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Author Topic: Soundcraft Expression 2 maiden voyage  (Read 2444 times)

Stephen Kirby

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Soundcraft Expression 2 maiden voyage
« on: August 21, 2015, 02:27:48 PM »

Have finally made the switch from analog to a computer with faders on it.  Relegated to a corner in the garage until I can sell them are an Allen & Heath GL2000-4-24 and a MixWiz.  Yesterday's gig was a one man affair just running DSR112s over subs, front line monitors, drum monitor and discrete sidefills.  Music in the park for a small town summer event.  I figured I wouldn't overload myself but there were moments getting used to this new board.

Initially setting things up at home the biggest plus was not having to use my reading glasses to do something.  On the densely packed A&H (my previous board was a Yamaha MC2404 which weighed a ton but had decent sized knobs with room around them) you really had to carefully run your finger up the channel strip to find the control you wanted.  With the arrangement of knobs on the Expression it's really easy to grab what you need without a lot of hunting.  The eqs are totally obvious and it doesn't take long to remember which knob does what on the dynamics.

On yesterdays gig, which involved a rotating menagerie of students and their teachers along with other folks, I was surprised by how much I used the compression.  I've carried a few channels of compression around as outboard but never really been into using it except for extreme cases like slap bass players.  I use it a bunch on my ProTools home recording set up but always found it less useful live.  Maybe it was the students and their lack of dynamic control early on in the show, but by the time the pros came on I had left compression on a lot of the channels.  Along with a very slight rounding of the top on the main bus as things got louder.  One great thing on the Expression is the gain reduction metering on every fader/input.  You can easily see if someone's smacking something too hard and invoking more compression so you can adjust trim and mix if you want.

Lessons learned; take the time to name all the inputs.  As various folks showed up and started spreading amps and instruments around the stage I was scrambling to run mics and inputs.  Tape on the board was fine for tagging things but when you walk out with the iPad you can't remember every input.  Things kept changing so fast that I was in tactical mode most of the night, but I should have carved out time to get the names in there.  Particularly for walking over to the side of the stage to see how the monitors were going.  You would hear something and want to do something about it but not be sure which channel it was on.  I did have an initial input assignment sheet up at the stage box but things got fluid and only the tape on the board was kept up.
2nd lesson is to practice turning inputs on and off and jumping to monitor mixes.  A few times as things changed and I was trying to bring something new up in the monitor I had to go back and forth a few times before realizing that I had an input off on some such mix or layer and that's why I couldn't find it on that monitor mix cue.  Also, the iPad app is different than the boards interface so you can get confused going back and forth until getting used to it.  The mix sends level is not on the mixes button on the iPad app.  It's on some other oddly labeled button.  The mix button just gets you to the mix masters.

Most of this is a matter of getting used to the board and how things on one layer/mix affect others that you can't readily see, primarily the mutes.  The sound quality was great.  At least as good as the Allen & Heath analog.  The compression turned out to be very useful and improved the sound.  FX were great.  I just used a hall (should have switched to a plate for outdoors though) and a delay.  Tap tempo on the delay being always available is great.  This really helped with the nervous student singers.  Whenever I played with the iPad app it was glitch free.  No glitches at all from the board.  It's running 1.7 OS.  I had the MixWiz in the van as a backup but after this I trust the Expression.  In spite of having to push buttons to call up layers/mixes/FX sends and make sure you've selected the right channel before turning things on the master channel strip area, this board is still quicker to get around on than a densely packed surface.

Like most tech, it will probably be considered obsolete in 6 months, but I can see hanging onto it for awhile.  Does everything a lounge level/band user needs easily and quickly.  Next up will be using it in a bar situation from the iPad while playing drums.  Oh boy!

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Soundcraft Expression 2 maiden voyage
« on: August 21, 2015, 02:27:48 PM »

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