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Title: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: John T. Cotton on February 07, 2018, 12:42:36 pm
I'm thinking about a small Soundcraft console for some side gigs.  I work a lot with Midas and Yamaha, so I'm pretty savvy with AES50 and Dante, but MADI and the Soundcraft infrastructure are pretty new to me.
Two main questions-
Is there any difference in audio quality between the older Mini-Stageboxes (32 or 16) and the new 32i/16i?  I can see that the new boxes don't have AES outs or removable MADI cards.  Any other differences?

Is  there no way to loop a MADI path through devices?  It seems a waste to have a physical path capable of 64x64, and only be able to use it for one 32ch device. 

Thanks for any input.
John C.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Mac Kerr on February 07, 2018, 01:28:28 pm
Is  there no way to loop a MADI path through devices?  It seems a waste to have a physical path capable of 64x64, and only be able to use it for one 32ch device. 

Generally, without external devices there is no way to loop through MADI devices. A device like the RME MADI Router (http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/madi_router.php) will merge multiple streams and allow you to place signals within the output stream.

Mac
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: John T. Cotton on February 07, 2018, 02:42:54 pm
Generally, without external devices there is no way to loop through MADI devices. A device like the RME MADI Router (http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/madi_router.php) will merge multiple streams and allow you to place signals within the output stream.

Mac
I'm beginning to see that.  I saw the RME piece,  but I suspect it will be a bit pricey for the low budget scenarios I get into. I get the pricey gear on my regular jobs, but on my own I remain ever Frugal.  I was hoping maybe someone had worked up a low budget hack of some sort. 
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Bob Leonard on February 07, 2018, 03:13:35 pm
The 32 and 32i differ in that the 32i offers fewer features than the 32, you can compare them at the Soundcraft web site. I use a 32 and have had zero, none, nada, nyet, no issues with the box at all, other than having to clear my input routing when I moved the I/O card to another slot. The 32 will support FOH and monitor world at the same time. I am not sure if the 32i will.

My board is a Performer 1. I use the USB MADI card for both I/O and recording function (USB to DAW), have had no issues with either stage sound or recording 32 channels, and still use the 16 channels on the back of the board for I/O to sound modules, etc. as needed. I can expand to another 32 channels with ease if needed bringing my channel count up to 80.

The 32, according to the people I spoke with at Soundcraft, uses the same pre-amps as the Studer systems, and Studer stage boxes will work perfectly with the Expression and Performer series boards.

The last word is this. I do not use specially made Ethernet cables for "sound". I use quality CAT6 cable, made in the USA, and plug in a 326' regardless of where the box is located. There have been no issues concerning signal loss, noise, or any other crapola you can think of.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: John T. Cotton on February 07, 2018, 03:35:09 pm
Thanks Bob.  I appreciate the input.  I read conflicting reports on which preamp is in the 32 so it's good to hear your info. Glad it's all working well for you.  It seems there have been some price drops on Impacts (at least on B-Stock), so that's the way I'm leaning at the moment.

The 32 and 32i differ in that the 32i offers fewer features than the 32, you can compare them at the Soundcraft web site. I use a 32 and have had zero, none, nada, nyet, no issues with the box at all, other than having to clear my input routing when I moved the I/O card to another slot. The 32 will support FOH and monitor world at the same time. I am not sure if the 32i will.

My board is a Performer 1. I use the USB MADI card for both I/O and recording function (USB to DAW), have had no issues with either stage sound or recording 32 channels, and still use the 16 channels on the back of the board for I/O to sound modules, etc. as needed. I can expand to another 32 channels with ease if needed bringing my channel count up to 80.

The 32, according to the people I spoke with at Soundcraft, uses the same pre-amps as the Studer systems, and Studer stage boxes will work perfectly with the Expression and Performer series boards.

