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Branimir Bozak

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Mixing a 115 000 venue on a...
« on: August 24, 2017, 05:52:01 pm »

Soundcraft Si Expression 3! HAH!



Well this gotta be one of the craziest things I've ever done, and to tell ya the truth I had trouble sleeping for couple of nights, but it turned out pretty good!

I've been hooking my Si on some smaller festivals next to much better consoles (PRO2, PM5D), and noticed that - while Si is not really fit for these kinds of demands, that going AES EBU out, instead of analog, does bring some little sound advantage.
This time I also went AES EBU out for mains LR, but also rented the...


Soundcraft Compact Stagebox.
The marketing says it has better preamps than the Si, and probably better AD DA converters, so I figured if I can rent it for cheap (and I did), why not?

So...


I've been working as a sound tech for 13 years now, and touring with this band for almost 5, touring with the Si3 Ex for 2 years (usually smaller venues 300 to 1000, sometimes festivals). I've learned my job on analog consoles and slowly went full digital, as digital world took over.
I am aware and know how premium consoles sound. The Midas Pro series (6,9), Soundcraft Vi6, Yamaha Pm5D, etc...

First of all - why the Si?
I've done festivals on it, and it delivered the goods on many occasions.

The sound? It's - okay - I really prefer it to X32/M32 and similar lower priced stuff.
Summing - some say all digital consoles sum the same, and it's just mathematics - I don't know that, but I do know that X32 and similar consoles tend to garble up the mix and for the type of band I do (fast punk/rock), I don't want it to sound like mush, of all the cheap mushy consoles, the Si has it's charm, and sums quite nicely.
The eq - nothing to write home about, but it sounds good, not enough gain reduction though, and not enough PEQ bands for sure, but if I push 8khz on the tom, it will sound good!
The compressor - unlike some other consoles, this one actually works - that means, if I want to slam it hard, it will compress it, it's not wonders, but it works, and that's enough for me, if I could mix with old DBX compressors like 166, 160 or similar, I can work with the onboard one.
The gate - works.
Lexicons - they are great on this board, but for fast music like this, I don't really need much of reverb. PS: Tap tempo works like crap.
The GEQ - now this part of the console is a gem, very very good GEQ, and...
Since I use subgroups, I have GEQ on each subgroup that is:
GRP 1 - Kick, snare, overheads
GRP 2 - toms (yes, they are a bit boomy so I need all the eq I can get)
GRP 3 - bass guitar
GRP 4 - guitar L (fed through Palmer PDI09)
GRP 5 - guitar R (also PDI09)
GRP 6 - backing vocals (two of them)
GRP 7 - lead vocal.

Having GEQ on each group, and having to push only one knob to call it - is very valuable to me, for instance, if there are some harsh stuff in the lead vocal, I can notch it out with the GEQ, without sacrificing other frequencies much, also getting rid of the 2k, 2k5 on the guitars with the Palmer's - makes them thicker and easier to blend in the mix. Palmers have a lot of mid/highmid information, unlike SM57.

How does this all compute?

Well - the "supercharged" Si 3 + compact stagebox + aesebu lr to meyer galileo is not a PM5D, and having it side by side, it's possible to hear the difference.
I even mixed them same band (different venue) on a PM5D, the day after, so I had a clear comparison on how they work and sound different.
The Si is not as tight in the low end, and much harder to control the stuff going on below 100hz, also, the PM5D sound bigger (of course), maybe if it was some other type of music it would be a deal breaker, but here, the difference was there, but would not call it a game changer!

On the paper the Si is not up to par for this kind of event, but damn, did it sound good, and I haven't felt it was holding me back, the Compact Stagebox sure did help with a bit more headroom. Not sure if I'm going to repeat this kind of crazy adventure, I'll probably just use the festival's big $$$ console and forget about it.

Dunno if I'll start saving for a new console, or just open up a crowdfunding campaign to buy a newer used car, the 20 year old one is near 400 000km mark. :D

Btw, why am I touring 2 years with the Si 3 Expression?
The size, it can fit in my Mazda's trunk, and I can fit all the backline (drums, amps, guitars) and the console in the back of the VW Caravelle, that we use for touring.
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Mixing a 115 000 venue on a...
« on: August 24, 2017, 05:52:01 pm »


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