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Title: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Garrett Trott on August 23, 2014, 06:51:05 pm
As an engineer who seems to be getting very down a dirty in remote locations these days mostly providing live audio for the west coast festival culture. I am wondering the community recommendations on which midsize pro digital console can take the dust day after day. After a few years of renting I am ready to take the leap in investing in two consoles of my own.

After a slow degradation of the faders on a SC48 even with extensive daily cleaning during 3 week tour I am considering the Midas pro2. Obviously there is always the analog option but I'm looking for your thoughts, recommendations, and failure experiences with digital.

-Thanks
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Jay Barracato on August 23, 2014, 07:00:58 pm
You didn't say what type of festivals or who is doing the mixing.

If it is just you and there are no external requirements to meet (i.e. riders or visiting techs) I would consider something that can stay racked or cased with wireless access.



Sent from my DROID RAZR HD using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Garrett Trott on August 23, 2014, 07:25:25 pm
You didn't say what type of festivals or who is doing the mixing.

If it is just you and there are no external requirements to meet (i.e. riders or visiting techs) I would consider something that can stay racked or cased with wireless access.



Sent from my DROID RAZR HD using Tapatalk

Good questions. It is mostly for a fusion of DJ's & full live acts. I need at least 48 channels of input. I do host Guest engineers form time to time but I mostly do all the FOH mixing with a various employees on monitors. It is mostly on the fly festival mixing with very little repetition throughout a festival so a lot of faders in a bank is good. I basically need to be ready for anything at any moment. Having the same console a FOH & Monitor world is a must for training reasons. Most of the riders I receive are very flexible or not specific about which console to use. Also my budget is flexible but for the sake of this post I would like to keep the price below $50,000 per console.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Jay Barracato on August 23, 2014, 08:10:53 pm
A while ago someone who was doing a lot of bar shows posted a photo of a plexiglass or lexan "beer" shield they built to protect their board.

I think the approach should be preventing the dust from getting into the faders rather than which ones tolerate it the best.

Maybe a more substantial foh shelter with some clear sidewalls would help as well.

Or you could consider ending the drought in California. I am sure that is not helping.

Sent from my DROID RAZR HD using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 23, 2014, 08:18:47 pm
I don't think anybody makes hardened audio consoles (yet)  but there are surely  hardened pda/smartphones so perhaps secure the audio console inside a safe road case and drive it with a PDA that can tolerate mud.

JR
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Ivan Beaver on August 23, 2014, 09:09:16 pm
A while ago someone who was doing a lot of bar shows posted a photo of a plexiglass or lexan "beer" shield they built to protect their board.

I think the approach should be preventing the dust from getting into the faders rather than which ones tolerate it the best.

Maybe a more substantial foh shelter with some clear sidewalls would help as well.

Or you could consider ending the drought in California. I am sure that is not helping.

Sent from my DROID RAZR HD using Tapatalk
I did a festival in CA a few months ago.  There was fine dust that got EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

It was blowing all around-not just near the stage.  There was nothing you could do to keep it away from gear.

There was layer that stuck to everything.

Faders would be real problem-analog or digital.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Doug Johnson on August 23, 2014, 09:29:07 pm
While maybe not "pro" enough the first thing that comes to my mind would be a Midas 251 and a Behringer X32 core in a sealed ventilated rack and remote mixing.  A SAC system could be set up the same way, although it seems that people aren't quite as keen on it as they were a couple of years ago.  The Crest Tactus system might be an option as well but, I don't think it has been released yet.
Doug
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Garrett Trott on August 23, 2014, 11:43:22 pm
I did a festival in CA a few months ago.  There was fine dust that got EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

It was blowing all around-not just near the stage.  There was nothing you could do to keep it away from gear.

There was layer that stuck to everything.

Faders would be real problem-analog or digital.

