Here, There, Everywhere: Recent Digital Console Interconnect & Routing Options

By Craig Leerman September 12, 2017

Digital consoles offer a lot of features, and a primary one is the ability to mix and route lots of channels, often even from a smaller platform. Much of the connectivity comes from stage boxes and/or routers – it’s not uncommon for a digital surface to sport only a dozen or so inputs and outputs locally but be able to handle 48, 60, 96 or even more inputs.

Manufacturers understand that the majority of the inputs will be located onstage, and the inputs on the desk will be used for things like announce and talkback mics, local audio playback, and outboard gear returns.

There are two primary formats: consoles that contain all of the processing and may be able to network with a stage box, and those that remotely connect to the “brain,” usually called a mix rack or mix engine. Two-part surface and rack/engine systems are a bit more flexible, with many manufacturers offering both parts in different sizes so they can be matched up to meet specific needs and preferences.

Some also “speak” multiple digital network protocols, and there are numerous bridging units offered that can convert from one protocol to another. Most also accommodate an open network platform such as Audinate Dante and/or MADI. Option cards are also offered to further enhance networking flexibility. It’s rare for all but the smallest of digital consoles not to be able to communicate on some type of network. Here’s a look at recent options in the world of digital console/mix system connectivity.

DiGiCo unveiled the SD12 earlier this year, a compact console outfitted with aspects of a range of the company’s models. The SD12 can handle 72 inputs and provides 36 aux/group buses, a 12 x 8 matrix, plus and LR/LCR bus. Onboard connections include eight analog inputs and outputs, plus four AES pairs in each direction.

Some of the DMI cards from DiGiCo to facilitte networked recording.

Dual DMI card slots allow connection to MADI, Dante, Waves SoundGrid, A-Net, Hydra 2 and a UB MADI port allows recording of up to 48 individual channels for live recordings or virtual sound checks.

Optional Optocore support allows the SD12 to sit on a digital audio network with other SD-series mixers, and it also interfaces with all DiGiCo SD racks and D racks for increased I/O connectivity.

Meanwhile, the recently released v2.0 upgrade for the S-Series takes both the S21 and S31 from 40 to 48 input channels. And the new 8-channel SD mic pre-amp card provides twin 32-bit ADC conversion per channel.

Yamaha has announced new components and the v1.5 firmware update of the RIVAGE PM10. A new smaller control surface, the CS-R10-S offers the same operability in applications where space is limited.

A Dual Console function (to be supported in a future update) will allow two CS-R10 and/or CS-R10-S control surfaces to be connected to a single DSP-R10 DSP engine so that separate CS-R10-S control surfaces can be used at both front of house and monitor mix positions. A CS-R10-S will also be able to be used as a sidecar for a CS-R10.

The Yamaha PM10 CS-R10-S smaller control surface.

The v1.5 update also includes a Dan Dugan Sound Design automatic mixer plugin that can provide automatic gain adjustment of up to 64 speech microphones in real time. It also supplies five groups so processing can be divided into as many as five independent auto-mixers.

Yamaha CL and QL Series are also updated via v4.1 that supports AES67 audio-over-IP interoperability, allowing communication with Ravenna, Q-LAN, Livewire, and other networks. It also facilitates mounting and patching of the Audinate Dante-MY16-AUD2 Mini-YGDAI card, and a Dante Device Lock feature prevents unwanted changes to settings. And, v4.1 expands the integration of Shure Axient, QLXD, and ULXD wireless microphone systems with CL/QL consoles. Meanwhile, TF Series consoles, including the new TF-RACK compact rack-mount mixer, that are equipped with an NY64-D Dante interface card also now have AES67 interoperability thanks to firmware update v3.1.

Recently released VENUE 5.5, a new software update for Avid VENUE | S6L mix systems, includes support for the Stage 16 remote I/O box for S6L as well as new control surface capabilities. The Stage 16 box provides 16 analog inputs, eight analog outputs, and four digital outputs.

Up to four Stage 16 boxes and two Stage 64 boxes can be used simultaneously with the S6L to support up to 192 analog inputs. Avid has also announced a new option card for Dante network integration with the S6L.

The Waves eMotion LV1 is a digital mix system based on the company’s SoundGrid technology, comprised of a host computer for control, a SoundGrid server, SoundGrid I/O and a switch to network them all together. It’s compatible with industry-standard control surfaces, can be used with up to 4 multi-touch screens, and can connect to multiple digital audio workstations (DAWs). A variety of SoundGrid I/O devices are available, and they offer a range of analog and digital connections. Multiple I/O devices can also be used at the same time.

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About Craig

Craig Leerman
Craig Leerman

Senior Contributing Editor, ProSoundWeb & Live Sound International
Craig has worked in a wide range of roles in professional audio for more than 30 years in a dynamic career that encompasses touring, theater, live televised broadcast events and even concerts at the White House. Currently he owns and operates Tech Works, a regional production company that focuses on corporate events based in Reno.

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