Real World Gear: Options Abound With The Latest Digital Consoles

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By PSW Staff May 11, 2012

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The tide of digital consoles continues to rise. In general, they’re getting smaller and lighter, but overall capabilities are increasing at a steady pace.

Already this year we’ve seen several companies introduce new models and series, and they all look to be smartly executed packages, providing users with more. More I/O. More networking. More recording capability. More effects. And, well, just more.

This is an ideal scenario for the marketplace. If you’re more focused on the “look and feel,” there are options. If you’re more concerned about getting a lot of signal in, out and around a gig, there are options. If you’re focused on the live recording realm, there are options. If you’re looking at the coming AVB networking standard, there are options.

Significant upgrades can also come from the software realm, where the simple upload of a new software version can bring loads of new capabilities to existing hardware.

For example, Soundcraft recently released V2 software for the Si Compact Series, and it offers 23 new features, updates and enhancements, including eight additional DSP channels that expand the Si Compact 16 and Si Compact 24 to 32 and 40 inputs to mix, respectively.

Another facet that’s come of age is the ability to operate consoles remotely via laptop computers. Of course, that almost seems quaint now with the advent of apps, most of them available for free download, that foster control and mixing from smart devices such as the Apple iPad. Even further, the new Mackie DL1608 more fully integrates a digital mixer with an iPad.

Where did all of this come from? Almost 15 years ago, Yamaha introduced the PM1D, which launched the modern era of digital mixing consoles in live sound. While production of the PM1D ceased in late 2009, its impact continues to be mighty.

The development and deployment of digital consoles stretches back far further than that, however. Yamaha had already had some earlier success with the O1V and the O2R, and around that same time came the Innovason Senory, a production large-format digital console built specifically for the live market.

Soundcraft also came out with the Broadway, a digital control surface that would control analog input and output racks, most notably utilized for a tour by Celine Dion. Texas-based sound company Showco, one of the giants of the day, developed the Show Console, which had a digital control surface. These weren’t sold, only available for rent.

Then came the PM1D, and the rest, as they say, is history, as we now enjoy a time where digital consoles are proliferate, perpetuating the stream of development that’s possible with digital technology.

Enjoy this Real World Gear tour of a wide range of digital consoles available today. All of these models meet and exceed needs in various sound reinforcement applications, and at this point, choice is largely a matter of personal preference, specific features and capabilities, and budget.


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