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Author Topic: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?  (Read 8983 times)

Jeff Lelko

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Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« on: September 25, 2017, 04:19:07 pm »

Hi all,

As the title of this post suggests, Iím finally making the jump to the digital world of mixing and looking for some suggestions.  Hereís the backstory and details:

At the moment, I still mix analog with a basic Mackie 1402vlz3.  The majority of my work is of the corporate/municipal nature, so as such Iím only usually mixing a few mics and some filler music (hence being able to get by with such a tiny mixer for so long).  As my business and revenue continue to grow, so have the needs of my mixer.  Last year I got a simple A&H Qu-Pac to help get me a few features that I needed for the short term (Delay, GEQ, better PEQ, etc.), and I used this in tandem with my Mackie to still get me tactile control of my inputs (I know itís a bit strange but it works well enough).  All of that said itís time to finally get the board I really need and do away with the analog + digital setup.

A year ago at this time I was pretty sure Iíd be getting a Soundcraft Performer and thatíd be that.  I demoíd a few different boards and really liked the Soundcraft product over the other usual suspects like a Qu32, X32/M32, etc.  Then A&H released dLive C ClassÖ  I have yet to see this product in person, but the whole dLive Series seems like a really fantastic concept that lets the board scale between jobs, and thatís really why Iíve held off so long on getting a digital console Ė I really donít want to haul a massive desk to an event just to mix 3 inputs.  At the same time, if Iím going to spend the money, I want to get something that wonít restrict me on larger jobs.  Iíve liked my Qu-Pac for what it is and would be excited to keep a similar architecture, just with a much more capable product.

So really getting to the point here, Iím considering something like a CDM32 or DM32 MixRack paired with either an IP-8 and Laptop or the C1500.  Thatíd be my go-to for the average corporate/municipal job with a larger surface being rented for the handful of larger jobs I play until if/when ownership of the larger surface makes financial sense.  Since the brain of the board lives in the MixRack, itíd be nice to not have to worry about moving showfiles between big boards and little boards and whatnot, which is really what attracts me to the system.  Itíd be used on every outing and is almost a 3-in-1 product, which to me justifies the higher price tag. 

My question is Ė to the regional operators out there, is something like the dLive worth the substantially higher cost compared to a more budget option such as an M32 for work like what you do?  Though in either case I wouldnít necessarily expect a raise in revenue as a result from the purchase itself (aside from potential rentals), at this point I know a digital board is something I really need to have to properly do my job both at and beyond the level I currently operate.  Would I be better off getting a higher-end product here that I can grow with or would that money be better put towards higher performance loudspeakers, as discussed in the other thread I recently started.  I expect the mixer purchase to be first (probably by the end of this year), but given that none of this is cheap I need to understand my entire needs and then properly plan my businessís financial investments over the next few years to get the most out of my growth strategy.  Iíve already reached out to a dealer for quotes on the various system components, but also donít want to waste anyoneís time with a demo if this isnít the product for me.  Hope this is enough detail to get some conversation started and any input would be much appreciated.

Thanks! 
-Jeff
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 04:54:02 pm »

My only complaint with Allen Heath in the USA was the importer who blew off our demo.

The top end of their digital mixer line gets great reviews from folks who don't need to feed the Rider Acceptance Machine and the smaller mixers get lots of love from LAB Lounge users I trust.  I doubt you'd be unhappy with the quality or features of an Allen-Heath mixer.

While I'm very much about "buy once, cry once" I also know from hard lessons that "excess capacity is infinitely expensive."  Over-buying a big ticket item and not using it (or not being able to charge extra for it) or not needing the capabilities that came with the higher price tag is excess capacity here...

We have a couple of big industry trade shows coming up in the next 4 months or so.  I'd be inclined to hold off on this purchase until after winter NAMM, at least.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 06:17:39 pm »

Thanks Tim, I appreciate the input and get what you mean.  At least for right now rider acceptance isn't an issue for me (thankfully).  I really like my Qu-Pac for what it is, which is what drew my attention to the dLive.  Surprisingly, I wasn't all that impressed with the Qu-32.  While I think the Qu workflow is effective on the Qu-Pac I felt a bit confined on the larger board.  I also took a brief look at the GLD Series but after reading through the A&H forums got a somewhat negative impression of them despite the generally positive reviews here.  I just like that the dLive is a new product and can function well in "rack mode" aka surface-less mode for tiny gigs without really losing capability, yet expand as needed for the larger jobs.  I have a fair amount of niche gigs on my yearly calendar where this would be handy.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the "excess capability" concern, which is the reason why I started this thread.  I've said the same thing when it comes to selecting a light console!  I guess I just need to decide whether I would really benefit from what this product has to offer, when for a 10th of the price (ish) I can have an M32 and put that other 90% towards the new speakers.  For what it's worth I prefer the Soundcraft workflow over the M32, but given the price and acceptance of the M32 I'm sure I'd warm up to it sooner or later.  I also know that pro-grade speakers are less trendy, so that might be my better long-term investment.  That's a good point about holding off until early next year too.  I'm in no rush and at least want to get through the end of the year with my current setup before deploying the new console, even if I were to purchase it before year end.  Thanks again!       
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 07:15:29 pm »

Jeff,
I think the dlive is a wonderful board. Great sound, great features and well respected. One of the things I like most is the build quality. Top notch and solid. Rob will jump in here soon, and he can give you a great rundown on the board. He owns a couple and he did my daughters wedding with one. No complaints, first class all the way.