The last word is this. I do not use specially made Ethernet cables for "sound". I use quality CAT6 cable, made in the USA, and plug in a 326' regardless of where the box is located. There have been no issues concerning signal loss, noise, or any other crapola you can think of.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on February 07, 2018, 05:39:38 pm
I have both the 32 and the 32i.
I use the 32 to power my Venue 360 via AES leaving me 8 analog outs for monitors.
The 32i gives me 12 analog outs; L, R, Sub, Delay, and 8 left for monitors.
If I use the 32 without the Venue od AES converters, I'm down to 4 or 5 monitors.
With the Impact or Performer you can run two cards and two stageboxes for 64 channels.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Jon Dees on February 07, 2018, 05:55:24 pm
I have one 32 in for warranty repair right now. Got really squirrelly with lots of digital noise on the stagebox inputs.

The Soundcraft console development mantra is to not include multiple obvious useful features and then ignore user feedback. Very aggravating.

There are two methods I have seen to add more than 32 remote I/o - one is to buy the compact stagebox, redo the card setup and buy DACs to deal with the AES outs. You could also purchase the Dante card and used BSS Blu-100s and a Blu link-Dante converter off eBay to add 12 channels at a time - this is my plan for the future.

Based on the lack of software development on the Soundcraft products I would take a hard look at the SQ6 if you can fit in its footprint.

I have both the 32 and the 32i.
I use the 32 to power my Venue 360 via AES leaving me 8 analog outs for monitors.
The 32i gives me 12 analog outs; L, R, Sub, Delay, and 8 left for monitors.
If I use the 32 without the Venue od AES converters, I'm down to 4 or 5 monitors.
With the Impact or Performer you can run two cards and two stageboxes for 64 channels.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Steve Payne on February 07, 2018, 06:05:17 pm
The 32 and 32i differ in that the 32i offers fewer features than the 32, you can compare them at the Soundcraft web site. I use a 32 and have had zero, none, nada, nyet, no issues with the box at all, other than having to clear my input routing when I moved the I/O card to another slot. The 32 will support FOH and monitor world at the same time. I am not sure if the 32i will.

My board is a Performer 1. I use the USB MADI card for both I/O and recording function (USB to DAW), have had no issues with either stage sound or recording 32 channels, and still use the 16 channels on the back of the board for I/O to sound modules, etc. as needed. I can expand to another 32 channels with ease if needed bringing my channel count up to 80.

The 32, according to the people I spoke with at Soundcraft, uses the same pre-amps as the Studer systems, and Studer stage boxes will work perfectly with the Expression and Performer series boards.

The last word is this. I do not use specially made Ethernet cables for "sound". I use quality CAT6 cable, made in the USA, and plug in a 326' regardless of where the box is located. There have been no issues concerning signal loss, noise, or any other crapola you can think of.

Hope this helps.

The Soundcraft and Studer boxes may be interchangeable, I don't know as I have never tried.  I do know that any stage boxes in the Vi / Si lines are interchangeable as long as they are madi.  I also know that their are basically 3 levels of mic pres in the Soundcraft lines and that NONE of them are the same as the Studer pres.  Studer mic pres are discreet circuits.  Not so with the Soundcraft pres.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on February 08, 2018, 01:52:47 am
That's why the Studer stuff cost 10 times the Si stuff.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Steve Payne on February 08, 2018, 01:35:04 pm
That's why the Studer stuff cost 10 times the Si stuff.

yes, among other things... :-)
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: John T. Cotton on February 08, 2018, 03:14:29 pm
There are two methods I have seen to add more than 32 remote I/o - one is to buy the compact stagebox, redo the card setup and buy DACs to deal with the AES outs. You could also purchase the Dante card and used BSS Blu-100s and a Blu link-Dante converter off eBay to add 12 channels at a time - this is my plan for the future.

I am I wrong in thinking that the Compact box, with an additional MADI card, could link to another stagebox?

If you get the Dante card, why use Blu at all?  Why not use any one of the many Dante preamps out there?  No pre control?
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on February 08, 2018, 03:31:09 pm
I am I wrong in thinking that the Compact box, with an additional MADI card, could link to another stagebox?

If you get the Dante card, why use Blu at all?  Why not use any one of the many Dante preamps out there?  No pre control?

