Buyers Guide: Live Digital Mixing consoles

A round-up of the top live mixing consoles on the market.
Tony Khoury, Casino du Liban's chief sound engineer.
Tony Khoury, Casino du Liban's chief sound engineer.

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Sound & Stage’s definitive guide to the latest and greatest live mixing consoles on the market.

LARGE-FORMAT

MIDAS PRO6
With more than 100 delivered worldwide including two in the Middle East, the PRO6 takes the best aspects of Midas’ full-scale XL8 console and condenses them into a relatively compact desk suitable for touring and permanent installation duties.

Its diminutive size belies an ability to provide up to 80 simultaneous input processing channels and up to 32 (+3) discrete mixes, all of which feature EQ and dynamics processing options.

By adding additional I/O hardware, the PRO6’s network can be expanded up to 264 inputs and 264 outputs. These connections can be patched and routed on a scene-by-scene basis, by use of the PRO6’s snapshot automation functionality.

The PRO6’s FX and dynamics algorithms are incorporated within its automatic delay management system, so that wherever they are patched, the audio will be absolutely phase-coherent when summed into the mix. The PRO6’s combined talents saw it snare this year’s Sound & Stage award for best pro audio technology. Heady praise indeed.

MENA Distribution: Alpha Audio (Egpyt), Advanced Solutions (Jordan), Eltek (Lebanon), Owaish (KSA & Kuwait), NMK Electronics (UAE).

DiGiCo D5 Live
A favourite among touring engineers (and Dubai-based Delta Sound, which owns two examples) the D5 has forged a formidable reputation for its simplicity, flexibility and digital effects capabilities.

The desk can be configured to support 224 inputs and outputs, 160 channels, and 32 insertable processing channels. Key features include a redundant-loop optical fibre system, full remote control and console mirror facility, and DiGiCo’s proprietary Gain Tracking technology, which allows changes to input gains on either the monitor or FOH desk without affecting the sound balance on either console.

Verdict: Still one of the best digital consoles ever manufactured.

MENA Distribution: Triangle Entertainment Services.

Or try this…

MIDAS XL8
The big daddy of Midas’ live mixing console range, the XL8 combines mixing and peripheral control duties in a fully networked environment.

Midas well…
Midas managed a minor coup last month, with the confirmation it had sold its first PRO6 live audio system in the Levant.

Beirut’s Casino du Liban took delivery of the system and plans to use it in its 1,200 seat venue for a range of applications including rock concerts, dance performances and musicals.

The PRO6 was supplied by Midas’ Lebanese distributor, Eltek.

SOUNDCRAFT Vi6
Three years since its debut, Soundcraft’s first ever large-format desk is still one of the best on the market.

While the desk has been tweaked here and there over the years, the fundamentals have largely remained the same: 64 available channels from within a compact 32-channel frame, motorised faders, 32 outputs (plus a stereo and mono mix) and 16 matrix outputs, four-band fully parametric EQ and integral dynamics on all channels, Soundcraft FaderGlow and Harman HiQnet compatibility.

Verdict: Getting on in years but good value and keeping pace with newer rivals.

MENA
Distribution: Halwani Audio (KSA), GSL Professional (UAE & Iran), Techno Q (Qatar), Audio Technology (Egypt), Audio Pro (Lebanon), Romco Trading (Kuwait).

SMALL TO MID-SIZE DESKS

DIGIDESIGN Venue SC48
Launched in the US and Europe in May, the Venue SC48 is a compact and relatively affordable desk that combines I/O, digital signal processing and tactile control.

Key features include professional plug-in support for third-party technologies; direct connection to Pro Tools LE for simple recording and playback; single channel control for multiple parameters; centre flex channel control for faders; and VCA and group spill for multiple channel control.

Verdict: A top quality and affordable compact mixing console designed for smaller venues and rental applications.

MENA Distribution: Thomsun Trading (Dubai).

YAMAHA PM5D
Widely hailed as the best digital mixing console to hit the market upon its release in 2004, the PM5D has aged well. The desk came in for a fairly comprehensive overhaul in 2007, benefitting from the addition of an expanded effects library, which included a de-esser, VCM (virtual circuitry modelling), analogue-modelled compressors and EQs, and OpenDeck tape simulation.

The update also saw Yamaha’s Virtual Soundcheck application included for the first time, providing easy switching between live inputs and outputs from a multitrack recorder for band-less rehearsals.

Verdict: An oldie, but still a goodie.

MENA Distribution: Yamaha Gulf FZE.

ALLEN & HEATH
iLive series
A&H’s compact live mixer is ideal for touring applications. Equipped with CAT5 cables, the desk can be easily connected to the mix-rack, ensuring quick set-up.
Each of the desk’s 64 input channels has a gate, parametric EQ, compressor, limiter/de-esser and delay, while all 32 mix outputs have a 1/3 octave graphic eqauliser (EQ), parametric EQ, compressor, limiter and delay.

Verdict: Solid mixer for club gigs, corporate events and regional touring applications.

MENA Distribution: PAXT (Africa); Palwani Audio (KSA); A&H UK (rest of region).

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