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Author Topic: Choosing a digital console  (Read 8570 times)

andrewking

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Choosing a digital console
« on: August 08, 2012, 09:09:45 pm »

My friend is the worship pastor at his church Colorado Springs, CO. They have a 40 channel A&H analog console, and they're looking to graduate to the wonderful world of digital. On a typical Sunday, they probably use about 30 channels. They're looking to grow their band in the future, so they'd rather not go smaller than 48 channels. They only have volunteers to run their audio, so they need something that isn't too hard to use. They would also like to be able to do multitrack recording without a significant additional investment.

I have had a lot of experience with the Venue consoles, and I really like them. I suggested they take a look at the SC48 because of its integration with ProTools and its ease of use. Also, the offline editor is really good since its the actual software running on the console.

One of the contractors they've been talking to is really trying to get them to buy a Digico SD9. I've never used a Digico. The only experience I have with them is playing around with the SD10 at AES last year, and I didn't like it at all. I found it very confusing to use. I've talked to a couple other people who also find Digico consoles confusing. Does anyone have any experience with the Digico consoles that can offer an opinion? This console has MADI outputs, which would make recording pretty easy. However, it only has 40 inputs.

The third console they're looking at is the Midas Pro2. Again, I haven't had a chance to mix on one, but I was impressed with a demo I got a couple months ago. A friend of mine bought one, and he loves it. If they were to record with the Pro2, they'd need to purchase a MADI card for it, but they like that it has 56 inputs.

They do have an Aviom system. With the SC48 and the SD9, they'd need to purchase Aviom cards. The Pro2, with its 32 outputs, has enough outputs that they could simply plug it into their existing Aviom input module, which would save some money.

Does anyone have any thoughts on these consoles? Being Venue certified, I lean towards the SC48, but I want to make sure they get the best bang for their buck and get the easiest thing for their volunteers to use - none of which have ever used a digital console.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2012, 07:44:23 am »

I'm sure you will get opinions regarding the specific models noted but there may also be some other things to consider.
 
For one, if they are looking to grow channel counts then are they also looking to expand the connectivity to the stage?  And might a console that supports a digital snake or remote I/O boxes be of any benefit in doing that with minimal infrastructure changes?
 
You mentioned multichannel recording and also ProTools, have they decided on ProTools or any specific device or format for the multichannel recording?  Would they be recording all inputs for subsequent editing and production or recording some live downmix?  Might they use the recording for virtual soundcheck functionality?
 
Do they have to be concerned with tech rider compliance or is this purely for internal use?
 
Do they have multiple different types of services or services with different bands where having 48 channels but more than 48 inputs and using soft patching between services may be beneficial?
 
On mixer models, the Yamaha M7CL48/48ES, LS9-32 and new CL series, the A&H iLive and iLive-T series, the Soundcraft Si+ and Vi series, the Roland M-480 or even a Software Audio Console system could all be configured for 48 channels, have you considered any of those?  There may be reasons you did not list those but there may be some other options in there that might work for them.
 
I think the general consensus on the DiGiCo consoles is that they sound great but there can be a bit steeper learning curve than most other options.  However, if they are not used to other digital mixers, if the basic mixer configuration would remain the same once the system is setup and if it would be the same people using the same mixer for generally the same thing each use, then that may not be that much of a factor.
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Mark Turner

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2012, 09:16:51 am »

We're on a similar quest at my church. Here's some research I've collected so far:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Al4xdg7-YAJRdEVSV3JvMVczR09rM2NLdjMxUXFfZVE

Mark
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Mark Turner
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Woodlake UMC
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Jason Lucas

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2012, 11:23:44 am »

We're on a similar quest at my church. Here's some research I've collected so far:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Al4xdg7-YAJRdEVSV3JvMVczR09rM2NLdjMxUXFfZVE

Mark

Small correction: The M480 has two dynamics processors each on input channels 1-48, 1 compressor and 1 gate/expander/ducking processor. I'd also mention that for stage I/O there are also 8x16 and 8x32 boxes available in addition to the 32x8 and 16x8 boxes.
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There are three things I hate: Harsh highs, hollow mids, and woofy bass.

andrewking

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2012, 08:53:12 pm »

Brad, thanks for the long reply.

At this point, digital snakes aren't something they need. They have a pretty good infrastructure in place now, and it wouldn't be too difficult to add a few more channels if they needed to.

I don't think they're set on using ProTools. They don't have any multitrack equipment right now, so I thought the Venue would be good because it comes with ProTools. The only thing they'd need is a computer and a FireWire cable. And yes, I think they'd use Virtual Soundcheck. I've been told something similar to Virtual Soundcheck can be done using MADI on the SD9, but I don't know if that works as well as it does on the Venue.

Tech riders aren't really a concern at this point. I think they've had a band or two come in, but nothing big.

They have the same band every week with the same program material, so having more than 48 inputs and changing them with soft patching isn't something they need.

I'm a big fan of the Soundcraft Vi series. They're really easy to use, but they're a bit out of their budget. The Si seems kind of ridiculous with that tiny screen. I'd never looked at the CL3, but it looks pretty good. The M7, LS9, iLive, and M-480 aren't in consideration. I guess I'm afraid of recommending more consoles for them to look at because they're already having such a hard time choosing between the three they're looking at. They have three different people telling them to buy three different things, and it's making it tough for them. haha

You make a good point about the SD9. If the first console they learn is the SD9, it may not be too bad.

