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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.


Jade Payne (FOH/monitor engineer – Khruangbin, Bikini Kill) with the ultra-compact dLive CTi1500 control surface.

Allen & Heath dLive CTi1500

dLive is Allen & Heath’s flagship mixing system. The power of dLive emanates from the XCVI core, pioneered by the Allen & Heath R&D team using next-generation FPGA technology, with 36 parallel virtual processing cores generating enough power for 160 x 64 channels of processing at 96 kHz. From the ultra lightweight, rack-mountable CTi1500 up to the largest S7000, all dLive surfaces are fully compatible with dLive C Class and S Class MixRacks.

Seven control surfaces and seven MixRacks, support for leading audio networking protocols like Dante, MADI, and Waves, plug and play ME personal monitor mixers, an array of compact TCP/IP network remotes, I/O expanders, iPad and Android apps, and Mac and PC online/offline editor software all combine to rethink and redefine the ultimate in scalable and versatile audio mixing systems.

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: All dLive systems utilize the XCVI FPGA core to calculate over 10,000 cross points per sample, while the FPGA router has capacity for 3,000 x 3,000 audio paths. XCVI (25 billion operations per second) allows dLive to deliver 128 processing inputs and 16 stereo FX returns, a configurable 64-bus architecture, variable bit depth for exceptional precision and noise performance and more.

OF NOTE: CTi1500 has been engineered across the board to ruthlessly strip out as much weight as possible, while ensuring tour-grade structural integrity and a first class user experience. Engineered with Titanium side panels, new alloy metal work and a “superleggera”-inspired chassis, CTi1500 weighs only 25.4 pounds (under pounds in flight case).

Faders: 12 faders, 6 layers (72 fader strips)
Mix Inputs: 160 (128 plus 16 stereo FX returns) with full 96 kHz processing
Aux/Group: 64 mix outputs with full processing
Matrix: User configurable 64 bus architecture | FX: 16 stereo | DCA: 24
Mains: LR, LCR, LR+Msum, LR+M and 5.1 Mains mode
App: dLive Director for macOS and PC; dLive MixPad iOS; dLive OneMix iOS; Custom Control for macOS/PC/iOS/Android
Screen: 12-inch capacitive touch screen with gesture control
Local I/O: (control surface) 6 XLR mic/line inputs, 6 XLR line outputs, stereo AES input and stereo AES output, 2-track USB
Physical: 25.4 x 17.4 x 13.3 inches, 25.4 pounds


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

Yamaha DM7 Series
Faders: 28 (12 + 12 + 4)
Mix Inputs: 120 mono inputs
DCA Groups: 24 (Output DCA supported)
Matrix: 12 (Input to Matrix supported)
FX: FX RACK with numerous plugins
Screens: 2 x 12.1-inch, 7-inch (both multi-touch)
Local I/O: 32 analog inputs, 16 analog outputs, 2 AES/EBU inputs and outputs (both 4 x channels), 144 input/144 output Dante, 2 x USB to device, USB to host, 5 input/5 output GPI
Stage Boxes: Rio3224-D2
Also: Premium Rack with 64 DSP resources, numerous mountable plugins; all DM7 users also receive VST Rack Elements, and Steinberg’s Nuendo Live DAW software
Expansion Slots: 1 (PY Slot)
Physical: 12.8 x 31.3 x 22.2 inches (H x W x D), 51.8 pounds
Additional Models: DM7 Compact, DM7 Control expander

Lawo mc²36 (48 Fader Version)
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

TASCAM Sonicview 24XP
Faders: 24
Mix Inputs: 52
DCA Groups/Matrix: 22 output flex buses, each configurable as a subgroup, aux, or matrix
FX: 4 built in
Screens: 3 x 7 inch touch panel displays
Local I/O: 24 channels with XLR mic/line inputs and 8 channels with both XLR mic inputs and TRS line inputs
Stage Boxes: SB-16D 16-input/16-output Dante stage box
Also: Integrated IF-MTR32 multi-track recording card
Expansion Slots: 1
Physical: 9 x 27.2 x 21.8 inches (H x W x D), 39.7 pounds
Additional Models: TASCAM Sonicview 16XP

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

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