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How might operational use of live digital

consoles be improved?

Joseph Couper

A Dissertation submitted in part fulfilment


of the requirements for award of the
degree of BA (Hons) Audio and music
production of Buckinghamshire New
University

April 2010

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Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Stephen Partridge for all of his help throughout
the dissertation process. I would also like to thank Andy Reynolds and
Noel Cornford for sharing their contacts, which helped so much with
the primary research process.
I'd particularly like to thank Paul Myers who in addition to agreeing to
be interviewed, allowed me to watch him at work on tour mixing
monitors on a digital console.

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Abstract
The aim of this research project was to establish the weaknesses in
operational usage of the digital consoles in the live market today and
provide some solutions to these weaknesses.
The research method consisted of an in depth literature review of the
current research on the topic, along with an overview of some of the
bigger digital consoles' features and interfaces. The primary research,
achieved by semi-structured interviews, was intended to establish
some of the opinions of working engineers, as well as insight into the
views of the manufacturers themselves.
This research adds to the existing body of research on the importance
of digital audio technology as well as clarifying some of the existing
opinions surrounding digital mixing consoles. It also offers some insight
into future of live digital consoles, particularly how they can change to
accommodate better operational use.

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Table  of  Contents  
Acknowledgements   2  
Abstract   3  
Introduction   6  
Knowledge  Acquisition   8  
Live  Sound  Operators   8  
Digital  Audio   9  
Analogue  to  Digital  Conversion   9  
Digital  Mixing  Consoles   11  
Layout   11  
Portability  and  Footprint   13  
Multi-­‐core   14  
Snapshots  and  Recall   16  
Virtual  Sound  Check   18  
Popular  Brands  and  Models   18  
Methodology   41  
Results   46  
Discussion   46  
Analogue  Consoles  are  the  Only  Viable  Option  at  a  Festival   46  
Most  Touring  Engineers  Would  Prefer  a  Digital  Desk   48  
A  Digital  Console  Takes  Longer  to  Learn  Than  an  Analogue  Console.   53  
Sound  Quality  is  Subjective   57  
Manufacturers  are  Good  at  Reacting  to  Feedback   61  
No  Single  Digital  Console  Is  Best   64  
Conclusions   66  
Further  Research   68  
References   70  
Bibliography   80  
Appendix   91  
1.0  Interview  Questions   91  
2.0  Complete  Interviews   91  
2.01  Interview  with  Paul  Myers  (Monitor  Engineer)   91  
2.02  Interview  with  Andy  Reynolds  (Lecturer/Tour  Manager/Engineer)   91  
2.03  Interview  with  Ben  Adcock  (Live  Audio  Engineer  for  Theatre  and  Music)   92  
2.04  Interview  with  Timm  Cleasby  (Engineer/Tour  Manager)   92  

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2.05  Interview  with  Robert  Caprio  (Engineer/Producer/Tour  Manager)   98  
2.06  Interview  With  Bennett  Prescott  (In  house  engineer)   107  
2.07  Interview  With  John  Gale  (Live  and  Studio  Engineer)   112  
2.08  Interview  with  Dan  Bennett  (Hire  Company  Project  Manager)   116  
2.09  David  Neal  (Director  of  Marketing  Communications  for  Harman/Soundcraft)
  119  
2.10  Interview  with  Rob  Hughes  (UK  Sales  Manager  for  Midas/Klark  Teknik)   124  
2.11  Interview  with  Tim  Shaxson  (Technical  Sales  Manager  for  DiGoCo)   127  
2.12  Conversation  with  Noah  Leibman  (Interface  &  Interaction  Design  Graduate  
from  University  of  Michegan)   133  
3.0 Editted Transcripts   136  
3.1  Do  you  prefer  analogue  or  digital  consoles  in  the  live  environment?   136  
3.2  Are  there  times  when  you  would  prefer  an  analogue  desk  over  a  digital  desk  
and  vice  versa?   138  
3.3  Do  you  find  the  workflow  on  a  digital  desk  more  or  less  intuitive  than  on  an  
analogue  desk?   140  
3.4  Which  digital  consoles  have  you  used,  and  what  are  the  main  differences  
between  them?   142  
3.5  What  are  the  main  advantages  and  disadvantages  of  a  digital  system?   145  
3.6  Is  there  any  real  noticeable  difference  in  sound  quality  between  digital  and  
analogue  systems?   147  
3.7  What  is  your  favourite  digital  desk  and  why?   151  
3.8  How  long  does  a  digital  desk  take  to  learn?   152  
3.9  How  important  is  a  reduction  in  footprint?   154  
3.10  To  what  extent  are  other  digital  exclusive  features  useful?   156  
3.11  How  much  contact  do  manufacturers  have  during  the  design  process?   157  

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Introduction

Live music is considered by many to now be the most lucrative section

of the music industry, as it was before music was widely recorded.

During the recorded music boom of the 1960s to the 1990s it was

often considered a great way to promote recorded music sales. We are

now at the post Napster era, where money from concerts is the main

source of income due to the assumption that the corresponding studio

recordings will be taken for free from the internet. Bands used to tour

to promote the album, now the free album promotes the paid-for live

event.

As the size of the music industry has grown, so have budgets for live

concerts and equipment. In the early days of rock music, concerts were

performed without any monitor mixes, meaning the vocalists couldn't

hear themselves sing on stage over the back-line. Front of house sound

was still in its infancy also, speaker technology was fairly basic, there

were only a fraction of the dynamic processors and effects that we

have today to help the mix, and audio engineering was still a young

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industry.

Jump to the present day when digital technology has penetrated most

of both the live and recorded music industries. We now have seemingly

infinite possibilities of what we can do with the audio.

The console is the primary surface that a live audio engineer can mix

and shape the audio and they too, have evolved since the earliest days

of live sound reinforcement.

We are now at a point where you are just as likely to see a digital

console as you are an analogue one, despite digital consoles being a

relatively recent technology. Most digital consoles use interfaces

strikingly different from their analogue counterparts due to a number

of reasons namely cost effectiveness, size limitations, increased

functionality and not least of all the fact that they work in an entirely

different way. The purpose of this project is to research how

successful this change is in relation to how well live engineers can do

their job.

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Knowledge Acquisition

In this chapter I will explore some of the concepts around digital live

mixing consoles, as well as some of the existing research on people's

opinions.

Live Sound Operators

Before going into what mixing consoles are, it is important to

understand a little about the people that operate them. A live sound

engineer can have any number of roles depending on the role they or

their employer requires. There are engineers who just mix monitors or

front of house and there are engineers who also manage tours,

maintain PA systems, run the lighting, and run the merchandise stall.

There are live sound engineers who do no mixing at all (Gibson 2007).

As this project is focused on mixing consoles I will focus on mix

engineers, both front of house and monitor engineers. A front of house

engineer can be in charge of many things depending on the size of the

operation, but his main priority is producing a good mix for the crowd.

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A monitor system is employed to mix for the people on stage. This can

be done from the FOH position but in larger venues a separate mix

engineer will mix monitors (Gibson 2007).

Digital Audio

Analogue to Digital Conversion

Sound is a longitudinal mechanical wave made up of contractions and

rarefactions in the air, contractions being an increase in pressure and

rarefactions being a decrease in pressure. Before it can be reproduced

by a loudspeaker it needs to be converted into an electrical audio

signal, this is done by a transducer such as a microphone (Henderson

1996).

An analogous audio signal is an electrical signal with a voltage, which

changes over time. The voltage correlates to the sound wave where a

rarefaction would result in a negative voltage and a contraction results

in a positive voltage.

Computers cannot understand an infinite number of points such as an

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analogue wave, so a method of converting a wave into a series of

numbers was made.

In digital audio, this wave is sampled at regular intervals. These samples

can be anywhere on a scale of finite numbers dependant on the voltage

of the signal (see Fig 1). The number of samples in a second is called

the sample rate and is stated in samples per second (Hertz). The

number of possible numbers on the finite scale depends on the word

Fig 1: Sampling of an audio waveform (Rumsey & McCormick 2005)

length of the sample, it is called the bit depth and is measured in bits.

As a result, the bit depth and sample rate have a direct effect on how

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close to the original the digital conversion is (Rumsey & McCormick

2005).

This conversion process is done by a unit called a digital to analogue

converter - often referred to as a D-A converter (Rumsey & McCormick

2005). The process of transforming the analogue wave into digital

data is called quantisation, the reverse process is called dither (Huber

& Runstein 2005)

Digital Mixing Consoles

Digital boards are different to analogue boards in many ways. Gibson

suggests that it is difficult to imagine all mixers won't one day be

digital, given the “previously unheard of amounts of processing and

ultimate control” (Gibson 2007). In this section I shall go through many

of these differences as well as mention some of the consoles currently

on the market.

Layout

In the analogue domain, all consoles are laid out in pretty much the

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same way, regardless of brand or function. Digital mixers can be laid

out in any way the manufacturer wants, digital console could be made

of only one knob and one fader if the manufacturer deemed it

appropriate, but obviously a compromise needs to be made between

footprint and operability (Gibson 2007).

FOH engineer Dan Lewis suggests that the layout is the biggest

downfall of many digital consoles “learning many digital mixing

platforms in the past few years, I’ve found most of the time is spent

learning a new surface layout and the specific manufacturer’s jargon

for the features available” (PSW Staff 2010c). Gibson suggests,

“digital mixers are so flexible that it's not always easy to guess where

the controls are” (Gibson 2007).

The Cue-Bert team describe the key considerations of the interface

design to be:

• There are important reasons to limit console size

• Controls that need to be accessed frequently should be close to

the operator

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• Visual system status feedback is a key component of the

interface of the mixing console.

• Human Factors limit the console operator’s effectiveness

• Console operators want an intuitive interface whose underlying

concept is easily grasped (Liebman et al. 2010a).

Portability and Footprint

Mike Manawitz, engineer for Big House Sound says that footprint and

weight reduction is one of the arguments that he uses to sway

analogue lovers onto digital boards. He tells them “We don't need to

haul a nine foot console to the gig, we can do the exact same thing

with this. Look at your footprint. When you open the truck and instead

of two (Midas) Heritages back to back in the back of the truck and the

stage hands are groaning, you've got two of these guys side by side in

the space of one board” (avid 2010).

At South by Southwest festival they use Digidesign consoles in multiple

sized venues and they all have similar features despite their size.

Manawitz says the only real difference is the plug in count (avid 2010).

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Having effects built in to the console presents another advantage,

when mixing you no longer need to move away from the desk to adjust

an effect or processor, you can change it from the same surface

(Hughes n.d.).

In a situation where space is a major issue there would be no way to fit

a similar analogue system into the area of a small digital desk. The fact

that in analogue, every parameter needs a physical control (Snyder

2010) is a major factor, but also the fact that you need most of your

effects in an external rack unit. On a digital console, one digital encoder

can be the pan pot, an aux send and a control to navigate menus,

meaning the desk can be half the size with the same channel count

(Snyder 2010).

Multi-core

In an analogue system there needs to be a direct connection from a

channel on stage to an input into the desk, the same goes for outputs.

Unless the mixer is close enough to the microphones that the mic

cables can plug straight into the mixer, a multi-core is necessary. White

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describes an analogue multi-core as “a bunch of small diameter mic

cables inside a protective outer sheath” (White 2000a).

As a digital system's A-D converters are at the I/O box, it can send a

stream of digital data rather than an analogous signal. There are many

advantages to doing this, but primarily the digital cable is smaller,

lighter and with less signal degradation than its analogue counterpart.

As the signal is just a digital stream of data, the digital multi-core can

be a more typical computer cable. The most commonly used cables are

cat5 cable and fibre optic cable.

A good example of a digital cat5 snake being used where it would be

impossible with analogue is at Montgomery School in Pennsylvania. The

school hall is also used as a church on Sundays, which contains a full

band. The church needed a permanently installed multi-core, but the

school wouldn't allow them to install a bulky cable in their oak rafters.

System engineer Carl Bader suggested that a cat5 digital snake could

be installed as a compromise. Bader says “going to a Cat-5 cable

system allowed us to keep the cable permanently and inconspicuously

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on the beam structure, saving a lot of set-up and tear-down time.”

(PSW Staff 2010a)

Snapshots and Recall

Most digital consoles allow you to take snapshots of the show either to

the console or to an external storage unit so that it can be taken away

to another show. Recall is the ability to call up settings saved earlier

(Gibson 2007). It can allow for quick changeovers between acts, or

even quick set up at the beginning of shows. It also means that a show

can be taken from one console to another. Reynolds mentions recall

functions first in a brief list of what he likes about digital “I love digital

desks for their recall, automation of repetitive tasks” (Reynolds 2009).

Fletcher says that switching to a digital board for the Grammy Awards

show saved a lot of time due to the recall capabilities, “Instead of

having to constantly reset consoles by hand, as in the past, I could now

hit recall and announce to the rest of the audio crew who hadn’t even

began to strike the last band that I was ready to line check the next

one” (Flethcher 2010). Rabel says that recall was one of the reasons

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Edge switched to digital “Our three main venues have different

systems, so it was important to have a console that we could configure

and save settings for each venue without having to reinvent the wheel

each time the desk is moved”. He also mentions that it has come in

very helpful in ensuring efficient operation of a night, “with many

shows containing multiple acts, short sound checks and quick

changeovers, the ability to save all settings and recall them quickly is

an asset” (PSW Staff 2010e).

Recall is even more prominent in theatre where the mix engineer is

expected to change the mix at certain cue points (Liebman et al.

2010a). Certain mixing consoles aimed specifically at theatre have

special cueing features, such as the D5-TC controller for DiGiCo's D5T.

This controller allows you to access functions deemed particularly

important to theatre sound, which includes additional cue controls, and

pre-programmable macro control buttons to execute a command

instantaneously (DiGiCo 2010c).

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Virtual Sound Check

Virtual sound check is a feature exclusive to DiGiCo and Digidesign

consoles. Hughes explains that it works by creating a multi-track

recording of a show and then playing back the multi-track recordings

back into the console at the exact same level at which it was recorded

at subsequent shows. The desk is then set in the exact same way that

you would during a regular sound check (Hughes n.d.).

This allows you to sound-check without the band, which is something

that is pretty much impossible in the analogue domain.

Front of house engineer Chad Franscoviak says of the Digidesign Venue

system “above all, the virtual sound check feature is what I appreciate

the most” (Colby et al. 2007).

Popular Brands and Models

There are five main manufacturers of digital consoles and they all have

slightly different approaches to what a digital desk should be. There

are many other manufacturers but these manufacturers don't have as

much market penetration so I will focus on the main five.

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Yamaha

Yamaha has a wide range of mixers, both analogue and digital (Yamaha

2010a).

Yamaha PM1D (Yamaha 2010b)

Yamaha make the longest standing live digital console in the market,

the PM1D (Hughes n.d.). Many people believe it to be the first

affordable digital mixing desk (Hughes n.d.). The PM1D is still in use, a

recent example being a touring theatre version of Ben Hur (Watson

2009).

