How might operational use of live digital consoles be improved?

Joseph Couper

A Dissertation submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements for award of the degree of BA (Hons) Audio and music production of Buckinghamshire New University

April 2010

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Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Stephen Partridge for all of his help throughout the dissertation process. I would also like to thank Andy Reynolds and Noel Cornford for sharing their contacts, which helped so much with the primary research process. I'd particularly like to thank Paul Myers who in addition to agreeing to be interviewed, allowed me to watch him at work on tour mixing monitors on a digital console.

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Abstract
The aim of this research project was to establish the weaknesses in operational usage of the digital consoles in the live market today and provide some solutions to these weaknesses. The research method consisted of an in depth literature review of the current research on the topic, along with an overview of some of the bigger digital consoles' features and interfaces. The primary research, achieved by semi-structured interviews, was intended to establish some of the opinions of working engineers, as well as insight into the views of the manufacturers themselves. This research adds to the existing body of research on the importance of digital audio technology as well as clarifying some of the existing opinions surrounding digital mixing consoles. It also offers some insight into future of live digital consoles, particularly how they can change to accommodate better operational use.

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Table  of  Contents  
Acknowledgements   Abstract   Introduction   Knowledge  Acquisition   Live  Sound  Operators   Digital  Audio   Analogue  to  Digital  Conversion   Digital  Mixing  Consoles   Layout   Portability  and  Footprint   Multi-­‐core   Snapshots  and  Recall   Virtual  Sound  Check   Popular  Brands  and  Models   Methodology   Results   Discussion   Analogue  Consoles  are  the  Only  Viable  Option  at  a  Festival   Most  Touring  Engineers  Would  Prefer  a  Digital  Desk   A  Digital  Console  Takes  Longer  to  Learn  Than  an  Analogue  Console.   Sound  Quality  is  Subjective   Manufacturers  are  Good  at  Reacting  to  Feedback   No  Single  Digital  Console  Is  Best   Conclusions   Further  Research   References   Bibliography   Appendix   1.0  Interview  Questions   2.0  Complete  Interviews   2.01  Interview  with  Paul  Myers  (Monitor  Engineer)   2.02  Interview  with  Andy  Reynolds  (Lecturer/Tour  Manager/Engineer)   2.03  Interview  with  Ben  Adcock  (Live  Audio  Engineer  for  Theatre  and  Music)   2.04  Interview  with  Timm  Cleasby  (Engineer/Tour  Manager)   2   3   6   8   8   9   9   11   11   13   14   16   18   18   41   46   46   46   48   53   57   61   64   66   68   70   80   91   91   91   91   91   92   92  

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2.05  Interview  with  Robert  Caprio  (Engineer/Producer/Tour  Manager)   98   2.06  Interview  With  Bennett  Prescott  (In  house  engineer)   107   2.07  Interview  With  John  Gale  (Live  and  Studio  Engineer)   112   2.08  Interview  with  Dan  Bennett  (Hire  Company  Project  Manager)   116   2.09  David  Neal  (Director  of  Marketing  Communications  for  Harman/Soundcraft)   119   2.10  Interview  with  Rob  Hughes  (UK  Sales  Manager  for  Midas/Klark  Teknik)   124   2.11  Interview  with  Tim  Shaxson  (Technical  Sales  Manager  for  DiGoCo)   127   2.12  Conversation  with  Noah  Leibman  (Interface  &  Interaction  Design  Graduate   from  University  of  Michegan)   133   3.0 Editted Transcripts   136   3.1  Do  you  prefer  analogue  or  digital  consoles  in  the  live  environment?   136   3.2  Are  there  times  when  you  would  prefer  an  analogue  desk  over  a  digital  desk   and  vice  versa?   138   3.3  Do  you  find  the  workflow  on  a  digital  desk  more  or  less  intuitive  than  on  an   analogue  desk?   140   3.4  Which  digital  consoles  have  you  used,  and  what  are  the  main  differences   between  them?   142   3.5  What  are  the  main  advantages  and  disadvantages  of  a  digital  system?   145   3.6  Is  there  any  real  noticeable  difference  in  sound  quality  between  digital  and   analogue  systems?   147   3.7  What  is  your  favourite  digital  desk  and  why?   151   3.8  How  long  does  a  digital  desk  take  to  learn?   152   3.9  How  important  is  a  reduction  in  footprint?   154   3.10  To  what  extent  are  other  digital  exclusive  features  useful?   156   3.11  How  much  contact  do  manufacturers  have  during  the  design  process?   157  

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Introduction
Live music is considered by many to now be the most lucrative section of the music industry, as it was before music was widely recorded. During the recorded music boom of the 1960s to the 1990s it was often considered a great way to promote recorded music sales. We are now at the post Napster era, where money from concerts is the main source of income due to the assumption that the corresponding studio recordings will be taken for free from the internet. Bands used to tour to promote the album, now the free album promotes the paid-for live event. As the size of the music industry has grown, so have budgets for live concerts and equipment. In the early days of rock music, concerts were performed without any monitor mixes, meaning the vocalists couldn't hear themselves sing on stage over the back-line. Front of house sound was still in its infancy also, speaker technology was fairly basic, there were only a fraction of the dynamic processors and effects that we have today to help the mix, and audio engineering was still a young 6/158

industry. Jump to the present day when digital technology has penetrated most of both the live and recorded music industries. We now have seemingly infinite possibilities of what we can do with the audio. The console is the primary surface that a live audio engineer can mix and shape the audio and they too, have evolved since the earliest days of live sound reinforcement. We are now at a point where you are just as likely to see a digital console as you are an analogue one, despite digital consoles being a relatively recent technology. Most digital consoles use interfaces strikingly different from their analogue counterparts due to a number of reasons namely cost effectiveness, size limitations, increased functionality and not least of all the fact that they work in an entirely different way. The purpose of this project is to research how successful this change is in relation to how well live engineers can do their job.

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Knowledge Acquisition
In this chapter I will explore some of the concepts around digital live mixing consoles, as well as some of the existing research on people's opinions.

Live Sound Operators
Before going into what mixing consoles are, it is important to understand a little about the people that operate them. A live sound engineer can have any number of roles depending on the role they or their employer requires. There are engineers who just mix monitors or front of house and there are engineers who also manage tours, maintain PA systems, run the lighting, and run the merchandise stall. There are live sound engineers who do no mixing at all (Gibson 2007). As this project is focused on mixing consoles I will focus on mix engineers, both front of house and monitor engineers. A front of house engineer can be in charge of many things depending on the size of the operation, but his main priority is producing a good mix for the crowd.

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A monitor system is employed to mix for the people on stage. This can be done from the FOH position but in larger venues a separate mix engineer will mix monitors (Gibson 2007).

Digital Audio
Analogue to Digital Conversion Sound is a longitudinal mechanical wave made up of contractions and rarefactions in the air, contractions being an increase in pressure and rarefactions being a decrease in pressure. Before it can be reproduced by a loudspeaker it needs to be converted into an electrical audio signal, this is done by a transducer such as a microphone (Henderson 1996). An analogous audio signal is an electrical signal with a voltage, which changes over time. The voltage correlates to the sound wave where a rarefaction would result in a negative voltage and a contraction results in a positive voltage. Computers cannot understand an infinite number of points such as an

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analogue wave, so a method of converting a wave into a series of numbers was made. In digital audio, this wave is sampled at regular intervals. These samples can be anywhere on a scale of finite numbers dependant on the voltage of the signal (see Fig 1). The number of samples in a second is called the sample rate and is stated in samples per second (Hertz). The number of possible numbers on the finite scale depends on the word

Fig 1: Sampling of an audio waveform (Rumsey & McCormick 2005)

length of the sample, it is called the bit depth and is measured in bits. As a result, the bit depth and sample rate have a direct effect on how 10/158

close to the original the digital conversion is (Rumsey & McCormick 2005). This conversion process is done by a unit called a digital to analogue converter - often referred to as a D-A converter (Rumsey & McCormick 2005). The process of transforming the analogue wave into digital data is called quantisation, the reverse process is called dither (Huber & Runstein 2005)

Digital Mixing Consoles
Digital boards are different to analogue boards in many ways. Gibson suggests that it is difficult to imagine all mixers won't one day be digital, given the “previously unheard of amounts of processing and ultimate control” (Gibson 2007). In this section I shall go through many of these differences as well as mention some of the consoles currently on the market.

Layout In the analogue domain, all consoles are laid out in pretty much the

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same way, regardless of brand or function. Digital mixers can be laid out in any way the manufacturer wants, digital console could be made of only one knob and one fader if the manufacturer deemed it appropriate, but obviously a compromise needs to be made between footprint and operability (Gibson 2007). FOH engineer Dan Lewis suggests that the layout is the biggest downfall of many digital consoles “learning many digital mixing platforms in the past few years, I’ve found most of the time is spent learning a new surface layout and the specific manufacturer’s jargon for the features available” (PSW Staff 2010c). Gibson suggests, “digital mixers are so flexible that it's not always easy to guess where the controls are” (Gibson 2007). The Cue-Bert team describe the key considerations of the interface design to be: • There are important reasons to limit console size • Controls that need to be accessed frequently should be close to the operator

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• Visual system status feedback is a key component of the interface of the mixing console. • Human Factors limit the console operator’s effectiveness • Console operators want an intuitive interface whose underlying concept is easily grasped (Liebman et al. 2010a).

Portability and Footprint Mike Manawitz, engineer for Big House Sound says that footprint and weight reduction is one of the arguments that he uses to sway analogue lovers onto digital boards. He tells them “We don't need to haul a nine foot console to the gig, we can do the exact same thing with this. Look at your footprint. When you open the truck and instead of two (Midas) Heritages back to back in the back of the truck and the stage hands are groaning, you've got two of these guys side by side in the space of one board” (avid 2010). At South by Southwest festival they use Digidesign consoles in multiple sized venues and they all have similar features despite their size. Manawitz says the only real difference is the plug in count (avid 2010). 13/158

Having effects built in to the console presents another advantage, when mixing you no longer need to move away from the desk to adjust an effect or processor, you can change it from the same surface (Hughes n.d.). In a situation where space is a major issue there would be no way to fit a similar analogue system into the area of a small digital desk. The fact that in analogue, every parameter needs a physical control (Snyder 2010) is a major factor, but also the fact that you need most of your effects in an external rack unit. On a digital console, one digital encoder can be the pan pot, an aux send and a control to navigate menus, meaning the desk can be half the size with the same channel count (Snyder 2010).

Multi-core In an analogue system there needs to be a direct connection from a channel on stage to an input into the desk, the same goes for outputs. Unless the mixer is close enough to the microphones that the mic cables can plug straight into the mixer, a multi-core is necessary. White

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describes an analogue multi-core as “a bunch of small diameter mic cables inside a protective outer sheath” (White 2000a). As a digital system's A-D converters are at the I/O box, it can send a stream of digital data rather than an analogous signal. There are many advantages to doing this, but primarily the digital cable is smaller, lighter and with less signal degradation than its analogue counterpart. As the signal is just a digital stream of data, the digital multi-core can be a more typical computer cable. The most commonly used cables are cat5 cable and fibre optic cable. A good example of a digital cat5 snake being used where it would be impossible with analogue is at Montgomery School in Pennsylvania. The school hall is also used as a church on Sundays, which contains a full band. The church needed a permanently installed multi-core, but the school wouldn't allow them to install a bulky cable in their oak rafters. System engineer Carl Bader suggested that a cat5 digital snake could be installed as a compromise. Bader says “going to a Cat-5 cable system allowed us to keep the cable permanently and inconspicuously

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on the beam structure, saving a lot of set-up and tear-down time.” (PSW Staff 2010a)

Snapshots and Recall Most digital consoles allow you to take snapshots of the show either to the console or to an external storage unit so that it can be taken away to another show. Recall is the ability to call up settings saved earlier (Gibson 2007). It can allow for quick changeovers between acts, or even quick set up at the beginning of shows. It also means that a show can be taken from one console to another. Reynolds mentions recall functions first in a brief list of what he likes about digital “I love digital desks for their recall, automation of repetitive tasks” (Reynolds 2009). Fletcher says that switching to a digital board for the Grammy Awards show saved a lot of time due to the recall capabilities, “Instead of having to constantly reset consoles by hand, as in the past, I could now hit recall and announce to the rest of the audio crew who hadn’t even began to strike the last band that I was ready to line check the next one” (Flethcher 2010). Rabel says that recall was one of the reasons

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Edge switched to digital “Our three main venues have different systems, so it was important to have a console that we could configure and save settings for each venue without having to reinvent the wheel each time the desk is moved”. He also mentions that it has come in very helpful in ensuring efficient operation of a night, “with many shows containing multiple acts, short sound checks and quick changeovers, the ability to save all settings and recall them quickly is an asset” (PSW Staff 2010e). Recall is even more prominent in theatre where the mix engineer is expected to change the mix at certain cue points (Liebman et al. 2010a). Certain mixing consoles aimed specifically at theatre have special cueing features, such as the D5-TC controller for DiGiCo's D5T. This controller allows you to access functions deemed particularly important to theatre sound, which includes additional cue controls, and pre-programmable macro control buttons to execute a command instantaneously (DiGiCo 2010c).

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Virtual Sound Check Virtual sound check is a feature exclusive to DiGiCo and Digidesign consoles. Hughes explains that it works by creating a multi-track recording of a show and then playing back the multi-track recordings back into the console at the exact same level at which it was recorded at subsequent shows. The desk is then set in the exact same way that you would during a regular sound check (Hughes n.d.). This allows you to sound-check without the band, which is something that is pretty much impossible in the analogue domain. Front of house engineer Chad Franscoviak says of the Digidesign Venue system “above all, the virtual sound check feature is what I appreciate the most” (Colby et al. 2007).

Popular Brands and Models There are five main manufacturers of digital consoles and they all have slightly different approaches to what a digital desk should be. There are many other manufacturers but these manufacturers don't have as much market penetration so I will focus on the main five.

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Yamaha Yamaha has a wide range of mixers, both analogue and digital (Yamaha 2010a).

Yamaha PM1D (Yamaha 2010b)

Yamaha make the longest standing live digital console in the market, the PM1D (Hughes n.d.). Many people believe it to be the first affordable digital mixing desk (Hughes n.d.). The PM1D is still in use, a recent example being a touring theatre version of Ben Hur (Watson 2009). The PM1D requires two external units to function, the DSP unit and the I/O unit (Gor 2007). It looks pretty unique due to its two rows of input faders. Each of these faders has physical controls, giving you

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immediate access to key functions such as gain, cues, panning and an aux send. By selecting a channel you can adjust dynamic processing, additional aux sends, the gain, and the level of the fader in the selected channel section. The selected channel section is a bank of encoders to the right of the first twenty-four channels. Outputs have another section of encoders to edit the parameters to the right of the centre section, which is similar but with the addition of a delay setting. The centre of the console is designed in such a way that you can configure it to do what you want it to do. The faders can be copies of input strips, they can also be DCAs (a digital VCA) or auxiliary sends. Above these faders is the screen where you can set effects and graphic EQs. An odd feature of the PM1D owing to its age is that you cannot save a show onto a USB thumb drive. Instead the PM1D saves on to a much larger CompactFlash drive. The desk can be controlled via a computer in either online or offline mode, meaning that the desk can be configured when you are not near

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the desk while in offline mode, or you can use a computer to control the desk in online mode (Gor 2007). The console that is often referred to as the most commonly used digital console is the PM5D, the successor to their PM1D (Hughes n.d.). Unlike the PM1D the faders are arranged in a more typical single row format, with the banks of encoders above. Also unlike the PM1D the PM5D is an all in one unit. This means that it can easily replace an analogue console without the need to install a new digital snake but also that this console doesn't benefit from the advantages of a digital snake mentioned earlier.

