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Author Topic: Midas DL231 - "passive" split?  (Read 638 times)

Henry Jicha

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Midas DL231 - "passive" split?
« on: September 09, 2020, 12:48:04 am »

Hi,

I'm looking into splitter solutions with the intent to have monitors tackled by an x32 Rack, and would love to have minimum cables/fuss/etc. It looks like a DL231 might be perfect, especially with the ability to also run AES50 to FOH if using another x32/m32 console, but I'm curious about its splitting capabilities for non-x32/m32 platforms FOH. Specifically:

 - If you set the hardwired outputs to use preamp 2, but don't have anything controlling the preamps (i.e. no connected second console), is it functionally a passive split? My goal here would be to input to DL231 and then send a monitor split via AES50 to the x32 Rack and the "passive" hardwired outputs from the DL231 to FOH to let them have gain control, not of the DL231's preamps, but of their own.
 - If set up this way, can it be set per hardwired output on the DL231? The manual isn't clear if you do a blanket set of every output to either AES50 or mic preamp, and it'd be nice to know if in a <24 channel setup I could send some things to the hardwire outputs as input splits and some as AES50 from the x32 Rack (e.g. software synths fed in through its USB connection).

Thanks very kindly!
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doug johnson2

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Re: Midas DL231 - "passive" split?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2020, 01:17:06 pm »

You should be able to do what you want by setting the gain on preamp # to something nominal and leaving it and routing the inputs to the hardwired outputs.  It wouldn't be a passive split as the signal would be going though an pre-amp.  It wouldn't be an active split in the traditional sense either.  It would be more like sending your signal through a external preamp and then taking that signal and inputting it into your board.  Its been awhile since I messed with a 231 but, I believe you can assign the preamp to hardwire outputs on a channel by channel basis.  Your limitation is going to the input blocking on the x32.  Personally, I would use the preamps on 231 and AES50 into the x32.  The preamps on the 231 are better quality and stacking gain stages should be avoided if possible.  As far as what you want to do with your soft synths.  You should be able to route your usb input channels via AES50 directly to the outputs on the 231 and then just loop the line level signal back into how ever many of your 24 inputs.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Midas DL231 - "passive" split?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2020, 03:50:30 pm »

Hi, [...]

Welcome to the forums! Thanks for actually reading the rules before your first post (many don't)!

[...] I'm looking into splitter solutions with the intent to have monitors tackled by an x32 Rack, and would love to have minimum cables/fuss/etc. It looks like a DL231 might be perfect, especially with the ability to also run AES50 to FOH if using another x32/m32 console, but I'm curious about its splitting capabilities for non-x32/m32 platforms FOH. [...]

If you're not sure what the FOH console is going to be night-to-night, an actual passive split (with transformer isolation, to be on the safe side) is the way to go. The DL231 is a very niche (and very expensive) product that's really only justifiable if it is always connected to two consoles that both have AES50 inputs (and even then a pair of passively-split DL151s and a DL152 is going to be cheaper, although it will take up a bit more rack space).

In your case, a DL231 will cost twice as much as 24 channels of Radial-built Jensen iso-splitter while also doing a worse job (see below). And even on those occasions when FOH is something that will talk AES50, most house systems are setup to really only accept analogue inputs. AES50 in particular is quite tricky, since it's a point-to-point protocol (meaning your target console needs an unused AES50 port) with very specific cabling requirements that change depending on what kind of console you're talking to (X/M32 requires shielded bonded to EtherCON shells, Pro-series consoles specify unshielded). Having to pack around a few hundred feet of two different kinds of tactical-grade Cat5e (and then dragging it out to FOH every night) is not a recipe for minimum cables or fuss. :)

You should be able to do what you want by setting the gain on preamp # to something nominal and leaving it and routing the inputs to the hardwired outputs. [...]