Only a proprietary stagebox will allow control of the remote pres by the knobs on the console.
A Dante stagebox could be controlled with a laptop.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Steve Ferreira on February 09, 2018, 02:05:30 pm
I have a 32 stagebox. I run STP CAT6 and have never had an issue. I run AES 15/16 for my main PA as my amps take AES in and have a loop through. I do find that I run out of analog outputs pretty fast once I get into bigger rooms and doing monitor mixes from FOH. I wish there was a cheaper solution to get more outputs from the AES lines.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Guilford on February 09, 2018, 03:45:10 pm
I have a 32 stagebox. I run STP CAT6 and have never had an issue. I run AES 15/16 for my main PA as my amps take AES in and have a loop through. I do find that I run out of analog outputs pretty fast once I get into bigger rooms and doing monitor mixes from FOH. I wish there was a cheaper solution to get more outputs from the AES lines.

What amps?
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Mal Brown on February 10, 2018, 03:01:35 am
We run an SI Exp 3 FOH and SI Exp 1 MON, off the Mini-Stage Box 32x12.  Just set the stage box switch to both.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: David Sturzenbecher on February 10, 2018, 08:58:56 am
I am I wrong in thinking that the Compact box, with an additional MADI card, could link to another stagebox?

If you get the Dante card, why use Blu at all?  Why not use any one of the many Dante preamps out there?  No pre control?

Only a proprietary stagebox will allow control of the remote pres by the knobs on the console.
A Dante stagebox could be controlled with a laptop.

That Soundcraft can indeed control the preamp gain on inputs in a BSS BLU.  I have never done it, but there is a "how to" written by Harman floating around somewhere out there.  Gain is controllable in 6dB steps though.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: John T. Cotton on February 11, 2018, 10:30:51 pm
You could also purchase the Dante card and used BSS Blu-100s and a Blu link-Dante converter off eBay to add 12 channels at a time - this is my plan for the future.
I thought there was a BLU-Link card, why bother with Dante at all at that point?
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Steve Ferreira on February 13, 2018, 02:25:44 pm
What amps?

Crown Itech 8000
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Al Burgess on February 14, 2018, 07:45:52 am

The Soundcraft console development mantra is to not include multiple obvious useful features and then ignore user feedback. Very aggravating.

Based on the lack of software development on the Soundcraft products I would take a hard look at the SQ6 if you can fit in its footprint.

I think you may be being a little harsh - there have been lots of software improvements due to user feedback over the lifetime of the si series, and the old vi series recently had a major update despite no longer being current :)
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Tim McCulloch on February 14, 2018, 01:05:13 pm
I think you may be being a little harsh - there have been lots of software improvements due to user feedback over the lifetime of the si series, and the old vi series recently had a major update despite no longer being current :)

I don't think Jon is being particularly harsh, although there is a hint of bitterness...

Soundcraft has an institutional way of doing things that is not particularly customer responsive in the near term and it's been that way for 35 years under different owners, so it's not just a Harman artifact...

Soundcraft eventually does take customer needs and concerns into account, usually when new models roll out you'll see the feature you wanted 4 years ago (or they finally fixed what wasn't working).  Soundcraft is also very opaque when it comes to dealing with MI customers (and even professional users, which is why we're a Soundcraft-free company based on lack of support 20+ years ago) and to expect them to respond is to exercise ones frustration tolerance.

That all said, consider that Soundcraft probably has under 100 people on direct payroll... maybe substantially fewer.  Supporting existing products, designing and testing new items, and trying to stay a bit ahead of the competition keeps them very busy.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on February 14, 2018, 03:20:50 pm
It's been well over a year since the last firmware update for the performer.
The last update was for the Impact, increasing mix channels to 80 and reducing the value of my Performers.
The last ViSi update was to cover the Vi consoles.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Bob Leonard on February 14, 2018, 07:06:17 pm
I don't see where the value of a Performer is effected simply by upping the channel count on the Impact. Fact be told, and contrary to Tim's past experiences and continued bitterness, Soundcraft products have been as solid as any. I understand where Tim's coming from, but if past product failure were the total sum of the experience there would be no movement forward for any of us. Soundcraft shit the bed a long time ago, and I like Tim lived through that era.

