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Title: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 25, 2008, 11:50:28 pm
I managed to trick Robert Scovill at Digidesign into letting me Road Test the moderately new Venue D-Show Profile Mix Rack System (  http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=437&itemid=616 2). For those of you not familiar, the Profile surface is a more compact version of Digidesign's already popular full-size D-Show surface. The Profile Mix Rack is a more budget conscious version with no digital snake, the system is made up of the control surface and one rack of "brains", with all the I/O on the back.

I've already seen a few full size Venue D-Shows "in the wild", but I hit Digidesign's website to see exactly what you lose when you step down to the smaller surface. As far as I can tell, you lose some metering (the Profile has no meter bridge, smaller channel input meters and compressor gain reduction meters, and no gate action metering on every channel, only selected channels). You also lose a little bit of control (aux outputs in banks of 8, no mouse on the surface, only one row of channel encoders), and the ability to strap on sidecars to add on more faders, but aside from those considerations there's nothing I can see that you can do on the full size D-Show that you can't do on the D-Show Profile.

For a more picturesque idea of the difference between the full size desk and the Profile, here are some stolen photos from Digidesign's website:
Venue D-Show:  http://akmedia.digidesign.com/products/images/dshow-expanded -large_17130.jpg
Venue D-Show Profile:  http://akmedia.digidesign.com/global/images/pr/VENUE/D-Show_ Profile/D-ShowProfile_Top.JPG (this image is quite large)

The profile surface is very neatly put together. There are 24 input faders on the surface, 16 to the left of the masters and 8 to the right. Each input fader has above it Mute, PFL, and Select buttons, a channel label, encoder (the function of which is easily selectable globally), 6-segment input meter, 3-segment gain reduction meter, and assignment indicators for L/R, Mono, and all 8 buses.
The master section consists of 8 faders, each with Mute, AFL, and Select switches, a label, and an encoder. These 8 can be "bank switched" between aux masters (1-8 and 9-16), Personal Qs (whatever those are), Matrixes, Groups, and VCAs. To their right is the main output fader.
The rest of the surface is taken up with controls for the four bands of fully parametric EQ, nicely fleshed out dynamics controls, and various indicators and buttons that you can check out in the enormous photo I linked to above. Suffice it to say there's plenty of capability for fader flip, very nice metering for all the dynamics and plugins, snapshots, and 8 10-segment switchable bar meters for groups, auxes, etc as well as main output meters.

All those things you can find out about on the product's web page, though, so let's get to the important stuff. I'm going to break this up into separate posts to make it a little more readable, plus some of this I've written while at the show and other parts I'll be writing while at the show this weekend.
Title: Getting The D-Show On The Road
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 26, 2008, 12:02:30 am
The show I picked this console up for us the Eastern States Exposition, held annually in West Springfield, MA. On a big day there are over 150,000 people on the grounds (like this past saturday), but even a slow day usually breaks 50K. Regional providers SPL Systems and SCL Sound, headed by LABsters Bill Forbes and Scott LaRochelle, respectively, provide all the gear for both major stages and one minor stage for three weeks of solid shows. Both large stages are sponsored by Comcast, the Arena stage seats around 6,500 and the Court of Honor stage seats about 1,800.

The console got to start out its time on the Court of Honor stage, with Yours Truly at the help. The first weekend my monitor engineer, Keith Lussier, and I set up for Malo (latin rock) and Micky Dolenz (of the Monkees) with backing band of unknown origin (who were nonetheless excellent).

Naturally, the time that I was hoping to have to spare Friday morning for the first show at noon with Malo evaporated. With no stage plot to speak of and no band, we were left sitting on our thumbs until both arrived circa 11 a.m. By the time we'd gotten our plan together and set the stage, miced and line checked, it was about 5 minutes to show time. A good dose of adrenaline got my fat ass out to FOH, where I prepared to gain an intimate knowledge of the Profile surface in 5 minutes or less.

[Edit: One thing I forgot to add here is that the preamp gain pot has a "guess" function if you push it down. Hold it in while the source makes a reasonable noise, and it guesses your preamp gain. I used it on a few things that I wanted to get "in the mix" and move on from (most of the kit) since I was in a hurry, and it seemed to work well. Nifty idea, and it works on the encoders above each channel fader, too, so you can "guess" a lot of channels quickly to rough out your gains and then perfect them later]
Title: Actually Mixing On The Thing
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 26, 2008, 12:24:21 am
I have always found the Digidesign Venue surfaces a little intimidating, although Sheldon Radford has certainly given me more than a basic introduction at one trade show or another, I always felt a little alienated by the funny knobs, two-color layout, and control screen. The console's recording studio heritage was always nagging at me a little, and while the team at Digidesign has certainly given much thought to making this a live sound piece, that has always tugged at the back of my mind. Now was the time to get past all that and make some noise, however.

Fortunately, the Profile turns out to be very easy to get a basic mix up and going on. Select a channel, your assignment buttons are right up on the top left next to your preamp section, there's plenty of metering to get you on your way, and you can worry about those DCAs later. The whole console bank-switches between 1-24 and 25-48 with a simple button push (and there's two more banks available, but this baby wasn't loaded up that high). Another button push can put all your channel gains on the encoder above each channel, which also makes it easy to quickly get a lot of channels up and running. Keith was providing phantom from stage, so I didn't have to worry about it, not that it would have been a big deal. Malo's first set ran about 35 minutes, and I was all over the console for the whole time. By the end of my baptism by fire, however, I felt fairly comfortable with basic console operation... I wasn't running plugins or effects yet, but the EQ is easy to use and powerful, and the stock dynamics do not disappoint. While I probably could have gotten my mix together faster on an analog control surface with a more traditional layout, I certainly had enough knobs and buttons to get the control I needed to make what was coming out of the mains inoffensive.

One of the things that makes the Profile so pleasant to work with is, and I can't believe I haven't mentioned it yet, the LCD screen that attaches right to the surface! One screen shows you essentially everything you need to know about your entire console, with full metering for every input and output at the bottom, plus a completely comprehensive selected channel display taking up the rest of the screen. With a click of the mouse of a push of a button on the surface, you can zoom in to view EQ, dynamics, or mess around with your plugins (I'll get to those later, they're a ton of fun).

So you can get an idea of what I'm talking about, here are a few photos. Clockwise from the top left that's the whole system, the back of the mix rack, a closer shot of the surface and screen, and a shot of the main screen during a show.

http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/1.jpghttp://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/5.jpg
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/29.jpghttp://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/17.jpg

A word about sound quality, since everyone is going to ask: The console sounds good. It's got a very "big dollar analog console" sound to it... a little bit of character that I would say is kind of like a Midas XL2 being driven a little hard. I certainly had no impression at any point that the console was getting in my way, sound quality wise, and once I had a few shows under my belt I was making pretty decent mixes come together.
Title: Things I've Liked A Lot So Far
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 26, 2008, 12:51:17 am
Now that I've gotten the basics out of the way, there are a few features of this little desk that I think really shine.

First of all, the onboard parametric EQ and dynamics are excellent. Very powerful, very easy to get what I want out of them.