The PM1D requires two external units to function, the DSP unit and the

I/O unit (Gor 2007). It looks pretty unique due to its two rows of input

faders. Each of these faders has physical controls, giving you

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immediate access to key functions such as gain, cues, panning and an

aux send. By selecting a channel you can adjust dynamic processing,

additional aux sends, the gain, and the level of the fader in the selected

channel section. The selected channel section is a bank of encoders to

the right of the first twenty-four channels. Outputs have another

section of encoders to edit the parameters to the right of the centre

section, which is similar but with the addition of a delay setting.

The centre of the console is designed in such a way that you can

configure it to do what you want it to do. The faders can be copies of

input strips, they can also be DCAs (a digital VCA) or auxiliary sends.

Above these faders is the screen where you can set effects and

graphic EQs.

An odd feature of the PM1D owing to its age is that you cannot save a

show onto a USB thumb drive. Instead the PM1D saves on to a much

larger CompactFlash drive.

The desk can be controlled via a computer in either online or offline

mode, meaning that the desk can be configured when you are not near

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the desk while in offline mode, or you can use a computer to control

the desk in online mode (Gor 2007).

The console that is often referred to as the most commonly used

digital console is the PM5D, the successor to their PM1D (Hughes n.d.).

Unlike the PM1D the faders are arranged in a more typical single row

format, with the banks of encoders above. Also unlike the PM1D the

PM5D is an all in one unit. This means that it can easily replace an

analogue console without the need to install a new digital snake but

also that this console doesn't benefit from the advantages of a digital

snake mentioned earlier.

Yamaha PM5D (Yamaha 2010c)

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The interface is fairly similar to the PM1D but there are a few changes.

The input faders now feature only one encoder which can control either

pan, gain, mix sends or they can show the fader level of a different

fader. The selected channel section for inputs and outputs is now the

same section and works in largely the same way as on the PM1D

(Weizel 2010).

The M7CL is the successor to the PM5D (Yamaha 2010e) and is similar

in many ways to the PM1D and PM5D. It features the same two row

input fader layout of the PM1D, but the faders work like the PM5D. Like

the PM5D, the I/O and DSP are both integrated into the unit. It

features the same central section as both the PM1D and PM5D, but the

screen interface is different. Yamaha calls this new interface

Centralogic and the main difference is that it has a touch screen

interface for menu navigation, and that the select channel section is

now part of the central section. All of the parameters for effects and

processors are still controlled by encoders to the left and bottom of

the touch screen (Yamaha 2006).

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Yamaha MC7CL (Yamaha 2010e)

The LS9, DM1000, DM2000, 02R series, and the 01V series consoles

are all smaller and lighter than the PM1D PM5D and MC7CL. They

feature much of the same technology as the larger consoles, but it is

stripped down to the bare essentials (Yamaha 2010d).

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Yamaha LS9 (Yamaha 2010d)

Soundcraft

Soundcraft's Vi series of consoles have a unique approach to their

interface that they call “Vistonics”. It combines a touch screen with

physical knobs (known as digital encoders) protruding through it

(Soundcraft 2010f). This interface allows mix engineers immediate

access to almost all of the mix and lets them access all functions

quickly and easily (Hughes n.d.). It is also used for all menu functions,

and as a QWERTY keyboard for naming faders (Soundcraft 2010f).

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Soundcraft Vi6 (Soundcraft 2010d)

The Vi has a number of features exclusive to Soundcraft most notably

the built in emulations of Lexicon effects units (Soundcraft 2010f).

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Vi6 with required rack units (Soundcraft 2010d)

Hughes (2010) remarks “Most engineers who have mixed on it

immediately ask to use it again for subsequent tours and shows”. The

difference in this range is mostly down to the number of physical input

faders, the biggest model is the Vi6, which has 32, input faders

(Soundcraft 2010f), the smallest was recently announced and is called

the Vi1 which has 16 input faders (PSW Staff 2010d).

Soundcraft also has the Si series, which is similar but with the whole

digital system built into the desk with no need for external rack units.

It also lacks the Vistonics interface, with only a small touch screen at

the top centre of the console for menu navigation (Soundcraft 2010e)

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Soundcraft Si3 (Soundcraft 2010c)

Soundcraft also make software to configure the desk before you arrive

at the venue via a computer program called the Virtual Si (Soundcraft

2010a) and Virtual Vi (Soundcraft 2010b). Soundcraft suggest that

not only are these a way to configure a console, but they are also a

great way to learn the consoles.

Digidesign

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The Digidesign SC48, top and rear (Digidesign 2010e)

Digidesign makes a variety of consoles, all referred to as Venue

systems. There are currently three different Venue consoles, the SC48,

the D-Show, and the Profile (Digidesign 2010a). Digidesign refer to the

SC48 as “a fully integrated live sound system that combines all I/O,

digital signal processing, and tactile control into a single console”

(Digidesign 2010e). It differs from the rest of the Venue range by not

needing an external rack unit to house the I/O and DSP, which

decreases the footprint, and allows for the desk to replace an analogue

desk without replacing the multi-core.

The D-Show is similar to the SC48 in layout but it needs an external

unit to run. You can either use a single mix rack, or you can use a FOH

rack and a stage rack (Digidesign 2010c).

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Digidesign D-Show (Digidesign 2010c)

Digidesign says of the D-Show “this system offers the greatest amount

of I/O and console expandability, enabling it to accommodate even the

largest ensemble performances” (Digidesign 2010b).

The advantage of having a separate unit with your I/O is that you can

use a digital snake although this means that the footprint is higher and

that a venue with an analogue multi-core already installed would need

to replace it.

The Profile is similar to the D-Show in that it requires additional rack

units to function, but it is positioned as Digidesign's lowest footprint

console (Digidesign 2010d).

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What makes Venue consoles unique is their integration with

Digidesign's other big product, Pro Tools. Pro Tools is a multitrack

recording system and Digidesign's Venue systems integrate with it by

using all the same plug-ins as Pro Tools, which means that the huge

ecosystem of Pro Tools RTAS plug-ins can be taken on the road

(Hughes n.d.).

SSE suggest that the success of the Venue systems is “mainly due to

the popularity of the Plug-ins” and remarks that “the control surface

seems less strong, as we've received reports from engineers who have

been disappointed with the layout and operation of the console” they

also comment that they are “by far the most popular desk brought into

festivals by bands carrying their own production” (Hughes n.d.) Jake

Mann who uses Digidesign consoles for both the Stray Cats and ZZ Top.

He says of the Eventide bundle of plug-ins “I can't live without the

Phoenix” (Colby et al. 2007). Guns 'n' Roses front of house mix

engineer Toby Francis suggests that he prefers some of the digital

emulations to their analogue counterparts he says that “I really like

using plug-ins, everything pops up on the screen, and I can reach it all

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without moving my body” and when talking about a plug-in called the

Bomb Factory BF76 which emulates the vintage UREI 1176 peak

limiter, said that it “captures the sounds perfectly, only without all the

familiar hums, clicks and buzzes” (Colby et al. 2007). Nine Inch Nails'

monitor engineer Michael Prowda said, “One of the biggest, most

powerful things about this board is the ability to use third party plug-

ins and software. To me that's something nobody else is doing.” he

also said that the things he could do with the plug-ins “all sounded

great to me, it just allowed me to do my job better” (Digidesign n.d.).

Secondly, all of the Venue systems are able to communicate with a Pro

Tools system in such a way that recording straight out of the desk is

much easier than with any other desk. The Nine Inch Nails tour used

Venue consoles at both front of house and monitors and recorded each

show so that they could be listened back to later (Digidesign n.d.), one

of these recordings was used for the audio of one of Nine Inch Nails'

DVD releases (Mainprize 2009).

It is also equally easy to play back multi track recordings from a Pro

Tools system. This not only allows the “virtual sound check” function

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mentioned earlier to work, but it makes playing multi-track backing

tracks far simpler than other competing systems (Digidesign n.d.).

DiGiCo

DiGiCo is a comparatively recent console manufacturer and like

Digidesign, they specialise in exclusively making digital consoles. Their

range of live consoles consists of the D5, D1, SD7 and the SD8 (DiGiCo

2010e).

The D5 features three input sections, each with its own touch screen

interface, and another bank of eight faders which can be assigned to a

number of things such as aux masters, groups, and matrix outputs.

Each touch screen also has a bank of rotary encoders.

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DiGiCo D5 Live (DiGiCo 2010b)

The system needs an external rack unit to handle all I/O, which can be

any model from DiGiCo's range of I/O boxes. Each channel has three

rotary encoders which can be assigned to whatever the engineer

wants, including aux sends, panning and EQ. Each channel has a

selection button, which can change colour and display text so that

each channel can be quickly and easily identified (DiGiCo 2010b)

Hughes praises the D5 as an innovative desk saying “The D5 was a

pioneer of 96Khz sample rates, multiple touch screens as an interface

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and the use of optical fibre as a digital multicore” (Hughes n.d.).

The D5 comes in many flavours; the standard D5 is aimed at live music

(DiGiCo 2010b). The D5T is almost identical to the D5 but is aimed at

theatre sound designers. As a result it features what it describes as

“theatre specific remote controls” which are three remote controls for

the console, with theatre specific functions (DiGiCo 2010d). There is

also the D1, which is a smaller footprint version of the D5, aimed at

venues with less space. It has one less input section but boasts the

same track count as the D5 (DiGiCo 2010a).

The SD7. It features twelve inputs and outputs built into the console

but like the D5 you can also add on an I/O box to expand this. The

interface is similar to the D series, but with a few small changes

(DiGiCo 2010f).

The SD8 is an update to the SD7, which they refer to as an entry-level

console. Unlike the rest of the range the SD8 features only one touch

screen in the centre of the console. As a result, to use the touch

screen functions on an input or output channel it must first be

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assigned to the central bank of faders below the screen (DiGiCo 2009)

There is also a smaller version of the SD8 called the SD24 which is a

smaller footprint version of the standard console (DiGiCo 2010a). The

SD9 is smaller and cheaper still with a similar interface (DiGiCo 2010b).

The difference between the D series and the SD series is the effects

processor chip (DiGiCo 2010e).

Midas

Midas has a great reputation in the analogue world, with desks like the

XL3 being referred to as the “Rolls Royce of analogue mixing desks”

(Willy T 2010). Its XL4 and Heritage analogue consoles are two of the

most requested desks at festivals such as Glastonbury (Techie Talk

2009).

Midas' first digital desk was the XL8 that they suggest offers “an

incomparable design combining exemplary sound quality, flexibility and

reliability with an ease and familiarity of use unrivalled by other digital

control surfaces” (Midas 2010b). It is designed to closely emulate

Midas' XL4 console (Hughes n.d.). Monitor engineer Julien Decarne

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agrees with Midas' claims saying “Having had much experience with

Midas analogue consoles, I felt at home straight away on the XL8’s

work surface” (PSW Staff 2010b).

Midas XL8 (Midas 2010e)

The XL8 is interesting in its approach to navigation. It “has been

designed so the engineer does not have to think in terms of numbers,

pages or layers. Users navigate the system and identify channels by

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colours and groupings, which they themselves create” (Midas 2010c).

Each channel has a large button with a built in display, similar to the

D5, which the user can set the colour and text on.

Each encoder has a set function to simplify things for first time users,

which is unusual for a digital desk (Midas 2010c).

Hughes refers to the XL8 as “probably the most advanced console on

the market - as well as the most costly” and praises its sound quality in

particular. He suggests, “its large frame, high cost and complex

operation may limit its use to larger touring acts” (Hughes n.d.).

The Pro6 is Midas' most recent digital console (Midas 2010a). The Pro6

is divided into four sections, the input section, the centre section, local

monitoring automation and trackballs, and a second smaller input

section.

The first input section is the main input section (Ferriday 2009). The

inputs all feature fixed encoders that only control one function. There

is a section for EQ, dynamics, gain, and sends to matrix and auxes

(audiofanzinetv 2009). The centre section is where you control the mix

busses and VCA groups (Ferriday 2009). It is from this section that

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you can also select which channels are appearing on the input faders

(audiofanzinetv 2009). The local monitoring, automation and trackball

section is to the right of the centre section. From here you control

local monitoring, automation (Ferriday 2009), and the screens. There

are two upright screens, one above the centre section and one above

the local monitoring and trackballs section and they are used for many

things including menu navigation and navigation of the virtual effects

rack. The virtual effects rack is designed to resemble an actual physical

rack of effects and features emulations of Klarke Teknik effects units

(audiofanzinetv 2009). The second input section is identical to the

first but has only one bank of four faders (Ferriday 2009).

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Midas Pro6 (Midas 2010d)

It is clear that Midas have made an effort to ensure that their digital

consoles remain as close to their analogue counterparts as possible

both sonically and visually. Monitor engineer Nahuel Gutierrez praises

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the pre-amps in the XL8 saying “You really appreciate things like those

Midas pre amps when you’re working at low sound levels; again the XL8

beats the other desks as far as I’m concerned” (PSW Staff 2010c).

FOH engineer Olivier Lude agrees stating, “the PRO6 was a natural

choice given its ergonomics and the legendary Midas EQ and preamp

sound” (PSW Staff 2010b).

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Methodology

Primary research is the collection of original data and is often

conducted after a basic grounding of the subject is collected by

secondary research (KnowThis.com 2010b).

There are two main types of primary research and they are useful for

different things. Quantitative research deals with numbers and

statistics to get to a consensus whereas qualitative research aims to

gather as much opinion as possible (KnowThis.com 2010a). Punch

refers to quantitative data as being the use of numbers to express

quantity and qualitative data as “empirical information about the word

not in the form of numbers”, then going on to explain that “most of

the time this means words” (Punch 1998)

The aim of my primary research is to get a better idea of the opinions

of professionals related to live music, primarily engineers and

manufacturers. This topic lends itself to qualitative rather than

quantitative for a number of reasons. Kumar suggests that quantitative

research is structured and appropriate to find the extent of a problem

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(Kumar 2005). This is not ideal for this project, I'm looking for the

problems rather than examining how big the problem is. I also don't

want to limit my primary research to problems I have experienced

personally, or ones that I have read about in my secondary research.

Kumar suggests that to study the nature of a problem, the more

unstructured qualitative method is more appropriate (Kumar 2005).

Kumar says that primary research has three main process

requirements. A good piece of research:

• “Is being undertaken within a framework of set philosophies

• Uses procedures, methods and techniques that have been tested

for their validity and reliability

• Is designed to be unbiased and objective” (Kumar 2005)

I have tried to stick to these three requirements as closely as possible

throughout my primary research.

Kumar expands upon the idea of set philosophies as being both an

approach to research, in my case qualitative, and the academic

discipline that you have been trained, in my case audio production.