Soundcraft has never been a company that would rush product to market, which can be good and bad. Updates? I haven't needed one since the last Performer update, and have had zero problems. Remote functionality? It is what it is, no extra fluff and enough to get by on the basics. To me, and many, many other people wireless control is a secondary feature, nice to have, but just another nice feature IF needed. Me? I wouldn't work without a board I could put my hands on. It's sort of like the bathroom. I have no issues with flushing with a handle, pulling paper towels off a roll, or turning the knobs for hot and cold water. Some people though can't figure out why the hot handle is red, and the cold is blue.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Mac Kerr on February 14, 2018, 07:41:46 pm
Some people though can't figure out why the hot handle is red, and the cold is blue.

This has always bothered me. A blue flame is hotter than a red flame. Go figure.

On the other hand, if you buy a console based on what you hope it will be after some updates you should probably by something that meets your needs now.

Mac
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Jon Dees on February 14, 2018, 07:55:04 pm
I don't think Jon is being particularly harsh, although there is a hint of bitterness...

Soundcraft has an institutional way of doing things that is not particularly customer responsive in the near term and it's been that way for 35 years under different owners, so it's not just a Harman artifact...

Soundcraft eventually does take customer needs and concerns into account, usually when new models roll out you'll see the feature you wanted 4 years ago (or they finally fixed what wasn't working).  Soundcraft is also very opaque when it comes to dealing with MI customers (and even professional users, which is why we're a Soundcraft-free company based on lack of support 20+ years ago) and to expect them to respond is to exercise ones frustration tolerance.

That all said, consider that Soundcraft probably has under 100 people on direct payroll... maybe substantially fewer.  Supporting existing products, designing and testing new items, and trying to stay a bit ahead of the competition keeps them very busy.

The last paragraph is the exact problem. I have just finished a painful journey thru getting a new lighting desk for a church that needs to control 50-ish fixtures with room for movers in the future. The best desk for their purposes would be something like the Strand 250ML but 'everyone knows' that the 250ML was designed by a random contract outfit somewhere probably in India or China and getting them to develop a mature product based on actual focus grouped feature sets is a complete joke.

I fear with the latest round of consolidation at Harman this is where Soundcraft and the other companies that pros rely on for support and incremental feature improvements will be outsourced to tiny development shops in far away places that have never met an end user. The Si line's lack of awareness of HiQnet automation or anything else for automation to me is exhibit A in the absurdity of modern product development. Another sign of the problem with Harman as a whole is that they just canned the entire Martin M-PC development team at their HQ in Denmark.

There are also crazy bugs in the Si line that make the whole thing seem like somebody just tacked on bits and pieces with zero continuity from update to update. When you select a stagebox input you get a linear value from 1-32 in the selection dialog, but if you look at the stagebox, the values are A-01 thru A-16 and C-01 thru C-16. The display dialog after selection is aware of this, but not the selection dialog. A crazy thing but just an example of how there is no time to fix problems.

[actual rant]
What is behind all of this stupidity? ROI - these industry players are investor-owned and the investment firms that own all publicly-traded companies these days are under a quest to look under every rock for a 'superfluous' person they can lay off. Outsourcing product development and completely divorcing support from development is the classic example of this phenomenon. And all for a smidgen extra gain on the quarterly statement, professional customer needs are not relevant to this discussion.

The terrifying part of this problem is that the great counter-example to Harman's painful quest for ROI at the expense of customers is the Behringer X32. Look at the automation and user feedback incorporated in v. 2.0 and v. 3.0 software. That is a symptom of an owner-run company deciding that there is a right way to do things and ignoring the nickel-and-diming of the development and support teams that the MBA's find important.

[/rant]
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Tim McCulloch on February 14, 2018, 09:33:35 pm
I don't see where the value of a Performer is effected simply by upping the channel count on the Impact. Fact be told, and contrary to Tim's past experiences and continued bitterness, Soundcraft products have been as solid as any. I understand where Tim's coming from, but if past product failure were the total sum of the experience there would be no movement forward for any of us. Soundcraft shit the bed a long time ago, and I like Tim lived through that era.