Secondly, the on-board meters are really fantastic. They both hold peaks and offer normal meter ballistics, it is very easy to glance across the console and get an idea of what your desk is doing. Additionally, the console is great about letting you know when you're on the verge of or actually clipping something, somewhere. Channels in the bank you're currently viewing have their entire input meter blink red, channels in the hidden layer have their very own "hidden bank clip" light so it's easy to track down channels that are getting out of hand. There's even a menu option to define where you want that threshold to be, I set it at -3 but it was at -6 dBFS. While I certainly had channels indicate clipping several times, I never heard any audible clipping. I don't know if that means I clipped the pre and it just handled it well, or what, but no complaints here.

It is obvious that the desk is designed to get out of your way as much as possible. It goes out of its way to keep important controls up on faders or pots so you can get in, tweak whatever, get out, and keep mixing the whole time. There was only one time I ever felt caught on the wrong bank, and that was when I had to work with an MC mic on channel 40 (layer 2) while balancing a talent mic on channel 23 (layer 1). It worked out OK.

I would also like to add that, while the labels above each channel are only 6 characters, the desk has a very good shorten-o-matic built in if the channel name you've specified runs longer than that. I had no problem getting most of my labels into 6 characters, but you can have the full channel label come up on the screen ("DRUMKIT") and the LCD above the channel will display it intelligently ("DRMKIT" or something, anyway it was pretty slick).

The DCA and mute group assignments take a little getting used to, had I been a good boy and read the manual I would probably have been a little more on top of them, but 5 minutes of dicking around between shows got me up to speed, and once you know how it's very easy to assign your channels however you need to.

I haven't played with snapshots at all (yet), so I can't speak to how easy that is to use yet. I've been saving the whole desk into a file after each show. Soundco owner Bill Forbes has used the snapshots, however, and he found them easy to use, as evidenced here in this not staged at all photo:
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/23.jpg

Scott had a little more trouble, however:
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/25.jpg

Last, but certainly not least, are plugins.

Let me preface this by saying that when I first heard that Digidesign was making a live sound desk and they were going to let you use plugins on it, I thought "Oh, great, more flashy toys to make recording studio guys think they can mix bands live".

Now that I've used them, and especially Digidesign's implementation, I think they're a hell of a good time. The desk has plenty of onboard EQ and dynamics if you don't want to touch them, but mine at least came loaded with some real nice toys that I dug right into once I'd gotten more comfortable on the console (four shows later or so). They're easy to use, sound cool, look cool, have their own set of metering so you can see exactly what's affecting each channel, and are easy to pop in and out and assign. While you can easily get stuck in a whole world of plugin sound, no matter what else you do get the Smack! compressor and put it all over your lead vocal. That honey of a audio machine is the fucking bomb, I want to wake up to it in the morning, I want to have children with it, I want to grow old and die with it.

Unfortunately, while the dynamics and EQ plugins are all pretty cool and pretending I've got a Fairchild 670 on my playback inputs is great, the effects plugins just didn't get me hot and bothered. They're effects, they sound fine, the control is a little limited and I found myself fighting them a little. I'm sure there are some great FX you can buy aftermarket and load in, but the ones I played with that the console came with were underwhelming.

Other little things that were nice is a full 31-band EQ on faders that you can assign to aux mixes, mains, whatever. Easy to get to, easy to use, easy to zero.
A parametric on the main outs would be, y'know, kind of nice... but I couldn't find one.

FX returns are also just a button away on the left-most bank of faders. Button, adjust or mute or whatever, button, back to mixing. Not bad, especially considering that's where my kit resides normally so I usually just left the FX up on that set of faders since I was tweaking their levels more than the kit (which was on my DCAs as well).

A word about reliability, while I'm thinking about it.
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/7.jpg
Both the surface and the mix rack have redundant PSUs built in. It is unclear to me how easy one would be to replace in the event of an actual failure, but there are certainly enough points of redundancy. Killing one supply in both the console and the mix rack had no effects, although a nice little warning popped up on the LCD screen to let me know I was running half-full.
Since I was pretty sure I'd heard it could do it, I killed both supplies in the surface. Nothing changed, audio continued uninterrupted. Turning the supplies back on brings the surface back up, it came up quickly enough and restored my mix the way it was. I should have timed it, but I certainly didn't feel like it took forever... I would guess 30 seconds?
I'm happy with that.
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Evan Kirkendall on September 26, 2008, 01:07:30 am
Thanks for the review Bennett. Ive never gotten a chance to mix on the Profile, but I do love the D-show! It pretty much puts the 5D to shame! The only thing I didnt like about the D-Show was the lack of a tap tempo, but it looks like they have finally sorted that out.

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e194/HarfordSound/ATLsixflags1.jpg

It's a great sounding board, and you can really mix without relying on the screen!



Evan
Title: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 26, 2008, 01:26:36 am
The control surface is what it is, it's compact and digital, and definitely geared around one engineer at a time. While I think it is commendable in how well the workflow is streamlined, there is definitely a learning curve and definitely less ability to get from point A to point B instantaneously. Then again, I would say that 95% of the time, even if you have to switch layers to get there, it probably takes about as much time as having to step from one end of a big analog desk to the other, so I'm really not going to complain about that... I really didn't feel that the desk was holding me back except once or twice when we had to get a lot of new inputs up and running quickly.

While the big knobby knobs are neat and identifiably "Digidesign" and all... you can't goddamn see past them! Here's an example. You tell me exactly what I have the gain set at on ANY of my EQ bands:
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/13.jpg
So it would be nice if they were, you know, smaller. I've got the desk at a totally normal height, and half the time I just bring a channel up on the screen since I don't want to crane my neck around or lean WAY (no, like really) over the console just to see a little light.

Speaking of "bringing a channel up on the screen", while I feel I could accomplish basic mixing tasks just on the surface, I definitely feel the interface can be a bit screen, keyboard, and mouse heavy sometimes. While there's a nice drawer in the roadcase for the keyboard, and the mouse and screen attach nicely to the surface, I wish I didn't have to spend so much time with my hand on the mouse. I mean, you've pretty much got to use them for plugins, which is kind of unavoidable... but there's also no real other way to adjust routing, save the state of the console, dim your littlites, etc. Maybe I'll post from the show later when I find some more things that annoy me in this vein. Long story short, if I had one of these babies, I'd definitely want to be sure I had an extra screen, keyboard, and mouse too.

While the console has a very nice section in the options menu to dim all the LEDs and the Littlites, so at night you don't have to wear sunglasses...
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/41.jpg
During the day, even at maximum brightness, the LEDs (and especially the channel label strips) wash out too easily. So does the fairly generic analog flat panel that was provided with the console. This isn't such a big deal on, say, and analog console... but when EVERY control is soft and your ability to determine what that control even DOES depends on an LED, I think they should have a retina-splitting mode. At the very least the channel scribble strips should NEVER wash out. I mean, yeah, most of the shows I mix happen in the evening or indoors, but not all, and besides I've got to soundcheck with the sun high in the sky most of the time too!

This is around 1 p.m. on a sunny day, with the desk under a tent. Early in the morning when the sun is coming through the front of the tent the console is damn near unusable.
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/13.jpg

Speaking of channel scribble strips and sort of washing out... when you adjust a fader, the label above it indicates its position in dB. That's great and all, but it indicates it right over the channel label, and it stays there for a second or two as well. Bump a few faders in a hurry and then you have to wait to find out exactly which one you want to adjust some more. The display is two lines, the top line only ever tells you what the whole bank of faders is doing... that could get lost for all I can while I'm pushing faders so that I can still see what the heck I'm adjusting.