Yamaha PM5D (Yamaha 2010c)
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The interface is fairly similar to the PM1D but there are a few changes. The input faders now feature only one encoder which can control either pan, gain, mix sends or they can show the fader level of a different fader. The selected channel section for inputs and outputs is now the same section and works in largely the same way as on the PM1D (Weizel 2010). The M7CL is the successor to the PM5D (Yamaha 2010e) and is similar in many ways to the PM1D and PM5D. It features the same two row input fader layout of the PM1D, but the faders work like the PM5D. Like the PM5D, the I/O and DSP are both integrated into the unit. It features the same central section as both the PM1D and PM5D, but the screen interface is different. Yamaha calls this new interface Centralogic and the main difference is that it has a touch screen interface for menu navigation, and that the select channel section is now part of the central section. All of the parameters for effects and processors are still controlled by encoders to the left and bottom of the touch screen (Yamaha 2006). 22/158

Yamaha MC7CL (Yamaha 2010e)

The LS9, DM1000, DM2000, 02R series, and the 01V series consoles are all smaller and lighter than the PM1D PM5D and MC7CL. They feature much of the same technology as the larger consoles, but it is stripped down to the bare essentials (Yamaha 2010d).

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Yamaha LS9 (Yamaha 2010d)

Soundcraft Soundcraft's Vi series of consoles have a unique approach to their interface that they call “Vistonics”. It combines a touch screen with physical knobs (known as digital encoders) protruding through it (Soundcraft 2010f). This interface allows mix engineers immediate access to almost all of the mix and lets them access all functions quickly and easily (Hughes n.d.). It is also used for all menu functions, and as a QWERTY keyboard for naming faders (Soundcraft 2010f).

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Soundcraft Vi6 (Soundcraft 2010d)

The Vi has a number of features exclusive to Soundcraft most notably the built in emulations of Lexicon effects units (Soundcraft 2010f).

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Vi6 with required rack units (Soundcraft 2010d)

Hughes (2010) remarks “Most engineers who have mixed on it immediately ask to use it again for subsequent tours and shows”. The difference in this range is mostly down to the number of physical input faders, the biggest model is the Vi6, which has 32, input faders (Soundcraft 2010f), the smallest was recently announced and is called the Vi1 which has 16 input faders (PSW Staff 2010d). Soundcraft also has the Si series, which is similar but with the whole digital system built into the desk with no need for external rack units. It also lacks the Vistonics interface, with only a small touch screen at the top centre of the console for menu navigation (Soundcraft 2010e)

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Soundcraft Si3 (Soundcraft 2010c)

Soundcraft also make software to configure the desk before you arrive at the venue via a computer program called the Virtual Si (Soundcraft 2010a) and Virtual Vi (Soundcraft 2010b). Soundcraft suggest that not only are these a way to configure a console, but they are also a great way to learn the consoles.

Digidesign

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The Digidesign SC48, top and rear (Digidesign 2010e)

Digidesign makes a variety of consoles, all referred to as Venue systems. There are currently three different Venue consoles, the SC48, the D-Show, and the Profile (Digidesign 2010a). Digidesign refer to the SC48 as “a fully integrated live sound system that combines all I/O, digital signal processing, and tactile control into a single console” (Digidesign 2010e). It differs from the rest of the Venue range by not needing an external rack unit to house the I/O and DSP, which decreases the footprint, and allows for the desk to replace an analogue desk without replacing the multi-core. The D-Show is similar to the SC48 in layout but it needs an external unit to run. You can either use a single mix rack, or you can use a FOH rack and a stage rack (Digidesign 2010c).

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Digidesign D-Show (Digidesign 2010c)
Digidesign says of the D-Show “this system offers the greatest amount of I/O and console expandability, enabling it to accommodate even the largest ensemble performances” (Digidesign 2010b). The advantage of having a separate unit with your I/O is that you can use a digital snake although this means that the footprint is higher and that a venue with an analogue multi-core already installed would need to replace it. The Profile is similar to the D-Show in that it requires additional rack units to function, but it is positioned as Digidesign's lowest footprint console (Digidesign 2010d).

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What makes Venue consoles unique is their integration with Digidesign's other big product, Pro Tools. Pro Tools is a multitrack recording system and Digidesign's Venue systems integrate with it by using all the same plug-ins as Pro Tools, which means that the huge ecosystem of Pro Tools RTAS plug-ins can be taken on the road (Hughes n.d.). SSE suggest that the success of the Venue systems is “mainly due to the popularity of the Plug-ins” and remarks that “the control surface seems less strong, as we've received reports from engineers who have been disappointed with the layout and operation of the console” they also comment that they are “by far the most popular desk brought into festivals by bands carrying their own production” (Hughes n.d.) Jake Mann who uses Digidesign consoles for both the Stray Cats and ZZ Top. He says of the Eventide bundle of plug-ins “I can't live without the Phoenix” (Colby et al. 2007). Guns 'n' Roses front of house mix engineer Toby Francis suggests that he prefers some of the digital emulations to their analogue counterparts he says that “I really like using plug-ins, everything pops up on the screen, and I can reach it all 30/158

without moving my body” and when talking about a plug-in called the Bomb Factory BF76 which emulates the vintage UREI 1176 peak limiter, said that it “captures the sounds perfectly, only without all the familiar hums, clicks and buzzes” (Colby et al. 2007). Nine Inch Nails' monitor engineer Michael Prowda said, “One of the biggest, most powerful things about this board is the ability to use third party plugins and software. To me that's something nobody else is doing.” he also said that the things he could do with the plug-ins “all sounded great to me, it just allowed me to do my job better” (Digidesign n.d.). Secondly, all of the Venue systems are able to communicate with a Pro Tools system in such a way that recording straight out of the desk is much easier than with any other desk. The Nine Inch Nails tour used Venue consoles at both front of house and monitors and recorded each show so that they could be listened back to later (Digidesign n.d.), one of these recordings was used for the audio of one of Nine Inch Nails' DVD releases (Mainprize 2009). It is also equally easy to play back multi track recordings from a Pro Tools system. This not only allows the “virtual sound check” function 31/158

mentioned earlier to work, but it makes playing multi-track backing tracks far simpler than other competing systems (Digidesign n.d.).

DiGiCo DiGiCo is a comparatively recent console manufacturer and like Digidesign, they specialise in exclusively making digital consoles. Their range of live consoles consists of the D5, D1, SD7 and the SD8 (DiGiCo 2010e). The D5 features three input sections, each with its own touch screen interface, and another bank of eight faders which can be assigned to a number of things such as aux masters, groups, and matrix outputs. Each touch screen also has a bank of rotary encoders.

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DiGiCo D5 Live (DiGiCo 2010b)

The system needs an external rack unit to handle all I/O, which can be any model from DiGiCo's range of I/O boxes. Each channel has three rotary encoders which can be assigned to whatever the engineer wants, including aux sends, panning and EQ. Each channel has a selection button, which can change colour and display text so that each channel can be quickly and easily identified (DiGiCo 2010b) Hughes praises the D5 as an innovative desk saying “The D5 was a pioneer of 96Khz sample rates, multiple touch screens as an interface

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and the use of optical fibre as a digital multicore” (Hughes n.d.). The D5 comes in many flavours; the standard D5 is aimed at live music (DiGiCo 2010b). The D5T is almost identical to the D5 but is aimed at theatre sound designers. As a result it features what it describes as “theatre specific remote controls” which are three remote controls for the console, with theatre specific functions (DiGiCo 2010d). There is also the D1, which is a smaller footprint version of the D5, aimed at venues with less space. It has one less input section but boasts the same track count as the D5 (DiGiCo 2010a). The SD7. It features twelve inputs and outputs built into the console but like the D5 you can also add on an I/O box to expand this. The interface is similar to the D series, but with a few small changes (DiGiCo 2010f). The SD8 is an update to the SD7, which they refer to as an entry-level console. Unlike the rest of the range the SD8 features only one touch screen in the centre of the console. As a result, to use the touch screen functions on an input or output channel it must first be

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assigned to the central bank of faders below the screen (DiGiCo 2009) There is also a smaller version of the SD8 called the SD24 which is a smaller footprint version of the standard console (DiGiCo 2010a). The SD9 is smaller and cheaper still with a similar interface (DiGiCo 2010b). The difference between the D series and the SD series is the effects processor chip (DiGiCo 2010e).

Midas Midas has a great reputation in the analogue world, with desks like the XL3 being referred to as the “Rolls Royce of analogue mixing desks” (Willy T 2010). Its XL4 and Heritage analogue consoles are two of the most requested desks at festivals such as Glastonbury (Techie Talk 2009). Midas' first digital desk was the XL8 that they suggest offers “an incomparable design combining exemplary sound quality, flexibility and reliability with an ease and familiarity of use unrivalled by other digital control surfaces” (Midas 2010b). It is designed to closely emulate Midas' XL4 console (Hughes n.d.). Monitor engineer Julien Decarne

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agrees with Midas' claims saying “Having had much experience with Midas analogue consoles, I felt at home straight away on the XL8’s work surface” (PSW Staff 2010b).

Midas XL8 (Midas 2010e)

The XL8 is interesting in its approach to navigation. It “has been designed so the engineer does not have to think in terms of numbers, pages or layers. Users navigate the system and identify channels by

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colours and groupings, which they themselves create” (Midas 2010c). Each channel has a large button with a built in display, similar to the D5, which the user can set the colour and text on. Each encoder has a set function to simplify things for first time users, which is unusual for a digital desk (Midas 2010c). Hughes refers to the XL8 as “probably the most advanced console on the market - as well as the most costly” and praises its sound quality in particular. He suggests, “its large frame, high cost and complex operation may limit its use to larger touring acts” (Hughes n.d.). The Pro6 is Midas' most recent digital console (Midas 2010a). The Pro6 is divided into four sections, the input section, the centre section, local monitoring automation and trackballs, and a second smaller input section. The first input section is the main input section (Ferriday 2009). The inputs all feature fixed encoders that only control one function. There is a section for EQ, dynamics, gain, and sends to matrix and auxes (audiofanzinetv 2009). The centre section is where you control the mix busses and VCA groups (Ferriday 2009). It is from this section that 37/158

you can also select which channels are appearing on the input faders (audiofanzinetv 2009). The local monitoring, automation and trackball section is to the right of the centre section. From here you control local monitoring, automation (Ferriday 2009), and the screens. There are two upright screens, one above the centre section and one above the local monitoring and trackballs section and they are used for many things including menu navigation and navigation of the virtual effects rack. The virtual effects rack is designed to resemble an actual physical rack of effects and features emulations of Klarke Teknik effects units (audiofanzinetv 2009). The second input section is identical to the first but has only one bank of four faders (Ferriday 2009).

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Midas Pro6 (Midas 2010d)

It is clear that Midas have made an effort to ensure that their digital consoles remain as close to their analogue counterparts as possible both sonically and visually. Monitor engineer Nahuel Gutierrez praises

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the pre-amps in the XL8 saying “You really appreciate things like those Midas pre amps when you’re working at low sound levels; again the XL8 beats the other desks as far as I’m concerned” (PSW Staff 2010c). FOH engineer Olivier Lude agrees stating, “the PRO6 was a natural choice given its ergonomics and the legendary Midas EQ and preamp sound” (PSW Staff 2010b).

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Methodology
Primary research is the collection of original data and is often conducted after a basic grounding of the subject is collected by secondary research (KnowThis.com 2010b). There are two main types of primary research and they are useful for different things. Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics to get to a consensus whereas qualitative research aims to gather as much opinion as possible (KnowThis.com 2010a). Punch refers to quantitative data as being the use of numbers to express quantity and qualitative data as “empirical information about the word not in the form of numbers”, then going on to explain that “most of the time this means words” (Punch 1998) The aim of my primary research is to get a better idea of the opinions of professionals related to live music, primarily engineers and manufacturers. This topic lends itself to qualitative rather than quantitative for a number of reasons. Kumar suggests that quantitative research is structured and appropriate to find the extent of a problem 41/158

(Kumar 2005). This is not ideal for this project, I'm looking for the problems rather than examining how big the problem is. I also don't want to limit my primary research to problems I have experienced personally, or ones that I have read about in my secondary research. Kumar suggests that to study the nature of a problem, the more unstructured qualitative method is more appropriate (Kumar 2005). Kumar says that primary research has three main process requirements. A good piece of research: • • “Is being undertaken within a framework of set philosophies Uses procedures, methods and techniques that have been tested for their validity and reliability • Is designed to be unbiased and objective” (Kumar 2005)

I have tried to stick to these three requirements as closely as possible throughout my primary research. Kumar expands upon the idea of set philosophies as being both an approach to research, in my case qualitative, and the academic discipline that you have been trained, in my case audio production. 42/158

There are three types of interview structure, structured, semistructured, and unstructured. Structured interviews have a strict script that must be kept to; they are most useful for collecting standard information. Semi-structured interviews have a list of questions that should be asked but the interviewer can improvise follow up questions and explore new areas that emerge. These are the most common types of qualitative interview, and allow the interviewer to extend and clarify answers. In unstructured interviews there is little or no script and the informant usually sets the direction. It is most useful at the beginning of study to generate a script for later interviews (Arksey & Knight 1999). I've opted to do semi-structured interviews for a number of reasons. Personal interviews are far more practical than group interviews for a smaller set of people. Personal interviewing is a technique that has been tested for its reliability and validity. A structured approach is far more useful in a quantitative context where I am trying to assess the extent of the consensus of particular topics, and an unstructured approach would make it difficult to compare and contrast people’s 43/158

opinions later. It is important that during my interviews I don't bring any bias into the conversation. I will stick to a basic framework of questions and ask people to elaborate, but not to prompt them to say anything in particular. Kumar refers to bias as “a deliberate attempt to either conceal or highlight something" (Kumar 2005) and it is important that I make a conscious effort to keep any bias that I have separate from my research. Most of the interviews will likely be by email, but I will strive to do some phone interviews also. Due to budget and time considerations it's unlikely that I will do many if any face-to-face interviews I interviewed two very different sets of people, engineers and manufacturers. For the engineers the goal was to establish some of the key strengths and weaknesses of digital consoles. I had a brief list of topics that I tried to cover for all of the engineer interviews but also left as much room as I could to allow them to talk about what they consider

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important. The list of topics was slightly different for the manufacturers for two reasons. From early discussions with manufacturers I realised that they would not be willing to discuss the weaknesses of their own products to any extent, this included a topic that I hoped to raise, that of the most common feedback about the product. In addition, manufacturers were able to answer much more specific questions about their product than the engineers who use them so I made sure to expand upon this in more depth. The list of questions I aimed to ask the engineers is in the appendix. I improvised much more on the manufacturers because I wanted to know different things from the different manufacturers.