Me? I use a Soundcraft Performer. The performer series is  the high end of the Si series, somewhere between the Expression and the Vi 1.  80 inputs to mix, 14 aux / group mixes, 8 line inputs, 20 aux busses, 8 VCA groups, BSS GEQ on every bus, 4 band PEQ on every channel, 2 expansion slots, yada, yada, yada. It also supports basic lighting if you're into that, but I've never used the feature. Remote support (wifi) is very good and up to ten people can adjust their monitor mix at the same time. About the same cost as the dlive, but easier for old analog guys to grasp.

Build quality of the Performer is VERY high, faders are ultra smooth, and many of the components are direct from the Vi series. The Performer will also support most of the Vi series stage boxes, and supports the full line of expansion cards. Super expandable and easy to work with. The small display? Bigger than my GPS, and you almost never need to use it. The fader glow can't be beat, and the scribble strips are the balls. Add channels, move channels, assign channels outputs? Usually one button.

Forgot to mention. The Performer I use is the Performer 1. I have a special need for a rack mounted board, but I also need more channels than what the usual rack mount mixer can offer. As I has stated, the Performer will expand to 80 channels EASILY, and my channel count at this moment is 48. No confusion with layers simply because of the logical design of the board and the ability to assign channels wherever you want the m to be. If you contemplate expansion then you would be very happy with a Performer, now and in the future, plus, many riders will accept Soundcraft boards, and you'll find good acceptance for the performer especially in monitor world.

https://www.soundcraft.com/en/products/si-performer-1


Plus everything Tim said. Good luck.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 07:28:25 pm by Bob Leonard »
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Peter Morris

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 07:26:23 pm »

I have a DLive Ė itís absolutely fantastic.  Extremely powerful, great UI that is quick and intuitive to use and it sounds wonderful.  It has 160 channels to mix, 64 out all with GEQís, 16 EFX, dynamic EQís on every channel, etc. etc. and its gaining rider acceptance very quickly.  Everyone that uses the Dlive just loves it.

In comparison the Qu32 or M32 are not anywhere near the same level of performance.  The dLive for example is more powerful than the entire Midas console range except the Pro X which will do 168 channels in and has 99 busses; however a Dlive network will support over 800 inputs compared to 288 for Midasís Pro X AES 50 network.

pictures from A&H Facebook page.
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 07:30:27 pm »

And there it is Peter. Expansion is the key to success. Nice boards by the way.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2017, 07:33:38 pm »

Jeff,
I think the dlive is a wonderful board. Great sound, great features and well respected. One of the things I like most is the build quality. Top notch and solid. Rob will jump in here soon, and he can give you a great rundown on the board. He owns a couple and he did my daughters wedding with one. No complaints, first class all the way.

Me? I use a Soundcraft Performer. The performer series is  the high end of the Si series, somewhere between the Expression and the Vi 1.  80 inputs to mix, 14 aux / group mixes, 8 line inputs, 20 aux busses, 8 VCA groups, BSS GEQ on every bus, 4 band PEQ on every channel, 2 expansion slots, yada, yada, yada. It also supports basic lighting if you're into that, but I've never used the feature. Remote support (wifi) is very good and up to ten people can adjust their monitor mix at the same time. About the same cost as the dlive, but easier for old analog guys to grasp.

Plus everything Tim said. Good luck.

Hi Bob, I figured you'd be chiming in!  Based on everything you've said about the Performers over the past few years I was all ready to go with one!  Last year just wasn't the right time to pull the trigger and then dLive C Class came out, so here we are!  Would the age of the Performer Series concern you at all if you were in my position?  I really like the boards, so right now it's pretty much a Performer versus dLive unless anyone else comes along with rationale to go with something else such as an M32.  I'm good on lighting and am actually comparing this adventure to when I bought my ETC desk a few years ago.  It'll be a piece of rig I have to get along with on every job, so to me it's worth the money to get something I'll like.  As mentioned while I was typing this response, the level of expandability is great too.  This is something I'd like to get right the first time and grow with, without having second thoughts as to whether or not I bought the right thing.  As Tim said though, I just have to figure out where my "needs" stop and "excess capability" starts!  Not to get too much into pricing, but from what I've see so far a basic CDM32 + C1500 would be roughly 2-3 times the cost of Performer 3 and goes up from there.  Am I missing something that'd peg the two boards to be about the same cost all said and done?  Thanks Bob! 

I have a DLive Ė itís absolutely fantastic.  Extremely powerful, great UI that is quick and intuitive to use and it sounds wonderful.  It has 160 channels to mix, 64 out all with GEQís, 16 EFX, dynamic EQís on every channel, etc. etc. and its gaining rider acceptance very quickly.  Everyone that uses the Dlive just loves it.