If they can do it for the graphic EQ on the faders, why not the rest of the time?
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/56.jpg

The biggest annoyance for me was, however, the debacle that occurred when I tried to stereo link two channels. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, I don't know, but it took me forever to figure out how to do what I finally did get. First I tried holding the two select buttons. No good. Various "pan" options seem to pertain only to routing to groups and auxes. Multi selecting both channels presents no additional options, nor does hiding under the desk, popping up, and then quickly pressing both select buttons in order to surprise it.
This would be less of a big deal if you didn't have to stereo gang channels to use stereo EQ and dynamics on them.
So finally I discovered if you press the big red button labeled "config mode" at the top of the surface, use the keyboard and mouse to "shift-select" both channels, and then right click one, there's a menu option for "make selected mono strips stereo". Overjoyed, I selected it in the middle of a show since the mix was going fine and I was trying to gang my playback inputs.
The console promptly dropped all audio for about two seconds. And they were a long two seconds, let me assure you.
Lesson learned, things that happen in Config mode should STAY in Config mode, but holy shit... stereo linking channels? Drops all audio? Who thought that was acceptable? I mean, yeah, you have to go into config mode to change the configuration of your plugins rack, too... but that just drops the plugin processing for a second or two, not ALL AUDIO FROM THE CONSOLE.
So I was kind of surprised by that.

A smaller complaint: When bank switching, if the console encounters any resistance whatsoever on any fader, it leaves that fader there and changes it in the mix accordingly. That means if you're like me and you like to lean on the desk a little, when bank switching from a bank you're hardly using to one that Really Matters (like, say, lead vox), if one of those faders hits your hand on the way up you'd better move fast to get it back to where it's supposed to be because your vocalist just dropped out of the mix. Even worse, I did it one time switching back to my percussion layer and messed up my whole kit. Kind of a pain to have to redo that mid-song.
How about making it fight, even a little? All I need is enough time to get my hand out of the way, I move it as soon as the fader hits it but by then it's too late.
Title: Next Steps
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 26, 2008, 01:39:29 am
I spent all weekend the first weekend on the desk (Fri-Sun, 4 shows a day, two alternating band) and by the end I was VERY comfortable with all aspects of operating the Profile. I'd even had some cameramen show up and it was easy to route the main outs to another two available outputs to feed them.

During the week the main stage shuts down and Bill and Scott come over to my house and hold down the fort. They did that all week with Bill at FOH, but I'll bug him to jump in here and tell you how he felt.

Friday morning the second weekend, though, they stole that lovely console from me and trucked it over to the big stage since Jason Aldean's guy had requested it and Bill's aging PM4K was... well, buzzing. Bill had all week to get comfortable with the Digidesign surface, and lo and behold it didn't buzz over there, so it spent all weekend there instead of with me (I had another toy, don't you fear).

More about that later, hopefully Bill and Scott will add more after this, but I'm about typed out so I'll throw up some show pics and GTFO.

http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/94.jpghttp://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/170.jpg
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/140.jpghttp://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/150.jpg
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/153.jpghttp://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/160.jpg
http://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/162.jpghttp://www.bennettprescott.com/images/digi_ah_road_test/Thumbnails/168.jpg
Title: Re: Next Steps
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 26, 2008, 02:27:24 am
Something I've noticed: The interface doesn't always respond as quickly as I'd like, or really at all. Usually it's fine, but every once in a while (more than once a show), I'll hit a select button on a channel I want to adjust and midway through my changes realize that the console never changed over to the new channel, so I've been screwing up my perfectly good settings somewhere else. I have had to learn to not just tap buttons, but to push them for half a second or so before moving on. This isn't limited to channel select buttons, if I'm in the dynamics section and try and jump between plugin, gate, and comp it doesn't follow my button press 100% of the time. I can't recall if layers follow always or not, but the screen definitely lags behind where I am on the console sometimes as well.

An undo feature would be nice.

Something else I've noticed, and this isn't unique to this console: I'm a little bit of a neurotic type-a neatophile (OK, a lot bit), so when I move a fader or adjust a knob and a little display tells me I've moved it by 3.2dB, I have to readjust it so that I've only moved it by 3dB. I will then try and have all my faders be at "meaningful" decibel positions, 5, 3, 6, 10, 0, something like that. I do this on an analog desk too, but there I'm not being told to a tenth of a decibel exactly where my controls are! If that wasn't bad enough, the console has a little too low a threshold for "the user has stopped adjusting the control, ignore their input and change the display back to the channel name (or whatever)". When you're really trying for that last .1 dB, this is infuriating. Yes, it's meaningless. Yes, I'm mixing with my eyes. Yes, it drives me up a wall. At least make it so I can make really fine adjustments and have them show up, the desk is so good at determining when I've just brushed a fader, it should notice when I'm still tweaking around with it.

Additionally, as fine as the user interface is on this desk, there is still definitely an eye-ear-brain disconnect. Not so much on the screen, as the screen display is excellent, but on the surface, definitely. There's no "muscle memory" for changing a control by a certain amount, I always have to look at the LEDs or, usually, the screen. I have not yet been able to get that second nature "I turn this control this much to get this result" kind of control into me that I'm so used to on an analog desk. I don't know why, I don't know if there's a fix, or if the fix needs to be me taking some fancy new drug, but I spend a lot more time watching a screen and tweaking a control than I ought to.
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 26, 2008, 12:21:28 pm
 "I wish I didn't have to spend so much time with my hand on the mouse. I mean, you've pretty much got to use them for plugins, which is kind of unavoidable..."

Hey Bennett --
On this issue, just wanted to make sure you understand that you don't HAVE to use the mouse/ball to operate plug ins. You can operate every plug in I can think of with the on-board encoders. Just select your input and plug in and if it is an EQ for example, just press the "Plug-in" button near the EQ encoders and those knobs will now take control of the plug in. Same goes for gates and compressors - just press the plug in button near the dynamics encoders when adjusting a dynamics plug in and those knobs now take control of the plug in. For effects, you used the knobs above the output faders. For example, select an reverb processor like ReVibe etc. and press the "insert mode" button near those encoders. Now you can get to every parameter and adjust it via the knobs complete with parameter name and value. It's very fast and very intuitive once you do it a few times. I find that I hardly EVER use the track ball with plug ins accept for accessing drop down menus for routing.

Thanks man!
Robert Scovill
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 26, 2008, 12:58:17 pm
Hey Scovill,

You don't have to use the mouse to adjust, true, but it's not always clear which control does what on the dedicated dynamics controls, especially with the more esoteric plugins, at least it hasn't been for me. Since you've got to have the screen up anyway to see what the plugin is doing, and have to have the mouse and keyboard in to select and route plugins, it has almost always been much faster and easier to just use the keyboard and mouse.
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 26, 2008, 01:02:37 pm
Bennett Prescott wrote on Fri, 26 September 2008 06:26


Speaking of channel scribble strips and sort of washing out... when you adjust a fader, the label above it indicates its position in dB. That's great and all, but it indicates it right over the channel label, and it stays there for a second or two as well. Bump a few faders in a hurry and then you have to wait to find out exactly which one you want to adjust some more. The display is two lines, the top line only ever tells you what the whole bank of faders is doing... that could get lost for all I can while I'm pushing faders so that I can still see what the heck I'm adjusting.