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Results
Appendix 2.0 contains all of the full interviews. I edited the interviews to highlight the key quotes and these are in appendix 3.0.

Discussion
From my research I can see that there are points of agreement and disagreement around the operational use of digital consoles owing to many factors such as usage, experience and personal preference.

Analogue Consoles are the Only Viable Option at a Festival
Most people I spoke to think that digital consoles are of little use in a festival context. SSE provides equipment for many of the large festivals and comment that they still provide analogue consoles for the main stages (appendix 3.2.09). The main reason for this is the speed at which a mix engineer needs to build a mix at a festival. Most people agreed with Reynolds who said “If I am mixing a touring act at festivals 46/158

I would love to step up to an analogue board because I need to get a mix together really really quickly” (appendix 3.2.03) Hughes explained why digital consoles are often said to be too slow for a festival saying “this is because all analogue consoles operate in the same way and engineers need no training to operate them, whereas every manufacturer of digital consoles make their system operate in a different ways” (appendix 3.2.08). Paul Myers confirmed the fact that this is the majority opinion by saying “pretty much everyone there said it would be better with an analogue desk” (appendix 3.2.01) there being in reference to all of the festivals he had played last summer. To say that all engineers share the sentiment that analogue is the only viable option at a festival would be wrong however. Although most people want an analogue console at a festival there are exceptions. Touring bands often take a digital console with them to a festival, although Paul Myers suggests that one such engineer didn't use the desk when he realised that the provided analogue console was of a high

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quality (see appendix 3.2.01). There is also the opinion that digital consoles do have a place at a festival, Glastonbury 2009 for instance featured digital consoles along side the analogue consoles, particularly on the Jazz/World stage, where “nearly half of the visiting engineers of the acts playing on the Jazz/World Stage chose to use the PRO6”. Kasabian were also mixed on a Pro6 on the main stage (Techie Talk 2009). Caprio is a good example of a complete digital convert; he says “I can't think of a single instance where I would go back to analogue” (appendix 3.2.05). Gale's opinion sits in the middle in respect to festivals. He says “The only time I go analogue is during festival season where the 'provided' console is analogue, normally a Midas Heritage. However, even this year on festival I took various consoles - DiGiCo D5, Yamaha PM5D and M7CL mainly” (appendix 3.2.07).

Most Touring Engineers Would Prefer a Digital Desk
The time when digital consoles really become valuable is on tour. Bennett comments that most of the tours SSE equips ask for digital 48/158

desks (appendix 3.7.05). Speed of mix is less important on tour for a few reasons. Firstly, you get a longer sound check than at a festival. You also get time in preproduction to work out the desk and program it accordingly. Reynolds comments that “If I'm touring with a band and I've got plenty of time for pre-production and they've got lots of money, digital is they way, no question about it” (appendix 3.2.03). In fact with a digital console on tour, speed is often cited as an advantage. Neal says, “Snapshot memories drastically reduce setup time because of desk settings recall” (appendix 3.5.09). Recall features allow you to just turn up with a mix already finished. Cleasby talked about how snapshots can speed up the change overs in between bands stating “I'd choose a digital desk when there are a lot of bands on the bill, you can sound check each one and save the full settings and get back exactly what you left (including system EQ)” (appendix 3.2.04). The virtual sound check feature offered by some consoles means that

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even without loading a snapshot, you could have a mix finished before the band arrives. Caprio states “VS allows me to play back the previous (or any) show's content in the new venue and adjust accordingly. If the band is running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer worries me since I know I can have my mix dialled in pretty close” (appendix 3.10.03). Without this feature Caprio would have had to sit and wait for the band but with it, his mix can be pretty much finished by the time they arrive. Even if a tour isn't taking its own console on tour, so long as they have a file for the console on their memory stick, they can bring up a finished mix. Myers says “the huge bonus in digital more than anything else is that if you go somewhere and you're not carrying your own console, and it's going to be provided by a local production, you can say for example spec that you need a PM5D… you turn up, with your card, plug your card in and you're set up and ready to go” (appendix 3.10.01). A major advantage on tour is space and weight. This isn't as much of an issue at a festival whereas Myers says “your analogue desk is just in 50/158

one place for four or five days, you don't have to move around” (appendix 3.9.01). On tour however, generally the equipment has to be dismantled and moved to the next tour date by the next day. Caprio says, “when you're pushing cases it's always preferable to down size and get things compact” (appendix 3.9.04). He also points out the practicalities of moving and lifting heavy desks, pointing out that a lighter desk is faster to set up, and provides more space in the truck for other things (appendix 3.9.04). Prescott points out that footprint isn't as much of an improvement as some people suggest “either way I'm going to need at least one additional rack at FOH, and it doesn't really matter if it's filled with the brains for the desk and power supplies and a UPS or with 18U of dynamics and effects” (appendix 3.9.05). There are other advantages to using a digital console on tour, Cleasby cites full multitrack recording as one of the main advantages digital has over analogue, particularly is reference to the Profile's integration with Pro Tools (appendix 3.10.02). Bennet states that the ability to take

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your Pro Tools plugins on the road is one of the main reasons for Digidesign's success (appendix 3.10.04). Neal also mentions that many people find patching on a digital console is far quicker than patching in the analogue domain and he lists this as one of his four biggest advantages digital has over analogue (appendix 3.5.09). There are down sides going on tour with a digital console, unlike on an analogue console, you often can't do two things at once without the aid of an additional input device like a laptop or tablet which Adcock lists as one of the major disadvantages or digital consoles (appendix 3.5.01). Reliability is also a very real issue, although it is a problem more for some consoles than others. Gale cites DiGiCo as having had a real serious problem with crashes early on that has now been fixed (appendix 3.4.06). Myers says that he has had multiple occasions where a console has just said “no, not doing it” and needs to reboot in order to continue the show (appendix 3.4.01), this is obviously a problem which you would never get on an analogue desk.

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A Digital Console Takes Longer to Learn Than an Analogue Console.
Something that came up fairly early was that people don't feel as comfortable stepping up to a digital console they've never used before like they would an analogue console. Reynolds sums it up quite well “I can remember the first time and it wasn't easy to use” (appendix 3.8.02). Myers said that there was a definite learning curve “The first digital desk I used was a PM5D… I can remember using it for the first time and thinking "what the hell is this? There's nothing in the right place."” he goes on to say “It took a little time, I'd have to say it took me about a year of using them on and off over that year. You start really using it, you start enjoying it” (appendix 3.8.01). Reynolds suggests that it is much more difficult learning to use a digital console if you're not regularly using them “I don't think I've ever learned because I don't own a digital desk, I've not toured with a digital desk for any length of time that was meaningful.” He goes on to say, “I totally understand the process but I'm not familiar at all” (appendix

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3.8.02). Prescott points out that there are different levels of understanding a console “Of course there's a big difference between being able to mix and actually understanding the advanced capabilities on the board. Many desks are not difficult to push fader and perform basic mixing tasks on, but one menu down you could easily recall a different scene or repatch your outputs somewhere else and then be unable to recover.” He goes on to say “I think the biggest issue is that, no matter how long it took to learn the first time, if you've been away from it for a few months you've got to learn the desk all over again... not an issue with analogue desks, since everything is by nature a lot more standardized and obvious” (appendix 3.8.06). Some desks are much easier to learn than others. Reynolds states, “They're all completely different (appendix 3.4.02). Gale agrees but thinks that some desks have it right “they are all pretty much the same, it's just tough as none of them are the same lay-out.” he continues “some are easier to set-up than others. In terms of workflow, a DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D” (appendix 3.4.06). Caprio particularly likes the Digidesign Profile “My 54/158

favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series (mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals” (appendix 3.8.05). Caprio sums it up quite nicely when he says “the big difference between the various models of digital desks are really only significant in that they all do the same thing, just in their own way”. He goes on to say that “The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and non-intuitive. That also applies to the Soundcraft Vi6/Studer Vista” (appendix 3.4.04). Some people take to digital consoles much quicker than others. Adcock feels that “A lot of them, they tend to be quite user intuitive” (appendix 3.3.01). He goes on to say that “it took me about half an hour to get the basic operations… I would say probably a couple of weeks to figure it out completely” (appendix 3.8.03). Cleasby agrees saying “digital desks are fairly easy to learn” (appendix 3.3.03). He says that it took him only “10 minutes to learn the basics to mix a 55/158

show” but that he is “still learning now on all the things digital boards can do” (appendix 3.8.04) Paul Myers suggests that comfort around digital consoles may be a generational thing “I'm kind of from the generation of computers and computer games so I'm used to pushing buttons and going through menus to get things to work. I think a lot of older engineers struggle with that” (appendix 3.8.01). Reynolds says that the problem for him was that you need to mix in a different way “I like to set my gain structure up at unity gain on all output faders and I use gain for volume, and then EQ. But with the Yamaha and the DiGiCos, because you're not going to zero dB VU, you're going to F/S, then you end up mixing in a completely different way” (appendix 3.3.02). Prescott thinks the big issue is in the user interface “on an analogue desk any feature you want to use has to have a physical control. That limits the amount of UI stupidity that can be done” (appendix 3.3.05). Manufacturers have similar attitudes towards making their consoles easier to learn. Shaxson emphasised the importance to DiGiCo of a similar
interface throughout the brand “All our consoles have a similar work flow

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and with the SD-series in particular, all three consoles in the range have exactly the same operating system. Once you’ve learnt how to use one, you’ve learnt how to use all three” (appendix 3.8.07). He also talks of the importance of staying clear of menu driven systems “Early digital consoles were not particularly intuitive and were heavily menu driven. Indeed, that’s still the case with some of the current competition” (appendix 3.3.07). Soundcraft agrees that menu driven systems are bad and Neal emphasises the importance of their consoles looking as analogue as possible “Our user interfaces are designed to be as like-like as possible, with controls and information where your channel strip would normally be. We don’t believe that you should be delving through menus to find functions you need in the mix. The Vistonics system is acclaimed as so analogue-like” (appendix 3.3.08).

Sound Quality is Subjective
I found three very distinct trains of thought when it comes to the sound quality of digital consoles. First, there are the analogue lovers who believe that digital consoles do

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not sound as good. These people seemed to be of a small majority. Bennett suggests, “if you speak to anyone about audio quality people will still say that analogue desks still sound better” (appendix 3.6.08). Adcock has a fairly moderate view “I tend to find analogue desks sound a lot better than the digital ones” he continues “A lot of the digital desks now… they sound really really good” (appendix 3.6.02). Reynolds describes one of the reasons he feels digital consoles don't sound as good to him “I never feel like I've got enough gain to make the preamps really work, whereas on an analogue board I can just crank those gains up and really get them working” (appendix 3.6.03). Myers agrees “If you drive a Heritage 3000 quite hard, it still sounds fantastic even if you drive it too hard” (appendix 3.6.01). Cleasby suggests that it has more to do with the digital conversion process “analogue desks sound better as there is no conversion process, the AD/DA converters are getting better but Analogue boards sound better” (appendix 3.6.04). Prescott argues that the poor audio quality makes cheap digital consoles useless “in low end digital I don't think the tradeoff is worth it, since most of them sound like junk” (appendix 3.6.06). 58/158

Hughes suggests that one of the reasons digital sounds worse is latency “problems which have plagued digital system is latency. With analogue, the latency involved is so small it can be treated as zero... With digital, everything takes time to do... latency within a mix can cause comb filtering and incoherent audio” (appendix 3.6.10). Next, there are a few people who think that digital consoles provide a purer sound that analogue ones. Reynolds says, “with better sampling rates, keeping everything in the digital domain till the last moment, there is a perception that audio quality is an advantage as well (appendix 3.6.03). Caprio agrees that digital desks can sound great, but argues that its not the most important thing “the Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and non-intuitive” (appendix 3.6.05). Myers sums up these two arguments nicely “It's almost the same argument that you'll have with vinyl and CD. People who are into vinyl will say vinyl will always sound better than CD, people who are into CDs will always say CDs are better than vinyl but at the end of the day they both have their different qualities (appendix 3.6.01). 59/158

Finally, there are those who think that the sound quality difference is small enough that it doesn't matter. Cleasby suggests that “most folk can't tell the difference between the 2” (appendix 3.6.04). Reynolds suggests that a lot of the difference is psychological “I think there’s a perception that because it's digital its going to sound strange” (appendix 3.6.03). Bennett refers to Midas' range of consoles in particular of having the wrong priorities “the XL8 is their horrendous disaster of trying to make digital sound analogue. They threw millions and millions at that desk and all they're trying to do is make it sound like an XL4…its not like for your 350 grand or whatever you have to pay for it is, quarter of a million pounds, for an XL8, it doesn't sound any better than an XL4… They're trying to recreate that magic and its just turned out to be very very expensive” He goes on to say that the reason Digidesign and Yamaha are so popular is because their priorities are different to Midas “Whereas the Digidesign and the Yamaha are based on functionality and "gimmicks" of doing these plugins thing and they're a hundred times more popular than the Pro6 and the XL8 because they're like 60/158

"you know what, maybe our audio quality’s enough to keep people happy, we know its not perfect but its enough"” (appendix 3.6.08). Manufacturers take great pride in their audio quality. Neal says of Soundcraft consoles “our users tell us it’s the best sounding digital console they’ve used” (appendix 3.6.12). Hughes says “Midas digital systems are without question the best sounding live consoles available.” He goes on to mention that the preamps are a large part of Midas' identity “The quality of our pre-amps are renowned, and we had to make sure we kept the sonic quality with the digital systems” (appendix 3.6.10). Shaxson suggests that the reason DiGiCo consoles sound like they do is in their technology “floating point processing on the mix buss... remote stage racks... digital multicore and FPGA processing” He says that DiGiCo “offer the same sonic signature, regardless of whether you’re using the £11k SD9 or the £91k SD7” (appendix 3.6.11).

