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Author Topic: Digital Console and Networked Distribution  (Read 2482 times)

Justin Corbin

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Digital Console and Networked Distribution
« on: June 30, 2012, 12:49:04 am »

Hey everyone.

I have some questions about a couple different digital consoles and their audio distribution systems.
My co-workers and I are planning out our system upgrade road map for the next few years as the current PA and analog console are nearing the end of their life. Most shows at our 370 seat venue are smaller combos etc with a few larger musical theater, choral setups throughout the year. At least 48-ch to mix is our minimum, but we would like to have a proper distributed audio network that is integrated with the console itself. The system will need at least 3 separate "stage boxes" at various locations in the venue, so this has narrowed our search for available systems. Currently we are looking at either an iLive or Midas Pro2 system. So here are some questions we've run into that would be great to have answered by techs with experience with one or both systems.

1) Any real world major differences in audio quality between both systems assuming decent PA?
2) Ease of use of the network and console itself
3) Any deal breaking bugs out there for either system
4) cost scale. ie does adding more stage boxes to the Pro2 get more costly per input compared to iLive
5) long term viability. ie available products as we plan on making the upgrades over a number of years
6) ease and useability of iPad apps
7) any other systems we've overlooked that you would suggest looking at?

All shows are in-house techs so rider friendly for visiting engineer not that important. Initial purchase will probably be just console and one stage box at first, then add more stage boxes in as we upgrade rest of system. so budget for initial investment is around $30K.

Looking forward to your replies.

JC

« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 12:57:04 am by Justin C »
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Dave Dermont

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Re: Digital Console and Networked Distribution
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012, 12:04:29 pm »

Hey everyone.

I have some questions about a couple different digital consoles and their audio distribution systems.
My co-workers and I are planning out our system upgrade road map for the next few years as the current PA and analog console are nearing the end of their life. Most shows at our 370 seat venue are smaller combos etc with a few larger musical theater, choral setups throughout the year. At least 48-ch to mix is our minimum, but we would like to have a proper distributed audio network that is integrated with the console itself. The system will need at least 3 separate "stage boxes" at various locations in the venue, so this has narrowed our search for available systems. Currently we are looking at either an iLive or Midas Pro2 system. So here are some questions we've run into that would be great to have answered by techs with experience with one or both systems.

1) Any real world major differences in audio quality between both systems assuming decent PA?
2) Ease of use of the network and console itself
3) Any deal breaking bugs out there for either system
4) cost scale. ie does adding more stage boxes to the Pro2 get more costly per input compared to iLive
5) long term viability. ie available products as we plan on making the upgrades over a number of years
6) ease and useability of iPad apps
7) any other systems we've overlooked that you would suggest looking at?

All shows are in-house techs so rider friendly for visiting engineer not that important. Initial purchase will probably be just console and one stage box at first, then add more stage boxes in as we upgrade rest of system. so budget for initial investment is around $30K.

Looking forward to your replies.

JC

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Will Jarrell

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Re: Digital Console and Networked Distribution
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 03:18:46 pm »

Hey everyone.

I have some questions about a couple different digital consoles and their audio distribution systems.
My co-workers and I are planning out our system upgrade road map for the next few years as the current PA and analog console are nearing the end of their life. Most shows at our 370 seat venue are smaller combos etc with a few larger musical theater, choral setups throughout the year. At least 48-ch to mix is our minimum, but we would like to have a proper distributed audio network that is integrated with the console itself. The system will need at least 3 separate "stage boxes" at various locations in the venue, so this has narrowed our search for available systems. Currently we are looking at either an iLive or Midas Pro2 system. So here are some questions we've run into that would be great to have answered by techs with experience with one or both systems.

1) Any real world major differences in audio quality between both systems assuming decent PA?
2) Ease of use of the network and console itself
3) Any deal breaking bugs out there for either system
4) cost scale. ie does adding more stage boxes to the Pro2 get more costly per input compared to iLive
5) long term viability. ie available products as we plan on making the upgrades over a number of years
6) ease and useability of iPad apps
7) any other systems we've overlooked that you would suggest looking at?

All shows are in-house techs so rider friendly for visiting engineer not that important. Initial purchase will probably be just console and one stage box at first, then add more stage boxes in as we upgrade rest of system. so budget for initial investment is around $30K.

Looking forward to your replies.

JC

Hi Justin,

I just finished a tour which started with an iLive but ended up with a VENUE Profile system. I was disappointed with how the iLive behaved when "pushed". My group had 8 vocalists and when I pushed them into an audio subgroup they started to sound harsh on the high end when the vocalists were really getting into it. I think its a clocking issue that manifests itself in the high frequencies with unpleasant harmonic distortion. It's subtle, but I found myself using a compressor with the sidechain eq set in the 4K-8K range just to try to clean it up.  After about 6 months I moved the A&H system to monitor world and picked up a VENUE system at FOH and the difference in quality was amazing.