Hey Bennett -- you'll apparently be very happy to know that this is a preference setting. Smile On the surface press the OPTIONS button or click the OPTIONS tab on the screen and go to the tab labeled INTERACTION. Toward the bottom of the screen you'll see a check box to turn this feature off. See the uploaded picture -- with the box "unchecked" which will turn the displays off.

Robert Scovill
Digidesign
index.php/fa/18118/0/
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 28, 2008, 09:33:31 am
Got it! Thanks, I'd still like if there was the option to have the best of both worlds and put the dB value above the channel name, but I also like to be able to turn it off altogether.

Should be mixing monitors on the board today, we'll see how it goes! It's not me behind the desk, but I've got complete confidence.
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Sheldon Radford on September 28, 2008, 06:28:20 pm
Hi Bennett,

Thanks for all of the comments. We take all feedback - positive and negative - to heart and are committed to improving and evolving our live sound products.

To address a few specific comments...
Quote:

...and no gate action metering on every channel, only selected channels

The selected channel gives a detailed view of the gate action, but there's also a single LED on each channel that indicates gate open/hold/closed action via the normal green/yellow/red indication.

Quote:

stereo linking channels? Drops all audio? Who thought that was acceptable?

Even though it seems like a fairly simple task, the "Make Stereo" operation is actually quite involved and requires a re-sorting and re-sequencing of  channels and parameters under the hood in order to accommodate the new "stereo-ized" channel(s). The console is muted to prevent any unintended noise while this shuffling takes place. Hence the need to use the console's Config mode to access the feature...sorry for making 2 seconds feel like forever...Confused

Quote:

When bank switching, if the console encounters any resistance whatsoever on any fader, it leaves that fader there and changes it in the mix accordingly.

This can happen when a fader is touched very soon after changing banks. To account for this there is a very brief "hold off" period immediately after changing banks, during which fader touches are ignored. From your report it sound likes this period could be extended by another ms or two. We'll look into it.

Quote:

An undo feature would be nice.

Indeed! In the meantime, there is an Undo button on the Snapshots page which can be used to undo accidental scene recalls. Careful though, because this is similar to the Make Stereo operation and may disrupt audio while things are undone.

I look forward to reading about your continued adventures with the console, and hope to see you in person at AES.  

Sheldon Radford
Digidesign
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Adam Robinson on September 29, 2008, 01:09:10 am
What a great report, Bennett... and just in at the right time for me.  I've mixed a few things here and there on a Profile, but this weekend was the first time that I mixed my regular gig on one.  I have to say, it was rougher than I was expecting.  It is no secret that I've been drinking the Digico kool-aid for some time now and I've done a ton of shows with my guys on various Digico consoles, along with a ton of shows on a PM5D.  My goal with the Profile was to translate the way I like to mix onto this console, too.  The Digicos meet all my needs and I've spent enough time on the 5D to lay it out and set things up to get pretty close...   Sheldon, Robert, anyone:  I'm hoping you can jump in to a few of my frustrations and maybe clue me in on ways to do the things I'm trying to do and failing at.

One of the first things that frustrated the living bejeezus out of me was the inability to move channels around easily.  I found this out about a week ago when I was the A1 on a gig where the requested console was a Profile.  Although it worked fine in the shop, I opened the console at the gig to find that nothing I could do would make the 10th fader work.  I tried inserting a blank channel to work around this dead fader, but it messed the layout up down the line.  And as is par for the course, the band showed up with a few additions and changes to their input list, so my preprogramming work needed a little update.  I was also really looking for a simple and flexible insert and move channel function, but all I could figure out was it just wasn't possible.  

Second, like Bennett, I was really bummed that I was unable to pair or gang adjacent channels.  I have several inputs that I would like to at least be able to pair the faders without having to make those inputs into a stereo channel.  

Third, like Bennett, I had issues with seeing around the knobs, especially while EQing.  Additionally, I found a huge disconnect between what I was doing on the surface and the EQing that was occurring on the screen.  Each time I'd look up to EQ something, I'd have to adjust my eyes to finding the frequency - the type is really small (or maybe I need to use a larger monitor!)  Of lesser note, I think it'd be great if the knobs had a bit more resistance to them.  

Fourth, like Bennett, I found that the desk didn't follow my button presses 100% of the time.  I mix FX on sends, so I do a lot of turning that Aux on and off.  I had several times the other night were I'd push the knob in to engage that channel's send and it wouldn't take.  Frustrating.  And back to the loose knob thing, the levels would regularly change when I'd press the knob in.  Usually by just a little, sometimes by more.

Speaking of Aux Sends... is there a quick way to change a post fader send to pre fader and vice versa without clicking the PRE button on the display?  

I too had an issue with faders changing position when I moved banks.  It happened a couple times without me realizing immediately... once I was aware of the issue, I tried to be really conscious about not having my hands anywhere near faders when bank switching, but it still bit me in the ass a couple more times that night.

One of the layout schemes that I've always really enjoyed with Digico consoles is the ability to change banks on one section of faders without affecting others.  I always like to have the same 8 channels under my right hand (vocals and a couple extras) and then use the other banks for the rest of my channels.  I tried using the Bank Safe feature to keep channels 41-48 on that right bank of channels, but I found that I lost channels 17-24 in the process.  

I could use a nice, full featured parametric on the outputs, too.

I had a great time with the Plug In feature of the console.  I used an assortment of dynamics and EQs just to try things out and found some stuff I liked and stuff I didn't.  I really missed not having the MC2000 multiband compressors on this most recent gig I did!  I particularly enjoyed being able to insert a comp, a gate, and an inverted reverb onto a special channel.  I think it'd be nice if we had the option to re-assign the comp metering on the channel strip to one of that channel's plug ins.

The other feature that I'm really really really excited about is virtual soundcheck.  The Profile I was on had an HD rig connected and I recorded all 48 channels and took the recording home with me.  My next step will be to run a virtual soundcheck in a friend's shop and tweak my settings where I'm not under the time constraints of a band soundcheck.  I've got some more shows coming up on this console and I'd like the second show on this desk with my settings to sound like the 100th.  If I can't get ahold of an HD rig to play the show back with, is it possible to use this feature with a 3rd party multi-track playback system and assumedly come straight into the preamps?  (I'm guessing no)
Title: My Turn
Post by: Bill Forbes on September 29, 2008, 12:15:42 pm
Well I guess it's my turn to chime in, seeing I did mix on the thing. First off, I'd like to thank Bennett (Grandmaster "B") for arranging the console demo and a special thanks to all at Digidesign for making it happen!!!

Let me say that I've had little to no experience with digital consoles! I spend most of my time in analog world.

Long story short - 2 months ago I was talking to Bennett about the Profile Mixrack and a day before, my biggest event of the year, it shows up!

      Pre-show - 1 day  before load in the console arrived at my shop in the afternoon and we opened it up, plugged it in, turned it on, and it came to life. My first impressions were WOW, COOL and then reality set in,.... I would have to set this thing up from scratch with no manual (i did get it online), no help and mix a show! Well I got to play with it for about an hour that day and once I got a grip on the "flow" of things I felt comfortable with it. ( Some might think "well, you should have spent more time on it before you mixed on it". The reason I didn't  was that I wanted to experience the same emotions that a Guest engineer might have when walking up to this desk "blind" and mixing his/her act.) After all I am a sound provider and have to cater to a lot of different people.

Bennett pretty much covered the layout of the surface so I wont go back over it.