Manufacturers are Good at Reacting to Feedback
Myers says that Digidesign is designed by mix engineers rather than

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people who have no knowledge of live sound. In contrast Yamaha's engineers have less of an idea of how their consoles will be used “it's very well designed. In fact it's been designed by people who actually do live sound. Yamaha's designed by boffins, in Japan somewhere who don't go out and do live gigs. They probably ask people who ask people who go out and do live gigs. But you can tell, even when you read the instruction manual” (appendix 3.11.01). Neal responded to a question on how much contact Soundcraft has with mix engineers during the design process saying “as much as we could. It’s vital that engineers tell us how they need a console to work, and we worked very closely with a number of engineers, and still do” (appendix 3.11.04). Hughes says that Midas addressed the problem by engaging in conversation with engineers during the design process “when designing our systems, we had extensive input from mix engineers, and we continue to talk to our customer base to aid design of future systems” he goes on to explain that a console can be refined while in the market by way of software updates “as well as adapting software for current 62/158

systems to add features requested by customers, as well as changing some aspects of the software that may need refining” (appendix 3.11.02). Shaxson agrees that feedback is essential “feedback from engineers, whether they be FOH, Monitor or Theatre engineers, is vital when designing a new product” he goes on to say “we’ve simply adapted the worksurface to incorporate some the new technologys that have occurred since 2002” DiGiCo also fix issues in software upgrades “however, being a digital console and therefore being dependent on software, it meant that we have been able to refine and develop the software continuously over the years, adding features requested by engineers. For instance, when we released the SD8 in Autumn 2008, we gained feedback over the first 6 months that the snapshot capability needed enhancing particularly with respect to the theatre market. Also, monitor engineers were requesting more internal graphic eq’s. These were both features that we included when we introduced the Overdrive software upgrade last Oct.” Shaxson shed some light on how DiGiCo choose what features get upgraded “We keep a master 63/158

suggestions list which is constantly being updated, where feature requests from engineers are kept and depending on how often a feature is requested, we then take a view on whether said request should be incorporated in a future release” (appendix 3.11.03).

No Single Digital Console Is Best
From this research an interesting point becomes clear, that there is currently no clear “best” console. Different people all have personal preferences and different consoles are good for different things. All of the companies have different strengths and weaknesses and companies market at different niches. Digidesign have their plugin ecosystem, Pro Tools integration and a well liked interface but draws complaints for feeling cheap and overly plastic. Caprio thinks that they are the perfect compromise “the layout, functionality and ease of use is what sold me on the Digidesign desks. They work the way I think and I felt comfortable using them immediately. Add to that the fact that they sound good and you've got yourself a great desk (appendix 3.7.03)

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Yamaha's strengths are primarily linked to its time on the market, which has made it one of the most stable desks and also the desk with the highest market penetration. Despite this, people often complain about its sound quality and interface. Midas' digital consoles are regarded as having probably the best sound quality and a good layout that allows quick access to key functions, but people don't like the menu navigation or the cost. Reynolds particularly likes the interface “I find the workflow on the Midas exceptional, the setting up and the operation” (appendix 3.7.01). DiGiCo also draws comments on its fantastic sound quality, analogue like interface and virtual sound check functions, but suffered from early stability issues. Gale suggests that it's also one of the easier to set up “In terms of workflow, a DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D” (appendix 3.4.06). Soundcraft have one of the best interfaces due to it's Vistonics design, but draws far less comment about it's sound quality and lacks the market penetration of Yamaha. Bennett Prescott prefers the Vi6

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because “I can see everything I need to know about almost every channel at the same time, and I can do more than one thing at a time” (appendix 3.7.04).

Conclusions
I think the most interesting thing about the spread of opinion of the usefulness of digital consoles is that it is so vast. Two equally qualified mix engineers will be happy to argue that they both sound better and worse than an analogue console, or are easier to use and harder to use. From my research I can conclude that digital consoles are very important to the future of live music. They can do things that would be impossible to do in the analogue domain, meaning that problems can be solved and practice can be improved. The main problem with digital desks is not necessarily that they are complicated, or laid out wrong, but that they are all so very different. Even manufacturers have listed the lack of a universal layout as one of the main weaknesses of digital consoles.

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The way that many manufacturers have attempted to solve this problem is by making the consoles seem as analogue as possible. This is a logical approach, as most mix engineers know how digital works. Oddly, the most widespread console on the market, the PM5D is arguably the least analogue-like of all of the major consoles. There are certainly parallels between the rise of digital consoles and the rise of digital recording. Digital recording is now widespread, mainly due to the drastic reduction in price over recording on to tape. I would suggest that if a drastic price drop occurs then people would find it very difficult to justify purchase of an analogue console, and analogue consoles will fill a similar niche market that analogue recording studios do today. There is also a standard in recording, most studios use Pro Tools, you could say that the standard in digital live consoles is the Yamaha PM5D, but most of the mix engineers I spoke to said they took other consoles on tour rather than the PM5D. I think that all of the current brands have different strengths that appeal to different niche markets, but that digital consoles would be more widespread as a whole if there was a more universal operating 67/158

system. Another parallel can be drawn here with digital recording. Pro Tools may well be the standard program you expect to find in a studio (although many alternatives exist), but there is no real standard digital mixing console. Perhaps the future of digital live consoles is similar. From my research I conclude that while I consider digital consoles to be very important and will only continue to become more powerful as they mature, their full capabilities are unlikely to be reached until people feel more comfortable using them.

Further Research
I am aware that my research revolved mostly around live music; perhaps a study into the operational use of consoles in theatre sound would yield different results. My research also focussed mainly on the large-scale consoles, it would be interesting to see if a study into smaller digital consoles would yield similar results. I'm aware that there are far more of the smaller, low budget consoles, it would be interesting to know if there is more or less standardisation of interface. 68/158

There was also much discussion about whether digital consoles work out to be cheaper to tour with due to their reduced weight and footprint, or more expensive due to the up front costs of the console. A further study could go in to far more depth on this matter.

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PSW Staff, 2010c. Live Sound: DiGiCo SD7T Chosen By Buehne Baden Theatre - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/digico_sd7t_chosen_by_ buehne_baden_theatre/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium =twitter#When:14:04:03Z [Accessed April 15, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010d. Live Sound: Hard Rock Café Singapore Upgrades With Soundcraft Si2 Digital Console - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/hard_rock_cafe_singapor e_upgrades_with_soundcraft_si2_digital_console/?utm_source =feedburner&utm_medium=feed#When:17:20:39Z [Accessed April 1, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010e. Live Sound: In Profile: Veteran Mix Engineer Kevin Elson & His Work On The Current Kelly Clarkson Tour - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/in_profile_veteran_mix_e ngineer_kevin_elson_his_work_on_the_current_kelly_c/ [Accessed April 15, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010f. Live Sound: Megadeth FOH Engineer Rocks In Digital With Midas - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/megadeth_foh_engineer_ rocks_in_digital_with_midas/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_me dium=twitter#When:18:01:30Z [Accessed March 17, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010g. Live Sound: Midas Adds Just The Right Touch To Mister Mystere Tour - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/midas_adds_just_the_rig ht_touch_to_mister_mystere_tour/ [Accessed March 8, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010h. Live Sound: Midas XL8’s Used For Noel Gallager’s Teenage Cancer Trust Appearances - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/midas_xl8s_used_for_noe l_gallagers_teenage_cancer_trust_appearances/?utm_source=t witterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#When:18:45:14Z [Accessed April 15, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010i. Live Sound: Palace Theater Chooses NEXO And Yamaha - Pro Sound Web. Available at: 87/158

http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/palace_theater_chooses_ nexo_and_yamaha/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=fee d#When:14:08:52Z [Accessed April 10, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010j. Live Sound: Seven Things You Should Never Do While Mixing - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/seven_things_you_should _never_do_while_mixing/ [Accessed April 15, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010k. Live Sound: Soundcraft Introduces Vi1 Compact Digital Console At Prolight + Sound - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/soundcraft_introduces_vi 1_compact_digital_console_at_prolight_sound/?utm_source=fe edburner&utm_medium=feed#When:15:22:10Z [Accessed March 26, 2010]. PSW Staff, 2010l. Live Sound: Soundcraft Si3 Console Chosen For The Edge Performance Venue - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/soundcraft_si3_console_c hosen_for_the_edge_performance_venue/?utm_source=feedbu rner&utm_medium=feed#When:14:20:14Z [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Punch, D.K.F., 1998. Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, Sage Publications Ltd. Randy Weizel, 2010. Yamaha PM5D -- Part 1, Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J6wvKy924&feature=youtube_gdata [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Reynolds, A., 2009. Digital mixing – missing the visual approach — Andy Reynolds's Live Music Business - BETA. Available at: http://livemusicbusiness.com/audio-engineering-general/digitalmixing-%e2%80%93-missing-the-visual-approach/ [Accessed April 15, 2010]. Rumsey, F. & McCormick, T., 2005. Sound and Recording: An Introduction 5th ed., Focal Press. Snyder, K., 2010. Church Sound: Church Sound Files: Comparison Primer Of Analogue & Digital Mixing Consoles - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/church_sound_files_comp 88/158

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Available at: http://www.ravemagazine.com.au/content/view/18838/ [Accessed April 16, 2010]. Yamaha, 2010a. Mixers | Products | Yamaha Pro Audio. Available at: http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/products/mixers/index.html [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Yamaha, 2010b. Photo Library | Downloads | Yamaha Pro Audio- PM1D. Available at: http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/downloads/photo_library/resu lts.php?key=10 [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Yamaha, 2010c. Photo Library | Downloads | Yamaha Pro Audio- PM5D. Available at: http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/downloads/photo_library/resu lts.php?key=11 [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Yamaha, 2010d. Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems | Products | Digital Mixers | LS9 Digital Mixing Console | US & Canada. Available at: http://www.yamahacommercialaudiosystems.com/product_detai l.php?prodID=1015 [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Yamaha, 2010e. Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems | Products | Digital Mixers | M7CL V3 Digital Mixing Console | US & Canada. Available at: http://www.yamahacommercialaudiosystems.com/product_detai l.php?prodID=1014 [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Yamaha, 2010f. Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems | Products | Digital Mixers | PM1D V2 Digital Audio Mixing System | US & Canada. Available at: http://www.yamahacommercialaudiosystems.com/product_detai l.php?prodID=1000 [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Yamaha, 2006. yamaha m7cl, Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW5oZ2hcK8&feature=youtube_gdata [Accessed April 10, 2010]. Young, K., 2010. Live Sound: In Profile: Deb Hutchins, Mix Engineer & A Lot Of Hats - Pro Sound Web. Available at: http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/in_profile_deb_hutchins_ mix_engineer_a_lot_of_hats/ [Accessed April 15, 2010].

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Appendix
1.0 Interview Questions
Do you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment? Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than on an analogue desk? What digital consoles have you used? What were the biggest differences between them? Which did you prefer and why? How easy were they to use when you first used them? How long did it take to learn the interface? What was your opinion on their ease of use as opposed to an analogue desk? What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system? What would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system?

2.0 Complete Interviews
2.01 Interview with Paul Myers (Monitor Engineer) [disk one]

2.02 Interview with Andy Reynolds (Lecturer/Tour Manager/Engineer) [disk two]

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2.03 Interview with Ben Adcock (Live Audio Engineer for Theatre and Music) [disk three]

2.04 Interview with Timm Cleasby (Engineer/Tour Manager)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: timm64@mac.com Date: 25/02/2010 13:59 Subject: my dissertation
Hey Tim I'm a third year audio production student at bucks new uni and I'm about to start my primary research on my dissertation. I asked Andy Reynolds if he knew any live engineers who might be interested and he gave me your email address. My dissertation is on digital live consoles, particuarly with referance to analoge consoles. Would you be interested in helping me by doing an interiew with me? It can be over email, or in person, or over the phone. Whatever's easier for you Cheers Joe -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: timm64@mac.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com
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Date: 25/02/2010 14:06 Subject: Re: my dissertation
Hi Joe Sure send over some questions and I'll answer them as soon as I can Best Timm

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: timm64@mac.com Date: 25/02/2010 15:39 Subject: Re: my dissertation
Hey Timm Thanks ever so much for your speedy reply! Here are my questions, if you could answer them in as much depth as you can that would be very helpful. Do you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment? Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than on an analogue desk? What digital consoles have you used?

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What were the biggest differences between them? Which did you prefer and why? How easy were they to use when you first used them? How long did it take to learn the interface? What was your opinion on their ease of use as opposed to an analogue desk? What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system? What would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system? Thanks again Joe

From: timm64@mac.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 15/03/2010 21:41 Subject: Re: my dissertation
Hi Joe So Answers below in CAPS. Best

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Timm On 25 Feb 2010, at 15:39, Joe Couper wrote: Hey Timm Thanks ever so much for your speedy reply! Here are my questions, if you could answer them in as much depth as you can that would be very helpful. Do you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment? THIS IS A HARD QUESTION TO ANSWER AS I REALLY LIKE BOTH BUT FOR VERY DIFFERENT REASONS. Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than on an analogue desk? LESS BUT GENERALLY DIGITAL DESKS ARE FAIRLY EASY TO LEARN. What digital consoles have you used? MOST - DIGIDESIGN, YAMAHA, DIGICO, STUDER, SOUNDCRAFT, INNOVASON... What were the biggest differences between them? THE USER INTERFACES (CONTROL SURFACES) EACH ONE HAS A VERY DIFFERENT WAY OF WORKING Which did you prefer and why? DIGIDESIGN, I FIND IT EASY TO USE AND THEY SOUND GOOD AND SOUNDCRAFT AS THET SOUNDED GREAT How easy were they to use when you first used them? VERY... THE 1ST TIME I USED A DIGITAL BOARD I HAD 10 MINUTES TOP LEARN HOW TO MIX ON IT AND IT WAS IN FRONT OF AROUND 40,000 PEOPLE AT BENICASSIM How long did it take to learn the interface? 10 MINUTES TO LEARN THE BASICS TO MIX A SHOW BUT I'M STILL LEARNING NOW ON ALL THE 95/158

THINGS DIGITAL BOARDS CAN DO What was your opinion on their ease of use as opposed to an analogue desk? THEY ARE VERY EASY BUT NOTHING COMPARES TO THE IMMEDIACY OF AN ANALOGUE DESK What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system? FULL RECALL OF EVERY SINGLE ASPECT. SMALL FOOT PRINT AND LIGHT WEIGHT, FULL RECORDING INTEGRATION (WITH THE DIGIDESIGN I CAN PLUG MY HD3 SYSTEM IN AND RECORD UPTO 64 INPUTS. What would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system? VERY FEW REALLY, SOUND QUALITY AS THEY STILL DON'T SOUND QUITE AS GOOD AS THE ANALOGUE BOARDS BUT THIS IS GETTING BETTER Thanks again Joe

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: timm64@mac.com Date: 15/03/2010 21:58 Subject: Re: my dissertation
Thanks ever so much Timm, some really usefull stuff there. Could you just expand quickly on why digital desks sound worse and how they are sounding better? Also, are there any times when you would opt for a digital desk over an anlogue desk and why? Are there any times when you would rather use an analogue desk? Thanks again Joe

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From: timm64@mac.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 15/03/2010 22:12 Subject: Re: my dissertation
Analogue desks sound better as there is no conversion process, the AD/DA converters are getting better but Analogue boards sound better (Saying that most folk can't tell the difference between the 2) I'd choose a digital desk when there are a lot of bands on the bill, you can sound check each one and save the full settings and get back exactly what you left (including system EQ). I'd choose an analogue desk for a festival where you have no time to soundcheck and you need to work fast... can't beat the reach out to grab a gain pot or eq pot right when you need it. hope this all helps

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: timm64@mac.com Date: 15/03/2010 22:19 Subject: Re: my dissertation
One last question, why would you say the digidesign consoles are easiest to use for you?