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There are three types of interview structure, structured, semi-

structured, and unstructured. Structured interviews have a strict script

that must be kept to; they are most useful for collecting standard

information. Semi-structured interviews have a list of questions that

should be asked but the interviewer can improvise follow up questions

and explore new areas that emerge. These are the most common types

of qualitative interview, and allow the interviewer to extend and clarify

answers. In unstructured interviews there is little or no script and the

informant usually sets the direction. It is most useful at the beginning

of study to generate a script for later interviews (Arksey & Knight

1999).

I've opted to do semi-structured interviews for a number of reasons.

Personal interviews are far more practical than group interviews for a

smaller set of people. Personal interviewing is a technique that has

been tested for its reliability and validity. A structured approach is far

more useful in a quantitative context where I am trying to assess the

extent of the consensus of particular topics, and an unstructured

approach would make it difficult to compare and contrast people’s

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opinions later.

It is important that during my interviews I don't bring any bias into the

conversation. I will stick to a basic framework of questions and ask

people to elaborate, but not to prompt them to say anything in

particular. Kumar refers to bias as “a deliberate attempt to either

conceal or highlight something" (Kumar 2005) and it is important that

I make a conscious effort to keep any bias that I have separate from

my research.

Most of the interviews will likely be by email, but I will strive to do

some phone interviews also. Due to budget and time considerations it's

unlikely that I will do many if any face-to-face interviews

I interviewed two very different sets of people, engineers and

manufacturers.

For the engineers the goal was to establish some of the key strengths

and weaknesses of digital consoles. I had a brief list of topics that I

tried to cover for all of the engineer interviews but also left as much

room as I could to allow them to talk about what they consider

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important.

The list of topics was slightly different for the manufacturers for two

reasons. From early discussions with manufacturers I realised that they

would not be willing to discuss the weaknesses of their own products

to any extent, this included a topic that I hoped to raise, that of the

most common feedback about the product. In addition, manufacturers

were able to answer much more specific questions about their product

than the engineers who use them so I made sure to expand upon this in

more depth. The list of questions I aimed to ask the engineers is in the

appendix. I improvised much more on the manufacturers because I

wanted to know different things from the different manufacturers.

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Results

Appendix 2.0 contains all of the full interviews. I edited the interviews

to highlight the key quotes and these are in appendix 3.0.

Discussion

From my research I can see that there are points of agreement and

disagreement around the operational use of digital consoles owing to

many factors such as usage, experience and personal preference.

Analogue Consoles are the Only Viable Option at a

Festival

Most people I spoke to think that digital consoles are of little use in a

festival context. SSE provides equipment for many of the large

festivals and comment that they still provide analogue consoles for the

main stages (appendix 3.2.09). The main reason for this is the speed

at which a mix engineer needs to build a mix at a festival. Most people

agreed with Reynolds who said “If I am mixing a touring act at festivals

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I would love to step up to an analogue board because I need to get a

mix together really really quickly” (appendix 3.2.03)

Hughes explained why digital consoles are often said to be too slow for

a festival saying “this is because all analogue consoles operate in the

same way and engineers need no training to operate them, whereas

every manufacturer of digital consoles make their system operate in a

different ways” (appendix 3.2.08).

Paul Myers confirmed the fact that this is the majority opinion by

saying “pretty much everyone there said it would be better with an

analogue desk” (appendix 3.2.01) there being in reference to all of the

festivals he had played last summer.

To say that all engineers share the sentiment that analogue is the only

viable option at a festival would be wrong however. Although most

people want an analogue console at a festival there are exceptions.

Touring bands often take a digital console with them to a festival,

although Paul Myers suggests that one such engineer didn't use the

desk when he realised that the provided analogue console was of a high

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quality (see appendix 3.2.01).

There is also the opinion that digital consoles do have a place at a

festival, Glastonbury 2009 for instance featured digital consoles along

side the analogue consoles, particularly on the Jazz/World stage,

where “nearly half of the visiting engineers of the acts playing on the

Jazz/World Stage chose to use the PRO6”. Kasabian were also mixed

on a Pro6 on the main stage (Techie Talk 2009). Caprio is a good

example of a complete digital convert; he says “I can't think of a single

instance where I would go back to analogue” (appendix 3.2.05).

Gale's opinion sits in the middle in respect to festivals. He says “The

only time I go analogue is during festival season where the 'provided'

console is analogue, normally a Midas Heritage. However, even this year

on festival I took various consoles - DiGiCo D5, Yamaha PM5D and

M7CL mainly” (appendix 3.2.07).

Most Touring Engineers Would Prefer a Digital Desk

The time when digital consoles really become valuable is on tour.

Bennett comments that most of the tours SSE equips ask for digital

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desks (appendix 3.7.05).

Speed of mix is less important on tour for a few reasons. Firstly, you

get a longer sound check than at a festival. You also get time in pre-

production to work out the desk and program it accordingly. Reynolds

comments that “If I'm touring with a band and I've got plenty of time

for pre-production and they've got lots of money, digital is they way,

no question about it” (appendix 3.2.03).

In fact with a digital console on tour, speed is often cited as an

advantage. Neal says, “Snapshot memories drastically reduce setup

time because of desk settings recall” (appendix 3.5.09). Recall

features allow you to just turn up with a mix already finished. Cleasby

talked about how snapshots can speed up the change overs in between

bands stating “I'd choose a digital desk when there are a lot of bands

on the bill, you can sound check each one and save the full settings

and get back exactly what you left (including system EQ)” (appendix

3.2.04).

The virtual sound check feature offered by some consoles means that

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even without loading a snapshot, you could have a mix finished before

the band arrives. Caprio states “VS allows me to play back the previous

(or any) show's content in the new venue and adjust accordingly. If the

band is running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer

worries me since I know I can have my mix dialled in pretty close”

(appendix 3.10.03). Without this feature Caprio would have had to sit

and wait for the band but with it, his mix can be pretty much finished

by the time they arrive.

Even if a tour isn't taking its own console on tour, so long as they have

a file for the console on their memory stick, they can bring up a

finished mix. Myers says “the huge bonus in digital more than anything

else is that if you go somewhere and you're not carrying your own

console, and it's going to be provided by a local production, you can

say for example spec that you need a PM5D… you turn up, with your

card, plug your card in and you're set up and ready to go” (appendix

3.10.01).

A major advantage on tour is space and weight. This isn't as much of

an issue at a festival whereas Myers says “your analogue desk is just in

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one place for four or five days, you don't have to move around”

(appendix 3.9.01). On tour however, generally the equipment has to be

dismantled and moved to the next tour date by the next day. Caprio

says, “when you're pushing cases it's always preferable to down size

and get things compact” (appendix 3.9.04).

He also points out the practicalities of moving and lifting heavy desks,

pointing out that a lighter desk is faster to set up, and provides more

space in the truck for other things (appendix 3.9.04).

Prescott points out that footprint isn't as much of an improvement as

some people suggest “either way I'm going to need at least one

additional rack at FOH, and it doesn't really matter if it's filled with the

brains for the desk and power supplies and a UPS or with 18U of

dynamics and effects” (appendix 3.9.05).

There are other advantages to using a digital console on tour, Cleasby

cites full multitrack recording as one of the main advantages digital has

over analogue, particularly is reference to the Profile's integration with

Pro Tools (appendix 3.10.02). Bennet states that the ability to take

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your Pro Tools plugins on the road is one of the main reasons for

Digidesign's success (appendix 3.10.04). Neal also mentions that many

people find patching on a digital console is far quicker than patching in

the analogue domain and he lists this as one of his four biggest

advantages digital has over analogue (appendix 3.5.09).

There are down sides going on tour with a digital console, unlike on an

analogue console, you often can't do two things at once without the

aid of an additional input device like a laptop or tablet which Adcock

lists as one of the major disadvantages or digital consoles (appendix

3.5.01).

Reliability is also a very real issue, although it is a problem more for

some consoles than others. Gale cites DiGiCo as having had a real

serious problem with crashes early on that has now been fixed

(appendix 3.4.06). Myers says that he has had multiple occasions

where a console has just said “no, not doing it” and needs to reboot in

order to continue the show (appendix 3.4.01), this is obviously a

problem which you would never get on an analogue desk.

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A Digital Console Takes Longer to Learn Than an

Analogue Console.

Something that came up fairly early was that people don't feel as

comfortable stepping up to a digital console they've never used before

like they would an analogue console. Reynolds sums it up quite well “I

can remember the first time and it wasn't easy to use” (appendix

3.8.02). Myers said that there was a definite learning curve “The first

digital desk I used was a PM5D… I can remember using it for the first

time and thinking "what the hell is this? There's nothing in the right

place."” he goes on to say “It took a little time, I'd have to say it took

me about a year of using them on and off over that year. You start

really using it, you start enjoying it” (appendix 3.8.01).

Reynolds suggests that it is much more difficult learning to use a

digital console if you're not regularly using them “I don't think I've ever

learned because I don't own a digital desk, I've not toured with a digital

desk for any length of time that was meaningful.” He goes on to say, “I

totally understand the process but I'm not familiar at all” (appendix

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3.8.02). Prescott points out that there are different levels of

understanding a console “Of course there's a big difference between

being able to mix and actually understanding the advanced capabilities

on the board. Many desks are not difficult to push fader and perform

basic mixing tasks on, but one menu down you could easily recall a

different scene or repatch your outputs somewhere else and then be

unable to recover.” He goes on to say “I think the biggest issue is that,

no matter how long it took to learn the first time, if you've been away

from it for a few months you've got to learn the desk all over again...

not an issue with analogue desks, since everything is by nature a lot

more standardized and obvious” (appendix 3.8.06).

Some desks are much easier to learn than others. Reynolds states,

“They're all completely different (appendix 3.4.02). Gale agrees but

thinks that some desks have it right “they are all pretty much the

same, it's just tough as none of them are the same lay-out.” he

continues “some are easier to set-up than others. In terms of workflow,

a DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D”

(appendix 3.4.06). Caprio particularly likes the Digidesign Profile “My

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favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series

(mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first

time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at

home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals”

(appendix 3.8.05). Caprio sums it up quite nicely when he says “the big

difference between the various models of digital desks are really only

significant in that they all do the same thing, just in their own way”. He

goes on to say that “The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks

that sound fantastic but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and

non-intuitive. That also applies to the Soundcraft Vi6/Studer Vista”

(appendix 3.4.04).

Some people take to digital consoles much quicker than others. Adcock

feels that “A lot of them, they tend to be quite user intuitive”

(appendix 3.3.01). He goes on to say that “it took me about half an

hour to get the basic operations… I would say probably a couple of

weeks to figure it out completely” (appendix 3.8.03). Cleasby agrees

saying “digital desks are fairly easy to learn” (appendix 3.3.03). He

says that it took him only “10 minutes to learn the basics to mix a

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show” but that he is “still learning now on all the things digital boards

can do” (appendix 3.8.04)

Paul Myers suggests that comfort around digital consoles may be a

generational thing “I'm kind of from the generation of computers and

computer games so I'm used to pushing buttons and going through

menus to get things to work. I think a lot of older engineers struggle

with that” (appendix 3.8.01). Reynolds says that the problem for him

was that you need to mix in a different way “I like to set my gain

structure up at unity gain on all output faders and I use gain for

volume, and then EQ. But with the Yamaha and the DiGiCos, because

you're not going to zero dB VU, you're going to F/S, then you end up

mixing in a completely different way” (appendix 3.3.02). Prescott

thinks the big issue is in the user interface “on an analogue desk any

feature you want to use has to have a physical control. That limits the

amount of UI stupidity that can be done” (appendix 3.3.05).

Manufacturers have similar attitudes towards making their consoles

easier to learn. Shaxson emphasised the importance to DiGiCo of a similar

interface throughout the brand “All our consoles have a similar work flow

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and with the SD-series in particular, all three consoles in the range have

exactly the same operating system. Once you’ve learnt how to use

one, you’ve learnt how to use all three” (appendix 3.8.07). He also

talks of the importance of staying clear of menu driven systems “Early

digital consoles were not particularly intuitive and were heavily menu

driven. Indeed, that’s still the case with some of the current

competition” (appendix 3.3.07). Soundcraft agrees that menu driven

systems are bad and Neal emphasises the importance of their consoles

looking as analogue as possible “Our user interfaces are designed to be

as like-like as possible, with controls and information where your

channel strip would normally be. We don’t believe that you should be

delving through menus to find functions you need in the mix. The

Vistonics system is acclaimed as so analogue-like” (appendix 3.3.08).

Sound Quality is Subjective

I found three very distinct trains of thought when it comes to the

sound quality of digital consoles.

First, there are the analogue lovers who believe that digital consoles do

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not sound as good. These people seemed to be of a small majority.

Bennett suggests, “if you speak to anyone about audio quality people

will still say that analogue desks still sound better” (appendix 3.6.08).

Adcock has a fairly moderate view “I tend to find analogue desks sound

a lot better than the digital ones” he continues “A lot of the digital

desks now… they sound really really good” (appendix 3.6.02).

Reynolds describes one of the reasons he feels digital consoles don't

sound as good to him “I never feel like I've got enough gain to make

the preamps really work, whereas on an analogue board I can just crank

those gains up and really get them working” (appendix 3.6.03). Myers

agrees “If you drive a Heritage 3000 quite hard, it still sounds fantastic

even if you drive it too hard” (appendix 3.6.01). Cleasby suggests that

it has more to do with the digital conversion process “analogue desks

sound better as there is no conversion process, the AD/DA converters

are getting better but Analogue boards sound better” (appendix

3.6.04). Prescott argues that the poor audio quality makes cheap

digital consoles useless “in low end digital I don't think the tradeoff is

worth it, since most of them sound like junk” (appendix 3.6.06).

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Hughes suggests that one of the reasons digital sounds worse is

latency “problems which have plagued digital system is latency. With

analogue, the latency involved is so small it can be treated as zero...

With digital, everything takes time to do... latency within a mix can

cause comb filtering and incoherent audio” (appendix 3.6.10).

Next, there are a few people who think that digital consoles provide a

purer sound that analogue ones. Reynolds says, “with better sampling

rates, keeping everything in the digital domain till the last moment,

there is a perception that audio quality is an advantage as well

(appendix 3.6.03). Caprio agrees that digital desks can sound great,

but argues that its not the most important thing “the Midas XL8 and

smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic but I found the

layout to be a bit off-putting and non-intuitive” (appendix 3.6.05).

Myers sums up these two arguments nicely “It's almost the same

argument that you'll have with vinyl and CD. People who are into vinyl

will say vinyl will always sound better than CD, people who are into CDs

will always say CDs are better than vinyl but at the end of the day they

both have their different qualities (appendix 3.6.01).

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Finally, there are those who think that the sound quality difference is

small enough that it doesn't matter. Cleasby suggests that “most folk

can't tell the difference between the 2” (appendix 3.6.04).

Reynolds suggests that a lot of the difference is psychological “I think

there’s a perception that because it's digital its going to sound

strange” (appendix 3.6.03).