The only way this will work acceptably is if the source levels on those inputs never change from night to night. Otherwise, whatever nominal preamp level you set will be either too high (creating overloads at a point in the signal chain where they are very difficult to fix, especially on the fly) or too low (which will drastically increase the signal noise, since both the input's ADC and the output's DAC will be under-driven). It also assumes that the FOH console de jour is happy with line-level inputs, which some aren't (Soundcraft Vi1 comes to mind).

-Russ
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Henry Jicha

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Re: Midas DL231 - "passive" split?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2020, 11:10:11 am »

Thank you both! This is quite helpful and for whatever reason I'd missed DB25 as a way to handle cable management within a rack more effectively.

I do have a follow up question or two if I may please:
  • How much difference will a fancy (e.g. Radial) splitter make vs something cheaper like an ART S8? I assume the Jensen vs Radial transformers is more branding than difference (though I'm happy to be told otherwise!), and I love/use other Radial products, just curious how much paying for quality matters in this case.
  • What tips do you have for front/back cable management? One challenge I want to solve is splitting both stage inputs (from outside the rack) and 8 lines from a pair of ULXD-4Qs (from inside the rack). The latter pose the interesting challenge of potentially needing to be routed to the front of the rack (perhaps via patchbay), then from patchbay out into the splitter, then back into the x32 either direct or with a stagebox. That feels convoluted and I'm sure there's some trick I'm missing that can make this tidier.

Update: alternative question - am I fixating too much on trying to have one rack to end them all with minimum setup? The alternative would be to modularize with wireless in a separate smaller rack. That means I'd need to cable the wireless into the main rack splitter each gig instead of having it pre-set, but also means I could take the wireless when I was just running sound instead of playing, etc. I see people do both, and I'm curious for thoughts on the right mix between all-set-up and modular.

Thanks again!
« Last Edit: September 10, 2020, 03:19:16 pm by Henry Jicha »
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Russell Ault

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Re: Midas DL231 - "passive" split?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2020, 03:40:37 pm »

[...]
  • How much difference will a fancy (e.g. Radial) splitter make vs something cheaper like an ART S8? I assume the Jensen vs Radial transformers is more branding than difference (though I'm happy to be told otherwise!), and I love/use other Radial products, just curious how much paying for quality matters in this case.
  • What tips do you have for front/back cable management? One challenge I want to solve is splitting both stage inputs (from outside the rack) and 8 lines from a pair of ULXD-4Qs (from inside the rack). The latter pose the interesting challenge of potentially needing to be routed to the front of the rack (perhaps via patchbay), then from patchbay out into the splitter, then back into the x32 either direct or with a stagebox. That feels convoluted and I'm sure there's some trick I'm missing that can make this tidier.
[..]

Transformers aren't linear devices, and different transformers will have different non-linearities. Sometimes this is seen as a positive (Robert Scovill has three vintage transformers installed in the doghouse of his personal S6L, one inserted across each of the main L-C-R outputs, because he likes what they do the sound), but usually this is seen as a negative. Jensen transformers became an industry standard because they tend to be very linear, with very good low frequency response. Other brands of transformers may or may not be as linear. The value of using high-quality transformers depends the job that needs doing and personal preference, but there is definitely more to transformer selection than just branding.

As for tidiness, how many input channels are you trying to achieve, and how much flexibility are you looking for? The Radial splitters, for example, have XLR inputs on the front of the unit for stage inputs and Euroblock inputs on the back for in-rack inputs, so a traditional patchbay is probably unnecessary. The X32Rack/stagebox would then be fed off the Euroblock direct outputs (I wouldn't bother with the DB25 connectors).

Without having XLR outputs on the Radial splitters, the fun part is feeding FOH, which can be something simple (like a 10' patch snake wired Euroblock to XLR-M that is built into the back of the rack) to the convenient-but-expensive (same patch snake, but 25' long and with a multi-pin disconnect on the rack end) to the somewhere in between (Euroblock to EtherCON adapters in the rack, EtherCON to XLR adapters in the toolkit, and a 25' long bundle of Cat5e cables in between).

-Russ
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Re: Midas DL231 - "passive" split?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2020, 03:40:37 pm »


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