From: timm64@mac.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com
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Date: 15/03/2010 22:20 Subject: Re: my dissertation
I use pro-tools regularly and I know how they work... the others are easy too... it's just what I have got used to.

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: timm64@mac.com Date: 15/03/2010 22:29 Subject: Re: my dissertation
Great, some really useful stuff there. Thanks for helping. Joe

2.05 Interview with Robert Caprio (Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: void@interzonestudios.com Date: 11/03/2010 01:54 Subject: Dissertation Interview
Hey Robert This is Joe from the PSW forums. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Could you tell me about what you have done in audio, what you currently do and what contact you have had with digital live consoles please? Which consoles hae you used and what were the 98/158

biggest differences between them? Cheers Joe -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: void@interzonestudios.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 02:26 Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview
Hey Joe, My pleasure! I have been involved with studio and live audio for 23 years now. I started doing live sound with bands in High School. My folks bought me a cheap, rather terrible PA system but it did the job and gave me the bug. I really wanted to produce/engineer in the studio so I started in a studio at the age of 17. I'm now 40, so it's been a while. I've worked in many world class studios with lots of well known artists from all over recording, mixing, programming, mastering, all of it. If you check my website there is a lot of my background there. Over the last few years I have gotten back into the live scene more and more and have recently toured the US quite a bit as an FOH engineer and tour manager. I also work at a bunch of local venues, clubs, theaters...etc. Most of my recent live audio experience has been with the Digidesign (Avid) Venue (D-Show, Profile and SC48) series of

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consoles. In my opinion they are outstanding though I also use the Soundcraft Vi6, Yamaha M7CL, PM5D, LS9 and Midas XL8, among a few shows with many others. Digidesign really thought their desks through and put in an excellent feature set. The layout, functionality and ease of use is what sold me on the Digidesign desks. They work the way I think and I felt comfortable using them immediately. Add to that the fact that they sound good and you've got yourself a great desk. The biggest obvious difference between digital and analogue consoles is that for the most part you don't need any outboard gear with digital desks. That alone is significant since that cuts down on how much gear you need to carry on a tour. More free truck space, quicker load in/out...etc. The other big advantage of digi desks is that you can save your settings from show to show and recall them at any time. So I can have different setups saved for different speakers, different venues, etc. Plus, within the Digidesign world of plug ins you can not only have the built in dynamics processing such as gates and compressors but you can also have a variety of plug ins for processing and FX. The variety is astonishing and it all sounds good. I recently toured much of 2009 with American Idol winner David Cook and his opener Ryan Star. We carried our own Digidesign Profile desk and it was awesome to have all that processing and FX power right at my fingertips, night after night. Having saved my shows each night I could call up an earlier show that may have been similar in venue and PA and that would make soundchecking much, much faster. The big difference between the various models of digital desks are really only significant in that they all do the same thing, just in their own way. As I stated earlier, I found the Avid desks to be the easiest and most "analogue" feeling out of all the ones I've used. To my ear the Yamaha consoles have a "gritty" and somewhat displeasing tone. The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic 100/158

but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and non-intuitive. That also applies to the Soundcraft Vi6/Studer Vista. They are great desks with lots of features but they are not as easy to use, at least to me. Does that cover enough for you? If not, please feel free to ask more specific questions. Take care and stay in touch,

Void --Robert "Void" Caprio Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager void@interzonestudios.com www.interzonestudios.com

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: void@interzonestudios.com Date: 11/03/2010 08:34 Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview
So would you say that you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment? Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than on an analogue desk? 101/158

Think of some of your favourite and some of your least favourite digital desks, how easy were they to use when you first used them? How long did it take to learn the interface? What do you think were the main factors making these consoles more/less intuative to use?

From: void@interzonestudios.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 14:32 Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview
So would you say that you prefer digital or analogue consoles in a live environment? Yes, I do prefer digital consoles in the live environment.

Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than on an analogue desk? It depends on the desk but typically digital desks are a bit less intuitive. Since analogue desks have a knob for every function you can easily find the knob for the function you need, whereas on a digital desk you may need to scroll through a menu or select a bank of knobs to access a function you need.

Think of some of your favourite and some of your least favourite digital desks, how easy were they to use when you first used them? My favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series (mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first 102/158

time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals. My least favourite is the Yamaha M7CL, mainly due to the touch screen interface. I like the idea of a touch screen though I feel their implementation of it on that desk is poorly executed. I also found that the Soundcraft Vi6 console seemed at first to be easy to get around on but it seemed that the longer I used it the harder it became to get around quickly on it. Very strange.

How long did it take to learn the interface? What do you think were the main factors making these consoles more/less intuative to use? I took to digital consoles quickly and found that after one show (figure 2-3 hours worth of "hands on " time comprised of a soundcheck and show) I felt quite comfortable with the interfaces and was getting around confidently. The main factors making these consoles more or less intuitive is all about the interface and layout. For me, the Avid desks are the most logically laid out, with all important functions within quick reach. They don't have a lot of deep menus to scroll through and they have a very simplified structure.

Void --Robert "Void" Caprio Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager void@interzonestudios.com

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www.interzonestudios.com

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: void@interzonestudios.com Date: 11/03/2010 22:29 Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview
Are there any instances when you would choose an analogue system over a digital system? Do you think you could owe some of your preferance of digital desks to your studio experience? What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system? What would you say are the main disadvantages of a digital system?

From: void@interzonestudios.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 22:51 Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview
These days I would be hard pressed to choose an analogue desk over a Profile or other Avid desk. I can't think of a single instance where I would go back to analogue. I don't think my studio experience is the reason I prefer the digital desks. In fact, I have rarely used digital consoles in the studio. Mainly because few of the studios I work in have them, being long-time analogue studios with SSL and Neve desks. My few experiences with early digital desks in the studio were not encouraging.

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One of the main advantages of the digital systems is smaller footprint, meaning your rig takes up less space in the venue. This is mainly due to the fact that you don't need additional racks of outboard gear for signal processing and FX. Speaking of processing and FX, having a digital rig often means you have access to far more options than an analogue rig, which limits you to how much you can physically carry or pack in a truck. When you're pushing cases it's always preferable to down size and get things compact. Another HUGE advantage with the Avid rigs is Virtual Soundcheck. This allows you to record the band directly from a Venue console to Pro Tools and then play it back through the desk, as if the band were playing it live. As a long time Pro Tools user I was very excited about being able to do that and when I first used it and found that it works very well I was hooked. VS allows me to play back the previous (or any) show's content in the new venue and adjust accordingly. If the band is running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer worries me since I know I can have my mix dialed in pretty close. This applies to monitor mixing as well, which do quite a bit of. To be honest, I can't really think of any disadvantages of a digital system, especially the Avid rigs. Void --Robert "Void" Caprio Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager void@interzonestudios.com www.interzonestudios.com 105/158

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: void@interzonestudios.com Date: 12/03/2010 02:36 Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview
I think I've asked everything I was planning on asking. thanks ever so much, you've been really helpful. cheers joe

From: void@interzonestudios.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 13/03/2010 00:37 Subject: Re: Dissertation Interview
You're very welcome. Good luck! Void --Robert "Void" Caprio Engineer/Producer/Tour Manager void@interzonestudios.com www.interzonestudios.com 106/158

2.06 Interview With Bennett Prescott (In house engineer)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: bennettprescott@gmail.com Date: 09/03/2010 22:05 Subject: Digital Live Consoles
Hey Bennett Its Joe from the PSW forums. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I read a little about you online, but could you tell me what you do now in audio and what contact you've had with digital live consoles. Which consoles have you used? Cheers Joe -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 09/03/2010 22:10 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
Joe,

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I spend most of my time as a system engineer, although I probably mix house or monitors every other show or so to help out an opener or babysit for the company owner. You can read a great deal about my exposure to many modern consoles in the Road Test forum. It's probably more accurate to state which consoles I haven't used, which would be the new SC48, anything by DiGiCo, anything by Innovason, and the Yamaha PM1D. Otherwise I've probably got a good working knowledge of it.

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: bennettprescott@gmail.com Date: 10/03/2010 21:11 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
So would you say you prefer an analogue desk or a digital desk to mix on? Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than on an analogue desk?

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 09/03/2010 22:10 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
That's not necessarily what I'm saying. I don't really care whether it's analogue or digital, there are digital desks that sound much better than many analogue desks. However, on an analogue desk any feature you 108/158

want to use has to have a physical control. That limits the amount of UI stupidity that can be done, whereas I have never seen a digital desk with anything like that level of control. There are digital desks that I am happy to use, but to get the same level of usability I would have in a $15,000 analogue desk I have to buy something like a $60,000 digital desk. On top of that, most digital desks seem to have a user interface that was designed by the same people that write Windows software... e.g. there is no thought put into it whatsoever.

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: bennettprescott@gmail.com Date: 10/03/2010 23:56 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
How long would you say it took you to learn the interfaces of the digital consoles you have used? how long was it before you felt as comfortable using it as you would an analogue desk? Are there any aplications where you would definately want to use a digital desk over an analogue desk and vice versa? Which digital consoles that you have used do you prefer and why? What are the biggest differences between them?

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 00:03 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
The learning curve varies by console. Some of them I felt comfortable 109/158

on in 5 minutes, some I still don't feel comfortable on. Of course there's a big difference between being able to mix and actually understanding the advanced capabilities on the board. Many desks are not difficult to push fader and perform basic mixing tasks on, but one menu down you could easily recall a different scene or repatch your outputs somewhere else and then be unable to recover. I think the biggest issue is that, no matter how long it took to learn the first time, if you've been away from it for a few months you've got to learn the desk all over again... not an issue with analogue desks, since everything is by nature a lot more standardized and obvious. The main advantage of digital is compactness while having a high channel count and high aux count with full parametric EQ on every channel, in my opinion. If I can only take up 6' of space, then I'm probably going to have to go digital. Of course, if I were out with the same act every day for weeks or months, I might want the additional power of digital there, as well... but only high end digital. In low end digital I don't think the tradeoff is worth it, since most of them sound like junk and the user interface makes you slower, not faster. It would be much easier to lose a few channels and have somewhat less flexible EQ, but honestly if I can't get it done with a good semi-parametric channel EQ then I have serious problems. It's hard to save the space, too... either way I'm going to need at least one additional rack at FOH, and it doesn't really matter if it's filled with the brains for the desk and power supplies and a UPS or with 18U of dynamics and effects. The best digital console I have ever been on is the Soundcraft Vi6. The reason is pretty simple: I can see everything I need to know about almost every channel at the same time, and I can do more than one thing at a time. I can be equalizing my guitar channel while another engineer mixes and equalizes the vocal channels. I can be line checking the next act while the headliner is still on, even though the next act is on another layer.

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From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: bennettprescott@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 00:20 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
What would you say were the factors stopping you learning the less intuative consoles as fast as the slower ones? Would you say being able to see everything at once and the ability to multitask are two of the biggest problems with low quality digital desks? What exactly do you mean by sounding like junk?

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: bennettprescott@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 22:49 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
Hey there Bennett Thanks ever so much for your time, you've been a great help. If I could just ask you a couple more questions to finish off. What would you say are the main adavantages of a digital system? What would you say are the main disadvantages? Thanks again Joe

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From: bennettprescott@gmail.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 23:58 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
I would say the factor making it difficult to learn the less intuitive consoles was their lack of intuitiveness ;) And yes, I would say control and display are the two biggest weakness of any digital desk. I cannot quantify why most low and even some mid end digital desks sound bad compared to good digital or analogue.

From: bennettprescott@gmail.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 23:59 Subject: Re: Digital Live Consoles
No problem, Joe. The main advantage of digital is flexibility and control. As long as you have space for the connectors, you can almost fit a 64 channel by 32 bus console into your carry on. The primary disadvantage then is how to control it.

2.07 Interview With John Gale (Live and Studio Engineer)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: thegale@gmail.com
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Date: 11/03/2010 00:31 Subject: My dissertation (digital consoles)
Hey John It's Joe from the Sound on Sound forums. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Could you tell me about what you have done in audio, what you currently do and what contact you have had with digital live consoles please? Which consoles hae you used and what were the biggest differences between them? -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: thegale@gmail.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 18/03/2010 05:12 Subject: Re: My dissertation (digital consoles) Hi Joe,

Sorry about the late reply. Very busy at the moment with tours. I'm a full time live sound engineer and also do studio producing. Current acts I am working for directly are Amy MacDonald (Monitors), Florence and The Machine (Monitors for the next UK tour), Elaine Paige, (Monitors), and Fairport Convention, (FOH) and then I work for a fair few PA companies when I am not out with the acts. Other recent acts include Beverley Knight and Natalie Imbruglia (Mons). I'll attached a CV. As for contact with Digital consoles, I say 98% of my work is mixing on digital consoles. I came from the generation where just as I was 113/158

starting, the PM5D, PM1D and DiGiCo D5 were becoming common but everyone was still mixing analogue. By the time I had done my time and began mixing bands rather than just working on stage, digital was a common option. Having learnt the digital world in the studio, I was very comfortable using it live and so just always spec'd a digital console. The only time I go analogue is during festival season where the 'provided' console is analogue, normally a Midas Heritage. However, even this year on festival I took various consoles - DiGiCo D5, Yamaha PM5D and M7CL mainly. So right from the beginning I have mixed digitally and without a doubt I am quicker on a digital desk than on an analogue. Particuarly when mixing monitors and dealing with a lot if In-Ear monitor mixes (IEM). To patch and setup an analogue console takes time, lots of outboard. In the digital domain, if I need a compressor or reverb, I press a button and it's there. Here's a list of the consoles I have used, in most common order. DiGiCO D5 and D1, SD8 Yamaha PM5D and PM1D Digidesign D-Show and Profile Soundcraft Vi6 Yamaha M7CL Midas Pro-6 Yamaha LS9 Roland M-400 And then over the years all the smaller desk, Yamaha 02R etc. The thing with the digital consoles, they are all pretty much the same, it's just tough as none of them are the same lay-out. Therefore, some are easier to set-up than others. In terms of work flow, a DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D. It also sounds better, but Yamaha are very stable desks, where in the early days, DiGiCo would occasionally crash, (this has been fixed now). So there 114/158

are always pro's and cons. With that in mind, I choose my console based on the act I am doing, how many channels and outputs are required and how muich space there is on stage or out front for the desk. Not sure if you have some more specific questions I can answer. Feel free to e-mail me back. Cheers. John -John Gale GALEFORCE SOUND - "Storming Audio Production Since 1999" 95A The Vale, Acton, London, W3 7RG Mbl: +44 (0) 7884 054 122 Tel: +44 (0) 208 749 0989 AIM: Galeforce Sound Skype: galeforcesound www.galeforcesound.com E-mail: thegale@gmail.com You can view my work calendar at: http://ical.me.com/galeforcesound/Galeforce's%20Work

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: thegale@gmail.com Date: 11/03/2010 00:31 Subject: Re: My dissertation (digital consoles)
Hey John I appreciate you're probably really busy but if i could just ask you a few more questions it would be really helpful

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Are there any times when you would specifically want to use an analogue desk over a digital desk and why? Are there any times when you would specifically want to use a digital desk over an analogue desk and why? How long would you say it takes you to learn your way around a new desk? Can you expand upon what you mean by some desks sounding better than others? Has a desk ever crashed for you and how much of a problem was this? Cheers Joe -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com 2.08 Interview with Dan Bennett (Hire Company Project Manager)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com Date: 17/03/2010 16:40 Subject: Digital consoles - My dissertation
Hey Dan I'm a third year audio production student at bucks new uni and I'm about to start my primary research on my dissertation. I asked Andy Reynolds if he knew anyone who might be interested and he gave me your email address. My dissertation is on digital live consoles, particuarly with referance to analoge consoles. Would you be interested in helping me by doing an interiew with me? It can be over email, or in person, or over the phone. Whatever's easier for you Cheers 116/158

Joe -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 17/03/2010 16:42 Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation
Hi Joe, Yeah, no probs. Email a few questions over and I will do my best to answer them. Regards -Dan

____________________________________________________ ___________ SSE Audio Group Limited email security by www.MessageStream.com

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com Date: 17/03/2010 16:54 Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation
Can I start by asking you what you've done in live sound and what you 117/158

do now? -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 18/03/2010 13:06 Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation
Hi Joe, My introduction to live sound was at university. I am a LIPA Graduate, I left in 2005. From there I came to SSE where I was given an office job, over the past 5 years I have established myself as one of the three main project managers that deal with the entirety of SSE's hire work, Festivals, tours, one offs, corporate etc etc. My job predominantly is large scale system design, logistics and client handler. I also have an involvement in the in the department's capital expenditure, training and booking of freelancers, as well as a multitude of other jobs, depending on the time of year. I have had a freelance existence, on smaller shows and some larger jobs with SSE this was some time ago though! Kind Regards -Dan ____________________________________________________ ___________ SSE Audio Group Limited email security by www.MessageStream.com

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From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com Date: 19/03/2010 15:39 Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation
Do you have any preferance of digital vs analogue mixing consoles? Are there times when you would choose one over the other?

