Audio Review: Symetrix Automix Matrix 780
Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin
The latest automixer tool in the Integrator Series proves to be a powerful combination.
A while back, I took a look at the inaugural product in Symetrix' Integrator Series, the Zone Mix 760. (Read my review of the Zone Mix 760 here.) Symetrix has now introduced the Automix Matrix 780, which is the third and latest tool in its Integrator Series (the second was the Deuce 722). As evident in its name, the original Zone Mix 760 was marketed as a pure and simple zone mixer, intended for applications such as restaurants, sports bars, and fitness clubs. The Automix Matrix 780, on the other hand, is touted as a more sophisticated automixing matrix unit, intended for automixing, submixing, routing, and processing for applications such as courtrooms, legislative and government chambers, corporate boardrooms and training facilities, and houses of worship. The 760 is intended for multizone BGM/paging applications, whereas the 780 is a more straightforward mixer.
Fundamentally, the Automix Matrix 780 is a 12-channel automixer with eight submixes married to eight outputs. Eight of the 780's 12 inputs can handle both mic- and line-level signals, and the other four are line inputs, strictly speaking. All feature polarity inversion, a noise generator, digital trim, and British EQ. The mic/line inputs also feature a compressor and an eight-band feedback fighter. The four line inputs also have an automatic gain-control circuit. All 12 input signals flow through the 780's automixer, and then to virtual channel faders (represented in the 780's computer graphical user interface), and then on to the 12x8 matrix. Each matrix node offers an on/off switch and a level control, as do each of the matrix' eight outputs. Each output features loudspeaker management DSP — including a delay, high-pass filter, low-pass filter, eight-band parametric EQ, and a limiter. An emergency mute, which can be controlled by Symetrix' analog control inputs, mutes all outputs. Final output metering is featured on each channel, as is a -10dB/+4dB pad. The 780 — just like the 760 and 722 before it — can be controlled remotely by Symetrix' Adaptive Remote Control (ARC) wall controllers — primarily the ARC-2, but other units are available, including the ARC-2i, the ARC-K1, the ARC-SW4, and other similar versions. Many parameters of the 780 can be accessed from these controllers.
The 780 sports exactly the kind of front panel you would expect from a device that's intended to be controlled by computer via Ethernet. There's an easy-to-read 2"×16" bright-white-on-blue-background LCD display just to the left of the center of the panel. To its right, you'll find three navigation buttons: menu, up, and down. To the right of that are tricolor audio-level LEDs — 12 for inputs and eight for outputs. Finally, at far right, there are three system-status LEDs: power, network, and ARC. Similarly, the simple back panel features only I/O. From left to right, you'll find an IEC AC power input; two 3-pin Phoenix connectors for external control inputs; a six-terminal Phoenix connector that represents four open collector outputs; an RJ-45 jack and a 3-pin Euroblock, together representing the system's ARC I/O; the RJ-45 Ethernet jack that connects the unit to your computer or LAN; and a DB9 connector that represents the system's RS-232 connection for third-party accessory controllers. Beyond these control-oriented connectors, you'll find the 780's outputs — specifically, eight 3-pin Phoenix connectors — followed by inputs: four 3-pin Phoenix connectors that represent line inputs and eight 3-pin Phoenix connectors that represent mic/line inputs. The initial Automix Matrix 780 units were shipped with 3-pin balanced mono plugs that were a touch too wide, making multiple connections virtually impossible. Symetrix solved the problem by shipping six 12-pin Phoenix connectors to all purchasers of the system. I do appreciate the notion of just fixing the problem rather than instructing customers to visit their local electronics supply shop. The issue has been permanently settled now: Symetrix is now shipping the smaller 3-pin Phoenix connectors that fit perfectly side-by-side.
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