Bennett refers to Midas' range of consoles in particular of having the

wrong priorities “the XL8 is their horrendous disaster of trying to make

digital sound analogue. They threw millions and millions at that desk

and all they're trying to do is make it sound like an XL4…its not like for

your 350 grand or whatever you have to pay for it is, quarter of a

million pounds, for an XL8, it doesn't sound any better than an XL4…

They're trying to recreate that magic and its just turned out to be very

very expensive” He goes on to say that the reason Digidesign and

Yamaha are so popular is because their priorities are different to Midas

“Whereas the Digidesign and the Yamaha are based on functionality

and "gimmicks" of doing these plugins thing and they're a hundred

times more popular than the Pro6 and the XL8 because they're like

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"you know what, maybe our audio quality’s enough to keep people

happy, we know its not perfect but its enough"” (appendix 3.6.08).

Manufacturers take great pride in their audio quality. Neal says of

Soundcraft consoles “our users tell us it’s the best sounding digital

console they’ve used” (appendix 3.6.12). Hughes says “Midas digital

systems are without question the best sounding live consoles

available.” He goes on to mention that the preamps are a large part of

Midas' identity “The quality of our pre-amps are renowned, and we had

to make sure we kept the sonic quality with the digital systems”

(appendix 3.6.10). Shaxson suggests that the reason DiGiCo consoles

sound like they do is in their technology “floating point processing on

the mix buss... remote stage racks... digital multicore and FPGA

processing” He says that DiGiCo “offer the same sonic signature,

regardless of whether you’re using the £11k SD9 or the £91k SD7”

(appendix 3.6.11).

Manufacturers are Good at Reacting to Feedback

Myers says that Digidesign is designed by mix engineers rather than

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people who have no knowledge of live sound. In contrast Yamaha's

engineers have less of an idea of how their consoles will be used “it's

very well designed. In fact it's been designed by people who actually do

live sound. Yamaha's designed by boffins, in Japan somewhere who

don't go out and do live gigs. They probably ask people who ask people

who go out and do live gigs. But you can tell, even when you read the

instruction manual” (appendix 3.11.01).

Neal responded to a question on how much contact Soundcraft has

with mix engineers during the design process saying “as much as we

could. It’s vital that engineers tell us how they need a console to work,

and we worked very closely with a number of engineers, and still do”

(appendix 3.11.04).

Hughes says that Midas addressed the problem by engaging in

conversation with engineers during the design process “when designing

our systems, we had extensive input from mix engineers, and we

continue to talk to our customer base to aid design of future systems”

he goes on to explain that a console can be refined while in the market

by way of software updates “as well as adapting software for current

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systems to add features requested by customers, as well as changing

some aspects of the software that may need refining” (appendix

3.11.02).

Shaxson agrees that feedback is essential “feedback from engineers,

whether they be FOH, Monitor or Theatre engineers, is vital when

designing a new product” he goes on to say “we’ve simply adapted the

worksurface to incorporate some the new technologys that have

occurred since 2002” DiGiCo also fix issues in software upgrades

“however, being a digital console and therefore being dependent on

software, it meant that we have been able to refine and develop the

software continuously over the years, adding features requested by

engineers. For instance, when we released the SD8 in Autumn 2008,

we gained feedback over the first 6 months that the snapshot

capability needed enhancing particularly with respect to the theatre

market. Also, monitor engineers were requesting more internal graphic

eq’s. These were both features that we included when we introduced

the Overdrive software upgrade last Oct.” Shaxson shed some light on

how DiGiCo choose what features get upgraded “We keep a master

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suggestions list which is constantly being updated, where feature

requests from engineers are kept and depending on how often a

feature is requested, we then take a view on whether said request

should be incorporated in a future release” (appendix 3.11.03).

No Single Digital Console Is Best

From this research an interesting point becomes clear, that there is

currently no clear “best” console. Different people all have personal

preferences and different consoles are good for different things.

All of the companies have different strengths and weaknesses and

companies market at different niches. Digidesign have their plugin eco-

system, Pro Tools integration and a well liked interface but draws

complaints for feeling cheap and overly plastic. Caprio thinks that they

are the perfect compromise “the layout, functionality and ease of use

is what sold me on the Digidesign desks. They work the way I think and

I felt comfortable using them immediately. Add to that the fact that

they sound good and you've got yourself a great desk (appendix

3.7.03)

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Yamaha's strengths are primarily linked to its time on the market,

which has made it one of the most stable desks and also the desk with

the highest market penetration. Despite this, people often complain

about its sound quality and interface.

Midas' digital consoles are regarded as having probably the best sound

quality and a good layout that allows quick access to key functions,

but people don't like the menu navigation or the cost. Reynolds

particularly likes the interface “I find the workflow on the Midas

exceptional, the setting up and the operation” (appendix 3.7.01).

DiGiCo also draws comments on its fantastic sound quality, analogue

like interface and virtual sound check functions, but suffered from early

stability issues. Gale suggests that it's also one of the easier to set up

“In terms of workflow, a DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup

than a Yamaha PM5D” (appendix 3.4.06).

Soundcraft have one of the best interfaces due to it's Vistonics design,

but draws far less comment about it's sound quality and lacks the

market penetration of Yamaha. Bennett Prescott prefers the Vi6

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because “I can see everything I need to know about almost every

channel at the same time, and I can do more than one thing at a time”

(appendix 3.7.04).

Conclusions

I think the most interesting thing about the spread of opinion of the

usefulness of digital consoles is that it is so vast. Two equally qualified

mix engineers will be happy to argue that they both sound better and

worse than an analogue console, or are easier to use and harder to use.

From my research I can conclude that digital consoles are very

important to the future of live music. They can do things that would be

impossible to do in the analogue domain, meaning that problems can

be solved and practice can be improved.

The main problem with digital desks is not necessarily that they are

complicated, or laid out wrong, but that they are all so very different.

Even manufacturers have listed the lack of a universal layout as one of

the main weaknesses of digital consoles.

66/158
The way that many manufacturers have attempted to solve this

problem is by making the consoles seem as analogue as possible. This

is a logical approach, as most mix engineers know how digital works.

Oddly, the most widespread console on the market, the PM5D is

arguably the least analogue-like of all of the major consoles.

There are certainly parallels between the rise of digital consoles and

the rise of digital recording. Digital recording is now widespread, mainly

due to the drastic reduction in price over recording on to tape. I would

suggest that if a drastic price drop occurs then people would find it

very difficult to justify purchase of an analogue console, and analogue

consoles will fill a similar niche market that analogue recording studios

do today. There is also a standard in recording, most studios use Pro

Tools, you could say that the standard in digital live consoles is the

Yamaha PM5D, but most of the mix engineers I spoke to said they took

other consoles on tour rather than the PM5D.

I think that all of the current brands have different strengths that

appeal to different niche markets, but that digital consoles would be

more widespread as a whole if there was a more universal operating

67/158
system. Another parallel can be drawn here with digital recording. Pro

Tools may well be the standard program you expect to find in a studio

(although many alternatives exist), but there is no real standard digital

mixing console. Perhaps the future of digital live consoles is similar.

From my research I conclude that while I consider digital consoles to be

very important and will only continue to become more powerful as they

mature, their full capabilities are unlikely to be reached until people feel

more comfortable using them.

Further Research

I am aware that my research revolved mostly around live music;

perhaps a study into the operational use of consoles in theatre sound

would yield different results.

My research also focussed mainly on the large-scale consoles, it would

be interesting to see if a study into smaller digital consoles would yield

similar results. I'm aware that there are far more of the smaller, low

budget consoles, it would be interesting to know if there is more or

less standardisation of interface.

68/158
There was also much discussion about whether digital consoles work

out to be cheaper to tour with due to their reduced weight and

footprint, or more expensive due to the up front costs of the console.

A further study could go in to far more depth on this matter.

69/158
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Appendix
1.0 Interview Questions
Do you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment?
Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than
on an analogue desk?
What digital consoles have you used?
What were the biggest differences between them?
Which did you prefer and why?
How easy were they to use when you first used them?
How long did it take to learn the interface?
What was your opinion on their ease of use as opposed to an analogue
desk?
What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system?
What would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system?

2.0 Complete Interviews

2.01 Interview with Paul Myers (Monitor Engineer)


[disk one]

2.02 Interview with Andy Reynolds (Lecturer/Tour Manager/Engineer)


[disk two]

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2.03 Interview with Ben Adcock (Live Audio Engineer for Theatre and
Music)
[disk three]

2.04 Interview with Timm Cleasby (Engineer/Tour Manager)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: timm64@mac.com
Date: 25/02/2010 13:59
Subject: my dissertation

Hey Tim
I'm a third year audio production student at bucks new uni and I'm
about to start my primary research on my dissertation. I asked Andy
Reynolds if he knew any live engineers who might be interested and he
gave me your email address.
My dissertation is on digital live consoles, particuarly with referance to
analoge consoles. Would you be interested in helping me by doing an
interiew with me? It can be over email, or in person, or over the phone.
Whatever's easier for you
Cheers
Joe
--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: timm64@mac.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com

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Date: 25/02/2010 14:06
Subject: Re: my dissertation

Hi Joe

Sure send over some questions and I'll answer them as soon as I can

Best

Timm

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: timm64@mac.com
Date: 25/02/2010 15:39
Subject: Re: my dissertation

Hey Timm
Thanks ever so much for your speedy reply! Here are my questions, if
you could answer them in as much depth as you can that would be
very helpful.

Do you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment?

Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than
on an analogue desk?

What digital consoles have you used?

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What were the biggest differences between them?

Which did you prefer and why?

How easy were they to use when you first used them?

How long did it take to learn the interface?

What was your opinion on their ease of use as opposed to an analogue


desk?

What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system?

What would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system?

Thanks again
Joe

From: timm64@mac.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 15/03/2010 21:41
Subject: Re: my dissertation

Hi Joe

So Answers below in CAPS.

Best

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Timm

On 25 Feb 2010, at 15:39, Joe Couper wrote:

Hey Timm
Thanks ever so much for your speedy reply! Here are my questions, if
you could answer them in as much depth as you can that would be
very helpful.

Do you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment? THIS


IS A HARD QUESTION TO ANSWER AS I REALLY LIKE BOTH BUT FOR
VERY DIFFERENT REASONS.

Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than
on an analogue desk? LESS BUT GENERALLY DIGITAL DESKS ARE
FAIRLY EASY TO LEARN.

What digital consoles have you used? MOST - DIGIDESIGN, YAMAHA,


DIGICO, STUDER, SOUNDCRAFT, INNOVASON...

What were the biggest differences between them? THE USER


INTERFACES (CONTROL SURFACES) EACH ONE HAS A VERY DIFFERENT
WAY OF WORKING

Which did you prefer and why? DIGIDESIGN, I FIND IT EASY TO USE AND
THEY SOUND GOOD AND SOUNDCRAFT AS THET SOUNDED GREAT

How easy were they to use when you first used them? VERY... THE 1ST
TIME I USED A DIGITAL BOARD I HAD 10 MINUTES TOP LEARN HOW TO
MIX ON IT AND IT WAS IN FRONT OF AROUND 40,000 PEOPLE AT
BENICASSIM

How long did it take to learn the interface? 10 MINUTES TO LEARN THE
BASICS TO MIX A SHOW BUT I'M STILL LEARNING NOW ON ALL THE

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THINGS DIGITAL BOARDS CAN DO

What was your opinion on their ease of use as opposed to an analogue


desk? THEY ARE VERY EASY BUT NOTHING COMPARES TO THE
IMMEDIACY OF AN ANALOGUE DESK

What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system? FULL
RECALL OF EVERY SINGLE ASPECT. SMALL FOOT PRINT AND LIGHT
WEIGHT, FULL RECORDING INTEGRATION (WITH THE DIGIDESIGN I CAN
PLUG MY HD3 SYSTEM IN AND RECORD UPTO 64 INPUTS.

What would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system?
VERY FEW REALLY, SOUND QUALITY AS THEY STILL DON'T SOUND
QUITE AS GOOD AS THE ANALOGUE BOARDS BUT THIS IS GETTING
BETTER

Thanks again
Joe

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: timm64@mac.com
Date: 15/03/2010 21:58
Subject: Re: my dissertation

Thanks ever so much Timm, some really usefull stuff there. Could you
just expand quickly on why digital desks sound worse and how they are
sounding better? Also, are there any times when you would opt for a
digital desk over an anlogue desk and why? Are there any times when
you would rather use an analogue desk?

Thanks again
Joe

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From: timm64@mac.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 15/03/2010 22:12
Subject: Re: my dissertation

Analogue desks sound better as there is no conversion process, the


AD/DA converters are getting better but Analogue boards sound
better (Saying that most folk can't tell the difference between the 2)
I'd choose a digital desk when there are a lot of bands on the bill, you
can sound check each one and save the full settings and get back
exactly what you left (including system EQ). I'd choose an analogue
desk for a festival where you have no time to soundcheck and you
need to work fast... can't beat the reach out to grab a gain pot or eq
pot right when you need it.

hope this all helps

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: timm64@mac.com
Date: 15/03/2010 22:19
Subject: Re: my dissertation

One last question, why would you say the digidesign consoles are
easiest to use for you?

From: timm64@mac.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com

97/158
Date: 15/03/2010 22:20
Subject: Re: my dissertation

I use pro-tools regularly and I know how they work... the others are
easy too... it's just what I have got used to.

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: timm64@mac.com
Date: 15/03/2010 22:29
Subject: Re: my dissertation

Great, some really useful stuff there. Thanks for helping.

Joe

2.05 Interview with Robert Caprio (Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: void@interzonestudios.com
Date: 11/03/2010 01:54
Subject: Dissertation Interview

Hey Robert
This is Joe from the PSW forums. Thanks for agreeing to be
interviewed. Could you tell me about what you have done in audio,
what you currently do and what contact you have had with digital live
consoles please? Which consoles hae you used and what were the

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biggest differences between them?
Cheers
Joe
--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: void@interzonestudios.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 02:26
Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview

Hey Joe,

My pleasure!

I have been involved with studio and live audio for 23 years now. I
started doing live sound with bands in High School. My folks bought me
a cheap, rather terrible PA system but it did the job and gave me the
bug. I really wanted to produce/engineer in the studio so I started in a
studio at the age of 17. I'm now 40, so it's been a while. I've worked in
many world class studios with lots of well known artists from all over
recording, mixing, programming, mastering, all of it. If you check my
website there is a lot of my background there.

Over the last few years I have gotten back into the live scene more and
more and have recently toured the US quite a bit as an FOH engineer
and tour manager. I also work at a bunch of local venues, clubs,
theaters...etc. Most of my recent live audio experience has been with
the Digidesign (Avid) Venue (D-Show, Profile and SC48) series of

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consoles. In my opinion they are outstanding though I also use the
Soundcraft Vi6, Yamaha M7CL, PM5D, LS9 and Midas XL8, among a few
shows with many others. Digidesign really thought their desks through
and put in an excellent feature set. The layout, functionality and ease
of use is what sold me on the Digidesign desks. They work the way I
think and I felt comfortable using them immediately. Add to that the
fact that they sound good and you've got yourself a great desk.