Yeah my recent travels I am referring to were in B.C. The dust was horrendous. We are also based in Oregon and do a lot of events with old volcanic dust which seems to be more of a problem then most locations. I like the idea of using a Tablet more often but this is surely not going to work for 1/2 of my acts. Obviously this is not easily done with the SC48... Ahem! Why is there not a app for Venue yet? I guess that is what you get for a windows based console. Anyway, I also usually have very nice 3 sided covered FOH situations. This dust comes usually from 1000's of people dancing for very long scheduling. It is at times unavoidable. Thanks for the suggestions guys. It seems like if there was an easy solution I would have found it by now.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Garrett Trott on August 23, 2014, 11:59:06 pm
While maybe not "pro" enough the first thing that comes to my mind would be a Midas 251 and a Behringer X32 core in a sealed ventilated rack and remote mixing.  A SAC system could be set up the same way, although it seems that people aren't quite as keen on it as they were a couple of years ago.  The Crest Tactus system might be an option as well but, I don't think it has been released yet.
Doug

The Crest Tactus seems like a move in the right direction. Remote mixing sounds like a good idea too. doing away with exposed faders and using touchscreens seems like the best option. Thanks for the suggestions Doug.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Tim McCulloch on August 24, 2014, 02:27:01 am
The Crest Tactus seems like a move in the right direction. Remote mixing sounds like a good idea too. doing away with exposed faders and using touchscreens seems like the best option. Thanks for the suggestions Doug.

One of the reasons we purchased an X32 is to consider it a 'consumable' on shows where we really, really don't want to take a higher priced desk and there is no rider to meet.  We can replace an X32 for less than the cost of replacing faders on an M7.

I think touch screen mixing, either large surface or tablet, is still a work in progress.  Being a Ye Olde Analogue Luddite, I miss having some kind of tactile response - the pressure of my finger on a fader cap or turning a rotary control between my thumb and forefinger - and while I don't expect a glass top to imitate those sensations I'm hoping that there will be some uniformity in how on-screen controls react to touch and what kind of feedback they give the user.  I think it will get there; it's a matter of time.

Those niceties out of the way, the environmentally vulnerable points of a conventional digital mixer are pretty much the same as analog consoles: the linear faders, push buttons and rotary controls.  With digital mixers there are typically fewer of each to replace but failures have a greater impact.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Samuel Rees on August 24, 2014, 03:15:00 pm
iLive IDR48 with no surface would get you that high input count with no surface / faders to get dusty. You can control on a laptop and/or an iPad.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: brian maddox on August 25, 2014, 01:28:44 pm
To speak to the original question...

I certainly haven't used a wide variety of digital desk in challenging locations, but i Have used a variety of yamaha consoles in pretty horrific conditions and been quite surprised at their ability to soldier through.  I used a pair of 01v96s on an outside venue tour in Ukraine in the middle of their worst winter in about 100 years.  Faders got a little jittery and sometimes the LCD was hard to read, but the suckers refused to quit.

I've also used M7s and 5Ds in some pretty nasty dust bowls and again, they just kept working.

I don't think you can have a physical surface that won't require fader replacement or some such after a summer of this kind of abuse.  But the Yammies will certainly keep working regardless.

It would be a good idea to use something that at least has some sort of remote control possibility though in the event that you completely toast a fader board mid show.  at least you can salvage the event by mixing without the actual surface.

sidenote:  i'm not sure how each manufacturer deals with remote control when the faders are toast.  I seem to remember you could disable the fader motors on some consoles, but not sure how others would handle a locked fader or two.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 25, 2014, 02:21:39 pm
A logical progression for digital consoles that support remote control, is for stand alone generic control surfaces to mimic a remote computing device and be able to talk to the console engine.

A ruggedized control surface, or disposable control surface that is cheap and easy to back up could be helpful.

We are not there yet, but it seems logical.

JR 
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 25, 2014, 03:09:55 pm
John,
As much as digital touch screen control surfaces may make sense I don't think there will be a day when the need for a "physical desk" will end. I'm not sure it's even a good idea as touch screens, unless militarized, seldom last as long as many people think when used constantly. Even the best a prone to sensor issues, alignment issues, and failure. Working around a failed fader is one thing, working around a mis-aligned touch screen is another.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 25, 2014, 03:18:35 pm
Not for us, but for the kids coming up who won't miss faders.