  Things I liked before even mixing on it:
1- The amount of information that was shown on the display when an input/output was selected.
2- The Size of the surface- I could fit 3 of these things into the same area as my PM4K.
3- The "feel" of the desk- faders were not "loose" and buttons felt solid when pushed. Ie; an analog feel?!
4- The fact that I felt like I could mix a show with little to no "flying time"

Bennett was on deck with this thing for the first weekend of our 17 day run. I found myself on the Comcast Arena Stage with my trusty old PM4k. ( a bit noisier after being toppled off my easy tilt by a golf cart at the last Fair we did). And to be honest, a bit nervous about mixing on the Profile on Monday.

Title: Week 1
Post by: Bill Forbes on September 29, 2008, 01:01:02 pm
Well my first mix on a Digidesign Profile Mixrack system.

My first act for the week was Malo at Noon. ( Naturally I got their 2 hours early to fix all Bennetts mistakes! (hahaha) )

Bennett had the desk nicely labeled and set up from the weekend so that was very comforting! But I did have the task ahead of me to set it up for our 3pm and 8pm act "Taste of Honey" a 70's disco type of band.

After Malo, 12:40pm, we only had until 3pm to get TOH setup, sound checked, and on stage so I got together with Scott, who elected to do monitors, because he had even less time on the Profile than I did, and we built and input list for TOH. I took my info to the console and with in 5 minutes had it labeled, did my VCA assignments, setup comps, and even managed to get efx happening! This was very cool! I was amazed on how fast I got around the surface during this time! Everything just seemed so "right". I did find that I needed to take care when depressing the "SELECT" buttons that it actually engaged. It seemed like I needed to press and hold them for a split second before they engaged and not just "tap" them. I found that odd. I also could not get stereo channels to happen.

By the time TOH hit the stage I was a master of the desk! (well not really but I was willing now to have some fun) I rolled up a basic mix as the show started. ( we are an open venue and dont have the luxury of extended sound checks if any.) Playtime - as the show went on I was able to add some plugins. WOW talk about wild! I could just make a couple clicks of the mouse and have a Fairchild or Smack or Bomb Factory to EVERY CHANNEL, if I wanted! No more digging around my 4K's doghouse and patching insert cables for my 8 gates and 10 comps - I was SOLD!
Inconvenience's
I had inputs across 2 layers on the console and found it a little annoying and sometimes confusing going between layers. I guess that is the norm with most digital ( I wish I could have kept some of my layer 2 inputs on layer 1. Is there a way to do this? )

Well I got through my first week with the Profile and really love it. I cant wait to get it to our other stage this weekend!

Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 29, 2008, 01:35:47 pm
Cool Bennett --
If you're mixing monitors on the console you owe it to yourself to check out some of the monitor mixing specific workflow features that have been implemented in VENUE. I've outlined them in a tips and tricks. Check out the link below for an entire list of VENUE tips and tricks --

 http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=319&langid=100 &categoryid=76&mkt=VENUE

Thanks!
Robert Scovill
Market Manager
Live Sound Products
Digidesign
Title: Re: Week 1
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 29, 2008, 02:26:11 pm
Bill Forbes wrote on Mon, 29 September 2008 18:01


I had inputs across 2 layers on the console and found it a little annoying and sometimes confusing going between layers. I guess that is the norm with most digital ( I wish I could have kept some of my layer 2 inputs on layer 1. Is there a way to do this? )




Hi Bill,
In regards to your question concerning keeping inputs on the top layer -- yes, this is very easily done. If you press OPTIONS on the surface OR click OPTIONS at the top of the GUI and then click the INTERACTION tab, you'll see the following box mid page on the left --

index.php/fa/18142/0/

This is where you select the current functionality for the safe switches for the input faders. All of these functions are available at the same time, this box simply indicates which function is currently assigned to the switches. (you can even setup a function switch to toggle this status if you wish) So, with "Act as Bank Safes" selected, when you select safe for any input it will lock it to the TOP layer until you disengage the switch. This can be great if you are keeping your fingers on one or more inputs but need to "go downstairs" to address another input. You simply engage bank safe for the channel you want to keep on the top layer and then bank down to work on the others. If you have a channel that you want to be on the top layer at ALL times, I would encourage you to then take a moment (during your console setup) and stack "blank channels" directly below the fader you want to bank safe. That way you could leave the desired channel "bank safed" for the entire event and still have access to ALL other faders via traditional banking etc.

I discuss this very technique in a tips and tricks article on arranging your inputs. Here is a link to all VENUE tips and tricks --

  http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=319&langid=100 &categoryid=76&mkt=VENUE


Good luck!
Robert Scovill
Market Manager
Live Sound Products
Digidesign

Title: Re: Week 1
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 29, 2008, 02:33:24 pm
Here is some additional info on "Bank Safe"

On the D-Show surface there is a dedicated safe switch per input fader -- On Profile, there is a safe indicator on every channel, but you'll need to select the input and then engage the safe switch in the center section near the Pre-Amp controls in order to create a safe input. Here is a close up of Profile. Note the safe switch and the safe indicators above each channel.

Here is the Profile zoomed in --

index.php/fa/18144/0/

Robert Scovill
Market Manager
Live Sound Products
Digidesign
Title: Re: Week 1
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 29, 2008, 02:40:20 pm
Here is a zoom in on the per channel safe switches on D-Show --

index.php/fa/18146/0/

Robert Scovill
Market Manager
Live Sound Products
Digidesign
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Sheldon Radford on September 29, 2008, 03:26:22 pm
Hi Adam,

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. All good stuff.

Quote:

I was also really looking for a simple and flexible insert and move channel function, but all I could figure out was it just wasn't possible.

To move channels on the console, simply select the channel(s)  to be moved, then right-click on screen where you want to move them to and choose “Move Selected Strips Here”. Note that the console needs to be in Config mode in order to do this, and there will be a brief interruption of audio while the re-shuffling takes place (similar to a Make Stereo operation).

Quote:

I'd have to adjust my eyes to finding the frequency - the type is really small (or maybe I need to use a larger monitor!)

Whenever a parameter is adjusted its value is shown in a few places: on the control surface itself, on its associated on screen control, and in big blue letters/numbers at the bottom of the screen (which is what I find to be the most useful).

Quote:

Speaking of Aux Sends... is there a quick way to change a post fader send to pre fader and vice versa without clicking the PRE button on the display?

On a VENUE D-Show surface yes, but not on Profile surface. This can be a pain when you need to toggle pre/post state on a bunch of channels, which is where the multi-select feature comes in really handy: simply multi-select the channels to be changed, then toggle the pre/post button on any one of the channels to set the parameter for the entire group.

Quote:

I tried using the Bank Safe feature to keep channels 41-48 on that right bank of channels, but I found that I lost channels 17-24 in the process.

Bank Safe does override channels on the lower layers; in order to bring those channels back onto the console simply insert blank strips to lay the console out as you desire. To insert blank strips right click on the faders on screen and choose “Insert Blank Strip”.

Quote:

I could use a nice, full featured parametric on the outputs, too.

Yep, that’d be a nice addition. In the meantime it’s possible to put any number of PEQ plug-ins on the outputs. Some popular plug-ins for this are the Sony Oxfords, Massenburg and Serato plug-ins.