The biggest obvious difference between digital and analogue consoles


is that for the most part you don't need any outboard gear with digital
desks. That alone is significant since that cuts down on how much gear
you need to carry on a tour. More free truck space, quicker load
in/out...etc. The other big advantage of digi desks is that you can save
your settings from show to show and recall them at any time. So I can
have different setups saved for different speakers, different venues,
etc. Plus, within the Digidesign world of plug ins you can not only have
the built in dynamics processing such as gates and compressors but
you can also have a variety of plug ins for processing and FX. The
variety is astonishing and it all sounds good.

I recently toured much of 2009 with American Idol winner David Cook
and his opener Ryan Star. We carried our own Digidesign Profile desk
and it was awesome to have all that processing and FX power right at
my fingertips, night after night. Having saved my shows each night I
could call up an earlier show that may have been similar in venue and
PA and that would make soundchecking much, much faster.

The big difference between the various models of digital desks are
really only significant in that they all do the same thing, just in their
own way. As I stated earlier, I found the Avid desks to be the easiest
and most "analogue" feeling out of all the ones I've used. To my ear
the Yamaha consoles have a "gritty" and somewhat displeasing tone.
The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic

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but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and non-intuitive. That
also applies to the Soundcraft Vi6/Studer Vista. They are great desks
with lots of features but they are not as easy to use, at least to me.

Does that cover enough for you? If not, please feel free to ask more
specific questions.

Take care and stay in touch,

Void

---

Robert "Void" Caprio


Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager
void@interzonestudios.com
www.interzonestudios.com

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: void@interzonestudios.com
Date: 11/03/2010 08:34
Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview

So would you say that you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live
environment? Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less
intuitive than on an analogue desk?

101/158
Think of some of your favourite and some of your least favourite
digital desks, how easy were they to use when you first used them?
How long did it take to learn the interface? What do you think were the
main factors making these consoles more/less intuative to use?

From: void@interzonestudios.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 14:32
Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview

So would you say that you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live
environment?
Yes, I do prefer digital consoles in the live environment.

Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than
on an analogue desk?
It depends on the desk but typically digital desks are a bit less
intuitive. Since analogue desks have a knob for every function you can
easily find the knob for the function you need, whereas on a digital
desk you may need to scroll through a menu or select a bank of knobs
to access a function you need.

Think of some of your favourite and some of your least favourite


digital desks, how easy were they to use when you first used them?
My favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series
(mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first

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time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at
home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals. My
least favourite is the Yamaha M7CL, mainly due to the touch screen
interface. I like the idea of a touch screen though I feel their
implementation of it on that desk is poorly executed. I also found that
the Soundcraft Vi6 console seemed at first to be easy to get around
on but it seemed that the longer I used it the harder it became to get
around quickly on it. Very strange.

How long did it take to learn the interface? What do you think were the
main factors making these consoles more/less intuative to use?
I took to digital consoles quickly and found that after one show (figure
2-3 hours worth of "hands on " time comprised of a soundcheck and
show) I felt quite comfortable with the interfaces and was getting
around confidently. The main factors making these consoles more or
less intuitive is all about the interface and layout. For me, the Avid
desks are the most logically laid out, with all important functions within
quick reach. They don't have a lot of deep menus to scroll through and
they have a very simplified structure.

Void

---

Robert "Void" Caprio


Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager
void@interzonestudios.com

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www.interzonestudios.com

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: void@interzonestudios.com
Date: 11/03/2010 22:29
Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview

Are there any instances when you would choose an analogue system
over a digital system? Do you think you could owe some of your
preferance of digital desks to your studio experience?
What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system? What
would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system?

From: void@interzonestudios.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 22:51
Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview

These days I would be hard pressed to choose an analogue desk over a


Profile or other Avid desk. I can't think of a single instance where I
would go back to analogue.

I don't think my studio experience is the reason I prefer the digital


desks. In fact, I have rarely used digital consoles in the studio. Mainly
because few of the studios I work in have them, being long-time
analogue studios with SSL and Neve desks. My few experiences with
early digital desks in the studio were not encouraging.

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One of the main advantages of the digital systems is smaller footprint,
meaning your rig takes up less space in the venue. This is mainly due to
the fact that you don't need additional racks of outboard gear for
signal processing and FX. Speaking of processing and FX, having a
digital rig often means you have access to far more options than an
analogue rig, which limits you to how much you can physically carry or
pack in a truck. When you're pushing cases it's always preferable to
down size and get things compact.

Another HUGE advantage with the Avid rigs is Virtual Soundcheck. This
allows you to record the band directly from a Venue console to Pro
Tools and then play it back through the desk, as if the band were
playing it live. As a long time Pro Tools user I was very excited about
being able to do that and when I first used it and found that it works
very well I was hooked. VS allows me to play back the previous (or any)
show's content in the new venue and adjust accordingly. If the band is
running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer worries me
since I know I can have my mix dialed in pretty close. This applies to
monitor mixing as well, which do quite a bit of.

To be honest, I can't really think of any disadvantages of a digital


system, especially the Avid rigs.

Void

---

Robert "Void" Caprio


Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager
void@interzonestudios.com
www.interzonestudios.com

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From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: void@interzonestudios.com
Date: 12/03/2010 02:36
Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview

I think I've asked everything I was planning on asking. thanks ever so


much, you've been really helpful.
cheers
joe

From: void@interzonestudios.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 13/03/2010 00:37
Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview

You're very welcome. Good luck!

Void

---

Robert "Void" Caprio


Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager
void@interzonestudios.com
www.interzonestudios.com

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2.06 Interview With Bennett Prescott (In house engineer)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: bennettprescott@gmail.com
Date: 09/03/2010 22:05
Subject: Digital Live Consoles

Hey Bennett
Its Joe from the PSW forums. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I
read a little about you online, but could you tell me what you do now in
audio and what contact you've had with digital live consoles. Which
consoles have you used?
Cheers
Joe
--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 09/03/2010 22:10
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

Joe,

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I spend most of my time as a system engineer, although I probably mix
house or monitors every other show or so to help out an opener or
babysit for the company owner. You can read a great deal about my
exposure to many modern consoles in the Road Test forum.

It's probably more accurate to state which consoles I haven't used,


which would be the new SC48, anything by DiGiCo, anything by
Innovason, and the Yamaha PM1D. Otherwise I've probably got a good
working knowledge of it.

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: bennettprescott@gmail.com
Date: 10/03/2010 21:11
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

So would you say you prefer an analogue desk or a digital desk to mix
on? Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive
than on an analogue desk?

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 09/03/2010 22:10
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

That's not necessarily what I'm saying. I don't really care whether it's
analogue or digital, there are digital desks that sound much better than
many analogue desks. However, on an analogue desk any feature you

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want to use has to have a physical control. That limits the amount of
UI stupidity that can be done, whereas I have never seen a digital desk
with anything like that level of control. There are digital desks that I am
happy to use, but to get the same level of usability I would have in a
$15,000 analogue desk I have to buy something like a $60,000 digital
desk. On top of that, most digital desks seem to have a user interface
that was designed by the same people that write Windows software...
e.g. there is no thought put into it whatsoever.

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: bennettprescott@gmail.com
Date: 10/03/2010 23:56
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

How long would you say it took you to learn the interfaces of the
digital consoles you have used? how long was it before you felt as
comfortable using it as you would an analogue desk? Are there any
aplications where you would definately want to use a digital desk over
an analogue desk and vice versa?
Which digital consoles that you have used do you prefer and why?
What are the biggest differences between them?

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 00:03
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

The learning curve varies by console. Some of them I felt comfortable

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on in 5 minutes, some I still don't feel comfortable on. Of course
there's a big difference between being able to mix and actually
understanding the advanced capabilities on the board. Many desks are
not difficult to push fader and perform basic mixing tasks on, but one
menu down you could easily recall a different scene or repatch your
outputs somewhere else and then be unable to recover. I think the
biggest issue is that, no matter how long it took to learn the first time,
if you've been away from it for a few months you've got to learn the
desk all over again... not an issue with analogue desks, since everything
is by nature a lot more standardized and obvious.

The main advantage of digital is compactness while having a high


channel count and high aux count with full parametric EQ on every
channel, in my opinion. If I can only take up 6' of space, then I'm
probably going to have to go digital. Of course, if I were out with the
same act every day for weeks or months, I might want the additional
power of digital there, as well... but only high end digital. In low end
digital I don't think the tradeoff is worth it, since most of them sound
like junk and the user interface makes you slower, not faster. It would
be much easier to lose a few channels and have somewhat less flexible
EQ, but honestly if I can't get it done with a good semi-parametric
channel EQ then I have serious problems. It's hard to save the space,
too... either way I'm going to need at least one additional rack at FOH,
and it doesn't really matter if it's filled with the brains for the desk and
power supplies and a UPS or with 18U of dynamics and effects.

The best digital console I have ever been on is the Soundcraft Vi6. The
reason is pretty simple: I can see everything I need to know about
almost every channel at the same time, and I can do more than one
thing at a time. I can be equalizing my guitar channel while another
engineer mixes and equalizes the vocal channels. I can be line checking
the next act while the headliner is still on, even though the next act is
on another layer.

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From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: bennettprescott@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 00:20
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

What would you say were the factors stopping you learning the less
intuative consoles as fast as the slower ones? Would you say being
able to see everything at once and the ability to multitask are two of
the biggest problems with low quality digital desks?
What exactly do you mean by sounding like junk?

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: bennettprescott@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 22:49
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

Hey there Bennett

Thanks ever so much for your time, you've been a great help.
If I could just ask you a couple more questions to finish off.
What would you say are the main adavantages of a digital system?
What would you say are the main disadvantages?

Thanks again
Joe

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From: bennettprescott@gmail.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 23:58
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

I would say the factor making it difficult to learn the less intuitive
consoles was their lack of intuitiveness ;) And yes, I would say control
and display are the two biggest weakness of any digital desk. I cannot
quantify why most low and even some mid end digital desks sound bad
compared to good digital or analogue.

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 23:59
Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles

No problem, Joe.

The main advantage of digital is flexibility and control. As long as you


have space for the connectors, you can almost fit a 64 channel by 32
bus console into your carry on. The primary disadvantage then is how
to control it.

2.07 Interview With John Gale (Live and Studio Engineer)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: thegale@gmail.com

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Date: 11/03/2010 00:31
Subject: My dissertation (digital consoles)

Hey John
It's Joe from the Sound on Sound forums. Thanks for agreeing to be
interviewed. Could you tell me about what you have done in audio,
what you currently do and what contact you have had with digital live
consoles please? Which consoles hae you used and what were the
biggest differences between them?

--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: thegale@gmail.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 18/03/2010 05:12
Subject: Re: My dissertation (digital consoles)

Hi Joe,

Sorry about the late reply. Very busy at the moment with tours.

I'm a full time live sound engineer and also do studio producing. Current
acts I am working for directly are Amy MacDonald (Monitors), Florence
and The Machine (Monitors for the next UK tour), Elaine Paige,
(Monitors), and Fairport Convention, (FOH) and then I work for a fair
few PA companies when I am not out with the acts. Other recent acts
include Beverley Knight and Natalie Imbruglia (Mons). I'll attached a CV.

As for contact with Digital consoles, I say 98% of my work is mixing on


digital consoles. I came from the generation where just as I was

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starting, the PM5D, PM1D and DiGiCo D5 were becoming common but
everyone was still mixing analogue. By the time I had done my time and
began mixing bands rather than just working on stage, digital was a
common option. Having learnt the digital world in the studio, I was very
comfortable using it live and so just always spec'd a digital console.
The only time I go analogue is during festival season where the
'provided' console is analogue, normally a Midas Heritage. However,
even this year on festival I took various consoles - DiGiCo D5, Yamaha
PM5D and M7CL mainly.

So right from the beginning I have mixed digitally and without a doubt I
am quicker on a digital desk than on an analogue. Particuarly when
mixing monitors and dealing with a lot if In-Ear monitor mixes (IEM). To
patch and setup an analogue console takes time, lots of outboard. In
the digital domain, if I need a compressor or reverb, I press a button
and it's there.

Here's a list of the consoles I have used, in most common order.

DiGiCO D5 and D1, SD8


Yamaha PM5D and PM1D
Digidesign D-Show and Profile
Soundcraft Vi6
Yamaha M7CL
Midas Pro-6
Yamaha LS9
Roland M-400

And then over the years all the smaller desk, Yamaha 02R etc.

The thing with the digital consoles, they are all pretty much the same,
it's just tough as none of them are the same lay-out. Therefore, some
are easier to set-up than others. In terms of work flow, a DiGiCo is
much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D. It also sounds
better, but Yamaha are very stable desks, where in the early days,
DiGiCo would occasionally crash, (this has been fixed now). So there

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are always pro's and cons. With that in mind, I choose my console
based on the act I am doing, how many channels and outputs are
required and how muich space there is on stage or out front for the
desk.

Not sure if you have some more specific questions I can answer. Feel
free to e-mail me back.

Cheers.

John

--
John Gale
GALEFORCE SOUND - "Storming Audio Production Since 1999"

95A The Vale, Acton, London, W3 7RG


Mbl: +44 (0) 7884 054 122 Tel: +44 (0) 208 749 0989 AIM:
Galeforce Sound Skype: galeforcesound www.galeforcesound.com

E-mail: thegale@gmail.com

You can view my work calendar at:


http://ical.me.com/galeforcesound/Galeforce's%20Work

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: thegale@gmail.com
Date: 11/03/2010 00:31
Subject: Re: My dissertation (digital consoles)

Hey John
I appreciate you're probably really busy but if i could just ask you a few
more questions it would be really helpful

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Are there any times when you would specifically want to use an
analogue desk over a digital desk and why? Are there any times when
you would specifically want to use a digital desk over an analogue desk
and why? How long would you say it takes you to learn your way
around a new desk?
Can you expand upon what you mean by some desks sounding better
than others? Has a desk ever crashed for you and how much of a
problem was this?

Cheers
Joe

--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

2.08 Interview with Dan Bennett (Hire Company Project Manager)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com
Date: 17/03/2010 16:40
Subject: Digital consoles - My dissertation

Hey Dan
I'm a third year audio production student at bucks new uni and I'm
about to start my primary research on my dissertation. I asked Andy
Reynolds if he knew anyone who might be interested and he gave me
your email address.
My dissertation is on digital live consoles, particuarly with referance to
analoge consoles. Would you be interested in helping me by doing an
interiew with me? It can be over email, or in person, or over the phone.
Whatever's easier for you
Cheers

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Joe

--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 17/03/2010 16:42
Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation

Hi Joe,

Yeah, no probs. Email a few questions over and I will do my best to


answer them.

Regards

-Dan

____________________________________________________
___________
SSE Audio Group Limited email security by www.MessageStream.com

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com
Date: 17/03/2010 16:54
Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation

Can I start by asking you what you've done in live sound and what you

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do now?

