they are doing, but also hass all kinds of possibilitites to screw up for people who don't know what they are doing.

The LS9 is a great board for the price and it is very popular-which means there are more and more people out there who know how to operate it properly.

If you know how to mix, then a digital console is not that big a deal.  You just have to learn the "knobology"-where the knobs are.  But if you don't know how to mix, and know how a regular analog console operates/signal flow etc, then digital consoles can be overwhelming-but then so would an analog console.  Unless you get a simple mixer that only has volume and a couple of tone controls.


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