Quote:

If I can't get ahold of an HD rig to play the show back with, is it possible to use this feature with a 3rd party multi-track playback system and assumedly come straight into the preamps? (I'm guessing no)

Any system could be patched straight to the preamps, but the channel gains would need to be reset for the playback tracks as opposed to the live mics. The real beauty of virtual soundcheck using VENUE’s Pro Tools HD option is that it injects the digital audio after the preamp, where it then passes through the channel at exactly the same "effective" gain setting as the microphone. This makes the whole process really transparent and easy to use.

Sheldon Radford
Digidesign






Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 29, 2008, 03:47:57 pm
Hey there --
Just wanted to take a minute and address a couple of your comments --
Adam Robinson wrote on Mon, 29 September 2008 06:09


Speaking of Aux Sends... is there a quick way to change a post fader send to pre fader and vice versa without clicking the PRE button on the display?


On Profile, changing the pre-post status of one or more auxes can only be done by first "selecting" the channel and then clicking the on-screen pre/post switches. However you can affect numerous channels at one time by using "multi-select". One way to mult-iselect large numbers of channels, is to simply select an entire bank of channels by left clicking on the on-screen numbers 1-8, 9-16 etc. and you will notice all faders on the screen are then highlighted in blue. (you also get a screen warning that you have multiple inputs selected

index.php/fa/18155/0/

Now anything you do on the last selected channel (short of pre-amp gain) will affect all of the selected channels. Now, go to the pre-post switch on the screen for the desired aux and choose pre-post and that status will appear on ALL of the selected channels.

You can also do this by holding down the multi-select button and then pressing the select switches on any number of channels. This allows for selecting various channels instead of entire banks of channels. Think of the multi-select button as the "shift" key on a computer allowing you to "shift+select" any number of channels.

See image in the next post --

On D-Show you can use the exact same approach but you also have the ability to engage an "actual" pre-post switch on the surface in order to change the status of the selected channels.

See image in the subsequent post --

Adam Robinson wrote on Mon, 29 September 2008 06:09


One of the layout schemes that I've always really enjoyed with Digico consoles is the ability to change banks on one section of faders without affecting others.  I always like to have the same 8 channels under my right hand (vocals and a couple extras) and then use the other banks for the rest of my channels.  I tried using the Bank Safe feature to keep channels 41-48 on that right bank of channels, but I found that I lost channels 17-24 in the process.


You can indeed do this very simply on D-Show, simply hold down the "A" bank button for instance until it flashes. Once accomplished the Side Car will now bank separately from the Main Unit. The same functionality can apply to the rotary encoders as well, where you could have a targeted aux on the Side Car and a different aux assigned to the rotary encoders on the Main Unit. Simply press down the encoder assignment switch until it blinks and they will be discrete. Press the switch until it blinks again, and they will operate as one bank again.

This functionality is not available to the Profile surface because of the lack of a second set of bank assignment switches. All 24 faders operate on one bank.

Adam Robinson wrote on Mon, 29 September 2008 06:09


I could use a nice, full featured parametric on the outputs, too.



I would strongly suggest either the EQIII Plug in by Digidesign

  http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=22&langid=100& amp; amp; amp;itemid=4562

or the Serato Parametric by RANE.

  http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=22&langid=100& amp; amp; amp;itemid=4821

Both excellent units for system tuning etc. and there are many more excellent very high quality plug ins out there perfect for system tuning duties.

Robert Scovill
Market Manager
Live Sound Products
Digidesign
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Adam Robinson on September 29, 2008, 03:52:01 pm
Thanks, Sheldon for all the responses!  A few more questions, etc. for you......

Quote:

To move channels on the console, simply select the channel(s) to be moved, then right-click on screen where you want to move them to and choose “Move Selected Strips Here”. Note that the console needs to be in Config mode in order to do this, and there will be a brief interruption of audio while the re-shuffling takes place (similar to a Make Stereo operation).


I have a really hard time doing this without the rest of my channel lineup getting messed up.  For instance, right now in the offline editor, I attempted to move my drum trigger channel from 17 to 25.  When I clicked "Move Selected Strips Here" on channel 25, the drum trigger ended up on channel 24!  I then tried pushing it a few past channel 25, which pushed my original channel 25 to channel 24...

Quote:

Whenever a parameter is adjusted its value is shown in a few places: on the control surface itself, on its associated on screen control, and in big blue letters/numbers at the bottom of the screen (which is what I find to be the most useful).


I guess I was looking too much at the EQ strip on the screen to even notice this feature.  The numbers at the bottom of the screen are probably the most useful to me.

Quote:

On a VENUE D-Show surface yes, but not on Profile surface. This can be a pain when you need to toggle pre/post state on a bunch of channels, which is where the multi-select feature comes in really handy: simply multi-select the channels to be changed, then toggle the pre/post button on any one of the channels to set the parameter for the entire group.


On the Digico, I change the send to my external FX unit (on my vocal channels) from pre to post and back by using a macro.  Is there a similar feature on the Profile that I can use?

Quote:

Bank Safe does override channels on the lower layers; in order to bring those channels back onto the console simply insert blank strips to lay the console out as you desire. To insert blank strips right click on the faders on screen and choose “Insert Blank Strip”.


Even though the Profile with Mix Rack will only run with 48 channels, if I insert 8 blank channels will I gain access to bank "C"  ?

Quote:

Yep, that’d be a nice addition. In the meantime it’s possible to put any number of PEQ plug-ins on the outputs. Some popular plug-ins for this are the Sony Oxfords, Massenburg and Serato plug-ins.


I wish the concert venue in question had these!  Their setup has a very basic assortment of plug ins...but yes, a good idea!

Quote:

 Any system could be patched straight to the preamps, but the channel gains would need to be reset for the playback tracks as opposed to the live mics. The real beauty of virtual soundcheck using VENUE’s Pro Tools HD option is that it injects the digital audio after the preamp, where it then passes through the channel at exactly the same "effective" gain setting as the microphone. This makes the whole process really transparent and easy to use.


Know anyone in Chicago with a Profile / HD setup?
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 29, 2008, 03:54:26 pm
Robert Scovill wrote on Mon, 29 September 2008 20:47

See image in the next post --


index.php/fa/18156/0/

Multi-Select Button (top left) and Bank A-D Selectors

Robert Scovill
Market Manager
Live Sound Products
Digidesign
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Robert Scovill on September 29, 2008, 03:56:08 pm
Robert Scovill wrote on Mon, 29 September 2008 20:47

 See image in the subsequent post --



index.php/fa/18157/0/

Aux Pre Post Switches on D-Show

Robert Scovill
Market Manager
Live Sound Products
Digidesign
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Adam Robinson on September 29, 2008, 03:58:57 pm
Robert

I was posting my response to Sheldon as yours was put up.  Thanks also, for the advice.

Quote:

One way to mult-iselect large numbers of channels, is to simply select an entire bank of channels by left clicking on the on-screen numbers 1-8, 9-16 etc. and you will notice all faders on the screen are then highlighted in blue.


That's great!  One of those little tricks I guess I would have had to otherwise really poke around for!

Quote:

This functionality is not available to the Profile surface because of the lack of a second set of bank assignment switches. All 24 faders operate on one bank.


Darn.  The desk I'm going to come up on a couple more times this year is a Profile with a Mix Rack.  No Venue+Side Car =(

Quote:

I would strongly suggest either the EQIII Plug in by Digidesign

http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=22&langid=100& amp; amp; amp;itemid=4562

or the Serato Parametric by RANE.

http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=22&langid=100& amp; amp; amp;itemid=4821


I need to suggest to this concert venue that they get some more plug ins!