--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 18/03/2010 13:06
Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation

Hi Joe,

My introduction to live sound was at university. I am a LIPA Graduate,


I left in 2005. From there I came to SSE where I was given an office
job, over the past 5 years I have established myself as one of the
three main project managers that deal with the entirety of SSE's hire
work, Festivals, tours, one offs, corporate etc etc. My job
predominantly is large scale system design, logistics and client
handler. I also have an involvement in the in the department's capital
expenditure, training and booking of freelancers, as well as a
multitude of other jobs, depending on the time of year. I have had a
freelance existence, on smaller shows and some larger jobs with SSE
this was some time ago though!

Kind Regards

-Dan

____________________________________________________
___________
SSE Audio Group Limited email security by www.MessageStream.com

118/158
From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com
Date: 19/03/2010 15:39
Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation

Do you have any preferance of digital vs analogue mixing consoles? Are


there times when you would choose one over the other?

From: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 18/03/2010 13:06
Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation

What's your number? Maybe best to discuss this one....?

[Conversation continued on disk 4]

2.09 David Neal (Director of Marketing Communications for


Harman/Soundcraft)
Hi Joseph,

This is to confirm that your web enquiry on the Soundcraft website


has been successfully received and has been forwarded to your local
contact, Soundcraft Marketing.

For follow-up enquiries, you can contact Soundcraft Marketing at


soundcraft.marketing@harman.com

QUERY TYPE: None of the above

You wrote:

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I'm a third year Audio and Music Production student at Bucks New Uni,
and I'm in the middle of my primary research for a dissertation which
revolves around digital consoles in the live enviroment. I'd really
like to talk to someone from Soundcraft in relation to your digital
boards, seeing as you are one of the big names that keeps coming up.
It would be very useful to know a manufacurers opinions on some of
the topics which have come up.
Any help and I would be very grateful.
Cheers
Joe

Thank you,
Soundcraft Marketing

From: dave.neal@harman.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 01/04/2010 08:49
Subject: Digital Console Research

Hi Joe, thanks for getting in touch with us. We’d be happy to help, if
you could perhaps email us a list of your questions we can try and put
some answers together for you.

David Neal

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: dave.neal@harman.com
Date:01/04/2010 12:22
Subject: Re: Digital Console Research

Hey Dave

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I'd like to know what you think seperates your digital desks from the
competition. What are the most important aspects of your digital
consoles in terms of usability? How do you think your products
measure up sonically against competitors' products? What would you
say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that you improved
upon with your series of consoles? How much contact did you have
with working live sound engineers when designing your product line?
You are a company which produces both analogue and digital boards,
do you see more demand for your digital or analogue boards? Do any
specific markets go for one over the other?
What would you say the main strengths of your desks are? What would
you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in general
against analogue consoles?

Cheers
Joe

From: dave.neal@harman.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date:19/04/2010 17:56
Subject: Re: Digital Console Research

Hi Joe, sorry for the delay, here are some answers for you:

I'd like to know what you think seperates your digital desks from the
competition.
>> We believe we stand apart on three things – sound quality, user
interface and integral FX and EQ from Lexicon and BSS Audio.

What are the most important aspects of your digital consoles in terms
of usability?

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>> Our user interfaces are designed to be as like-like as possible, with
controls and information where your channel strip would normally be.
We don’t believe that you should be delving through menus to find
functions you need in the mix. The Vistonics system is acclaimed as so
analogue-like.

How do you think your products measure up sonically against


competitors' products?
>> Rather than comment on our competitors sonic quality, I’d rather
say that our users tell us it’s the best sounding digital console they’ve
used. 

What would you say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that
you improved upon with your series of consoles?
>> The user interface and sound quality are the two areas that have
generally improved as generations develop. Taking what was essentially
‘assignable’ channels and making dedicated input sections with their
own controls. Just take a look at Vistonics.

How much contact did you have with working live sound engineers
when designing your product line?
>> As much as we could. It’s vital that engineers tell us how they need
a console to work, and we worked very closely with a number of
engineers, and still do.

You are a company which produces both analogue and digital boards,
do you see more demand for your digital or analogue boards?
>> Currently, we’re seeing high demand for both, but in the respective
price bands

Do any specific markets go for one over the other?

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>> It’s more a question of price nowadays, digital can’t yet get down
to the price of the smaller analogue desks, so we see a fair split on the
price bands. Most people have adopted digital because of the benefits
below.

What would you say the main strengths of your desks are?
>> As mentioned earlier in Q1.

What would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital
consoles in general against analogue consoles?

Strengths:
1. Integrated processing, FX, delays and EQ’s save huge amounts of
rack space, which saves on space at the venue, shipping costs, cabling
etc.
2. Snapshot memories drastically reduce setup time because of desk
settings recall.
3. More flexible for different types of show.
4. Quicker to configure than patching cables around.

Weaknesses?
1. Currently the entry level cost is high, no low-end product yet.
2. Potential learning curve for using them. Pretty well all engineers
could use an analogue desk within minutes, there is a ‘standard’ user
interface’. That’s why we put so much effort into making great user
interfaces.
Hope this helps you,

Dave

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2.10 Interview with Rob Hughes (UK Sales Manager for Midas/Klark
Teknik)

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com
To: Rob.Hughes@midasklarkteknik.com
Date: 16/04/2010 16:17
Subject: Re: Digital Consoles

Hey Rob,
Thanks very much, the soonest you can get back the better obviously,
but my dissertation is handed in in a week so the sooner the better. I
appreciate you're really busy though.
I'd like to know what you think seperates your venue system from the
competition's systems. What are the most important aspects of your
digital consoles in terms of usability? How do you think your product
measures up sonically against competitors' products? what would you
say are the weaknesses of older digital mixing consoles that you
improved upon with your consoles? How much contact did you have
with working live sound engineers when designing your product line?
What would you say the main strengths of your system are? What
would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in
general against analogue console? Are there applications where you
would recomend an analogue console over a digital one and vice versa?
Thanks again
Joe

From: Rob.Hughes@midasklarkteknik.com

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To: joe.couper@googlemail.com
Date: 19/04/2010 11:05
Subject: Answers to questions!

Hi Joe,

I will try and answer your questions as best as possible.

In my opinion, there are various reasons that separate our digital systems form all other digital
consoles, but the biggest difference is that ours are not simply digital consoles, they are full
audio networks. Our XL8 and the newer Pro 6 were both designed and built around audio
networking at their core, using Hypermac and Supermac AES 50 protocol.
(http://www.supermac-hypermac.com/index.php). This has given us a big advantage
over the competition, as we can distribute audio throughout the network seamlessly and with
sub-millisecond latency. It also allows the system to be expanded to a very large network, with
a potential 486 ins and 486 outs on an XL8 network at max, and 264 ins and 264 outs
available on the Pro 6 network at maximum. We also run at 96kHz throughout, which both
increases the audio quality but increases the processing speed.

Sonically, Midas digital systems are without question the best sounding live consoles
available, and we would happily put our consoles up against ANY other console, be it live or
studio. The quality of our pre-amps are renowned, and we had to make sure we kept the sonic
quality with the digital systems, as well as keeping the ability to overdrive the pre-amps
without experiencing any digital distortion, as the way Midas pre-amps handle being
overdriven was something people loved, in fact, some people actually think they sound better
when being over driven, so we made sure that there was more double the headroom in the
converters than in the mic amps, so we can convert the overdriven signal.

Older digital consoles have suffered with various problems, from whole systems ‘falling over’
regularly and being unstable coupled with poor audio quality compared with their analogue
counterparts. It is only in recent years that digital technology has started to catch up sonically
with analogue. Also, problems which have plagued digital system is latency. With analogue,
the latency involved is so small it can be treated as zero, so various paths through consoles
including inserts made no difference to time. With digital, everything takes time to do, from
converting from analogue to digital, converting back to digital, routing paths through a
console, any processing to audio within the process etc etc. Latency through a console is a
problem that can be dealt with and also acceptable if you are mixing FOH as there is inherent
latency between the user and the PA in the form of physical distance), but latency within a mix
can cause comb filtering and incoherent audio.
Midas digital systems are the first to fully compensate to maintain phase coherency to within
half a sample. This means that the system will compensate for all internal processing, all

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internal routing options, and also 3 stages of analogue insert paths.
We have also implemented full audio interpolation throughout the system, which makes the
mixing process sound a lot more analogue, and improve time for such things as EQ’ing inputs
etc, as the interpolation actually recreates the phase shift associated with analogue
parametric EQ filters.

When designing our systems, we had extensive input from mix engineers, and we continue to
talk to our customer base to aid design of future systems, as well as adapting software for
current systems to add features requested by customers, as well as changing some aspects
of the software that may need refining.

In summary, our main strengths are a: high quality audio b: full networking c: stable linux core
.

In some applications analogue is preferable, such as festivals. This is because all analogue
consoles operate in the same way and engineers need no training to operate them, whereas
every manufacturer of digital consoles make their system operate in a different way, and if an
engineer doesn’t know that particular manufacturers method, it can hinder them from doing
their job in a time pressure environment such as a festival.

In virtually every other environment a digital system is preferable due to the recallable nature,
as well as the feature-set available on all digital consoles, such as dynamics processing,
effecs, EQ etc etc.

Hopefully this answers your questions, but feel free to look at www.midasconsoles.com
and click on the XL8 or Pro 6 links.

Kind Regards,

HUGHES, Rob

Manager, Sales UK

MIDAS KLARK TEKNIK LIMITED

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Tel: +44 1562 741515 ext 389

Fax: +44 1562 745371

Web: www.midasconsoles.com | www.klarkteknik.com |


www.ktsquareone.com

2.11 Interview with Tim Shaxson (Technical Sales Manager for DiGoCo)

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com
To: Tim@digiconsoles.com
Date: 30/03/2010 17:39
Subject: Digital consoles for live audio

Hey Tim
I'm a third year Audio and Music Production student at Bucks New Uni,
and I'm in the middle of my primary research for a dissertation which
revolves around digital consoles in the live enviroment. I'd really like to
talk to you, or someone else from DiGiCo in relation to your digital
boards, seeing as you are one of the big names that keeps coming up.
It would be very useful to know a manufacurers opinions on some of
the topics which have come up.
Any help and I would be very grateful.
Cheers
Joe
--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: Tim@digiconsoles.com
To: joe.couper@googlemail.com
Date: 05/04/2010 19:26

127/158
Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio

Hi Joe,

Sorry for the delay. It’s been a very busy few weeks.

I’d be delighted to help. What do you need to know?

Best

Tim

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com
To: Tim@digiconsoles.com
Date: 05/04/2010 21:23
Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio

Hey Tim
Thats fine, thanks for getting back.
I'd like to know what you think seperates your digital desks from the
competition. What are the most important aspects of your digital
consoles in terms of usability? How do you think your products
measure up sonically against competitors' products? What would you
say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that you improved
upon with your series of consoles? How much contact did you have
with working live sound engineers when designing your product line?
What would you say the main strengths of your desks are? What would
you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in general
against analogue consoles?
cheers!
Joe

From: Tim@digiconsoles.com
To: joe.couper@googlemail.com

128/158
Date: 05/04/2010 21:29
Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio

Hi Joe,

Some good questions there.

Could you give me a few days to get back to you on this...I shouldn’t
be too long.

Cheers

Tim

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com
To: Tim@digiconsoles.com
Date: 15/04/2010 21:44
Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio

Hey Tim
Just checking you haven't forgotten about this. It would be really
helpful if I could get some answers to these questions from someone
at DiGiCo.
Joe

From: Tim@digiconsoles.com
To: joe.couper@googlemail.com
Date: 15/04/2010 23:39
Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio

129/158
Sorry Joe. I hadn’t forgotten but we are exceptionally busy at the
moment .

I hope the answers below help

Cheers

Tim

What are the most important aspects of your digital consoles in terms
of usability?

DiGiCo are arguably one of the easiest desks to use, particularly when
making the transition from analogue to digital. Our GUI is very analogue
in appearance and use. We pioneered the use of touch screen
technology with the D-series consoles and have adopted larger,
brighter screens with the SD-series.

All our consoles have a similar work flow and with the SD-series in
particular, all three consoles in the range have exactly the same
operating system. Once you’ve learnt how to use one, you’ve learnt
how to use all three.

How do you think your products measure up sonically against


competitors' products?

DiGiCo have an excellent reputation for sound quality. We have always


used floating point processing on the mix buss (which has the benefit,
when compared to fixed point processing, of a huge amount of
headroom resulting in clean, transparent non-compressed audio when

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handling multiple inputs) and we’ve always insisted on remote stage
racks. The shorter the analogue cable run from microphone to preamp,
the better and remote stage racks allow this. The other benefit is a
digital multicore (we support MADI and Optocore) which minimises
signal loss and noise interference when compared with analogue
multi’s.

With the recent launch of the SD-Series consoles, we have moved away
from the more traditional DSP method of audio processing an have
used instead, FPGA processing. This has resulted in far more powerful,
far more efficient and smaller audio engines compared to our rivals and
because all the audio processing is achieved in a single 40mm square
Super FPGA chip, the timing issues associated with dealing with
multiple DSP chips are no longer there with the result that the SD-
series consoles sound even better than their predecessors.

We offer the same sonic signature, regardless of whether you’re using


the £11k SD9 or the £91k SD7. All SD-series consoles share the same
Stealth-based audio processing and the same mic preamps.

What would you say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that
you improved upon with your series of consoles?

[TS] Early digital consoles were not particularly intuitive and were
heavily menu driven. Indeed, that’s still the case with some of the
current competition. We’ve always strived to make our consoles easy
and fast to use, but without compromising the ultimate flexibility that
a digital console can offer when compared to an analogue console.

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How much contact did you have with working live sound engineers
when designing your product line?

Feedback from engineers, whether they be FOH, Monitor or Theatre


engineers, is vital when designing a new product. When we introduced
the D5 in 2002, it quickly became apparent that the work surface itself
was just about perfect. The multi-operability, the multiple screens, the
size were all factors that meant the console was quickly picked up by
some of the major tours/theatres of their day. Even now, 8 yrs later,
the D5 is still being used on many world tours. Our current flagship is
very familiar to those who have used the D-Series consoles in the past,
we’ve simply adapted the worksurface to incorporate some the new
technologys that have occurred since 2002: larger and brighter TFT’s,
TFT meterbridge, polycarbonate surface, hidden-till-lit technology, built
in camera and monitor, FPGA instead of DSP based processing.....

However, being a digital console and therefore being dependent on


software, it meant that we have been able to refine and develop the
software continuously over the years, adding features requested by
engineers. For instance, when we released the SD8 in Autumn 2008,
we gained feedback over the first 6 months that the snapshot
capability needed enhancing particularly with respect to the theatre
market. Also, monitor engineers were requesting more internal graphic
eq’s. These were both features that we included when we introduced
the Overdrive software upgrade last Oct.

We keep a master suggestions list which is constantly being updated,


where feature requests from engineers are kept and depending on how
often a feature is requested, we then take a view on whether said
request should be incorporated in a future release.

What would you say the main strengths of your desks are?