From: Dan.Bennett@sseaudio.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 18/03/2010 13:06 Subject: Re: Digital consoles - My dissertation
What's your number? Maybe best to discuss this one....?

[Conversation continued on disk 4]

2.09 David Neal (Director of Marketing Communications for Harman/Soundcraft)
Hi Joseph, This is to confirm that your web enquiry on the Soundcraft website has been successfully received and has been forwarded to your local contact, Soundcraft Marketing. For follow-up enquiries, you can contact Soundcraft Marketing at soundcraft.marketing@harman.com QUERY TYPE: None of the above You wrote:

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I'm a third year Audio and Music Production student at Bucks New Uni, and I'm in the middle of my primary research for a dissertation which revolves around digital consoles in the live enviroment. I'd really like to talk to someone from Soundcraft in relation to your digital boards, seeing as you are one of the big names that keeps coming up. It would be very useful to know a manufacurers opinions on some of the topics which have come up. Any help and I would be very grateful. Cheers Joe Thank you, Soundcraft Marketing

From: dave.neal@harman.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 01/04/2010 08:49 Subject: Digital Console Research

Hi Joe, thanks for getting in touch with us. We’d be happy to help, if you could perhaps email us a list of your questions we can try and put some answers together for you.

David Neal

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: dave.neal@harman.com Date:01/04/2010 12:22 Subject: Re: Digital Console Research
Hey Dave

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I'd like to know what you think seperates your digital desks from the competition. What are the most important aspects of your digital consoles in terms of usability? How do you think your products measure up sonically against competitors' products? What would you say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that you improved upon with your series of consoles? How much contact did you have with working live sound engineers when designing your product line? You are a company which produces both analogue and digital boards, do you see more demand for your digital or analogue boards? Do any specific markets go for one over the other? What would you say the main strengths of your desks are? What would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in general against analogue consoles? Cheers Joe

From: dave.neal@harman.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date:19/04/2010 17:56 Subject: Re: Digital Console Research
Hi Joe, sorry for the delay, here are some answers for you:

I'd like to know what you think seperates your digital desks from the competition. >> We believe we stand apart on three things – sound quality, user interface and integral FX and EQ from Lexicon and BSS Audio. What are the most important aspects of your digital consoles in terms of usability? 121/158

>> Our user interfaces are designed to be as like-like as possible, with controls and information where your channel strip would normally be. We don’t believe that you should be delving through menus to find functions you need in the mix. The Vistonics system is acclaimed as so analogue-like. How do you think your products measure up sonically against competitors' products? >> Rather than comment on our competitors sonic quality, I’d rather say that our users tell us it’s the best sounding digital console they’ve used.  What would you say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that you improved upon with your series of consoles? >> The user interface and sound quality are the two areas that have generally improved as generations develop. Taking what was essentially ‘assignable’ channels and making dedicated input sections with their own controls. Just take a look at Vistonics. How much contact did you have with working live sound engineers when designing your product line? >> As much as we could. It’s vital that engineers tell us how they need a console to work, and we worked very closely with a number of engineers, and still do. You are a company which produces both analogue and digital boards, do you see more demand for your digital or analogue boards? >> Currently, we’re seeing high demand for both, but in the respective price bands Do any specific markets go for one over the other? 122/158

>> It’s more a question of price nowadays, digital can’t yet get down to the price of the smaller analogue desks, so we see a fair split on the price bands. Most people have adopted digital because of the benefits below. What would you say the main strengths of your desks are? >> As mentioned earlier in Q1. What would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in general against analogue consoles? Strengths: 1. Integrated processing, FX, delays and EQ’s save huge amounts of rack space, which saves on space at the venue, shipping costs, cabling etc. Snapshot memories drastically reduce setup time because of desk settings recall. More flexible for different types of show. Quicker to configure than patching cables around.

2. 3. 4.

Weaknesses? 1. 2. Currently the entry level cost is high, no low-end product yet. Potential learning curve for using them. Pretty well all engineers could use an analogue desk within minutes, there is a ‘standard’ user interface’. That’s why we put so much effort into making great user interfaces. Hope this helps you, Dave 123/158

2.10 Interview with Rob Hughes (UK Sales Manager for Midas/Klark Teknik)

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com To: Rob.Hughes@midasklarkteknik.com Date: 16/04/2010 16:17 Subject: Re: Digital Consoles
Hey Rob, Thanks very much, the soonest you can get back the better obviously, but my dissertation is handed in in a week so the sooner the better. I appreciate you're really busy though. I'd like to know what you think seperates your venue system from the competition's systems. What are the most important aspects of your digital consoles in terms of usability? How do you think your product measures up sonically against competitors' products? what would you say are the weaknesses of older digital mixing consoles that you improved upon with your consoles? How much contact did you have with working live sound engineers when designing your product line? What would you say the main strengths of your system are? What would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in general against analogue console? Are there applications where you would recomend an analogue console over a digital one and vice versa? Thanks again Joe

From: Rob.Hughes@midasklarkteknik.com
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To: joe.couper@googlemail.com Date: 19/04/2010 11:05 Subject: Answers to questions!
Hi Joe,

I will try and answer your questions as best as possible.

In my opinion, there are various reasons that separate our digital systems form all other digital consoles, but the biggest difference is that ours are not simply digital consoles, they are full audio networks. Our XL8 and the newer Pro 6 were both designed and built around audio networking at their core, using Hypermac and Supermac AES 50 protocol. (http://www.supermac-hypermac.com/index.php). This has given us a big advantage over the competition, as we can distribute audio throughout the network seamlessly and with sub-millisecond latency. It also allows the system to be expanded to a very large network, with a potential 486 ins and 486 outs on an XL8 network at max, and 264 ins and 264 outs available on the Pro 6 network at maximum. We also run at 96kHz throughout, which both increases the audio quality but increases the processing speed.

Sonically, Midas digital systems are without question the best sounding live consoles available, and we would happily put our consoles up against ANY other console, be it live or studio. The quality of our pre-amps are renowned, and we had to make sure we kept the sonic quality with the digital systems, as well as keeping the ability to overdrive the pre-amps without experiencing any digital distortion, as the way Midas pre-amps handle being overdriven was something people loved, in fact, some people actually think they sound better when being over driven, so we made sure that there was more double the headroom in the converters than in the mic amps, so we can convert the overdriven signal.

Older digital consoles have suffered with various problems, from whole systems ‘falling over’ regularly and being unstable coupled with poor audio quality compared with their analogue counterparts. It is only in recent years that digital technology has started to catch up sonically with analogue. Also, problems which have plagued digital system is latency. With analogue, the latency involved is so small it can be treated as zero, so various paths through consoles including inserts made no difference to time. With digital, everything takes time to do, from converting from analogue to digital, converting back to digital, routing paths through a console, any processing to audio within the process etc etc. Latency through a console is a problem that can be dealt with and also acceptable if you are mixing FOH as there is inherent latency between the user and the PA in the form of physical distance), but latency within a mix can cause comb filtering and incoherent audio. Midas digital systems are the first to fully compensate to maintain phase coherency to within half a sample. This means that the system will compensate for all internal processing, all

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internal routing options, and also 3 stages of analogue insert paths. We have also implemented full audio interpolation throughout the system, which makes the mixing process sound a lot more analogue, and improve time for such things as EQ’ing inputs etc, as the interpolation actually recreates the phase shift associated with analogue parametric EQ filters.

When designing our systems, we had extensive input from mix engineers, and we continue to talk to our customer base to aid design of future systems, as well as adapting software for current systems to add features requested by customers, as well as changing some aspects of the software that may need refining.

In summary, our main strengths are a: high quality audio b: full networking c: stable linux core .

In some applications analogue is preferable, such as festivals. This is because all analogue consoles operate in the same way and engineers need no training to operate them, whereas every manufacturer of digital consoles make their system operate in a different way, and if an engineer doesn’t know that particular manufacturers method, it can hinder them from doing their job in a time pressure environment such as a festival.

In virtually every other environment a digital system is preferable due to the recallable nature, as well as the feature-set available on all digital consoles, such as dynamics processing, effecs, EQ etc etc.

Hopefully this answers your questions, but feel free to look at www.midasconsoles.com and click on the XL8 or Pro 6 links.

Kind Regards,

HUGHES, Rob Manager, Sales UK MIDAS KLARK TEKNIK LIMITED

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Tel: +44 1562 741515 ext 389 Fax: +44 1562 745371 Web: www.midasconsoles.com | www.klarkteknik.com |

www.ktsquareone.com

2.11 Interview with Tim Shaxson (Technical Sales Manager for DiGoCo)

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com To: Tim@digiconsoles.com Date: 30/03/2010 17:39 Subject: Digital consoles for live audio
Hey Tim I'm a third year Audio and Music Production student at Bucks New Uni, and I'm in the middle of my primary research for a dissertation which revolves around digital consoles in the live enviroment. I'd really like to talk to you, or someone else from DiGiCo in relation to your digital boards, seeing as you are one of the big names that keeps coming up. It would be very useful to know a manufacurers opinions on some of the topics which have come up. Any help and I would be very grateful. Cheers Joe -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: Tim@digiconsoles.com To: joe.couper@googlemail.com Date: 05/04/2010 19:26
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Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio
Hi Joe, Sorry for the delay. It’s been a very busy few weeks. I’d be delighted to help. What do you need to know? Best Tim

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com To: Tim@digiconsoles.com Date: 05/04/2010 21:23 Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio
Hey Tim Thats fine, thanks for getting back. I'd like to know what you think seperates your digital desks from the competition. What are the most important aspects of your digital consoles in terms of usability? How do you think your products measure up sonically against competitors' products? What would you say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that you improved upon with your series of consoles? How much contact did you have with working live sound engineers when designing your product line? What would you say the main strengths of your desks are? What would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in general against analogue consoles? cheers! Joe

From: Tim@digiconsoles.com To: joe.couper@googlemail.com

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Date: 05/04/2010 21:29 Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio
Hi Joe, Some good questions there. Could you give me a few days to get back to you on this...I shouldn’t be too long. Cheers Tim

From: joe.couper@googlemail.com To: Tim@digiconsoles.com Date: 15/04/2010 21:44 Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio
Hey Tim Just checking you haven't forgotten about this. It would be really helpful if I could get some answers to these questions from someone at DiGiCo. Joe

From: Tim@digiconsoles.com To: joe.couper@googlemail.com Date: 15/04/2010 23:39 Subject: Re: Digital consoles for live audio

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Sorry Joe. I hadn’t forgotten but we are exceptionally busy at the moment . I hope the answers below help Cheers Tim What are the most important aspects of your digital consoles in terms of usability? DiGiCo are arguably one of the easiest desks to use, particularly when making the transition from analogue to digital. Our GUI is very analogue in appearance and use. We pioneered the use of touch screen technology with the D-series consoles and have adopted larger, brighter screens with the SD-series. All our consoles have a similar work flow and with the SD-series in particular, all three consoles in the range have exactly the same operating system. Once you’ve learnt how to use one, you’ve learnt how to use all three. How do you think your products measure up sonically against competitors' products? DiGiCo have an excellent reputation for sound quality. We have always used floating point processing on the mix buss (which has the benefit, when compared to fixed point processing, of a huge amount of headroom resulting in clean, transparent non-compressed audio when 130/158

handling multiple inputs) and we’ve always insisted on remote stage racks. The shorter the analogue cable run from microphone to preamp, the better and remote stage racks allow this. The other benefit is a digital multicore (we support MADI and Optocore) which minimises signal loss and noise interference when compared with analogue multi’s. With the recent launch of the SD-Series consoles, we have moved away from the more traditional DSP method of audio processing an have used instead, FPGA processing. This has resulted in far more powerful, far more efficient and smaller audio engines compared to our rivals and because all the audio processing is achieved in a single 40mm square Super FPGA chip, the timing issues associated with dealing with multiple DSP chips are no longer there with the result that the SDseries consoles sound even better than their predecessors. We offer the same sonic signature, regardless of whether you’re using the £11k SD9 or the £91k SD7. All SD-series consoles share the same Stealth-based audio processing and the same mic preamps.

What would you say are the weaknesses of older mixing consoles that you improved upon with your series of consoles? [TS] Early digital consoles were not particularly intuitive and were heavily menu driven. Indeed, that’s still the case with some of the current competition. We’ve always strived to make our consoles easy and fast to use, but without compromising the ultimate flexibility that a digital console can offer when compared to an analogue console.

