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Digidesign Profile giggin' fun

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Michael 'Bink' Knowles:
Tonight I got to test drive a Digidesign Venue D-Show Profile mixer at a black tie fundraising event. Wheee! Nice mixer. Very responsive and very flexible. I was able to assign parametric EQ plugins to every output (Digirack 7-band) and also to my problem subgroups (Serato 10-band) plus I got a kick figuring out which boutique compressors to use on what sources and mixes. It was too much fun... I put the Smack! comp/limiter plugin on Voice of God and an 1176-style comp from Purple Audio on the stereo Record feed. The lads and I got a chuckle off the classic Fairchild 660 compressor whose dusty faceplate looked like it could use a good cleaning. Patina of age on an item made up of electronic ones and zeros?!  

Here's a big scroller of images from the show:

From top to bottom:
*Ready for Doors. You can see one parametric notch applied to the speakers nearest the two lecterns.
*That's me mixing a young woman singing to backing tracks which I had cleaned up on my laptop. The Profile gave me tasty 'verb patches dialed up on her handheld SM58.
*Two plugin screens; the 'dusty' Fairchild and the lavalier subgroup EQ via Serato 10-band parametric.
*Closeup of the left side of the Profile. My Rane-branded 1GB USB watch (awesome swag) stuck in one of the four USB sockets. I still used board tape to identify which person had which RF mic.
*Auctioneer has RF5--a UHF SM58 head. Good mic technique! His assistant preferred a lavalier so she could use both hands to demo auction items.
*Bottom image shows the back of the surface where there's a rail running the length of the underside. You can position the LCD monitor anywhere along that rail and lock it down with two knurled nuts. I chose to put it all the way to the right (Stage Left) so I could get the best view of the stage.

I really liked having plugin EQs on subgroups and outputs so that the channel EQ could be dedicated to tailoring the sound to the source. I was able to quickly pull a wide swath centered on 830Hz out of a female lavalier to tame a bit of harshness in her delivery. Sweet.

I found that almost all of my compression goals were met by the standard onboard input compressors. By the time I had trimmed a hair or two off the top at the source, most of the subgroup and output compression wasn't kicking in. Sounded great, so no big deal.    

During setup I started to familiarize myself with some of the unique routing options but there's a lot more I need to check into. This show would have been just a hair smoother if I had routed EFX return channels to a VCA so I didn't have to keep switching layers between the vocalist's mic and the reverb returns. Next time.    

One routing trick I used was to take an Aux and route it to the matrixes where I had all my speaker zone outputs being fed from the 8 subgroups. That gave me an instant 'ninth' subgroup which I used for VOG announcements. BTW, the FOH rack doesn't appear to have 48v phantom available at all... I used 15v phantom on the COM XLR input to handle my VOG mic and routed it in the Patchbay to a fader on the surface. Another choice would have been to use the talkback mic input on top of the surface. 48v phantom is available at the Stage Rack only.

My call time on the gig was a couple of hours after a crew of stagehands had set most of the cabling and big pieces in place. Unfortunately, they figured the Digidesign quadruple BNC snake run would include intercom along with audio. It does not! The AC, video, audio and lighting cables from backstage to FOH were all painstakingly hodded and flown together so adding another XLR for intercom was not in the cards. We dug out some wireless coms instead and gave two to the guys backstage.    I'd love to see an intercom system integrated in the Digidesign snake.

Another thing I'd like to see is dual monitors. My preference is to keep a spectrograph running on one screen and the surface interface on another. This is precisely what I did on this event--SmaartLive spectrograph ran on my laptop most of the time and the laptop was fed from the Profile's monitor bus. Normally, I would have expected to use TrooTrace on the one LCD screen in a sort of 'sticky' situation where it defaults back to spectrograph display whenever I return to the Plugins screen. Unfortunately, the TrooTrace plugin I saw there in the big list was not open to my use--it needed a passcode. Too bad; it would have been fun to play with it.

I didn't need automixing on this gig so I didn't miss it. I'm hoping there will be an automixing plugin written for the Profile--there's certainly more than enough onboard DSP to cover it! The question is what's the size of the market for such a plugin...  

All in all, this is a super sexy mixer. I felt VERY comfortable standing behind the board knowing I had a ton of options at my fingertips to fix any problem that came at me during the course of the show.

Crazy coincidence: Alan Bautista, Purchasing Manager at Digidesign, showed up at my gig as an attendee. He was all smiles when he walked past and saw a Profile at FOH! We struck up a conversation and I told him how I got my hands on this particular Profile in a Road Test context and how happy I was with its performance. Small world!

Next up on Digi Profile Road Test: a couple more days of corporate gigging on the surface. 'Til then!


P.S. They raised $125,000 for Child Advocates, a program that takes abused children and links them up with a network of adults that care for them. A Good Cause.  

Michael 'Bink' Knowles:
Oh, another thing that proved very handy on this gig was the Profile's built-in delay on every input. I dialed up 120ms for each video playback deck to time align sound arrival with projected video.

A very striking feature of the surface is that entire LED ladders will go RED for two whole seconds if there's any kind of clipping happening within that bus. You won't be left wondering where the problem is--it's plain as day!  

Thank you to CJ Alvarado and Robert Scovill of Digidesign's Live Sound Sales and Logistics. They worked together to figure out which time slot I could get for the Road Test--it was quite a struggle to line up all of our ducks. These things are flying out the door at Digidesign and the Logistics team is kept hopping with requests for demos. The demo package I have is labeled #6 so apparently there's a fair opportunity for folks to test drive one of the ones floating around but make sure you allow enough lead time for the boys to get you scheduled. It's pretty interesting to look at all the shipping stickers on the four road cases at my gig and see who's been checking out "my" demo surface. Some big names, for sure.  

Thanks also to Mark Herman and Sara Elliott for driving the Road Test concept and for lighting a fire under the very busy Digidesign product demo department. You guys rock!


Chris Hinds:
Looks good Bink, smart looking compact FOH in that second shot.  Damn smart chap mixing too!

How would you say the interface compares to other desks in that sort of range e.g Digico D1 (can't recall if you've had a play with the Vi6)?



Lee Brenkman:
Nice small footprint

Smart guy at the controls

But most of all I like the distinctly analog readout of the timepiece at the top left corner of the console in the first picture.

No time and date readout on the console display?

Michael 'Bink' Knowles:
Lee Brenkman wrote on Sun, 11 March 2007 16:07
...No time and date readout on the console display?

There's a time display down in the lower right corner of the big VGA display. Date is visible when you go to History tab where you see the surface has saved snapshots in the background every ten minutes.  

Right now I just changed to Daylight Savings via Snapshots/Misc tab where you can edit date and time.

Next step for Digidesign is to put GPS in the beast so it tells you what city you're in.  



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