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Author Topic: Viability of Digital Snakes In Small Markets  (Read 1413 times)

(Josiah) (Peterson)

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Viability of Digital Snakes In Small Markets
« on: January 12, 2006, 05:42:16 pm »

As I have been searching for prices, and comparing digital vs. tried and true copper, I am coming up some what short. I think what my question boils down to is, "what is the marketability in the small venue market for using a digital snake system?" Is the ROI great enough to justify the upfront cost? I like the idea of less weight and less space being taken up in a truck pack. But, in venues with less than a 150' run is it worthwhile? My basic system needs would be 48 sends x 16 returns. It seems like I might be able to accomplish this with a form of an Aviom system but I'm not quite sure.

Thanks for the input,

Josiah

edit - clarity
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Adam Mottley

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Re: Viability of Digital Snakes In Small Markets
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2006, 09:43:46 pm »

Josiah,

I looked into the possibility of a digital snake for my operation, and the ROI wasn't there (for me). I was looking into an Aviom system as well. My take was that I would still need to have a multipair copper snake available, and along with that (given the console I'm using), I wouldn't be able to take full advantage of the possibilities that a digital snake offers.

That said, I have given considerable thought to a wireless solution. Imagine being free of the hassles of running a snake, electrical, etc, not to mention the absence of the turf battle in many venues in regards to what is deemed appropriate "real estate" for FOH operations. I have seen a DM-1000 used in this manner, and it was very slick. The console was side stage, with small drop snakes and individual mic lines attached, and a laptop PC acting as a server. The FOH engineer was able to walk onstage with his wi-fi tablet PC and tune monitor wedges, walk around the venue sorting FOH, and then plopped down at the corner of the bar to mix the show via tablet. All the while, he was nursing a cool beverage, constantly refreshed by the easy access to the friendly folks behind the bar. It appeared that set up and tear down times would be dramatically reduced using a set up such as he had. It is my understanding that many of the upper end digital consoles allow for surface and remote operation, simultaneously (eg: monitor engineer on the desk, FOH on the tablet). A very intriguing concept. I may try it on my O1v96 soon.

Another interesting option that presents itself involves Aviom. The system described above could easily be augmented with an Aviom output card and some of the rackmount Aviom units and (optionally) the remote units for a very compact mix system that allowed for a 16 channel monitor rig in addition to the 8 auxes present. And this all in one rack. Interesting.

Sorry if I've derailed the thread a little bit, I was just thinking out loud, and like you, wondered what the folks here might think.

Adam

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Tom Reid

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Re: Viability of Digital Snakes In Small Markets
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2006, 01:59:46 am »

Adam Mottley wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 20:43

Josiah,

I looked into the possibility of a digital snake for my operation, and the ROI wasn't there (for me). I was looking into an Aviom system as well. My take was that I would still need to have a multipair copper snake available, and along with that (given the console I'm using), I wouldn't be able to take full advantage of the possibilities that a digital snake offers.

That said, I have given considerable thought to a wireless solution. Imagine being free of the hassles of running a snake, electrical, etc, not to mention the absence of the turf battle in many venues in regards to what is deemed appropriate "real estate" for FOH operations. I have seen a DM-1000 used in this manner, and it was very slick. The console was side stage, with small drop snakes and individual mic lines attached, and a laptop PC acting as a server. The FOH engineer was able to walk onstage with his wi-fi tablet PC and tune monitor wedges, walk around the venue sorting FOH, and then plopped down at the corner of the bar to mix the show via tablet. All the while, he was nursing a cool beverage, constantly refreshed by the easy access to the friendly folks behind the bar. It appeared that set up and tear down times would be dramatically reduced using a set up such as he had. It is my understanding that many of the upper end digital consoles allow for surface and remote operation, simultaneously (eg: monitor engineer on the desk, FOH on the tablet). A very intriguing concept. I may try it on my O1v96 soon.

Another interesting option that presents itself involves Aviom. The system described above could easily be augmented with an Aviom output card and some of the rackmount Aviom units and (optionally) the remote units for a very compact mix system that allowed for a 16 channel monitor rig in addition to the 8 auxes present. And this all in one rack. Interesting.

Sorry if I've derailed the thread a little bit, I was just thinking out loud, and like you, wondered what the folks here might think.

Adam




Although it's cool to play with my tablet, I'd feel naked mixing a band in this manner.  I don't know, it would just take all the fun out of it for some reason.  