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Sound quality, sound quality and sound quality!
Ease of use
Industry leading technical specification
The adoption of industry standard protocols and interfaces (MADI /
Optocore) – not proprietry
The support and aftersales service DiGiCo offer – it’s not all about
features and audio.

As a company, DiGiCo only make digital consoles. Thats all we do.


Therefore, unlike other manufacturers, we are wholly focused on this
and this alone.

What would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital
consoles in general against analogue consoles?
Strengths include instant recall, small footprint, flexibility

Weaknesses include different operating systems per manufacturer.

2.12 Conversation with Noah Leibman (Interface & Interaction Design


Graduate from University of Michegan)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: noah@noahliebman.com
Date: 21/03/2010 18:58
Subject: Cue Bert

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Hey Noah
I posted on the sound on sound forums asking for people to interview
for my dissertation and someone suggested I look at your Cue-Bert
project, which is fairly similar. My dissertation is on digital live mixing
consoles, particuarly workflow in referance to analogue consoles. Mine
is much more focused on music, as thats where all of the resources
seem to be, but theres quite a bit on theater sound and church sound
so far too.
I was wondering if there was any more of your project anywhere
because I'd love to be able to referance it. I found the videos on vimeo,
the posts on the theater sound news group, your blog, and
cuebert.com. Is there a paper/digital document? If so could I see a
copy please?
Are there any resources which you founds particuarly useful, I noticed
you mentioned Live Sound Reinforcement, is there anything else you
read?
Anyway, what I've seen is really interesting stuff, the console you came
out with looks really interesting.
Cheers
Joe

--
Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer
http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: noah@noahliebman.com
To: joe.couper@gmail.com
Date: 21/03/2010 18:58
Subject: Re: Cue Bert

Hey Joe,

We actually got the vast majority of our information from interviews

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and observations; a formal approach to console design seems pretty
unusual, so our attempt at a lit review came up pretty dry.

We wrote a paper that was recently accepted to NIME 2010, so if we


can get a travel grant from our university, we will be presenting it in
Sydney in August. I'm attaching the version of the paper we submitted,
so it's anonymized and will be revised before getting published, but it'll
probably give you a pretty good idea.

A friend of mine actually did a study a long time ago (during undergrad,
maybe) that I think was an ethnography of cooperation among live
sound engineers or something, but I never actually got ahold of it. If
you want, I could ask him for a copy.

Out of curiosity, what's the abstract/elevator pitch for your


dissertation? It's always encouraging to know other people are doing
similar work.

-Noah

From: joe.couper@gmail.com
To: noah@noahliebman.com
Date: 21/03/2010 19:54
Subject: Re: Cue Bert

Yeah I've found pretty similar stuff with the lit review, a lot of articles
in the major journals though, Light and Sound International and Pro
Sound Web have been really good recently.
I haven't written my abstract yet, everyone suggested that that should
come last, at the moment I'm still doing a load of primary research. the
title of it is "How might operational use of live digital consoles be
improved?" although I suspect this might change. Its basicly a study
into why people love and hate digital consoles and how valid those
arguments are. My initial idea came from my personal experience of

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being comfortable with analogue and then being confronted with a
digital desk and not being able to do simple tasks on it. When I started
reading around the subject I realised that this was a pretty common
problem that seems to stem from poor design, but that seems to be
getting better now that the technology has been around longer. I've
spoken to some people who are the other way around, who have learnt
on digital and find it odd to switch back.
NIME looks like a great place to show Cue-Bert off, hope you get the
grant. Does that mean you're hoping to get it mass produced?
I'd love to see that, it sounds really interesting at least. There might be
a few nuggets of information I can use for my dissertation too.

Joe

3.0 Editted Transcripts

3.1 Do you prefer analogue or digital consoles in the live environment?

3.1.01 Paul Myers


It depends what the live environment is

3.1.02 Ben Adcock


I'd probably now choose digital desks over analogue ones
I've always been an analogue desk man but I find myself being more
and more converted to digital

3.1.03 Andy Reynolds


That is a really tough one, it depends what you're doing

3.1.04 Timm Cleasby


This is a hard question to answer as I really like both but for very
different reasons

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3.1.05 Robert Caprio
Yes, I do prefer digital consoles in the live environment.

3.1.06 Bennett Prescott


I don't really care whether it's analogue or digital, there are digital
desks that sound much better than many analogue desks. However, on
an analogue desk any feature you want to use has to have a physical
control. That limits the amount of UI stupidity that can be done,
whereas I have never seen a digital desk with anything like that level of
control. There are digital desks that I am happy to use, but to get the
same level of usability I would have in a $15,000 analogue desk I have
to buy something like a $60,000 digital desk. On top of that, most
digital desks seem to have a user interface that was designed by the
same people that write Windows software... e.g. there is no thought
put into it whatsoever.

3.1.07 John Gale


Having learnt the digital world in the studio, I was very comfortable
using it live and so just always spec'd a digital console. The only time I
go analogue is during festival season where the 'provided' console is
analogue, normally a Midas Heritage. However, even this year on
festival I took various consoles - DiGiCo D5, Yamaha PM5D and M7CL
mainly.

3.1.08 Dan Bennett


I think the younger generation, they grew up on the PM5Ds and the
Digidesigns… Its almost second nature. You have the old boys who cut
their teeth in the 80s on the analogue boards… but a lot of the
engineers now speak both languages

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3.1.09 David Neal
Currently, we’re seeing high demand for both
It’s more a question of price nowadays, digital can’t yet get down to
the price of the smaller analogue desks, so we see a fair split on the
price bands. Most people have adopted digital because of the benefits

3.2 Are there times when you would prefer an analogue desk over a
digital desk and vice versa?

3.2.01 Paul Myers


At the moment, I'm about to go on tour with a band and we're taking a
digital console with us... The Digidesign SC48... But I did a load of
festivals over the summer and for the first few of the festivals I used
digital consoles, which was OK. But, Reading festival, the main stage
with analogue consoles it was so much better... The difference
between what you're doing at a festival which is setting up a monitor
mix extremely quickly, usually during the first song, everything's in
front of you. You can see every single input, you can see every single
output, and you can just see it all.
It just makes that setting up time a lot easier and simpler.
They both have their plus and minus features
I would almost guarantee if you ask any sound engineer what they
would prefer to use at a festival they would say analogue but if they
were going out on tour they would say digital.
Thats what I've noticed over the summer, obviously I did Glastonbury
main stage, Latitude main stage, Cambridge Folk Festival main stage,
Big Chill dance tent, and then I did reading festival main stage and
pretty much everyone there said it would be better with an analogue
desk, even though I did use digital on most of them.
I had one instance at Reading festival where a friend of mine who's
doing Ian Brown came up and went “oh you've got a heritage, I'll leave
my digital desk in the truck then”

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3.2.02 Ben Adcock
I like to use digital and I'm using digital now
I think the theatre stuff we're doing at the moment I think a digital
desk is ideal for it

3.2.03 Andy Reynolds


If I am mixing a touring act at festivals I would love to step up to an
analogue board because I need to get a mix together really really
quickly. If I'm touring with a band and I've got plenty of time for pre-
production and they've got lots of money, digital is they way, no
question about it.

3.2.04 Timm Cleasby


I'd choose a digital desk when there are a lot of bands on the bill, you
can sound check each one and save the full settings and get back
exactly what you left (including system EQ). I'd choose an analogue
desk for a festival where you have no time to soundcheck and you
need to work fast... can't beat the reach out to grab a gain pot or eq
pot right when you need it.

3.2.05 Robert Caprio


These days I would be hard pressed to choose an analogue desk over a
Profile or other Avid desk. I can't think of a single instance where I
would go back to analogue.

3.2.06 Bennett Prescott


If I can only take up 6' of space, then I'm probably going to have to go
digital. Of course, if I were out with the same act every day for weeks
or months, I might want the additional power of digital there, as well...
but only high end digital. In low end digital I don't think the tradeoff is
worth it, since most of them sound like junk and the user interface
makes you slower, not faster.

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3.2.07 John Gale
I choose my console based on the act I am doing, how many channels
and outputs are required and how muich space there is on stage or out
front for the desk.

3.2.08 Rob Hughes


In some applications analogue is preferable, such as festivals. This is
because all analogue consoles operate in the same way and engineers
need no training to operate them, whereas every manufacturer of
digital consoles make their system operate in a different way, and if an
engineer doesn’t know that particular manufacturers method, it can
hinder them from doing their job in a time pressure environment such
as a festival.
In virtually every other environment a digital system is preferable due
to the recallable nature, as well as the feature-set available on all
digital consoles, such as dynamics processing, effecs, EQ etc etc.

3.2.09 Dan Bennett


Absolutely. Unfortunately at the moment most production managers
and most people that are speccing these gigs are only worried about
cost.
On festivals, large festivals… We're still keeping two large analogue
front of house boards for the main stages.
Most tours now are digital desks.

3.3 Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than
on an analogue desk?

3.3.01 Ben Adcock


A lot of them, they tend to be quite user intuitive. The companies now
seem to be spending a lot more time designing desks people can use
very quickly

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3.3.02 Andy Reynolds
Depends on the make and model.
It is a different workflow. Once you've got your head around it, its just
time.
If you're not totally on it and you're not totally familiar with the board
it can take a long time
I like to set my gain structure up at unity gain on all output faders and I
use gain for volume, and then EQ. But with the Yamaha and the
DiGiCos, because you're not going to zero dB VU, you're going to F/S,
then you end up mixing in a completely different way

3.3.03 Timm Cleasby


Less but generally digital desks are fairly easy to learn.

3.3.04 Robert Caprio


It depends on the desk but typically digital desks are a bit less
intuitive. Since analogue desks have a knob for every function you can
easily find the knob for the function you need, whereas on a digital
desk you may need to scroll through a menu or select a bank of knobs
to access a function you need.

3.3.05 Bennett Prescott


on an analogue desk any feature you want to use has to have a
physical control. That limits the amount of UI stupidity that can be
done

I would say control and display are the two biggest weakness of any
digital desk.

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3.3.06 John Gale
The thing with the digital consoles, they are all pretty much the same,
it's just tough as none of them are the same lay-out.

3.3.07 Tim Shaxson


Early digital consoles were not particularly intuitive and were heavily
menu driven. Indeed, that’s still the case with some of the current
competition.

3.3.08 David Neal


Our user interfaces are designed to be as like-like as possible, with
controls and information where your channel strip would normally be.
We don’t believe that you should be delving through menus to find
functions you need in the mix. The Vistonics system is acclaimed as so
analogue-like.

3.4 Which digital consoles have you used, and what are the main
differences between them?

3.4.01 Paul Myers


With an analogue desk you get full stability
I have seen instances where a digital desk, rather like a computer just
says "no, not doing it" and needs to reboot.

3.4.02 Andy Reynolds


I have not used a Vi6 which is really bizarre because everybody raves
about them
build quality… Audio, the flexibility with outputs
They're all completely different

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3.4.03 Timm Cleasby
What digital consoles have you used? MOST - DIGIDESIGN, YAMAHA,
DIGICO, STUDER, SOUNDCRAFT, INNOVASON

What were the biggest differences between them? THE USER


INTERFACES (CONTROL SURFACES) EACH ONE HAS A VERY DIFFERENT
WAY OF WORKING

3.4.04 Robert Caprio


Most of my recent live audio experience has been with the Digidesign
(Avid) Venue (D-Show, Profile and SC48) series of consoles. In my
opinion they are outstanding though I also use the Soundcraft Vi6,
Yamaha M7CL, PM5D, LS9 and Midas XL8, among a few shows with
many others

The big difference between the various models of digital desks are
really only significant in that they all do the same thing, just in their
own way. As I stated earlier, I found the Avid desks to be the easiest
and most "analogue" feeling out of all the ones I've used. To my ear
the Yamaha consoles have a "gritty" and somewhat displeasing tone.
The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic
but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and non-intuitive. That
also applies to the Soundcraft Vi6/Studer Vista.

3.4.05 Bennett Prescott


It's probably more accurate to state which consoles I haven't used,
which would be the new SC48, anything by DiGiCo, anything by
Innovason, and the Yamaha PM1D. Otherwise I've probably got a good
working knowledge of it.

3.4.06 John Gale


Here's a list of the consoles I have used, in most common order.
DiGiCO D5 and D1, SD8

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Yamaha PM5D and PM1D
Digidesign D-Show and Profile
Soundcraft Vi6
Yamaha M7CL
Midas Pro-6
Yamaha LS9
Roland M-400
And then over the years all the smaller desk, Yamaha 02R etc.

they are all pretty much the same, it's just tough as none of them are
the same lay-out... some are easier to set-up than others. In terms of
work flow, a DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha
PM5D. It also sounds better, but Yamaha are very stable desks, where
in the early days, DiGiCo would occasionally crash, (this has been fixed
now).

3.4.07 Dan Bennett


Every manufacturer and every board has a sound due to the
components and the materials they use

3.4.08 Rob Hughes


In my opinion, there are various reasons that separate our digital
systems form all other digital consoles, but the biggest difference is
that ours are not simply digital consoles, they are full audio networks.
Our XL8 and the newer Pro 6 were both designed and built around
audio networking at their core, using Hypermac and Supermac AES 50
protocol. (http://www.supermac-hypermac.com/index.php). This has
given us a big advantage over the competition, as we can distribute
audio throughout the network seamlessly and with sub-millisecond
latency. It also allows the system to be expanded to a very large
network, with a potential 486 ins and 486 outs on an XL8 network at
max, and 264 ins and 264 outs available on the Pro 6 network at
maximum. We also run at 96kHz throughout, which both increases the

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audio quality but increases the processing speed.

3.5 What are the main advantages and disadvantages of a digital


system?

3.5.01 Ben Adcock


space saving
if i wanna make an adjustment on two channels at the same time
theres very few desks that allow you to do that without using a
computer hooked up to the desk

3.5.02 Andy Reynolds


Flexabilty
Audio quality is also becoming an advantage.
The learning curve
The fact that one digital desk is not the same as another digital desk
you have to program it and depending on the desk it can be an
absolute nightmare

3.5.03 Timm Cleasby


FULL RECALL OF EVERY SINGLE ASPECT
SMALL FOOT PRINT AND LIGHT WEIGHT
FULL RECORDING INTEGRATION
SOUND QUALITY AS THEY STILL DON'T SOUND QUITE AS GOOD AS THE
ANALOGUE BOARDS BUT THIS IS GETTING BETTER

3.5.04 Robert Caprio


One of the main advantages of the digital systems is smaller footprint
you have access to far more options than an analogue rig, which limits
you to how much you can physically carry or pack in a truck.
Another HUGE advantage with the Avid rigs is Virtual Soundcheck... If
the band is running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer

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worries me since I know I can have my mix dialed in pretty close. This
applies to monitor mixing as well
I can't really think of any disadvantages of a digital system, especially
the Avid rigs.