Anyway, I feel like I know the iLive system pretty well and I think you would find the Midas system has much better audio quality. I've not used the PRO2 Specifically but I have used a PRO6 and I understand that their internal DSP architecture is either identical or very similar. I was really happy with the way the PRO6 system sounded.

As far as the ease of use of multiple "stage boxes" I personally prefer to use subsnakes and multipin drop boxes. In the specific case of both the A&H and Midas systems you would have to deal with a rack mount device with power and data cabling. I think you would be better off to put the stage box(s) back stage somewhere and use something like the whirlwind patch master system:

http://whirlwindusa.com/catalog/snakes-splitters-and-multiwiring-systems/patch-master/patchmaster

with the Mini 12 multi-pin drop boxes:

 http://whirlwindusa.com/catalog/snakes-splitters-and-multiwiring-systems/super-tour/b12mnrw1cm

If you still want to do the digital stage box thing I would suggest the Roland V-Mixing system over the iLive (especially since you don't have to be "rider friendly") The Roland system will let you use multiple floor mount 16x8 or 8x8 stage boxes and the whole system integrates with their M-48 personal monitor mixing system. The M-48 is way more capable than an Aviom system. Like Aviom the M-48 still mixes 16 channels but unlike the aviom each mixer can choose independently which of the 40 total channels it receives. Also, you can remotely control the M-48 from the FOH console should the need arise.

Also, be sure to check out the Digico SD9. It uses the same DSP architecture as its larger siblings and they offer floor mount 32x8 stage boxes.

I hope this helps rather than muddying the water. Let me know if I can clarify anything.

Will Jarrell
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Justin Corbin

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Re: Digital Console and Networked Distribution
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 07:01:01 pm »

Will

Thank you for your information.

How did you find the responsiveness of the touch screen on the iLive system?

As for the Pro6 system, once you got your show setup on the desk and got down to just mixing the show did you find you had to resort to the track ball much? and how did you like the sound of the internal effects on the pro6?

As for multiple locations for stage boxes I feel I should elaborate a little on what we have been looking into. We were thinking of one stage box on the stage with copper sub-snakes just as you suggested but including 2 or 3 other digital boxes in the following locations:

1) up in the amp rack on the catwalks to drive the amps and provide inputs on the catwalks for room mic etc.
2) Floater stage box for when orchestra is in the orchestra pit or being "piped-in" from a separate room for musicals. the box on stage would then handle the large wireless system that is bought in.
3) (optional at this point) smaller box in booth for recording or multichannel playback of sfx etc. We might just use the copper already going to FOH for this use.

Thanks again

JC


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Will Jarrell

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Re: Digital Console and Networked Distribution
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 08:55:17 pm »

Will

Thank you for your information.

How did you find the responsiveness of the touch screen on the iLive system?

As for the Pro6 system, once you got your show setup on the desk and got down to just mixing the show did you find you had to resort to the track ball much? and how did you like the sound of the internal effects on the pro6?

As for multiple locations for stage boxes I feel I should elaborate a little on what we have been looking into. We were thinking of one stage box on the stage with copper sub-snakes just as you suggested but including 2 or 3 other digital boxes in the following locations:

1) up in the amp rack on the catwalks to drive the amps and provide inputs on the catwalks for room mic etc.
2) Floater stage box for when orchestra is in the orchestra pit or being "piped-in" from a separate room for musicals. the box on stage would then handle the large wireless system that is bought in.
3) (optional at this point) smaller box in booth for recording or multichannel playback of sfx etc. We might just use the copper already going to FOH for this use.

Thanks again

JC

Durning normal operation I never had any major trouble with the touchscreen. However, when the system first boots up it takes its sweet time to start accepting input even though it appears to be ready. Also, I had issues from time to time after saving or reconfiguring the effects where a banner would pop up on the screen that said "system busy" for a few seconds. If you quickly navigate through multiple pages one after the other it would slow down a bit but it never kept me from getting anything done during a show.

Full disclosure on the PRO6; I don't have the experience of using it day in and day out like I do with the ilive and the VENUE. I have used the PRO6 for a few one off shows.  Anyway, the PRO series introduces several quick methods of navigating the console which eliminated the need to deal with traditional layers. They have Population groups where you can group inputs in logical groups and then "spill" them out to the left bank of faders. I didn't think I would like it but it actually works very well in practice, It does help to put the high priority channels into the "B" section. I digress, I didn't have to use the trackball at all once the show was up and running. One thing I wasn't crazy about was the way the eq controls are stacked so you can only adjust one band at a time.. I got used to it though.

I don't have any complaint about the quality of the effects on the Midas. However, The Venue systems ability to use plugins has basically ruined other consoles effects for me. I really like having the plugins that I've grown accustomed to using in Pro Tools available in the live environment.

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Re: Digital Console and Networked Distribution
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 08:55:17 pm »


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