Recently, about 100 people (including yours truly) squeezed into the basement of London’s Soho Theatre in the heart of the West End for the world launch of the Si Performer, a unique mixing console from Soundcraft.
The new Si Performer packs a number of enhancements over and above the Si Compact, but what makes it really different is that it’s the first production audio console to integrate DMX lighting control.
First things first – the Si Performer looks to be a very capable audio console, with a “turbocharged” version of the Si Compact engine and providing up to 80 channels to mix.
That’s double the count of the Si Compact, and is joined by 35 buses, eight VCA groups and eight mute groups, a fully parametric 4-band EQ with shelf on the HF and LF bands, and LCR panning.
One of the immediate advantages in having more inputs, Soundcraft product specialist Richard Ayres told me, is versatility.
“For example, if you wanted different EQ and dynamics on the house and monitor patches, Si Performer allows you to double-patch one mic to fader one on two different layers,” he explains. “It will process them independently, with layer ‘A’ doing FOH, and layer ‘B’ doing monitors, so it’s horsepower that you can harness without having to dip into your pocket.”
But what is entirely unique, of course, is the integration of DMX. A DMX512 port is set into the back of the console to provide core lighting control, and as Ayres notes, “it can do a lot of lights.”
“The implementation we’re releasing in version one deals with 22 or 30 DMX addresses – this can essentially be 30 independent dimmer channels,” he explains. “We’re not trying to make this console out to be something it isn’t, though. If you start wheeling in a bank of moving-head devices, each with a $10,000 price tag, that type of fixture is not intended to be operated by this console.”
A look at the control surface of the Si Performer 2, along with the back panel.
Two models have been released: Si Performer 2 and Si Performer 3, which have 24 and 32 mic inputs, respectively. Both also have eight line inputs and four return FX channels. There are two option card slots that allow I/O expansion via any Soundcraft stagebox (hence the possibility of 80 inputs to mix) or from CobraNet, Aviom or AES inputs via the appropriate cards.
Not surprisingly, the R&D for the Si Performer was significant. Several lighting operators and production companies were involved, and some members of the Soundcraft team even enrolled in lighting training courses to gain further understanding.
“Positioning of the Si Performer is an important thing. We see it primarily in smaller applications – churches, theatres, corporate hospitality, smaller band gigs, and so on,” Soundcraft president Andy Trott states. “We’re not pretending we’re a Martin or a (Grand) MA desk; we’re exploring a new area for integrated lighting and audio consoles. It’s a very good audio console, that’s for sure, but the lighting adds a new dimension, so you can run a complete event from one console.”