JR
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Kevin Maxwell on August 25, 2014, 03:24:45 pm
I donít know the answer to the following but which consoles fans pull the air in and which force the air out. I would think that the direction the fans work could have something to do with fine dust being sucked into the console and the faders. If the fans are blowing in then you could probably improve reliability if you could install filters that would catch the fine particles without restricting the air flow. If the fan is blowing out then it is probably sucking in all sorts of garbage right into the places that you donít want it like the faders.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Rob Spence on August 25, 2014, 03:33:07 pm
If you have a $100k budget for 2 consoles, perhaps buy three $20k desks (one is a spare) and budget for fader bank replacements each year? Charge accordingly.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Tim McCulloch on August 25, 2014, 04:54:43 pm
If you have a $100k budget for 2 consoles, perhaps buy three $20k desks (one is a spare) and budget for fader bank replacements each year? Charge accordingly.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

At the $20k-30k pricing there are lots of options, and I like the idea of a pristine backup desk that could be rented for civilized indoor use.  Ultimate choice would depend on client/rider acceptance.

Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Jim McKeveny on August 26, 2014, 08:18:06 am
While maybe not "pro" enough the first thing that comes to my mind would be a Midas 251 and a Behringer X32 core in a sealed ventilated rack and remote mixing.

Westhampton Beach PAC has had 2 X32s come through here for monitor use recently: Dave Mason's Traffic Jam and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. NGDB had iPad remotes. Both worked seamlessly, and were way more back-friendly than the XL4 Lyle Lovett brought in Sunday!

I am not a fan of touchpad faders, but in a corrosive environment they could be best/only choice.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 26, 2014, 10:13:37 am
I donít know the answer to the following but which consoles fans pull the air in and which force the air out. I would think that the direction the fans work could have something to do with fine dust being sucked into the console and the faders. If the fans are blowing in then you could probably improve reliability if you could install filters that would catch the fine particles without restricting the air flow. If the fan is blowing out then it is probably sucking in all sorts of garbage right into the places that you donít want it like the faders.

Both approaches ultimately pull air and dirt in from the outside.

You can put a filter on the fan, so pulling air in with the fan and using a filter on it should reduce dirt accumulation inside, but in harsh environments you must keep the filter clean so it doesn't block the airflow. 

JR
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Kevin Maxwell on August 26, 2014, 12:42:30 pm
Both approaches ultimately pull air and dirt in from the outside.

You can put a filter on the fan, so pulling air in with the fan and using a filter on it should reduce dirt accumulation inside, but in harsh environments you must keep the filter clean so it doesn't block the airflow. 

JR

Keeping the dust out with a filter that wouldnít block the airflow. I wonder how hard that would be to do. This is assuming that the fan pulls the air in, in my opinion it would be a waste of time trying to filter a fan that blows the air out of the mixer. And I assume that if the mixer is designed with one type of fan (in or out) that you couldnít just reversed the mounting of the fan.

Could it even be an external filter unit making changing the filters easier. Or even an add-on filter mechanism. And then how hard would it be to have something that monitored the airflow and warned when it is time to change the filter. I donít know what kind of filter would suit the needs, what has good airflow and can trap the kind of fine particles that can cause the problems. My motorcycle has a foam air filter that is oiled. I wonder if that is the type that is needed.   
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 26, 2014, 01:01:42 pm
Keeping the dust out with a filter that wouldnít block the airflow. I wonder how hard that would be to do. This is assuming that the fan pulls the air in, in my opinion it would be a waste of time trying to filter a fan that blows the air out of the mixer. And I assume that if the mixer is designed with one type of fan (in or out) that you couldnít just reversed the mounting of the fan.

Could it even be an external filter unit making changing the filters easier. Or even an add-on filter mechanism. And then how hard would it be to have something that monitored the airflow and warned when it is time to change the filter. I donít know what kind of filter would suit the needs, what has good airflow and can trap the kind of fine particles that can cause the problems. My motorcycle has a foam air filter that is oiled. I wonder if that is the type that is needed.

This is actually a pretty mature technology for power amplifiers. In my experience typical customers can not be trusted to routinely service fan filters. Perhaps professional users might be more diligent.

For consoles, (and power amps) the faders and switches do not need to be cooled so do not require any moving air (they should be sealed or otherwise protected). A reasonably reliable design strategy for power amps is to manage the forced air path, to not blow dirt into sensitive circuit areas. A few dust bunnies on the heat sink fins can be blown off in a once a year cleaning.

I would hope that a console if it uses forced air cooling could do a similar partitiion of air path, perhaps using an internal heat exchanger (like a heat sink) to segregate dirty air from clean electronics.

I have often seen console designer screw up relatively simple engineering tasks (like console power supplies), so they may likewise be behind the technology curve regarding cooling.

I like keeping the control surface as a separate functional unit from the processing engine, so they can be more easily backed up, and or protected from the environment.