3.5.05 Bennett Prescott


The main advantage of digital is flexibility and control. As long as you
have space for the connectors, you can almost fit a 64 channel by 32
bus console into your carry on. The primary disadvantage then is how
to control it.

3.5.06 Dan Bennett


Logistics wise a digital board is better but sound wise analogue is
better

3.5.07 Rob Hughes


In some applications analogue is preferable, such as festivals. This is
because all analogue consoles operate in the same way and engineers
need no training to operate them, whereas every manufacturer of
digital consoles make their system operate in a different way, and if an
engineer doesn’t know that particular manufacturers method, it can
hinder them from doing their job in a time pressure environment such
as a festival.
In virtually every other environment a digital system is preferable due
to the recallable nature, as well as the feature-set available on all
digital consoles, such as dynamics processing, effecs, EQ etc etc.

3.5.08 Tim Shaxson


Strengths include instant recall, small footprint, flexibility
Weaknesses include different operating systems per manufacturer.

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3.5.09 David Neal
Strengths:
1.Integrated processing, FX, delays and EQ’s save huge amounts of
rack space, which saves on space at the venue, shipping costs, cabling
etc.
2. Snapshot memories drastically reduce setup time because of desk
settings recall.
3. More flexible for different types of show.
4. Quicker to configure than patching cables around.

Weaknesses?
1. Currently the entry level cost is high, no low-end product yet.
2. Potential learning curve for using them. Pretty well all engineers
could use an analogue desk within minutes, there is a ‘standard’ user
interface’. That’s why we put so much effort into making great user
interfaces.

3.6 Is there any real noticeable difference in sound quality between


digital and analogue systems?

3.6.01 Paul Myers


In truth, Digidesign are just so very good sounding desks, but it's just
still not as good as an analogue desk
It's almost the same argument that you'll have with vinyl and CD.
People who are into vinyl will say vinyl will always sound better than
CD, people who are into CDs will always say CDs are better than vinyl
but at the end of the day they both have their different qualities
If you drive a Heritage 3000 quite hard, it still sounds fantastic even if
you drive it too hard.

3.6.02 Ben Adcock


I tend to find analogue desks sound a lot better than the digital ones.
The cheaper desks like the Mackies, the quality of the D/A converters
isn't as good as something like the Soundcraft's

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A lot of the digital desks now… they sound really really good

3.6.03 Andy Reynolds


I think theres a perception that because it's digital its gonna sound
strange.
I never feel like I've got enough gain to make the preamps really work,
whereas on an analogue board I can just crank those gains up and really
get them working.
with better sampling rates, keeping everything in the digital domain till
the last moment, there is a perception that audio quality is an
advantage as well

3.6.04 Timm Cleasby


Analogue desks sound better as there is no conversion process, the
AD/DA converters are getting better but Analogue boards sound
better (Saying that most folk can't tell the difference between the 2)

3.6.05 Robert Caprio


To my ear the Yamaha consoles have a "gritty" and somewhat
displeasing tone. The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that
sound fantastic but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and non-
intuitive.

3.6.06 Bennett Prescott


In low end digital I don't think the tradeoff is worth it, since most of
them sound like junk

I cannot quantify why most low and even some mid end digital desks
sound bad compared to good digital or analogue.

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3.6.07 John Gale
DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D. It also
sounds better

3.6.08 Dan Bennett


If you speak to anyone about audio quality people will still say that
analogue desks still sound better

the XL8 is their horrendous disaster of trying to make digital sound


analogue. They threw millions and millions at that desk and all they're
trying to do is make it sound like an XL4. An XL4 or XL3 are probably
two of the most loved most craved hand made hand soldered desks
that have ever been made…its not like for your 350 grand or whatever
you have to pay for it is, quarter of a million pounds, for an XL8, it
doesn't sound any better than an XL4… They're trying to recreate that
magic and its just turned out to be very very expensive… Wheras the
Digidesign and the Yamaha are based on functionality and "gimmicks"
of doing these plugins thing and they're a hundred times more popular
than the Pro6 and the XL8 because they're like "you know what,
maybe our audio qualities enough to keep people happy, we know its
not perfect but its enough"

3.6.10 Rob Hughes


Midas digital systems are without question the best sounding live
consoles available
The quality of our pre-amps are renowned, and we had to make sure
we kept the sonic quality with the digital systems
some people actually think they sound better when being over driven,
so we made sure that there was more double the headroom in the
converters than in the mic amps, so we can convert the overdriven
signal.

Also, problems which have plagued digital system is latency. With


analogue, the latency involved is so small it can be treated as zero...

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With digital, everything takes time to do...
latency within a mix can cause comb filtering and incoherent audio.
Midas digital systems are the first to fully compensate to maintain
phase coherency to within half a sample. This means that the system
will compensate for all internal processing, all internal routing options,
and also 3 stages of analogue insert paths.

3.6.11 Tim Shaxson


We have always used floating point processing on the mix buss (which
has the benefit, when compared to fixed point processing, of a huge
amount of headroom resulting in clean, transparent non-compressed
audio when handling multiple inputs)
we’ve always insisted on remote stage racks. The shorter the analogue
cable run from microphone to preamp, the better and remote stage
racks allow this. The other benefit is a digital multicore (we support
MADI and Optocore) which minimises signal loss and noise interference
when compared with analogue multi’s.
With the recent launch of the SD-Series consoles, we have moved away
from the more traditional DSP method of audio processing an have
used instead, FPGA processing... the timing issues associated with
dealing with multiple DSP chips are no longer there with the result that
the SD-series consoles sound even better
We offer the same sonic signature, regardless of whether you’re using
the £11k SD9 or the £91k SD7. All SD-series consoles share the
same Stealth-based audio processing and the same mic preamps.

What would you say the main strengths of your desks are?
Sound quality, sound quality and sound quality!

3.6.12 David Neal


our users tell us it’s the best sounding digital console they’ve used.

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3.7 What is your favourite digital desk and why?

3.7.01 Andy Reynolds


I'm biased because I've been on the Midas training course, haven't
been on any other training course. I find the workflow on the Midas
exceptional, the setting up and the operation.

3.7.02 Timm Cleasby


Which did you prefer and why? DIGIDESIGN, I FIND IT EASY TO USE AND
THEY SOUND GOOD AND SOUNDCRAFT AS THET SOUNDED GREAT

I use pro-tools regularly and I know how they work... the others are
easy too... it's just what I have got used to.

3.7.03 Robert Caprio


Digidesign really thought their desks through and put in an excellent
feature set. The layout, functionality and ease of use is what sold me
on the Digidesign desks. They work the way I think and I felt
comfortable using them immediately. Add to that the fact that they
sound good and you've got yourself a great desk.

My favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series


(mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first
time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at
home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals. My
least favourite is the Yamaha M7CL, mainly due to the touch screen
interface. I like the idea of a touch screen though I feel their
implementation of it on that desk is poorly executed. I also found that
the Soundcraft Vi6 console seemed at first to be easy to get around
on but it seemed that the longer I used it the harder it became to get
around quickly on it. Very strange.

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3.7.04 Bennett Prescott
The best digital console I have ever been on is the Soundcraft Vi6. The
reason is pretty simple: I can see everything I need to know about
almost every channel at the same time, and I can do more than one
thing at a time. I can be equalizing my guitar channel while another
engineer mixes and equalizes the vocal channels. I can be line checking
the next act while the headliner is still on, even though the next act is
on another layer.

3.7.05 Dan Bennett


Most tours now are digital desks, the most popular being Digidesign

3.7.06 David Neal


We believe we stand apart on three things – sound quality, user
interface and integral FX and EQ from Lexicon and BSS Audio.

3.8 How long does a digital desk take to learn?

3.8.01 Paul Myers


The first digital desk I used was a PM5D… I can remember using it for
the first time and thinking "what the hell is this? There's nothing in the
right place."
It took a little time, I'd have to say it took me about a year of using
them on and off over that year. You start really using it, you start
enjoying it.
I'm kind of from the generation of computers and computer games so
I'm used to pushing buttons and going through menus to get things to
work. I think a lot of older engineers struggle with that.

3.8.02 Andy Reynolds


I can remember the first time and it wasn't easy to use
I don't think I've ever learned because I don't own a digital desk, I've

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not toured with a digital desk for any length of time that was
meaningful.
I totally understand the process but I'm not familiar at all

3.8.03 Ben Adcock


it took me about half an hour to get the basic operations… I would say
probably a couple of weeks to figure it out completely.

3.8.04 Timm Cleasby


How long did it take to learn the interface? 10 MINUTES TO LEARN THE
BASICS TO MIX A SHOW BUT I'M STILL LEARNING NOW ON ALL THE
THINGS DIGITAL BOARDS CAN DO

3.8.05 Robert Caprio


My favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series
(mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first
time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at
home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals.

I took to digital consoles quickly and found that after one show (figure
2-3 hours worth of "hands on " time comprised of a soundcheck and
show) I felt quite comfortable with the interfaces and was getting
around confidently. The main factors making these consoles more or
less intuitive is all about the interface and layout. For me, the Avid
desks are the most logically laid out, with all important functions within
quick reach. They don't have a lot of deep menus to scroll through and
they have a very simplified structure.

3.8.06 Bennett Prescott


The learning curve varies by console. Some of them I felt comfortable
on in 5 minutes, some I still don't feel comfortable on. Of course
there's a big difference between being able to mix and actually

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understanding the advanced capabilities on the board. Many desks are
not difficult to push fader and perform basic mixing tasks on, but one
menu down you could easily recall a different scene or repatch your
outputs somewhere else and then be unable to recover. I think the
biggest issue is that, no matter how long it took to learn the first time,
if you've been away from it for a few months you've got to learn the
desk all over again... not an issue with analogue desks, since everything
is by nature a lot more standardized and obvious.

3.8.07 Tim Shaxson


All our consoles have a similar work flow and with the SD-series in
particular, all three consoles in the range have exactly the same
operating system. Once you’ve learnt how to use one, you’ve learnt
how to use all three.

3.9 How important is a reduction in footprint?

3.9.01 Paul Myers


With analogue you have all the extras. You have a console, you have
power supply, you have graphics left and right for the PA, you'll have
compressors, you'll have gates, you have effects returns, all of which
take up space and quite a lot of space as well may I add.
So again for a festival, where again your analogue desk is just in one
place for four or five days, you don't have to move around and thats
quite good.
I'm using a desk, my in ear monitors rack and thats it
it really does depend on the application that you're putting the console
into.

3.9.02 Timm Cleasby


What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system?…
SMALL FOOT PRINT AND LIGHT WEIGHT

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3.9.03 Ben Adcock
there is a certain advantage to using a digital desk, particularly if
you're trying to keep weight down.

3.9.04 Robert Caprio


The biggest obvious difference between digital and analogue consoles
is that for the most part you don't need any outboard gear with digital
desks. That alone is significant since that cuts down on how much gear
you need to carry on a tour. More free truck space, quicker load
in/out...etc.

One of the main advantages of the digital systems is smaller footprint,


meaning your rig takes up less space in the venue. This is mainly due to
the fact that you don't need additional racks of outboard gear for
signal processing and FX. Speaking of processing and FX, having a
digital rig often means you have access to far more options than an
analogue rig, which limits you to how much you can physically carry or
pack in a truck. When you're pushing cases it's always preferable to
down size and get things compact.

3.9.05 Bennett Prescott


If I can only take up 6' of space, then I'm probably going to have to go
digital.
It's hard to save the space, too... either way I'm going to need at least
one additional rack at FOH, and it doesn't really matter if it's filled with
the brains for the desk and power supplies and a UPS or with 18U of
dynamics and effects.

3.9.06 Dan Bennett:


the profile is probably about 400 KG for the local rack the stage rack,
the multicore and surface, whereas an XL4… you'll be looking at about
750 KG. And if you wanted to tour that, you're going to have to trawl
750KG around the world

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People usually take the cheaper of the options over audio quality

3.10 To what extent are other digital exclusive features useful?

3.10.01 Paul Myers


The huge bonus in digital more than anything else is that if you go
somewhere and you're not carrying your own console, and it's going to
be provided by a local production, you can say for example spec that
you need a PM5D… you turn up, with your card, plug your card in and
you're set up and ready to go.

3.10.02 Timm Cleasby


What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system?…
FULL RECORDING INTEGRATION (WITH THE DIGIDESIGN I CAN PLUG MY
HD3 SYSTEM IN AND RECORD UPTO 64 INPUTS.

3.10.03 Robert Caprio


Another HUGE advantage with the Avid rigs is Virtual Soundcheck. This
allows you to record the band directly from a Venue console to Pro
Tools and then play it back through the desk, as if the band were
playing it live. As a long time Pro Tools user I was very excited about
being able to do that and when I first used it and found that it works
very well I was hooked. VS allows me to play back the previous (or any)
show's content in the new venue and adjust accordingly. If the band is
running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer worries me
since I know I can have my mix dialed in pretty close. This applies to
monitor mixing as well, which do quite a bit of.

3.10.04 Dan Bennett


the thing that people love about digidesign is that you can take your
pro tools plugins and us it in the live domain.
Another advantage you have in digital is you don't have to do a fresh

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mix from scratch because you can have your show on a USB key

3.11 How much contact do manufacturers have during the design


process?

3.11.01 Paul Myers


It's very well designed. In fact it's been designed by people who
actually do live sound. Yamaha's designed by boffins, in Japan
somewhere who don't go out and do live gigs. They probably ask
people who ask people who go out and do live gigs. But you can tell,
even when you read the instruction manual.

3.11.02 Rob Hughes


When designing our systems, we had extensive input from mix
engineers, and we continue to talk to our customer base to aid design
of future systems, as well as adapting software for current systems to
add features requested by customers, as well as changing some
aspects of the software that may need refining.

3.11.03 Tim Shaxson


Feedback from engineers, whether they be FOH, Monitor or Theatre
engineers, is vital when designing a new product. When we introduced
the D5 in 2002, it quickly became apparent that the work surface itself
was just about perfect. The multi-operability, the multiple screens, the
size were all factors that meant the console was quickly picked up by
some of the major tours/theatres of their day. Even now, 8 yrs later,
the D5 is still being used on many world tours. Our current flagship is
very familiar to those who have used the D-Series consoles in the past,
we’ve simply adapted the worksurface to incorporate some the new
technologys that have occurred since 2002

However, being a digital console and therefore being dependent on


software, it meant that we have been able to refine and develop the

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software continuously over the years, adding features requested by
engineers. For instance, when we released the SD8 in Autumn 2008,
we gained feedback over the first 6 months that the snapshot
capability needed enhancing particularly with respect to the theatre
market. Also, monitor engineers were requesting more internal graphic
eq’s. These were both features that we included when we introduced
the Overdrive software upgrade last Oct.
We keep a master suggestions list which is constantly being updated,
where feature requests from engineers are kept and depending on how
often a feature is requested, we then take a view on whether said
request should be incorporated in a future release.

3.11.04 David Neal


As much as we could. It’s vital that engineers tell us how they need a
console to work, and we worked very closely with a number of
engineers, and still do.

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