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Real World Gear: The Latest Compact Consoles & Mixers

The expanding palette offered by compact digital mixers and consoles along with a round-up of numerous recent models from around the industry to serve as a starting point for more detailed research.

Many consoles/mixers of the more compact variety are loaded with enough features to handle larger shows and enough inputs to serve medium-sized gigs. These units often offer most of the bells and whistles of their bigger siblings but with reduced fader counts, or they may actually be different consoles altogether and present a reduced feature set.

Even with fewer features they still pack a punch and offer far more processing than we ever had in our analog racks. And many offer increased channel capabilities by using fader layers and adding stage I/O units. Some can even be cascaded together, allowing desks to conveniently increase capabilities or even form a larger console.

Many of these smaller mixers aren’t skimping in the routing department either, as many have quite a few mix buses and matrix outputs. Even the most miniscule units offer multiple effects and processing like compression and gating on each channel. And if you don’t like the onboard effects and processing, many models offer the ability to integrate plugins that are crafted to emulate the operation and results of modern or vintage outboard gear, and they can also be used to formulate new creations.

With all these capabilities and more, it’s no wonder that compact consoles are a big hit. Enjoy this Real World Gear look at a variety of compact consoles.


Allen & Heath Avantis

The third mixer based on Allen & Heath’s 96 kHz XCVI FPGA engine, Avantis puts TEC Award-winning technology in a 64-channel/42 configurable bus console, with dual full HD touchscreens, a flexible workflow with Continuity UI, extensive I/O options, and a rugged full metal chassis. Avantis dPack adds internal dLive processing without burning FX slots, third-party gear hassles, or issues with latency or phase coherency.

Continuity UI allows engineers to see and instantly interact with more of what matters, enabling a seamless connection between the physical controls and the displays. The faders react on touch to immediately highlight the active channels for instant visual feedback. Inspired by the tubular exoskeletons of the latest generation of superbikes, those sleek curves are all metal – super tough, but light in weight.

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: In addition to DEEP emulations, Avantis dPack also delivers Dyn8, a powerful processor offering four bands of dynamic EQ and four bands of multiband compression. Handy for adding “sonic glue” to a mix, dPack enables 16 Dyn8 engines for inserting on input and mix channels.

OF NOTE: The SLink connection on Avantis allows extreme flexibility by connecting to the entire range of Allen & Heath audio expander hardware (including AB/AR 48 kHz stage boxes with sample rate conversion). Add a Dante card for even more networked system options with dedicated Dante expanders like the DT168 and DT164-W.

Faders: 24 faders, 6 layers (144 fader strips)
Mix Inputs: 88 (64 plus 12 stereo FX returns) with full 96 kHz processing
Aux/Group: 42 mix outputs with full processing
Matrix: User configurable 42 bus architecture
FX: 12 Stereo (dPack option adds DEEP/Dyn processing) | DCA: 16
Mains: LR, LR + Mono Sum, LR + M, LCR
App: Avantis Director for macOS and PC; Avantis MixPad iOS; Avantis OneMix iOS; Custom Control for macOS/PC/iOS/Android
Also: Two 128×128 96 kHz option slots, 64 channels of Automatic Mic Mixing (AMM), optional side mount iPad bracket
Screen: Two 15.6-inch full HD capacitive touch screens with gesture control
Local I/O: 12 XLR inputs, 12 XLR outputs, 1 stereo AES in, 2 stereo AES out
Physical: 36.1 x 24.7 x 10.6 inches, 57.4 pounds


Waves eMotion LV1
Faders: All Touch-Screen Interface
Mix Inputs: 64
Aux/Group: 16 monitor auxes (stereo/mono), 8 audio groups
Matrix: 8 (stereo/mono)
FX: 8 FX auxes
DCA: 16
Mains: L/R/C/Mono
App: MyMon personal monitor mixing app
Screen: 24-inch touch screen
Local I/O & Stage Boxes: SoundStudio STG-1608 stagebox, SoundGrid I/O
Additional Models: eMotion LV1 Proton 16-channel mix system

Lawo mc²36
Faders: 48
Mix Inputs: Up to 160
Aux/Group: 96/96
Matrix/FX: N/A
DCA: 128
Mains: Multiple surround formats supported
App: mxGUI for Mac and PC
Screens: 2 x 21.5-inch touch screens
Local I/O: 32 XLR mic/line inputs, 32 XLR line outputs, 8 AES I/O
Stage Boxes: A__stage64 audio to IP stage box, Power CoreGateway modular IP audio I/O node, 3 additional nodes
Also: 3 RAVENNA/AES67 Audio-over-IP ports; Waves SoundGrid integration
Physical: 15 x 52.9 x 32.3 inches (H x W x D), 123.3 pounds
Additional Models: 16-fader and 32-fader versions

DiGiCo Quantum 225
Faders: 25
Mix Inputs: 72 channels
Aux/Group: 36 aux/sub-group buses with full processing
Matrix: 12 x 12
FX: 12
Mains: LR/LCR master bus
Screen: 17-inch LCD touch screen
Local I/O: 8 XLR mic/line inputs, 8 XLR line outputs, 2 AES/EBU inputs and outputs (both 4 x channels), 4 MADI BNC I/O at 48 kHz (2 at 96 kHz)
Stage Boxes: D-Rack, D2-Rack, SD-Rack
Also: 24 insertable Mustard processing strips, 6 internal Spice Rack slots, 32 Nodal processing instances
Expansion Slots: 2 DMI (for Dante, AMM, ME, etc.)
Physical: 17.2 x 44.2 x 31.5 inches (H x W x D), 94.8 pounds
Additional Models: Quantum 5, 7, 7B, 7T and 338