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How much contact did you have with working live sound engineers when designing your product line? Feedback from engineers, whether they be FOH, Monitor or Theatre engineers, is vital when designing a new product. When we introduced the D5 in 2002, it quickly became apparent that the work surface itself was just about perfect. The multi-operability, the multiple screens, the size were all factors that meant the console was quickly picked up by some of the major tours/theatres of their day. Even now, 8 yrs later, the D5 is still being used on many world tours. Our current flagship is very familiar to those who have used the D-Series consoles in the past, we’ve simply adapted the worksurface to incorporate some the new technologys that have occurred since 2002: larger and brighter TFT’s, TFT meterbridge, polycarbonate surface, hidden-till-lit technology, built in camera and monitor, FPGA instead of DSP based processing..... However, being a digital console and therefore being dependent on software, it meant that we have been able to refine and develop the software continuously over the years, adding features requested by engineers. For instance, when we released the SD8 in Autumn 2008, we gained feedback over the first 6 months that the snapshot capability needed enhancing particularly with respect to the theatre market. Also, monitor engineers were requesting more internal graphic eq’s. These were both features that we included when we introduced the Overdrive software upgrade last Oct. We keep a master suggestions list which is constantly being updated, where feature requests from engineers are kept and depending on how often a feature is requested, we then take a view on whether said request should be incorporated in a future release.

What would you say the main strengths of your desks are? 132/158

Sound quality, sound quality and sound quality! Ease of use Industry leading technical specification The adoption of industry standard protocols and interfaces (MADI / Optocore) – not proprietry The support and aftersales service DiGiCo offer – it’s not all about features and audio. As a company, DiGiCo only make digital consoles. Thats all we do. Therefore, unlike other manufacturers, we are wholly focused on this and this alone. What would you say are the stengths and weaknesses of digital consoles in general against analogue consoles? Strengths include instant recall, small footprint, flexibility Weaknesses include different operating systems per manufacturer.

2.12 Conversation with Noah Leibman (Interface & Interaction Design Graduate from University of Michegan)

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: noah@noahliebman.com Date: 21/03/2010 18:58 Subject: Cue Bert

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Hey Noah I posted on the sound on sound forums asking for people to interview for my dissertation and someone suggested I look at your Cue-Bert project, which is fairly similar. My dissertation is on digital live mixing consoles, particuarly workflow in referance to analogue consoles. Mine is much more focused on music, as thats where all of the resources seem to be, but theres quite a bit on theater sound and church sound so far too. I was wondering if there was any more of your project anywhere because I'd love to be able to referance it. I found the videos on vimeo, the posts on the theater sound news group, your blog, and cuebert.com. Is there a paper/digital document? If so could I see a copy please? Are there any resources which you founds particuarly useful, I noticed you mentioned Live Sound Reinforcement, is there anything else you read? Anyway, what I've seen is really interesting stuff, the console you came out with looks really interesting. Cheers Joe -Joe Couper:Live Audio Engineer http://jcouper.blogspot.com

From: noah@noahliebman.com To: joe.couper@gmail.com Date: 21/03/2010 18:58 Subject: Re: Cue Bert
Hey Joe,

We actually got the vast majority of our information from interviews 134/158

and observations; a formal approach to console design seems pretty unusual, so our attempt at a lit review came up pretty dry. We wrote a paper that was recently accepted to NIME 2010, so if we can get a travel grant from our university, we will be presenting it in Sydney in August. I'm attaching the version of the paper we submitted, so it's anonymized and will be revised before getting published, but it'll probably give you a pretty good idea. A friend of mine actually did a study a long time ago (during undergrad, maybe) that I think was an ethnography of cooperation among live sound engineers or something, but I never actually got ahold of it. If you want, I could ask him for a copy. Out of curiosity, what's the abstract/elevator pitch for your dissertation? It's always encouraging to know other people are doing similar work. -Noah

From: joe.couper@gmail.com To: noah@noahliebman.com Date: 21/03/2010 19:54 Subject: Re: Cue Bert
Yeah I've found pretty similar stuff with the lit review, a lot of articles in the major journals though, Light and Sound International and Pro Sound Web have been really good recently. I haven't written my abstract yet, everyone suggested that that should come last, at the moment I'm still doing a load of primary research. the title of it is "How might operational use of live digital consoles be improved?" although I suspect this might change. Its basicly a study into why people love and hate digital consoles and how valid those arguments are. My initial idea came from my personal experience of 135/158

being comfortable with analogue and then being confronted with a digital desk and not being able to do simple tasks on it. When I started reading around the subject I realised that this was a pretty common problem that seems to stem from poor design, but that seems to be getting better now that the technology has been around longer. I've spoken to some people who are the other way around, who have learnt on digital and find it odd to switch back. NIME looks like a great place to show Cue-Bert off, hope you get the grant. Does that mean you're hoping to get it mass produced? I'd love to see that, it sounds really interesting at least. There might be a few nuggets of information I can use for my dissertation too. Joe

3.0 Editted Transcripts
3.1 Do you prefer analogue or digital consoles in the live environment? 3.1.01 Paul Myers It depends what the live environment is 3.1.02 Ben Adcock I'd probably now choose digital desks over analogue ones I've always been an analogue desk man but I find myself being more and more converted to digital 3.1.03 Andy Reynolds That is a really tough one, it depends what you're doing 3.1.04 Timm Cleasby This is a hard question to answer as I really like both but for very different reasons 136/158

3.1.05 Robert Caprio Yes, I do prefer digital consoles in the live environment. 3.1.06 Bennett Prescott I don't really care whether it's analogue or digital, there are digital desks that sound much better than many analogue desks. However, on an analogue desk any feature you want to use has to have a physical control. That limits the amount of UI stupidity that can be done, whereas I have never seen a digital desk with anything like that level of control. There are digital desks that I am happy to use, but to get the same level of usability I would have in a $15,000 analogue desk I have to buy something like a $60,000 digital desk. On top of that, most digital desks seem to have a user interface that was designed by the same people that write Windows software... e.g. there is no thought put into it whatsoever. 3.1.07 John Gale Having learnt the digital world in the studio, I was very comfortable using it live and so just always spec'd a digital console. The only time I go analogue is during festival season where the 'provided' console is analogue, normally a Midas Heritage. However, even this year on festival I took various consoles - DiGiCo D5, Yamaha PM5D and M7CL mainly. 3.1.08 Dan Bennett I think the younger generation, they grew up on the PM5Ds and the Digidesigns… Its almost second nature. You have the old boys who cut their teeth in the 80s on the analogue boards… but a lot of the engineers now speak both languages

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3.1.09 David Neal Currently, we’re seeing high demand for both It’s more a question of price nowadays, digital can’t yet get down to the price of the smaller analogue desks, so we see a fair split on the price bands. Most people have adopted digital because of the benefits 3.2 Are there times when you would prefer an analogue desk over a digital desk and vice versa? 3.2.01 Paul Myers At the moment, I'm about to go on tour with a band and we're taking a digital console with us... The Digidesign SC48... But I did a load of festivals over the summer and for the first few of the festivals I used digital consoles, which was OK. But, Reading festival, the main stage with analogue consoles it was so much better... The difference between what you're doing at a festival which is setting up a monitor mix extremely quickly, usually during the first song, everything's in front of you. You can see every single input, you can see every single output, and you can just see it all. It just makes that setting up time a lot easier and simpler. They both have their plus and minus features I would almost guarantee if you ask any sound engineer what they would prefer to use at a festival they would say analogue but if they were going out on tour they would say digital. Thats what I've noticed over the summer, obviously I did Glastonbury main stage, Latitude main stage, Cambridge Folk Festival main stage, Big Chill dance tent, and then I did reading festival main stage and pretty much everyone there said it would be better with an analogue desk, even though I did use digital on most of them. I had one instance at Reading festival where a friend of mine who's doing Ian Brown came up and went “oh you've got a heritage, I'll leave my digital desk in the truck then”

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3.2.02 Ben Adcock I like to use digital and I'm using digital now I think the theatre stuff we're doing at the moment I think a digital desk is ideal for it 3.2.03 Andy Reynolds If I am mixing a touring act at festivals I would love to step up to an analogue board because I need to get a mix together really really quickly. If I'm touring with a band and I've got plenty of time for preproduction and they've got lots of money, digital is they way, no question about it. 3.2.04 Timm Cleasby I'd choose a digital desk when there are a lot of bands on the bill, you can sound check each one and save the full settings and get back exactly what you left (including system EQ). I'd choose an analogue desk for a festival where you have no time to soundcheck and you need to work fast... can't beat the reach out to grab a gain pot or eq pot right when you need it. 3.2.05 Robert Caprio These days I would be hard pressed to choose an analogue desk over a Profile or other Avid desk. I can't think of a single instance where I would go back to analogue. 3.2.06 Bennett Prescott If I can only take up 6' of space, then I'm probably going to have to go digital. Of course, if I were out with the same act every day for weeks or months, I might want the additional power of digital there, as well... but only high end digital. In low end digital I don't think the tradeoff is worth it, since most of them sound like junk and the user interface makes you slower, not faster. 139/158

3.2.07 John Gale I choose my console based on the act I am doing, how many channels and outputs are required and how muich space there is on stage or out front for the desk. 3.2.08 Rob Hughes In some applications analogue is preferable, such as festivals. This is because all analogue consoles operate in the same way and engineers need no training to operate them, whereas every manufacturer of digital consoles make their system operate in a different way, and if an engineer doesn’t know that particular manufacturers method, it can hinder them from doing their job in a time pressure environment such as a festival. In virtually every other environment a digital system is preferable due to the recallable nature, as well as the feature-set available on all digital consoles, such as dynamics processing, effecs, EQ etc etc. 3.2.09 Dan Bennett Absolutely. Unfortunately at the moment most production managers and most people that are speccing these gigs are only worried about cost. On festivals, large festivals… We're still keeping two large analogue front of house boards for the main stages. Most tours now are digital desks. 3.3 Do you find the workflow on a digital desk more or less intuitive than on an analogue desk? 3.3.01 Ben Adcock A lot of them, they tend to be quite user intuitive. The companies now seem to be spending a lot more time designing desks people can use very quickly 140/158

3.3.02 Andy Reynolds Depends on the make and model. It is a different workflow. Once you've got your head around it, its just time. If you're not totally on it and you're not totally familiar with the board it can take a long time I like to set my gain structure up at unity gain on all output faders and I use gain for volume, and then EQ. But with the Yamaha and the DiGiCos, because you're not going to zero dB VU, you're going to F/S, then you end up mixing in a completely different way 3.3.03 Timm Cleasby Less but generally digital desks are fairly easy to learn. 3.3.04 Robert Caprio It depends on the desk but typically digital desks are a bit less intuitive. Since analogue desks have a knob for every function you can easily find the knob for the function you need, whereas on a digital desk you may need to scroll through a menu or select a bank of knobs to access a function you need. 3.3.05 Bennett Prescott on an analogue desk any feature you want to use has to have a physical control. That limits the amount of UI stupidity that can be done I would say control and display are the two biggest weakness of any digital desk.

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3.3.06 John Gale The thing with the digital consoles, they are all pretty much the same, it's just tough as none of them are the same lay-out. 3.3.07 Tim Shaxson Early digital consoles were not particularly intuitive and were heavily menu driven. Indeed, that’s still the case with some of the current competition. 3.3.08 David Neal Our user interfaces are designed to be as like-like as possible, with controls and information where your channel strip would normally be. We don’t believe that you should be delving through menus to find functions you need in the mix. The Vistonics system is acclaimed as so analogue-like. 3.4 Which digital consoles have you used, and what are the main differences between them? 3.4.01 Paul Myers With an analogue desk you get full stability I have seen instances where a digital desk, rather like a computer just says "no, not doing it" and needs to reboot. 3.4.02 Andy Reynolds I have not used a Vi6 which is really bizarre because everybody raves about them build quality… Audio, the flexibility with outputs They're all completely different

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3.4.03 Timm Cleasby What digital consoles have you used? MOST - DIGIDESIGN, YAMAHA, DIGICO, STUDER, SOUNDCRAFT, INNOVASON What were the biggest differences between them? THE USER INTERFACES (CONTROL SURFACES) EACH ONE HAS A VERY DIFFERENT WAY OF WORKING 3.4.04 Robert Caprio Most of my recent live audio experience has been with the Digidesign (Avid) Venue (D-Show, Profile and SC48) series of consoles. In my opinion they are outstanding though I also use the Soundcraft Vi6, Yamaha M7CL, PM5D, LS9 and Midas XL8, among a few shows with many others The big difference between the various models of digital desks are really only significant in that they all do the same thing, just in their own way. As I stated earlier, I found the Avid desks to be the easiest and most "analogue" feeling out of all the ones I've used. To my ear the Yamaha consoles have a "gritty" and somewhat displeasing tone. The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and non-intuitive. That also applies to the Soundcraft Vi6/Studer Vista. 3.4.05 Bennett Prescott It's probably more accurate to state which consoles I haven't used, which would be the new SC48, anything by DiGiCo, anything by Innovason, and the Yamaha PM1D. Otherwise I've probably got a good working knowledge of it. 3.4.06 John Gale Here's a list of the consoles I have used, in most common order. DiGiCO D5 and D1, SD8 143/158

Yamaha PM5D and PM1D Digidesign D-Show and Profile Soundcraft Vi6 Yamaha M7CL Midas Pro-6 Yamaha LS9 Roland M-400 And then over the years all the smaller desk, Yamaha 02R etc. they are all pretty much the same, it's just tough as none of them are the same lay-out... some are easier to set-up than others. In terms of work flow, a DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D. It also sounds better, but Yamaha are very stable desks, where in the early days, DiGiCo would occasionally crash, (this has been fixed now).

3.4.07 Dan Bennett Every manufacturer and every board has a sound due to the components and the materials they use 3.4.08 Rob Hughes In my opinion, there are various reasons that separate our digital systems form all other digital consoles, but the biggest difference is that ours are not simply digital consoles, they are full audio networks. Our XL8 and the newer Pro 6 were both designed and built around audio networking at their core, using Hypermac and Supermac AES 50 protocol. (http://www.supermac-hypermac.com/index.php). This has given us a big advantage over the competition, as we can distribute audio throughout the network seamlessly and with sub-millisecond latency. It also allows the system to be expanded to a very large network, with a potential 486 ins and 486 outs on an XL8 network at max, and 264 ins and 264 outs available on the Pro 6 network at maximum. We also run at 96kHz throughout, which both increases the 144/158

audio quality but increases the processing speed. 3.5 What are the main advantages and disadvantages of a digital system? 3.5.01 Ben Adcock space saving if i wanna make an adjustment on two channels at the same time theres very few desks that allow you to do that without using a computer hooked up to the desk 3.5.02 Andy Reynolds Flexabilty Audio quality is also becoming an advantage. The learning curve The fact that one digital desk is not the same as another digital desk you have to program it and depending on the desk it can be an absolute nightmare 3.5.03 Timm Cleasby FULL RECALL OF EVERY SINGLE ASPECT SMALL FOOT PRINT AND LIGHT WEIGHT FULL RECORDING INTEGRATION SOUND QUALITY AS THEY STILL DON'T SOUND QUITE AS GOOD AS THE ANALOGUE BOARDS BUT THIS IS GETTING BETTER 3.5.04 Robert Caprio One of the main advantages of the digital systems is smaller footprint you have access to far more options than an analogue rig, which limits you to how much you can physically carry or pack in a truck. Another HUGE advantage with the Avid rigs is Virtual Soundcheck... If the band is running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer 145/158

worries me since I know I can have my mix dialed in pretty close. This applies to monitor mixing as well I can't really think of any disadvantages of a digital system, especially the Avid rigs. 3.5.05 Bennett Prescott The main advantage of digital is flexibility and control. As long as you have space for the connectors, you can almost fit a 64 channel by 32 bus console into your carry on. The primary disadvantage then is how to control it. 3.5.06 Dan Bennett Logistics wise a digital board is better but sound wise analogue is better 3.5.07 Rob Hughes In some applications analogue is preferable, such as festivals. This is because all analogue consoles operate in the same way and engineers need no training to operate them, whereas every manufacturer of digital consoles make their system operate in a different way, and if an engineer doesn’t know that particular manufacturers method, it can hinder them from doing their job in a time pressure environment such as a festival. In virtually every other environment a digital system is preferable due to the recallable nature, as well as the feature-set available on all digital consoles, such as dynamics processing, effecs, EQ etc etc. 3.5.08 Tim Shaxson Strengths include instant recall, small footprint, flexibility Weaknesses include different operating systems per manufacturer.