Thanks again!

Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Sheldon Radford on September 30, 2008, 12:57:54 am
Hi Adam,

Good questions, let's see if I can clarify a bit...

Quote:

For instance, right now in the offline editor, I attempted to move my drum trigger channel from 17 to 25.  When I clicked "Move Selected Strips Here" on channel 25, the drum trigger ended up on channel 24!  I then tried pushing it a few past channel 25, which pushed my original channel 25 to channel 24...

Yep, I see what's going on here. What's happening is that a lower-numbered channel (17) is being moved to a higher-numbered channel (25), which leaves a gap (at 17), which is then filled in by shuffling the remaining channels down by one.

One solution is to add a blank strip back in at strip 17. Try this:
1) Select ch 17
2) Right-click on ch 25 and choose "Move Selected Strips Here"
3) Right click on Ch 17 (which has now been filled by ch 18) and choose "Insert Blank Strip..."

This puts everything back in its rightful place.

Oh, and this is probably a good place to mention the console's History function. Any time a significant change is made (like re-ordering the channel strips), the console first saves the current state as a "History" file on the Filing>History tab. Think of it like a big Undo button - and it will come in handy someday...

Quote:

On the Digico, I change the send to my external FX unit (on my vocal channels) from pre to post and back by using a macro.  Is there a similar feature on the Profile that I can use?

Sure. The easiest way to do this is to create a snapshot scoped to only include the channel(s) and parameter(s) to be affected. In this case you'd set the aux in question as an Aux FX (Options>Snapshots page), and then scope the Aux FX data type for just the vocal channels (highlighted in red in the example image below).

Create two snapshots - one w/ the aux set to Pre and one for Post. Then, on the Options>Events page create two events (which are similar to macros) and assign them to trigger the appropriate snapshots using function switches on the console surface. The snapshot system is extremely powerful and flexible. So much so, that we've devoted an entire webinar to the topic on December 010. Check out http://www.digidesign.com/lswebinars for full details and to sign up.

Here are a few screen shots to illustrate:
index.php/fa/18161/0/

Quote:

Even though the Profile with Mix Rack will only run with 48 channels, if I insert 8 blank channels will I gain access to bank "C"?

Yes. Even though there are 48 processing channels available (complete w/ EQ, Dynamics, etc.) there are a total of 96 strip positions available on the Profile console, arranged as four banks of 24. As blank strips are added the channels will automatically spill over onto the lower banks C and D.

Quote:

Know anyone in Chicago with a Profile / HD setup?

Check with the fine folks at T.C. Furlong. If they can't help hit me back and we'll do our best to connect you.

Lastly, regarding using PEQs on outputs: I forgot to mention our own EQ III plug-in. It's a great sounding PEQ, and it's a free download!

Sheldon Radford
Digidesign
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Bennett Prescott on October 01, 2008, 10:05:32 am
Sheldon Radford wrote on Sun, 28 September 2008 18:28

Quote:

...and no gate action metering on every channel, only selected channels

The selected channel gives a detailed view of the gate action, but there's also a single LED on each channel that indicates gate open/hold/closed action via the normal green/yellow/red indication.

Ahh, not the best, but certainly better than I thought. I must not have been paying very close attention and thought they only indicated that a gate was active, not its activity. Thanks, Sheldon!
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Bennett Prescott on October 01, 2008, 10:33:22 am
Well, the Profile is all packed up and ready to go home. It may even be gone. Thanks again to Digidesign and Sheldon and Scovill for the great opportunity, it's a very well put together and polished little desk.

Before I forget, I also wanted to say how much I liked that the metering across the board (so to speak!) is in "analog" units. None of this 0dBFS, there's a 0dB on every meter and a +18 or so to show you how much "headroom" you've got. One of those things that's so friendly you forget it's there until you have to use another desk (*cough* Yamaha *cough*) and every glance at a meter requires extra thought.

One other nagging concern: The VCA bank indicator in the master fader section is bright red. When I see red I think "bad", but in this case there's nothing wrong... I got used to it, but considering I left that section in VCA/DCA/Whatever mode 99% of the time, the light was annoying. At least there's a dimmer, the console LEDs do get pretty bright when it's dark out!

http://bennettprescott.com/images/bige2008/Thumbnails/27.jpg

The last weekend was spent with the Profile at FOH on the Arena stage. Fergie brought a Venue D-Show for monitors and used the Profile at FOH, so that was fun, too. We had a few other guest engineers on the surface as well, one of whom brought his show on a USB stick and was happy to be able to just plug it in. LeeAnn Rimes owns her own XL4, so that was one of the few shows we didn't use the Profile for. All in all there were a lot of impressed and happy BEs getting their hands on the desk, one of whom said specifically this time was the straw that broke the camel's back, and he'll be speccing the Profile for his next tour.

I'm not sure there's much more I can say, so here are some more photos:

http://bennettprescott.com/images/bige2008/Thumbnails/68.jpghttp://bennettprescott.com/images/bige2008/Thumbnails/73.jpg
http://bennettprescott.com/images/bige2008/Thumbnails/76.jpghttp://bennettprescott.com/images/bige2008/Thumbnails/72.jpg
Title: week 2-Main Stage
Post by: Bill Forbes on October 01, 2008, 11:01:22 pm
After working the past few days on the COH stage I have the opportunity to set up the console from "scratch" and use it on our Main stage. Friday night is a double header. Opening act is Savannah Jack and our head liner for the evening is a local gal, Ashley Gearing (she now lives in Nashville) I was also looking forward to this night because I would have the chance to actually mix both bands. ( usually we wear the hats of "providers" more often than "mixers") I was amazed at the small footprint this console has after we removed the 4K from mix position out 10x20' platform looks empty! I could fix 4 Profiles in the same area.

My first task was to setup the console. I wasn't sure how to "Zero it out" so I went into the "Options" section on the screen and clicked on "system" and then clicked "Clear console" I'm sure there is a better way to do this? Now I had a clear slate. I then setup my "Left, Right, Sub, frontfill, and wingfill outputs. I had 31 band EQ's assigned to each. What, no rack of outboard EQ's? VERY COOL! So I labeled inputs for both acts I used layer 1 (ch1-22) for the headliner and started the opener on layer 2 (ch25-40). This by now was pretty easy, If i was a better typist it would go a lot faster. As I waited for the band I also setup all my assignments, comps, gates, and added some plug ins. All this I then saved as a snapshot just in case. Sound check went just as fast as it would with my 4K maybe faster seeing how I didn't have to "hard patch" just "click".