I suppose what I'm really looking for is "don't buy this one because...", but it really comes down to personal preference. It's really tough to buy a bad console these days.

They're going to get demos of at least the SD9 and the Pro2. Once they see those, they might have a better idea of what they want. I'm just hoping we can also set them up with an SC48 demo.

Mark, thanks for that link. That's helpful.
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Jason Lucas

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2012, 11:34:52 pm »

Brad, thanks for the long reply.

At this point, digital snakes aren't something they need. They have a pretty good infrastructure in place now, and it wouldn't be too difficult to add a few more channels if they needed to.

I don't think they're set on using ProTools. They don't have any multitrack equipment right now, so I thought the Venue would be good because it comes with ProTools. The only thing they'd need is a computer and a FireWire cable. And yes, I think they'd use Virtual Soundcheck. I've been told something similar to Virtual Soundcheck can be done using MADI on the SD9, but I don't know if that works as well as it does on the Venue.

Tech riders aren't really a concern at this point. I think they've had a band or two come in, but nothing big.

They have the same band every week with the same program material, so having more than 48 inputs and changing them with soft patching isn't something they need.

I'm a big fan of the Soundcraft Vi series. They're really easy to use, but they're a bit out of their budget. The Si seems kind of ridiculous with that tiny screen. I'd never looked at the CL3, but it looks pretty good. The M7, LS9, iLive, and M-480 aren't in consideration. I guess I'm afraid of recommending more consoles for them to look at because they're already having such a hard time choosing between the three they're looking at. They have three different people telling them to buy three different things, and it's making it tough for them. haha

You make a good point about the SD9. If the first console they learn is the SD9, it may not be too bad.

I suppose what I'm really looking for is "don't buy this one because...", but it really comes down to personal preference. It's really tough to buy a bad console these days.

They're going to get demos of at least the SD9 and the Pro2. Once they see those, they might have a better idea of what they want. I'm just hoping we can also set them up with an SC48 demo.

Mark, thanks for that link. That's helpful.

A Soundcraft Vi is out of their budget but not a Midas or Digico? I was pretty sure those two brands were the most expensive ones out there.
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There are three things I hate: Harsh highs, hollow mids, and woofy bass.

Nicolas Poisson

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 02:57:36 am »

The Si seems kind of ridiculous with that tiny screen.

I do not know the SI, just the SI-Compact which also has the same tiny screen. Based on that experience: don't measure console quality, functionality and ease of use based on the screen size. When most controls have a dedicated button/encoder/fader, you do not need to use the screen too much, just like an analogue board. And frankly, it is easier to operate a console with small screen and lots of encoders than few encoders whose function are selected on big screen.

Other than that, I second Jason: if Pro2 or Digicos other than SD11 are within the budget, then at least the VI1 is.
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andrewking

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2012, 10:21:34 am »

The Pro2 and SD9 are about $20k and $22k respectively. The Vi1 is in their price range, but it only has 32 channels. They'd need the Vi2, which requires outboard I/O. From what I can find, the Vi2 control surface is about $22k, and the I/O is about $13k. If it were closer in price to the other consoles, I'd be recommending the Vi2 because it's so user friendly, and it has arguably the best iPad app of all the digital consoles.
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gil parente

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2012, 06:37:46 pm »

Hey Andrew,

I dont think you will go wrong with any of the choices, but let me point out a few things:

SD9 - 48 flexi-channels - which means they can be stereo.  So it can actually mix more inputs then the others.  Madi to USB available for 48 channels of record
SC48 -  great system, only 32 channels of record
Pro2 - great system as well, pretty easy to use.  Had Klark network bridge boxes that can convert to MADI, Dante and other protocols, which can give 64 channels of rec/playback.

I've used and installed almost every conole system out there and i'd consider all 3 excellent choices. I would not put the other options in the same category, but that is just my opinion.  I have done extensive research on these system as well and feel pretty confident will all of them.

If you need any more detailed help.  Feel free to contact me via email or phone.

Take care
Gil
407-579-1711
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Gil Parente
gil@apa-ee.com

Brad Weber

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Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2012, 12:43:31 pm »

The Pro2 and SD9 are about $20k and $22k respectively. The Vi1 is in their price range, but it only has 32 channels. They'd need the Vi2, which requires outboard I/O. From what I can find, the Vi2 control surface is about $22k, and the I/O is about $13k. If it were closer in price to the other consoles, I'd be recommending the Vi2 because it's so user friendly, and it has arguably the best iPad app of all the digital consoles.
An A&H GDL80 with expansion for 48 inputs (44 mic inputs) and 30 outputs is less than $14k total, a savings that many churches might be able to put to good use.   An A&H iLive-T112/48 is around $22k or less and has more than 48 inputs.  And both could accommodate a Dante, EtherSound, MADI, etc. card for up to 64 track recording and playback (or an Aviom/ADAT card).  Yet they apparently are not being considered and why that is so is not clear. 
 
I'm not trying to push the A&H consoles but rather making the point that in "what mixer" discussions is that it can be important to understand the factors and priorities involved and particulary how much personal preferences factor in.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Choosing a digital console
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2012, 12:43:31 pm »


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