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3.5.09 David Neal Strengths: 1.Integrated processing, FX, delays and EQ’s save huge amounts of rack space, which saves on space at the venue, shipping costs, cabling etc. 2. Snapshot memories drastically reduce setup time because of desk settings recall. 3. More flexible for different types of show. 4. Quicker to configure than patching cables around. Weaknesses? 1. Currently the entry level cost is high, no low-end product yet. 2. Potential learning curve for using them. Pretty well all engineers could use an analogue desk within minutes, there is a ‘standard’ user interface’. That’s why we put so much effort into making great user interfaces. 3.6 Is there any real noticeable difference in sound quality between digital and analogue systems? 3.6.01 Paul Myers In truth, Digidesign are just so very good sounding desks, but it's just still not as good as an analogue desk It's almost the same argument that you'll have with vinyl and CD. People who are into vinyl will say vinyl will always sound better than CD, people who are into CDs will always say CDs are better than vinyl but at the end of the day they both have their different qualities If you drive a Heritage 3000 quite hard, it still sounds fantastic even if you drive it too hard. 3.6.02 Ben Adcock I tend to find analogue desks sound a lot better than the digital ones. The cheaper desks like the Mackies, the quality of the D/A converters isn't as good as something like the Soundcraft's 147/158

A lot of the digital desks now… they sound really really good 3.6.03 Andy Reynolds I think theres a perception that because it's digital its gonna sound strange. I never feel like I've got enough gain to make the preamps really work, whereas on an analogue board I can just crank those gains up and really get them working. with better sampling rates, keeping everything in the digital domain till the last moment, there is a perception that audio quality is an advantage as well 3.6.04 Timm Cleasby Analogue desks sound better as there is no conversion process, the AD/DA converters are getting better but Analogue boards sound better (Saying that most folk can't tell the difference between the 2) 3.6.05 Robert Caprio To my ear the Yamaha consoles have a "gritty" and somewhat displeasing tone. The Midas XL8 and smaller Pro6 are great desks that sound fantastic but I found the layout to be a bit off-putting and nonintuitive. 3.6.06 Bennett Prescott In low end digital I don't think the tradeoff is worth it, since most of them sound like junk I cannot quantify why most low and even some mid end digital desks sound bad compared to good digital or analogue.

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3.6.07 John Gale DiGiCo is much quicker to route and setup than a Yamaha PM5D. It also sounds better 3.6.08 Dan Bennett If you speak to anyone about audio quality people will still say that analogue desks still sound better the XL8 is their horrendous disaster of trying to make digital sound analogue. They threw millions and millions at that desk and all they're trying to do is make it sound like an XL4. An XL4 or XL3 are probably two of the most loved most craved hand made hand soldered desks that have ever been made…its not like for your 350 grand or whatever you have to pay for it is, quarter of a million pounds, for an XL8, it doesn't sound any better than an XL4… They're trying to recreate that magic and its just turned out to be very very expensive… Wheras the Digidesign and the Yamaha are based on functionality and "gimmicks" of doing these plugins thing and they're a hundred times more popular than the Pro6 and the XL8 because they're like "you know what, maybe our audio qualities enough to keep people happy, we know its not perfect but its enough" 3.6.10 Rob Hughes Midas digital systems are without question the best sounding live consoles available The quality of our pre-amps are renowned, and we had to make sure we kept the sonic quality with the digital systems some people actually think they sound better when being over driven, so we made sure that there was more double the headroom in the converters than in the mic amps, so we can convert the overdriven signal. Also, problems which have plagued digital system is latency. With analogue, the latency involved is so small it can be treated as zero... 149/158

With digital, everything takes time to do... latency within a mix can cause comb filtering and incoherent audio. Midas digital systems are the first to fully compensate to maintain phase coherency to within half a sample. This means that the system will compensate for all internal processing, all internal routing options, and also 3 stages of analogue insert paths. 3.6.11 Tim Shaxson We have always used floating point processing on the mix buss (which has the benefit, when compared to fixed point processing, of a huge amount of headroom resulting in clean, transparent non-compressed audio when handling multiple inputs) we’ve always insisted on remote stage racks. The shorter the analogue cable run from microphone to preamp, the better and remote stage racks allow this. The other benefit is a digital multicore (we support MADI and Optocore) which minimises signal loss and noise interference when compared with analogue multi’s. With the recent launch of the SD-Series consoles, we have moved away from the more traditional DSP method of audio processing an have used instead, FPGA processing... the timing issues associated with dealing with multiple DSP chips are no longer there with the result that the SD-series consoles sound even better We offer the same sonic signature, regardless of whether you’re using the £11k SD9 or the £91k SD7. All SD-series consoles share the same Stealth-based audio processing and the same mic preamps. What would you say the main strengths of your desks are? Sound quality, sound quality and sound quality! 3.6.12 David Neal our users tell us it’s the best sounding digital console they’ve used.

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3.7 What is your favourite digital desk and why? 3.7.01 Andy Reynolds I'm biased because I've been on the Midas training course, haven't been on any other training course. I find the workflow on the Midas exceptional, the setting up and the operation. 3.7.02 Timm Cleasby Which did you prefer and why? DIGIDESIGN, I FIND IT EASY TO USE AND THEY SOUND GOOD AND SOUNDCRAFT AS THET SOUNDED GREAT I use pro-tools regularly and I know how they work... the others are easy too... it's just what I have got used to. 3.7.03 Robert Caprio Digidesign really thought their desks through and put in an excellent feature set. The layout, functionality and ease of use is what sold me on the Digidesign desks. They work the way I think and I felt comfortable using them immediately. Add to that the fact that they sound good and you've got yourself a great desk. My favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series (mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals. My least favourite is the Yamaha M7CL, mainly due to the touch screen interface. I like the idea of a touch screen though I feel their implementation of it on that desk is poorly executed. I also found that the Soundcraft Vi6 console seemed at first to be easy to get around on but it seemed that the longer I used it the harder it became to get around quickly on it. Very strange.

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3.7.04 Bennett Prescott The best digital console I have ever been on is the Soundcraft Vi6. The reason is pretty simple: I can see everything I need to know about almost every channel at the same time, and I can do more than one thing at a time. I can be equalizing my guitar channel while another engineer mixes and equalizes the vocal channels. I can be line checking the next act while the headliner is still on, even though the next act is on another layer. 3.7.05 Dan Bennett Most tours now are digital desks, the most popular being Digidesign 3.7.06 David Neal We believe we stand apart on three things – sound quality, user interface and integral FX and EQ from Lexicon and BSS Audio. 3.8 How long does a digital desk take to learn? 3.8.01 Paul Myers The first digital desk I used was a PM5D… I can remember using it for the first time and thinking "what the hell is this? There's nothing in the right place." It took a little time, I'd have to say it took me about a year of using them on and off over that year. You start really using it, you start enjoying it. I'm kind of from the generation of computers and computer games so I'm used to pushing buttons and going through menus to get things to work. I think a lot of older engineers struggle with that. 3.8.02 Andy Reynolds I can remember the first time and it wasn't easy to use I don't think I've ever learned because I don't own a digital desk, I've 152/158

not toured with a digital desk for any length of time that was meaningful. I totally understand the process but I'm not familiar at all 3.8.03 Ben Adcock it took me about half an hour to get the basic operations… I would say probably a couple of weeks to figure it out completely. 3.8.04 Timm Cleasby How long did it take to learn the interface? 10 MINUTES TO LEARN THE BASICS TO MIX A SHOW BUT I'M STILL LEARNING NOW ON ALL THE THINGS DIGITAL BOARDS CAN DO 3.8.05 Robert Caprio My favourite digital desk by far is the Digidesign (Avid) Venue series (mainly the Profile) and I found them to be very easy to use the first time. Within 10 minutes of being in front of a Profile I felt quite at home on it and was able to easily and quickly accomplish my goals. I took to digital consoles quickly and found that after one show (figure 2-3 hours worth of "hands on " time comprised of a soundcheck and show) I felt quite comfortable with the interfaces and was getting around confidently. The main factors making these consoles more or less intuitive is all about the interface and layout. For me, the Avid desks are the most logically laid out, with all important functions within quick reach. They don't have a lot of deep menus to scroll through and they have a very simplified structure. 3.8.06 Bennett Prescott The learning curve varies by console. Some of them I felt comfortable on in 5 minutes, some I still don't feel comfortable on. Of course there's a big difference between being able to mix and actually 153/158

understanding the advanced capabilities on the board. Many desks are not difficult to push fader and perform basic mixing tasks on, but one menu down you could easily recall a different scene or repatch your outputs somewhere else and then be unable to recover. I think the biggest issue is that, no matter how long it took to learn the first time, if you've been away from it for a few months you've got to learn the desk all over again... not an issue with analogue desks, since everything is by nature a lot more standardized and obvious. 3.8.07 Tim Shaxson All our consoles have a similar work flow and with the SD-series in particular, all three consoles in the range have exactly the same operating system. Once you’ve learnt how to use one, you’ve learnt how to use all three. 3.9 How important is a reduction in footprint? 3.9.01 Paul Myers With analogue you have all the extras. You have a console, you have power supply, you have graphics left and right for the PA, you'll have compressors, you'll have gates, you have effects returns, all of which take up space and quite a lot of space as well may I add. So again for a festival, where again your analogue desk is just in one place for four or five days, you don't have to move around and thats quite good. I'm using a desk, my in ear monitors rack and thats it it really does depend on the application that you're putting the console into. 3.9.02 Timm Cleasby What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system?… SMALL FOOT PRINT AND LIGHT WEIGHT

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3.9.03 Ben Adcock there is a certain advantage to using a digital desk, particularly if you're trying to keep weight down. 3.9.04 Robert Caprio The biggest obvious difference between digital and analogue consoles is that for the most part you don't need any outboard gear with digital desks. That alone is significant since that cuts down on how much gear you need to carry on a tour. More free truck space, quicker load in/out...etc. One of the main advantages of the digital systems is smaller footprint, meaning your rig takes up less space in the venue. This is mainly due to the fact that you don't need additional racks of outboard gear for signal processing and FX. Speaking of processing and FX, having a digital rig often means you have access to far more options than an analogue rig, which limits you to how much you can physically carry or pack in a truck. When you're pushing cases it's always preferable to down size and get things compact. 3.9.05 Bennett Prescott If I can only take up 6' of space, then I'm probably going to have to go digital. It's hard to save the space, too... either way I'm going to need at least one additional rack at FOH, and it doesn't really matter if it's filled with the brains for the desk and power supplies and a UPS or with 18U of dynamics and effects. 3.9.06 Dan Bennett: the profile is probably about 400 KG for the local rack the stage rack, the multicore and surface, whereas an XL4… you'll be looking at about 750 KG. And if you wanted to tour that, you're going to have to trawl 750KG around the world 155/158

People usually take the cheaper of the options over audio quality 3.10 To what extent are other digital exclusive features useful? 3.10.01 Paul Myers The huge bonus in digital more than anything else is that if you go somewhere and you're not carrying your own console, and it's going to be provided by a local production, you can say for example spec that you need a PM5D… you turn up, with your card, plug your card in and you're set up and ready to go. 3.10.02 Timm Cleasby What would you say are the main advantages of a digital system?… FULL RECORDING INTEGRATION (WITH THE DIGIDESIGN I CAN PLUG MY HD3 SYSTEM IN AND RECORD UPTO 64 INPUTS. 3.10.03 Robert Caprio Another HUGE advantage with the Avid rigs is Virtual Soundcheck. This allows you to record the band directly from a Venue console to Pro Tools and then play it back through the desk, as if the band were playing it live. As a long time Pro Tools user I was very excited about being able to do that and when I first used it and found that it works very well I was hooked. VS allows me to play back the previous (or any) show's content in the new venue and adjust accordingly. If the band is running late and has no time to soundcheck that no longer worries me since I know I can have my mix dialed in pretty close. This applies to monitor mixing as well, which do quite a bit of. 3.10.04 Dan Bennett the thing that people love about digidesign is that you can take your pro tools plugins and us it in the live domain. Another advantage you have in digital is you don't have to do a fresh 156/158

mix from scratch because you can have your show on a USB key 3.11 How much contact do manufacturers have during the design process? 3.11.01 Paul Myers It's very well designed. In fact it's been designed by people who actually do live sound. Yamaha's designed by boffins, in Japan somewhere who don't go out and do live gigs. They probably ask people who ask people who go out and do live gigs. But you can tell, even when you read the instruction manual. 3.11.02 Rob Hughes When designing our systems, we had extensive input from mix engineers, and we continue to talk to our customer base to aid design of future systems, as well as adapting software for current systems to add features requested by customers, as well as changing some aspects of the software that may need refining. 3.11.03 Tim Shaxson Feedback from engineers, whether they be FOH, Monitor or Theatre engineers, is vital when designing a new product. When we introduced the D5 in 2002, it quickly became apparent that the work surface itself was just about perfect. The multi-operability, the multiple screens, the size were all factors that meant the console was quickly picked up by some of the major tours/theatres of their day. Even now, 8 yrs later, the D5 is still being used on many world tours. Our current flagship is very familiar to those who have used the D-Series consoles in the past, we’ve simply adapted the worksurface to incorporate some the new technologys that have occurred since 2002 However, being a digital console and therefore being dependent on software, it meant that we have been able to refine and develop the 157/158

software continuously over the years, adding features requested by engineers. For instance, when we released the SD8 in Autumn 2008, we gained feedback over the first 6 months that the snapshot capability needed enhancing particularly with respect to the theatre market. Also, monitor engineers were requesting more internal graphic eq’s. These were both features that we included when we introduced the Overdrive software upgrade last Oct. We keep a master suggestions list which is constantly being updated, where feature requests from engineers are kept and depending on how often a feature is requested, we then take a view on whether said request should be incorporated in a future release. 3.11.04 David Neal As much as we could. It’s vital that engineers tell us how they need a console to work, and we worked very closely with a number of engineers, and still do.

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