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Real World Gear: The Latest Compact Consoles & Mixers

Even with fewer features they still pack a punch and offer far more processing than we ever had in our analog racks.

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.

Drew Thornton, FOH engineer for pop artist Billie Eilish, with the dLive C1500 he utilized for her worldwide tour fly dates. The tour also had another C1500 for monitors.


Allen & Heath C1500

The C1500 is a lightweight rack-mountable control surface that is fully compatible with both dLive C Class and S Class MixRacks. Packed in a diminutive footprint are 12 faders over 6 layers, built-in audio I/O, audio networking and word clock ports, and a 12-inch capacitive touch screen.

Utilizing the Harmony UI, the C1500 layout is fully customizable, allowing for the creation of a mixing interface that reflects the engineer’s own mental map of the show, or for a custom design match to the venue and the experience levels of operators.

Allen & Heath’s C Class series is driven by a powerful 96 kHz XCVI FPGA engine and DEEP processing suite in a compact tour-grade format, making it a great choice for fly dates, bus tours and support slots – wherever the scale of the audio requirements conflicts with space and weight constraints.

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: Using next-generation FPGA technology, all dLive systems provide 128 input channels with full processing, a 96 kHz sampling rate, variable bit depth, class-leading <0.7 ms latency and phase coherence, and virtually infinite mix headroom thanks to a 96-bit accumulator.

OF NOTE: The C1500 weighs in at under 40 pounds and is a highly popular choice as a robust and turnkey flyable rig. The dLive ecosystem provides for ME personal monitoring compatibility, remote control and I/O expansion as well as network expansion with Waves, MADI, Dante, and more.

Faders: 12 faders, 6 layers (72 fader strips)
Mix Inputs: 160 (128 plus 16 stereo FX returns) with full 96kHz processing
Aux/Group: 64 mix outputs with full processing
Matrix: User configurable 64 bus architecture
FX: 16 stereo | DCA: 24
Mains: LR, LCR and 5.1 Mains mode
App: dLive Director for macOS and PC. MixPad iOS. 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 inputs, 6 XLR outputs, 1 stereo AES in, 1 stereo AES out
Stage Boxes: GX4816, DX012, DX32, DX168, DT168 Dante, DX164-W, DT164-W Dante, DX Hub
Physical: 19 x 26.2 x 12.8 inches (W X D X H), 39.7 pounds
Additional Models: C2500, C3500

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Real World Gear: Large-Format Digital Mixing Consoles

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

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

DiGiCo S31
Faders: 31
Mix Inputs: 48 Flexi (stereo or mono)
Aux/Group: 16 Flexi aux or sub group
Matrix: 10 x 8
FX: 8
Mains: LR
Screen: 3 multi-touch screens
Local I/O: 24 XLR inputs, 12 XLR outputs, AES I/O
Stage Boxes: D-Rack, D2-Rack, SD-Rack
Also: 4 assignable DiGiTuBes; integrated USB2 audio I/O interface for recording and playback of up to 48 channels; optional Waves integration
Expansion Slots: 2 DMI (for Dante, MicPre, AMM, ME, etc.)
Physical: 11.6 x 40.3 x 23.1 inches (H x W x D), 55.1 pounds
Additional Models: S21, SD11, SD11i

Lawo mc²36
Faders: 16
Mix Inputs: 184
Aux/Group: 32
Matrix: 512 x 512
FX: Up to 192 DSP channels
DCA: 128
Mains: LCR, mono, surround
App: mxGUI for Mac and PC
Screens: 2 x 21.5-in touch screens
Local I/O: 32 XLR mic/line inputs, 32 XLR line outputs, 8 AES I/O
Stage Boxes: mc2 Compact
Also: 3 RAVENNA/AES67 Audio-over-IP ports; Waves SoundGrid integration
Physical: 16.3 x 31.3 x 34.7 inches (H x W x D) 93.8 pounds
Additional Models: 24-fader and 40-fader versions

Avid S3L-X
Faders: 16
Mix Inputs: 64
Aux/Group: 24
Matrix: 8
FX: 40 stereo plug-in slots
DCA: 8
Mains: LCR/mono
Screen: XGA monitor
Local I/O: 2 XLR + 2 TRS, 2 XLR + 2 TRS, plus 4 x 4 x 4 XLR I/O on 2RU E3 engine
Stage Boxes: VENUE 4RU Stage 16 (16 x 8 + 4D)
Also: 64 x 64 Gigabit AVB to Pro Tools; 2-track USB playback/record
Physical: S3 control surface is 28 x 15 x 3 inches (H x W x D), 14 pounds; E3 engine is 2RU x 15 inches, 21 pounds; Stage 16 I/O is 4RU x 8 inches, 16 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

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