Technology Showcase: Live Digital Mixers
Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Kent Morris
Improved user interfaces combine with expanded feature sets and reduced prices.
Innovation is a hallmark at Euphonix; the company first roared out of Palo Alto, Calif., two decades ago with digitally controlled large-format analog desks. The company's more recent professional line, the System 5, is an all-digital structure with a solid reputation for performance. For smaller environments, Euphonix recently introduced the Artist Series, an Ethernet-based, protocol-shifting control surface for project studios. Over in its Professional Series, the company's System 5-B continues to find favor in permanent installations despite its creator's broadcast intent. The 5-B is versatile enough to function perfectly at FOH, thanks in part to a new Fiber Stagebox solution with 56 mic preamps each in a redundant MADI/LAN-over-fiber configuration. In situations in which audio posting is part of the equation, Euphonix offers the System 5-BP, a specialized on-air board with full mix automation to fulfill both roles in a single console.
For live sonic environments, Harrison Consoles offers two solutions: the Trion and the LPC. The sleek lines of the Trion give hint to the power beneath the surface. A trademark Wide Pipe architecture keeps signals at full bandwidth throughout the processing, while instant control-parameter access is ensured through a “knob per function” fold-out feature across any adjacent eight faders. For custom groupings, Trion has Profile, a way to map unique combinations of channels to the surface as needed in an instant. Finally, Trion's high-resolution view screens are able to show every pertinent aspect of the signal simultaneously. The second live solution, the LPC (Live Production Console), was co-developed with live-event master Showco, and it features the user's choice of an analog or digital processing engine. With onboard Harrison IKIS automation, every function on the console is instantly recallable.
Innovason, an early digital adopter, is stronger than ever — offering a new entry to the console marketplace. Despite its compact footprint, the Eclipse can handle more than 100 inputs and route them to four dozen mix busses. Building on Innovason's concept of one-touch mixing, the Eclipse bristles with 48 faders and an evolutionary update of the original SmartFAD interface design, with assignable functions for all. Eclipse offers 48 more controls in the form of soft-programmable knobs for control over parameters such as gain and pan. In deference to the local point reference of analog consoles, Eclipse is equipped with an ID/value window at most points of adjustment, obviating the need to constantly refer to the primary mix screen. Finally, the Innovason engineers have added Multitrack Audio Recording System (MARS), a complete recording solution integrated into the console. MARS is a 64-track digital recorder designed to capture the entire mix without the need for any outboard equipment.
A name synonymous with live sound makes good on its promise to cover the digital realm with the expanded TT System32. Based on the successful TT24 console, the Mackie System32 is a lower-cost alternative to the combination of a quality analog console, outboard DSP, and a digital snake. By incorporating all these components into a single package, Mackie delivers an amazing bang for the buck. The TT24 console boasts an internal touchscreen and optional external view-screen interface, 99 presets, a solid effects section, and four-band EQ. The DS3232 digital snake uses standard Cat-5 cabling to bring remote-level mic preamps to the console from up to 300ft. away while the U100 network card keeps track of the data. With 32 mic inputs and an equal number of returns, the TT System32 can fulfill the needs of all but the largest installations.
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