Soundcraft has never been a company that would rush product to market, which can be good and bad. Updates? I haven't needed one since the last Performer update, and have had zero problems. Remote functionality? It is what it is, no extra fluff and enough to get by on the basics. To me, and many, many other people wireless control is a secondary feature, nice to have, but just another nice feature IF needed. Me? I wouldn't work without a board I could put my hands on. It's sort of like the bathroom. I have no issues with flushing with a handle, pulling paper towels off a roll, or turning the knobs for hot and cold water. Some people though can't figure out why the hot handle is red, and the cold is blue.

It's not that we expected Soundcraft products to be 100% failure-free, what we expected was technical support to get those products fully functional again.  I have a long memory, Bob, and these days Soundcraft is a different company, for better or worse I can't say without a horse in the race.  I'd be willing to audition Vi series desks if there were a rider demand for them and see how things go.  The BEs that travel with Vi mixers really like them but are outnumbered by the DigiCo fan boys.

I've mixed on Si series and over all I didn't care for the ergonomic experience (my complaint with B as well) but there is only so much that can be done with the limited front panel space.  Nothing wrong with the way it sounded, no complaints about the Lexicon-esque FX.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Al Burgess on February 15, 2018, 09:54:51 am
I don't think Jon is being particularly harsh, although there is a hint of bitterness...

Soundcraft has an institutional way of doing things that is not particularly customer responsive in the near term and it's been that way for 35 years under different owners, so it's not just a Harman artifact...

Soundcraft eventually does take customer needs and concerns into account, usually when new models roll out you'll see the feature you wanted 4 years ago (or they finally fixed what wasn't working).  Soundcraft is also very opaque when it comes to dealing with MI customers (and even professional users, which is why we're a Soundcraft-free company based on lack of support 20+ years ago) and to expect them to respond is to exercise ones frustration tolerance.

That all said, consider that Soundcraft probably has under 100 people on direct payroll... maybe substantially fewer.  Supporting existing products, designing and testing new items, and trying to stay a bit ahead of the competition keeps them very busy.

We've always found them really responsive, maybe it was a different story being uk based..... Having said that, now that they're no longer based in this country I do wonder what support will be like in the future.
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on February 15, 2018, 12:12:59 pm
I've put in numerous feature requests to no avail; channel presets, DMX addressing. . .
They market this as a useful desk to run your lights, but with multi channel fixtures, it isn't.
I'm jealous that other companies update their products on a regular basis.
The Ui24 remote app is really nice, so it seems logical that they would port it to the Si, Vi line.  :(
Bob, I love my Performers too.  But this is America and we all deserve more! ::)
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Michael Grimaila on May 21, 2018, 08:07:38 pm
I've put in numerous feature requests to no avail; channel presets, DMX addressing. . .
They market this as a useful desk to run your lights, but with multi channel fixtures, it isn't.
I'm jealous that other companies update their products on a regular basis.
The Ui24 remote app is really nice, so it seems logical that they would port it to the Si, Vi line.  :(
Bob, I love my Performers too.  But this is America and we all deserve more! ::)
Very well stated!
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Pluke on May 21, 2018, 08:12:40 pm
The Ui24 remote app is really nice, so it seems logical that they would port it to the Si, Vi line.  :(

Agreed!  Granted, they acquired that technology (along with the Ui platform), but it seems they have had time to port it over.

I'm still surprised more manufacturers haven't gone the html5 route.

Dave
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Mal Brown on May 22, 2018, 10:34:23 am
I expect that the internal architecture of the SI series is radically different from that in the UI and that means a total re-write not a port.  And of course the actual hardware in the SI may not support some of the functionality of the UI...

Man would I like to wake up one morning and find that SC dropped a port of the uI software for the SI though...
Title: Re: Soundcraft Stagebox and MADI questions
Post by: Dave Garoutte on May 22, 2018, 12:06:44 pm
Man would I like to wake up one morning and find that SC dropped a port of the uI software for the SI though...
Or Mixing Station.