JR

PS we are still not close to generic standard definitions for things as simple as console EQ, so I am not optimistic. Not my job mon...  ;D ;D
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Tommy Peel on August 26, 2014, 02:52:30 pm
This is actually a pretty mature technology for power amplifiers. In my experience typical customers can not be trusted to routinely service fan filters. Perhaps professional users might be more diligent.

For consoles, (and power amps) the faders and switches do not need to be cooled so do not require any moving air (they should be sealed or otherwise protected). A reasonably reliable design strategy for power amps is to manage the forced air path, to not blow dirt into sensitive circuit areas. A few dust bunnies on the heat sink fins can be blown off in a once a year cleaning.

I would hope that a console if it uses forced air cooling could do a similar partitiion of air path, perhaps using an internal heat exchanger (like a heat sink) to segregate dirty air from clean electronics.

I have often seen console designer screw up relatively simple engineering tasks (like console power supplies), so they may likewise be behind the technology curve regarding cooling.

I like keeping the control surface as a separate functional unit from the processing engine, so they can be more easily backed up, and or protected from the environment.

JR

PS we are still not close to generic standard definitions for things as simple as console EQ, so I am not optimistic. Not my job mon...  ;D ;D

I hope in the future more manufacturers will move to systems like the Avid S3L and iLive. I think the S3L makes more sense than the iLive though as it separates all the components(I/O, Engine, and Faders/Control surface).

It'll be nice when the new Behringer MIDI Fader banks become compatible with the x32; with something like that you could have your faders and still be wireless from the stage to FOH. IMO the more modular a system is the better for the most part. The "next generation" x32 should be pretty interesting; I wish they sold something functionally similar to the x32 surface w/o the processing and I/O to use with the Rack/Core version.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Stu McDoniel on August 26, 2014, 08:24:52 pm
I did a festival in CA a few months ago.  There was fine dust that got EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

It was blowing all around-not just near the stage.  There was nothing you could do to keep it away from gear.

There was layer that stuck to everything.

Faders would be real problem-analog or digital.
A 3M Electronics Service Vacuum is just what the doctor ordered for you guys with digital consoles and festivals like Ivan posted.  Put the brush on
and pull that crud off the mix before it "works" its way into your consoles.

Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Bob Leonard on August 26, 2014, 11:42:46 pm
I own one of these. Great vac for electronics, but very expensive for what it is.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Chris Hindle on August 27, 2014, 07:58:35 am
A 3M Electronics Service Vacuum is just what the doctor ordered for you guys with digital consoles and festivals like Ivan posted.  Put the brush on
and pull that crud off the mix before it "works" its way into your consoles.
Ya. Nice.
For under $40.00 about 15 years ago, I picked up a 1 gallon Shop-Vac.
Same motor/filters as the big boys, but a nice small container. Works a charm for cleaning the wife's car, and the carpeted stairway at home too.
Bought it for the semi-annual system cleanouts, and it works a treat inside my computers as well.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Stu McDoniel on August 27, 2014, 10:59:09 am
Ya. Nice.
For under $40.00 about 15 years ago, I picked up a 1 gallon Shop-Vac.
Same motor/filters as the big boys, but a nice small container. Works a charm for cleaning the wife's car, and the carpeted stairway at home too.
Bought it for the semi-annual system cleanouts, and it works a treat inside my computers as well.
The 3M Vac will not discharge damaging static electricity.  That shop VAC can produce enough static to smoke sensitive electronics. 
Most any home VAC should not be used with static sensitive gear.
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on August 27, 2014, 11:44:07 am
The 3M Vac will not discharge damaging static electricity.  That shop VAC can produce enough static to smoke sensitive electronics. 
Most any home VAC should not be used with static sensitive gear.

I recall one shop vacuum that doubled as a van de graf generator... Every time I vacuumed my office, I was so charged up that I drew a nasty spark to the first ground I touched.

JR
Title: Re: Who makes the most rugged digital consoles?
Post by: Chris Hindle on August 27, 2014, 12:09:50 pm
The 3M Vac will not discharge damaging static electricity.  That shop VAC can produce enough static to smoke sensitive electronics. 
Most any home VAC should not be used with static sensitive gear.
Gee, guess my luddite analog is showing.....
I do use a ground strap when working under the hood of the computers.....