In comparison the Qu32 or M32 are not anywhere near the same level of performance.  The dLive for example is more powerful than the entire Midas console range except the Pro X which will do 168 channels in and has 99 busses; however a Dlive network will support over 800 inputs compared to 288 for Midasís Pro X AES 50 network.
 
Great, I'm glad to hear you like it!  Coming from the analog world with a bit of experience on digital desks, the more intuitive the better!  That's what was so attractive to me about the Performer.  It all just made sense.  I have yet to touch a dLive, but if it's anything like my Qu-Pac I think I can pick it up quite quickly.  It's nice to not have to fight the board to do what I want!  I agree, the dLive is in a whole different class when compared to a Qu32 or M32.  I just need to decide if the price tag that goes along with that level of performance is worth it to me and where my business is right now!  Thanks Peter!
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2017, 07:47:07 pm »

I'm not concerned with the "age" of the Performer series at all. It has all the features needed to do the job right, and being that they used Vi technology I don't see them being put on the back burner any time soon. The cost of the Performer 1 and the 32 input mini stage box will run you just under 6K new, and worth every penny.

You can see in Peters pictures that by selecting a channel on the Dlive options for the channel become available on the screen. With the Soundcraft boards, up to the Vi series, selecting a channel immediately assigns all of the knobs at the top of the board to that channel or output. The screen will reflect movement of those controls, show an EQ graph, etc. Unlike other boards, the Vi series and the dlive have large screens where the "knobs" live. But only Soundcraft has fader glow, and until you've used it you don't know what you're missing.
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Art Welter

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2017, 08:22:43 pm »

I guess I just need to decide whether I would really benefit from what this product has to offer, when for a 10th of the price (ish) I can have an M32 and put that other 90% towards the new speakers.  For what it's worth I prefer the Soundcraft workflow over the M32, but given the price and acceptance of the M32 I'm sure I'd warm up to it sooner or later.  I also know that pro-grade speakers are less trendy, so that might be my better long-term investment. 
Jeff,

I agree that saving money on a console and putting your investment in speakers will provide a better return on investment.

You could also simply work with me on the gigs you need more than what you have, and save money and the headaches of owning excess inventory. I have a underutilized M32R, 32 channels of digital snakes, and a speaker system that would nicely cover the area in your speaker thread.

Irma stopped progress on my speaker system expansion since 9/11, (9 days without power sucks) but I'm back to it again- let's get together and discuss your plans in person!

Art
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Frank Koenig

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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2017, 08:30:47 pm »

Hi Jeff,

I'm not going to address the business aspects as I don't use my sound equipment in a business. Tim, as always, has given good advice. I did, however, get a CDM32 Mixrack and C2500 Surface last April and can talk about my experience. In short, I'm very happy with the system.

As Bob points out, the build quality is great. The knobs don't wiggle, the connectors are solid, and the (metal) panels line up. Both boxes run very cool, being only mildly warm to the touch after many hours. The mixrack has a quiet fan and the surface, so far as I know, is convection cooled (maybe there's a tiny fan inside). The cooling openings in the surface are placed such that it can be operated inside a case-half, which is what I do. Both the mixrack and the surface are surprisingly light weight. The surface is a two person lift only because it's large, but I can easily flip it, roll it, etc. in its case.

I like that the "brain" is in the mixrack and that the system will continue to pass audio even if the surface gets disconnected or loses power. The surface has 8 inputs and 8 outputs (2 digital), which for me is the right number. I don't need or want 16+ inputs at FOH. The mixrack can run freestanding controlled by an iPad, Windows PC, or A&H's proprietary small controllers (which I have not tried).

I don't have a great deal of experience with different digital mixers, but I find the interface clean and logical, and I'm the sort who has little patience for sloppy interfaces. There is way more capability than I'll ever use but its presence doesn't cloud the features essential to me.

I originally was looking at the C1500 Surface, and it would be an entirely satisfactory choice for me. I leaned toward the C2500 as I was studying the manual and came to appreciate that the two independent fader banks on the larger surfaces were generally intended to be split between inputs (on the larger left side) and mixes (on the smaller right). Of course, you can configure the fader banks to do pretty much whatever you want.

The arrangement I've been using is to use channels 1-32 for mic inputs routed to FOH, which are assigned to layers 1-3 of the left bank. Channels 41-72 are routed to auxes for monitors and are assigned to layers 3-6 of the left bank. On the right bank I have layers with the "corpy" inputs (wireless and various playback) and house masters; aux masters; DCAs and house masters; and effects sends and returns. This has been working for my use so far, but, of course, there are endless ways to set this up.

My only complaint so far is with the USB flash-drive playback, which is really a "bonus feature" and not terribly important. The problem is that it only allows WAV format files in one flat directory. This is really a pain. It would be so nice to be able to play whatever format comes along, say MP3, and to be able to organize tracks using directories. Who knows, A&H may fix this in a future release.

An automixer is coming in the next major release. I don't have an immediate need, but I'm looking forward to trying it.

Enough for now.

--Frank
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Re: Guidance on new mixer - maybe a dLive?
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