QSC TouchMix-30 Pro
Faders: Uses a touch screen with virtual faders, 1 control knob
Mix Inputs: 32
Aux/Group: 14 mono can be paired to 7 stereo
FX: 6
DCA: 8
Mains: LR
App: TouchMix-30 for IOS and Android
Screen: 10-inch multi-touch screen
Local I/O: 24 XLR mic/line inputs, 2 main XLR outputs, 14 aux XLR outputs, 2 monitor
XLR outputs, 6 TRS stereo inputs, 2 TRS stereo outputs
Physical: 7.5 x 16.9 x 18.1 inches (H x W x D), 17.5 pounds
Additional Models: TouchMix-8, TouchMix

PreSonus StudioLive 32SC
Faders: 17
Mix Inputs: 40
Buses: 26
FX: 4
DCA: 24
Mains: LR
App: UC Surface for Mac, Windows and iPad
Screen: 7-in
Local I/O: 8 XLR in, 8 XLR/TRS combo in, 4 TRS in, RCA I/O, 6 XLR out and 4 TRS (flex), 2 XLR out (main), 2 TRS out
Also: 128 (64 x 64) channels of USB recording and AVB network audio I/O
Physical: 6.5 x 17.6 x 23 inches (H x W x D), 23 pounds
Additional Models: StudioLive 32S, 32SX, 32, and 64S

SSL Live L100
Faders: 12 + 2
Mix Inputs: 96 mix paths (inputs or outputs)
Aux/Group: 96 paths (inputs or outputs)
Matrix: 4 x 32 In/12 Out | FX: 24 | DCA: 12 (VCA)
Mains: Mono, Stereo, LCR, 4.0, 5.1
App: TaCo for IOS or Android
Screen: 17-in multi-gesture
Local I/O: 12 Mic/Line In, 12 XLR Out, 2 Talkback, 3.5 mm In, 2 Headphone Out, 4 AES/EBU I/O, 4 MADI Ports (coax/optical), 1 MADI FX Loop, Dante
Stage Boxes: SB8.8, SBi16, SB 32.24
Also: Remote Tile 12-fader extension, external monitor available stem groups Expansion Slots: 2
Physical: 27.2 inches wide (height, depth N/A), 115 pounds
Additional Models: L200, L300, L500

Yamaha Pro Audio TF5
Faders: 33
Mix Inputs: 48 input channels
Aux/Group: 20 | FX: 8
DCA: 8 | Matrix: 4
Mains: L/R
APP: TF Editor for Mac and PC, TF StageMix for iPad, TF MonitorMix for IOS Screen: Color multi-touch
Local I/O: 32 XLR mic/line inputs, 2 analog RCA stereo line inputs, 16 XLR outputs
Stage Boxes: TIO 1608-D
Also: 34 x 34 digital record/playback channels via USB 2.0 + 2 x 2 via a USB storage device; Quick Pro presets
Expansion Slot: 1
Physical: 8.9 x 34.1 x 23.6 inches, 44.1 pounds
Additional Models: TF-Rack, TF1, TF3

Mackie Axis (DL32R rack-mount mixer & DC16 surface)
Faders: 17
Mix Inputs: 32 | Aux/Group: 14
Matrix: 6 | FX: 3 | DCA: 6
Mains: LR
App: Master Fader app for IOS
Screen: DC16 includes color backlit TFT screens; system uses iPads (not included) for additional visual information
Local I/O: 32 XLR mic/line inputs, 14 XLR outputs, stereo AES output
Also: 32 x 32 direct to disk recording and playback; 32 x 32 to Mac and PC; supports up to 20 IOS devices controlling mains or monitors
Expansion Slot: 1
Physical: DL32R – 5.4 x 19 x 17.5 inches, 18 pounds; DC16 – 3.3 x 36.8 x 17.6 inches, 38 pounds (both measurements H x W x D)
Additional Models: DL1608, DL806

Ashly Audio digiMIX18
Fader: 1 (Assignable to 18 inputs, 8 AUX, 6 DCA, 2 FX and main)
Mix Inputs: 18 (16 mic/line, 2 stereo line)
Aux: 8 | DCA: 6 | FX: 2 stereo engines
Mains: L/R, control room outputs
App: Ashly digiMIX18, free for Apple iPad
Screen: 7-inch LCD touchscreen
Rack-mount: Yes (ships with rack-rails)
Local I/O: 16 Neutrik combo jack mic/line inputs, TRS inserts on channels 1-8, 2 TRS line inputs, XLR and TRS main outputs, 8 TRS aux outputs, L/R TRS control room outputs, front/rear headphone outputs, Ethernet and USB ports
Expansion Slots: One (Dante and USB 18-channel option cards)
Physical: 19 x 14.5 x 5.5 inches (H x W x D), 17.4 pounds
Additional Model: digiMIX24

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