The location of the keyboard and mouse are perfect and accessible.  The show went off without a hitch. I found myself nervous a couple of times switching between function , seeing all those faders move and wondering if I might hit a wrong button and mute the whole rig, but that was all in my head. I wish those darn TALL encoders were a bit shorter so I could see behind them.( I found myself on my "tippy toes" more than a few times)
        Saturday was Jordan Sparks Their TM and BE were very cool, we ran into them last year with "Daughtry" and that went very well. When we first advanced of the show they didn't want the Profile and wanted a 5D instead (out of familiarity i would assume) but when given the option of using a "noisy" 4K or the Profile they choose the latter. The BE "Moe" got around the thing like a champ by the end of the show. Some SLAMMING low end! (16 SB1000's tend to do that) He was really cool with the Profile and I think he will request it in the future!
        Sunday was Jason Aldean their FOH guy REALLY knew the Profile, he loved the thing. He walked up loaded his USB stick and uploaded his show. That quick! He was also very helpful in answering some of my "stupid" questions. On his stick he had a generic "opening act" setup and I used that for the opener Lo Cash Cowboys. At the end of the show he mentioned his mind was made up and will be requesting a Profile for his upcoming tour.
I'm lovin' this console more and more.
Title: Re: Things I Haven't Liked That Much So Far
Post by: Michael 'Bink' Knowles on October 02, 2008, 03:50:30 am
Robert Scovill wrote on Mon, 29 September 2008 12:47

...or the Serato Parametric by RANE.

   http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?navid=22&langid=100& amp; amp; amp; amp;itemid=4821



I put a Serato 10-band PEQ on my problem  subgroups, and a Digirack 7-band PEQ on each output going to loudspeakers. when I was roadtesting the full Profile, the one with a digital snake. The Serato works and sounds good, though I had trouble with its interface from time to time.

Super sound quality.

-Bink
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Jamie Taylor on November 29, 2008, 07:42:45 pm
I had the opportunity to have a quick play on the Profile last night.  It was only a BE job for a tap group (5 lapel mics, 1 handheld rx and a cd player), but from my brief job with it it sounded great.  The whole desk gave me a really good 'vibe' about it.  I;m now much more interested in taking a further look at one.
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Duncan McLennan on December 15, 2008, 11:10:32 am
I was just having a look over the digidesign website, and according to the specs of the mix rack, the maximum length of the control cable between the mix rack and the control surface is 11 feet.  Does this mean you can't actually put the mix rack on stage, and the control surface at FOH?  I know you could do it with the separate FOH/stage racks, but that sort of eliminates the whole point of having the processing with the I/O (never having audio leave the stage).

Also, does the profile control surface have any I/O for monitors, iPods, CD players, etc.?  Again, I know the FOH rack does.  I guess if you can't put the mix rack on stage anyway, it doesn't really matter.
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Bennett Prescott on December 15, 2008, 03:03:26 pm
The Profile MixRack is the least expensive surface/rack combo that Digi offers. If you want the features you're talking about, you need to step up.
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Duncan McLennan on December 15, 2008, 03:27:03 pm
Bennett Prescott wrote on Mon, 15 December 2008 15:03

The Profile MixRack is the least expensive surface/rack combo that Digi offers. If you want the features you're talking about, you need to step up.


Yes, I realize those features are available on the FOH/stage rack system.  But what I don't understand is: if you're going to go to the trouble of separating the mix engine and the I/O from a control surface, why would you implement it in such a way that the mix engine must be set up with the control surface anyway?

To me the obvious advantage of mix engine and I/O being separate from the console is the ability to avoid interference to the show through possible damage to the snake.  All inputs, mixing, and processing take place on the stage and are simply controlled by the CONTROL surface.  As you pointed out earlier, a loss of power to the profile surface doesn't interfere with the show.  Wouldn't it make sense to have a system in which damage to the snake would let the show continue too?

If the FOH rack has to be deployed with the control surface, what's the point of separating it into a different physical chassis?  And with the mix rack system, why not just integrate the whole thing into the control surface (which would basically make it a 5D) since you're going to have to have an analog snake anyway?  I seriously doubt anyone would use anything other than the profile surface with the mix rack.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the whole concept doesn't really make sense to me.  iLive looks like it's on the right track.
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Steve Bunting on December 16, 2008, 06:57:00 pm
Duncan McLennan wrote on Mon, 15 December 2008 20:27

If the FOH rack has to be deployed with the control surface, what's the point of separating it into a different physical chassis?  And with the mix rack system, why not just integrate the whole thing into the control surface (which would basically make it a 5D) since you're going to have to have an analog snake anyway


Because the system is modular. A D-Show Profile can be used with either the Mix Rack or the FOH/Stage Rack system. If the Mix Rack was built into the control surface, this flexibility would not be possible without unnecessary redundancy.
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Nicolas Lowman on December 20, 2008, 01:26:08 pm
Hi Duncan,

The Mixrack system was not designed to to operate with a digital snake. If you want a digital snake system you have to step up to the full two rack system which is excellent.
Nicolas
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Duncan McLennan on December 20, 2008, 06:29:59 pm
That's exactly my point.  I understand that the mix rack is not a digital snake.  What I am saying is that the mix rack - a unit that contains both the preamps and the mix engine for the system as a whole - is a superior system to a digital snake, in that it is completely immune from physical damage that might occur to the snake during a show.

IMO, the concept of a digital snake as a whole is a side step, as we should be working toward having the 'mixer' on stage, controlled by a surface at FOH, but that could continue should something happen to the connection to the control surface.  This is how iLive works.

All I was saying is that's it's silly to design the mix rack in such a way that it cannot be placed on the stage, when it really is a superior system (perhaps not in features, but in ideology).
Title: Re: Digidesign D-Show Profile Mix Rack System
Post by: Andy Peters on January 01, 2009, 06:14:56 pm
Dunno whether this should be in the Road Test or in regular Product Reviews, but seeing as how there's a thread here already, I'll chime in.

I was on a Profile for the first time last night. I spent part of my flight RTFM, so I was familiar with the layout. I also downloaded the offline software and played with it and set up my show on it. Of course, I left my USB flash drive at home, so I couldn't save the setting to flash and bring it up on the console.

Which leads to complaint #1: Where's the Mac version of the software? Yeah, I know there's Windows Embedded down there somewhere but phooey.

The dry run on the offline software was very useful. After the headline act's soundcheck, their settings were stored and I created my own set-up from (what I thought was a) zero configuration. It's pretty easy, point and click and type in input names, then go through and select each channel and enable phantom where necessary, dial in high-pass, enable dynamics and so forth. I then set up VCA grouping.

So some basic comments: call me old fashioned, say I'm over the hill, but ya know, I like the vertical channel-strip orientation of analog console EQs. Similarly, having the input level meters near the faders might be more user friendly (and add some more meter resolution around 0 dB). Yes, a high-res input meter appears on the display when the channel is selected.

And having the effects returns on faders 1 through 8 on a separate layer isn't all that user friendly. I would've cared more if I actually used any reverb but I'm sure our set is still rattling around the room a day after the show. Perhaps flipping the center masters to returns would be fine, or make room for four more faders.

I know there are several presets one can select for dynamics, but it might be nice if the gate's default attenuation was "as much as possible," and not 20 dB. Perhaps there's already a default preset like that? I dunno.

The LCD scribble strip should really be right above the faders and not as high up by the encoders. I understand why it's where it is, but those of us with bifocals might have a hard time looking at both the stage and the scribble strip. (I left my computer glasses at home.)

As for how it sounded: ya know, with the acoustics of the venue (an ornately-refurbed historic theatre with no acoustic treatments), I couldn't tell whether it was good, bad or indifferent. I know that I was slower on it than on a console I've actually used before, but you've gotta start somewhere.

I understand there's a Profile at the 9:30 in DC, and I'll be there in March, so I'll get another crack at this. And as we all know, the 9:30 Club is like the best club in the country with the best install, so I'll be able to tell whether the default compressors actually do anything.

-a