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Dolby Lake Processor w/tablet

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Bennett Prescott:
A few of you know that I've had the Dolby Lake processor out for a quick spin. There's been surprisingly little talk about what looks to be an incredibly powerful box, so I think it's about time to get it going.

Ervin Grinberg with Dolby Labs out in California took time to pull a bunch of strings and make sure that I'd have this processor to play around with. Unfortunately, they needed it right back for PLASA, so I didn't get much time with it. My local rep is making sure I've got a different one to use at the Wedge Fest this weekend... and beyond!

In any case, the DLP (as everyone "in the know" seems to call it, makes me think of digital projectors) arrived in a hefty Pelican case containing the processor, a tablet PC, and a Cisco access point... no skimping on quality here. I ordered it loaded 8x8 for monitor use, and I had an extra output card in case I wanted to switch it over to 4x12.

Show day, my monitor hombre Geoff and I roll in to the venue, roll stuff off the truck, and set about patching things in. The DLP gets racked in my monitor amp rack along with a few other toys, Geoff cables it up to the inserts on the MH2 (more on that in another review), and turns it on.

Here's what it looks like sitting pretty:

The tablet PC Dolby provided finds the access point and the Dolby Lake Processor easily. By default the DLP is configured as four three-way crossovers and EQ. Since we were running everything passive, Geoff needed to configure the unit to run as an 8x8 monitor EQ. As we'd never seen it before, I had him give Chris Bratveit at Dolby a call to get the 5-minute rundown and be all prepped for the upcoming show. I feel I need another photo here:

I'll have to pass you over to Geoff at this point (Arrr! A cliffhanger!), since I was out patching and finishing FOH as well as greeting and setting up the band. If it seems our timing was a little close, well, it was... but this is a show I've had for several years now, and I know the band well so they don't mind me using them an guinea pigs. Yes, I had a backup plan involving analog EQ, don't you worry.

I'll hop back in after Geoff's filled you in with what I saw in the few brief times I dicked around, and then after Wedge Fest this weekend I'll have a lot more to add, I'm sure!

Chris Hinds:
I look forward to reading the rest of the review on this one Bennett - I thought it was a fantastic unit at PLASA.



Rob Burgess:
Bennett, where are the pictures?


Bennett Prescott:
They're loading for me, just slowly... maybe my host is throttling traffic forwarded from psw because of the 60MB worth of WedgeFest photos? I'll look into it.

Geoff Smyton:
Hi all, Bennett’s monitor hombre for that evening Geoff here.  With Bennett still needing to patch FOH and the band loading in he hands the phone over to me with Chris on the line.  I had yet to blow sound through the rig and the DLP was still configured for a bunch of 3-way crossovers so I was getting a little nervous.  I had already done all my patching and had the Toshiba tablet hooked up to the DLP via the Cisco Aironet so I was all set there.  Chris talked me through it and I was able to reset the processor to a Mesa EQ, which is a simple process just not obvious trying to navigate through the front panel.  Once I was able to do this the software controls became much more intuitive.  Chris ran me through the basic functionality of the processor and I felt comfortable enough to drive it myself within 5 minutes.  

The software interface was easy for me to pick up very quickly.  I especially like how well the software lends itself to use on a tablet pc, even a keypad pops up on screen to name outputs so use of the built in keyboard is not required.  The EQ section is great, one screen of PEQ and one of GEQ, with the availability of multiple screens of PEQ if it gets too crowded.  For the PEQ a filter just need to be dropped onto the screen then the frequency, gain, bandwidth and slope (in the case of the mesa filter) dragged into place.  High shelf, low shelf, and standard peak/notch as well as the mesa (with the ability to change the center frequency and slope of each side independently) filter types are available.  Lake’s ideal graphic EQ is available as well on a separate page.  A feature I really like is that the total EQ overlay is shown when you are on either screen so the whole curve is viewable whenever making adjustments.  In both PEQ and GEQ screens each filter can be bypassed by dragging the above bubble down or the filter deleted by pulling the bubble up.  Each EQ screen can also be bypassed independently by dragging the above tab down to the bottom.  High pass and low pass are also available.  Switching between outputs was easy as well, simply by going to the home screen and selecting another output.  Metering was also available on the home screen instead of the bubble icons which is a nice feature.  Input mixing is also available for each output so it can really be a 8x8 matrix if required.

With this knowledge in hand we proceed with sound check.  Luckily the band was very easy to work with and was not very demanding with what they needed in their wedges.  Little tweaking was required with the Audix mics and Adamson and Community wedges (early arrivals for wedgefest).  The little work was very easy on the DLP, as easy but maybe not quite as quick as analog EQ’s.  Bennett got himself all set out front and we were ready to go for the show.  Things went smoothly and I was able to give Bennett the run through on the DLP midway through the show.  During the end of the show I even let him take the tablet out front to play with it.  I figured there was no problem with him controlling my monitor EQ since I had control of his preamps on the RSS snake.  ; )  He seemed to get the hang of it just as quick but I’m sure he can tell you more on that.

That pretty much sums up my experience with the DLP from this show, which was great overall; I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to use it on another gig.  The price may seem expensive but considering the price of 8 channels of quality 31-band GEQ or the price of two 2x6 DSP’s I think it is very reasonable and actually has a good bang/buck bearing in mind the huge feature set and flexibility it has.  I’ll pop in later and give some more impressions from my experience with it at wedgefest.

Geoff Smyton

Email: smytog at rpi dot edu


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