Reviews

Road Test: QSC TouchMix-30 Pro Compact Mixer & Latest Firmware Update

Evaluating the operation and feature sets of the platform, including additional capabilities provided in the update.
The QSC TouchMix-30 Pro (TM30), subject of a recent firmware update.

Once caution about the TM30’s boot and cache functionality. Once power has been completely pulled from the mixer, it takes a solid minute to boot up and when it does, each page needs to be re-entered into the system’s cache. By this, I mean every new page has to be “built” when you select it. Once it’s already been selected, it flips as fast as lightning.

As an alleviation, upon boot I flip through every page. It only takes about 10 seconds to go through them all and then it’s good to go. On the plus side, audio starts up as soon as the home page appears, so cached pages or not, audio is passing.

There’s also an app for mixing via mobile devices, and what I like about it is that I could approve every person who wanted to connect to the mixer and decide what they had access to explicitly. It’s a superb level of control. Unlike many other boards, the iPad control of all the TouchMix boards is exactly like what’s seen on the mixer itself, so jumping between the two takes zero effort.

Processing & Presets

The TM30 can take a beating. I tried to find holes in the processing by pushing the board hard with an 8-piece funk band: eight mono IEMs, 28 inputs, and subwoofers on aux. Beginners can switch parameters (if not the entire mixer) into “Simple Mode” to have an easier, less-knobby approach to some of the processing. I went with “Advanced Mode” to see how far I could manipulate things.

There’s no skimping EQ bands and it’s greatly appreciated. The outputs and subgroups all have six bands of parametric EQ (PEQ) as well as a HPF and LPF. The inputs have four bands of PEQ as well as HPF and LPF – I don’t find true LPFs on many mixers in this market. Perhaps in the next firmware update the company can make the HPF and LPF slopes adjustable.

TM30 can be further enhanced when connected to iOS and Android devices and smartphones using the Touchmix Control app.

Scene and input presets go against my natural instinct, so I was reluctant to even dabble. However, the scene presets were a complete surprise and as I dug deeper, I came to appreciate the way they’re created. At a house of worship application, for instance, I could recall a praise scene, it would have everything routed for me, and further, it would even tell me how to run the actual cables. This makes setting up from scratch considerably less frightening while leaving plenty of room to build out and customize.

The input presets are great starting points for someone who’s a little timid when it comes to EQ experimentation. I’m not a fan of boosting EQ except in very specific circumstances, but as I was fully exploring what this mixer had to offer I did find that these presets were chosen a little more carefully. QSC has done some research and worked with a lot of touring engineers to find out the EQs that we’re actually using, not just some stuff thrown together that they think we’d like.

In the firmware update, the company has added more input channel presets for percussion (i.e., cajon, djembe, timbale, etc.), electronic drum kit, harmonica, flute, cello, accordion and various Banda instruments. The good news is that if you want to load a preset but only want to use some of the parameters, you can omit things like routing, names, fader levels, and so on upon recall.

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Of course, users can also create and save their own presets, which can be handy if you’ve got, say, two singers who share a lot of time on one particular mic – easily recall the preset for each person as they use it. Before firing away with generating your own processing presets, I advise giving QSC’s a try. (By the way, adjustments were also made to vocal and bass presets in the new firmware.)

Final Analysis

The TM30 delivers, period. The controls it offers aren’t often found in similarly priced mixers. As noted, the ability to change the slope of the HPF and LPF is something on my wish list.

Another valuable addition would be flexible routing. Currently, you can double-patch and change physical input and digital input routing, but I’d love to be able to change the output routing – it would add another level of functionality above this mixer’s paygrade.

The TM30 in action at a recent gig with the author.

And while the auxes are all color coded, users can’t assign colors to each of the inputs; it would help to be able to glance and see color instead of having to read channel names.

I worked with the developers at QSC during this trial and made note of everything I saw that could upgrade as well as everything I wish it could do – these folks were great every step of the way. I can be very picky, but I know what I like and what’s needed in the trenches of live sound reinforcement. That said, the TM30 is great as is, as I’m sure is the case with the smaller models as well.

U.S. MAP: $2,099.99