Now walking the room with a tablet routed in this manner, that's cool. Cut down on a lot of running back and forth.  

Quite high marks on the technogeek $cale.  How much is a setup like that going to set you back?  ROI is probably 100 years doing small clubs with that rig.

But if'n you got the toys, flaunt 'em.

tom

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Adam Mottley

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Re: Viability of Digital Snakes In Small Markets
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2006, 04:20:22 am »

Tom Reid wrote on Fri, 13 January 2006 00:59


Although it's cool to play with my tablet, I'd feel naked mixing a band in this manner.  I don't know, it would just take all the fun out of it for some reason.
Now walking the room with a tablet routed in this manner, that's cool. Cut down on a lot of running back and forth.
Quite high marks on the technogeek $cale.  How much is a setup like that going to set you back?  ROI is probably 100 years doing small clubs with that rig.
But if'n you got the toys, flaunt 'em.
tom


Tom,

You know, I felt the same way about going digital when I first considered it for SR. I kept to tried & true analog for years. But, after going the digital route in the studio setting for a number of years, I finally made an effort to try using more digital gear in live settings. The comparison is similar to the studio in that, once upon a time, I was only "at home" mixing projects on an analog board and multitrack tape. Years pass. Now I am equally "at home" mixing "inside the box", using software and a PC. The effort to "digitize" and use newer technology in the live setting has paid dividends for me, mostly in ways that can't be "heard". For me, it's starting to be about work flow and "ease of use". Examples:

1) Compactness/weight: My FOH has scaled down in size, weight, & complexity. One slant-top, wheeled rack holds a mixer, preamps, and EQ's. No more worries about having enough room for a big analog console, outboard racks, etc. Roll one rack in, lay snake & electric, and pull up a chair. Very easy. Certainly not as impressive looking, though.

2) Flexibility/recall-ability: I have much more processing power in a small package than most guys at my level do running fairly large, extensive analog rigs. Four bands of fully parametric eq on every channel, subgroup, and aux. Gates at every input, and compressors on those inputs, as well as subgroups & auxes.  Four stereo effects processors , and plug-in upgradeable processors at that. The Rev-X plug is pretty nice. Eight subgroups and eight auxes make a pretty flexible rig. Inserts, both analog and "virtual", are available. Four stereo returns with EQ and dynamics. Scene recall-ability makes doing different acts/rooms a quick thing to setup, as entire snapshots of the mixer's parameters are saved (minus preamp gains). Using a laptop, I can set up mixes "in advance" of a gig and upload them to the mixer. Etc. Once I've done a band/room a few times, I feel like I'm "cheating", because I'm not "head down", furiously dialing in a mix/monitors/who knows what else.

All of the things I've mentioned have led me to think about making things even easier. Not having to run a snake is one of those things we all have dreamt about. I agree that running a mix via tablet doesn't appeal to my inner "knobbish" mentality, but I've grown used to operating from what essentially amounts to a computer interface with faders. I ran an entire show recently via laptop (albeit it was wired and the mixer was "right there") and I was able to access everything on the O1v96, outboard EQ's, and DR260 from the laptop. It was a bit klunky to navigate using a laptop &  touch-pad mouse, but it showed me that a tablet would be very doable and much easier to navigate.

Another thing I've thought about (and I'm sure everyone has had this nightmare, or experienced it in actual practice) is one of equipment safety. Say you're in that bar environment that we love & hate, and a pitcher of beer takes a nosedive at FOH. Sure, the same could/has happened side-stage, but at least your gear is in the "entertainer's area" turf and not out in the middle of a big party. Envision the bar fight that spills into a meticulously prepared FOH position, knocking racks to the ground and ripping cables from the mixer patch field. Awful. That scenario actually happened to me one night. It's a bit amusing to think about now, but at the time, it nearly gave me a heart attack. Heh heh. Ahem... anyone have any nitro tabs ?

One more thing. Most venues I've worked would be extremely happy to have FOH mixing positions/gear disappear altogether. This applies to bars, ballrooms, boardrooms, equally. Well, maybe not so equally, but you catch my meaning. It's easier to "blend in" (eg: be invisible) if all the gear is tucked behind a drape, side-stage. Just a passing thought.

ROI ? Well, all that I need that I don't have now is a tablet PC. I'm certain that I won't have to work a 100 years worth of gigs to achieve positive return.

Well, I have completely hijacked the OP's thread. I apologize to the OP.

Thoughts ?

Adam
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