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Mixing Live with RML Labs’ Software Audio Console, Part 1

May 3, 2012 9:59 AM, With Bennett Liles


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The business end of the Software Audio Console control point at the Goodlettsville Church of the Nazarene.

And with a smaller group of volunteers on the tech jobs, it’s got to be easier to handle training and breaking people in on the various tech positions.

Yes, yeah, very much so. A lot of times for training what I’ll do is I’ll sit down with them and just kind of show them what we’ve got and then for the first couple of weeks we’ll have them sit with an operator that is used to running the equipment and that way they can see how it actually happens in the actual service because a lot of times in training you don’t actually see things that might take place in the service and it’s good for them to just sit and ask questions while the service is going on. [Timestamp: 4:12]

Right. No substitute for being there and watching everything happen right in front of you and being right in the middle of it all.

Exactly.

What made you decide to go with the Software Audio Console that you finally got with on this for actually doing live sound mixing?

Well, to be honest with you, cost had a lot to do it. We were looking at some of the other digital consoles. I have worked on many other digital consoles because I’m kind of a freelancer when I’m not here at this church working. I’m a freelancer audio engineer and so I’ve worked with a lot of the digital consoles. So I kind of had an idea of what was out there, but I also knew the cost of those digital consoles and I knew that it would be a stretch for us to afford something like that for the size that we needed because we were looking to go a minimum of 48 inputs. So the price of the Software Audio Console when we sat down and started figuring out we were able to go 48 inputs, 48 outputs for around $6,000, so that was a big seller for us and it still worked. It wasn’t something that was very difficult to use. [Timestamp: 5:12]

That would most likely be sort of a sticking point in the minds of a lot of experienced audio people on this. Sure it’s pretty inexpensive, but how well does it work especially when you’re doing live music without having a big console in front of you.

Yes, yeah, it’s a little different. I’ll admit that, but like I said I come from a world of different audio consoles and I’m used to working in Pro Tools, which a lot of people are with and that’s working on a computer with a mouse basically. But thing that’s nice about the Software Audio Console is the way it’s laid out they give you 16 DCA groups so you just have to get it laid out for your situation and a lot of Sundays we typically have the same band, same choir. You know, we’re not changing a lot really quickly at any one time. It would be more difficult, I think, for people that are maybe doing, you know, fairground type stuff where they got a different act coming in one right after the other where things are changing a lot but for us that’s not the situation and for our situation this worked well and we find that we typically stay on the DCA groups page and then the way our setup is we have another page that shows all of our inputs so if we need to get something quick we can. So, it’s wasn’t too bad but it is a little bit different. It’s something you have to get used to. [Timestamp: 6:28]

And when you’ve got everything lined up there, what sort of sources are you dealing with? What kind of instruments does your band have?

We’ve got full acoustic drum set, bass, electric, a lot of times we’ll have a couple of acoustic guitars, keyboards, piano, full choir and vocals to go on top of this. So we’ll run somewhere, on any given Sunday, we’ll probably run around 40 inputs or so by the time you count playback from computers and things like that. [Timestamp: 6:54]

Well, even with a front line digital board that would be pretty much a handful, especially for people who are not used to it.

Exactly and you know comparing it to other digital consoles, I feel like it’s as easy to get around on as some of the other ones that are out there. I’ve worked on the Yamaha, MC7 and even the Roland digital and you get buried in pages real quick on those consoles and that’s something that really you don’t get caught up in on the Software Audio Console because another way they have it laid out is you can assign function keys that will change your display, will take you to different places so once you figure out what your function keys are within the hit of a button you can be there. [Timestamp: 7:34]

So when you first got this idea of going with a Software Audio Console did you have a local guru somewhere or where did you go for advice or help with it?

I’ll tell you the way it came about is we have a gentleman in our church, his name is Tony Morgan, and Tony does audio for the country group Diamond Rio and he was telling us that Diamond Rio recently switched over to this new audio system because we had been talking about we kind of wanted to get into the digital world so he said, “Hey look, you need to check this out. It’s working really well for us.” So we were able to talk to him and he was a big help in just pointing us in what we needed to look at—made it available that we could come see their system and then also the Software Audio Console has a great forum you can go to and you can get a lot of questions answered on their website. [Timestamp: 8:21]

Well, as long as it’s just audio people talking back and forth it’s probably easier to get on the same wavelength, but how did you deal with the church staff? How did they react to the idea of using the Software Audio Console for mixing live stuff?

You know, I’m probably in a unique situation in that our church board and staff, they really leave decisions like that up to me and they trust me with it and that’s not to pat myself on the back or anything, but we’ve got a pretty good track record of making smart decisions. So I had mentioned it to them that, “Hey, this is something we’re looking at,” and with any church board, when you say, “Hey, it’s only going to cost me $6,000 versus $30,000,” that’s a pretty easy sell and so we really didn’t have any kind of problem at all selling it to our staff and board. [Timestamp: 9:04]

Right, even if they don’t know all the in's and outs of digital audio, they understand the price tag.

Absolutely and that was a big selling point.

What do you use to physically interface the sound sources with the software?

You can use any mic pre you want, you can use pretty much but we chose to go with the Behringer. I believe they’re the ADA8000’s, and they’ve got the eight mic pres built in and then they have the optical in and out on them. So we chose those and like I said, we’re doing 48 in, 48 out, and they delivered that and then from there it goes to the Motu 2408 to get the actual audio in and out of the computer system. [Timestamp: 9:39]

Yeah, on the Motu I believe you can actually do SMPTE sync on that.

Yes, you can SMPTE sync and I know a lot of the—one of the other places when we were looking at this if you go to YouTube some shows out in Vegas are using it and pretty much let it run on its own to control different lighting scenarios and things like that because it can generate time code or it will receive it also they tell me. [Timestamp: 10:01]

I saw some of those videos and some of those are really interesting. I was going, where’s all the big stuff and it’s just one guy sitting out there with a monitor.

Yeah, exactly.

OK, well, Keith Sealy. Thanks very much for being with us from the Goodlettsville Chuch of the Nazarene in Tennessee, and in part two we’ll get more into the Behringer BCF 2000 and some of the particulars on the computer you use for this and we’ll be seeing you then.

Thanks for joining us for the SVC Podcast with Keith Sealy of the Goodlettsville Church of the Nazarene. Show notes can be found on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. In Part 2 Keith gets into the Behringer BCF 2000 and plug-ins for the Software Audio Console, next time on the SVC Podcast.



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