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Bad time to buy an LS9-32?


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I'm hoping this doesn't turn into another "what digital desk should I buy?" thread. I've got some quite specific concerns and questions.


I need to purchase a digital console. I've filled my analogue console twice over, and need the extra outboard that a digital console offers. Hiring isn't really an option as I'd like to be able to use it on smaller low budget and volountary work (church, etc.) inbetween paid work (of which I've got enough to justify the purchase).


I've been working towards an LS9-32 and now have the money to make the purchase. The problem now is that I'm having doubts on if it's the right console for me. I have some quite specific criteria which it largely fulfils that not many other consoles in a similar price bracket do. These are;


High fader count (24 or more) - mixing sometimes unrehearsed and certainly unprogrammed regional theatre

Able to be moved by 1 person - less of an issue for the venue end, but in the workshop I need to be able to move it on my own (though could be by a trolley)

Mustn't eat space at Front Of House - lots of small theatres

Preferably with digital multicore - I have an analogue one, but my back doesn't like it!

iPad remote control - System setup in theatres, mixing in smaller cafe/bar gigs with the desk tucked safely out of the way

48 channels minimum


As you can see, the LS9 ticks a lot of my boxes. I think in time I'd look to equip it with an ethersound snake in one slot (or maybe a dante card and one of the new CL series stage boxes) and the other slot would have a Dante card for recording and sound effect playback from the PC.


The LS9 is an old console (in the world of digital desks). It's been around for a long while and I think things have probably come on a bit since it was launched. There have certainly been lessons learnt in terms of user interface design. With the advent of the CL range I wonder how long Yamaha will be producing the LS9 for (I still think it's a matter of years not months, but still).

It isn't the best sounding console out there. I can argue against that and say that I've never walked into a venue and gone "oh dear, sounds like an LS9" but I'm aware of its' limitations and particularly the -14dB "thump".

Once you start adding a digital snake to it, it's actually quite an expensive console.

If I'm completely honest, there's also a sense that, as I'm buying a desk for myself, I want it to be something really good! It's childish and immature, but I've heard a few too many people say they're "just" using an LS9.


The Behringer X32 isn't an option. Not enough faders and I've set my sights a bit higher than that. I also would like more than 32 channels available.


That leaves me with the choice of waiting and continuing saving to jump up a price bracket, which opens a load more options.


In something like the same price bracket there's the Roland M480, which I've had on demo and really liked using. It's only just got enough faders, especially as they've got to double as DCA's (though at least it's got DCA's unlike the Yamaha) but with 3 user defined layers I can just about work around it. I also quite liked the user interface. It's not that rider friendly, but it doesn't need to be.

Slight concern is that there just aren't that many out there compared to LS9's, and whilst I've no doubt in the console's reliability, they're not going to be as easy to get hold of if I need a spare in an emergency. Lots of nice options for the snake and personal monitoring though and it's more compact (width wise anyway) than the LS9. No option for Dante though they've got their own options (expensive hardware solution, or license for Sonar - which I don't use!).


There's the M7CL, but it's really getting a bit silly size-wise, especially for a 48 channel console. Very happy using one though and I like the surface.


The ilive T112 is maybe an option. I've demo'd the console and liked it. 5 minute boot up time for the mix rack was a little concerning, but otherwise it was fine. Similar problems to the M7 - getting a bit big really! I like that the snake isn't carrying audio (well, much audio) and that you need only the mixrack if you're doing a small gig. I also like the option for Dante cards. Nice user interface (I think) and all round a pretty decent option. I've possibly got one of these available second hand in the near future, though no guarantees yet.


The Digico SD9 is another good option. Nice sound quality, compact stage boxes, big touch screen. Drawbacks for me - I find the surface hard to navigate in the dark due to the low contrast legend and stylised writing. It's also only just got enough faders available again. No Dante option, though it can do Madi. There are some good deals on the new "rack pack" with case and 2 stageboxes at the minute.


The newer Yamaha consoles are either out of my price range or don't have enough faders.


So, what do people think to the LS9 now, especially with all that's happening with the X32? Is it a bad idea to buy one? It does most of what I want, so part of me just says "go for it, who cares?" but part of me also really wants to think ahead a bit and stay with the times. I can afford it now and then add accessories later, whereas the others will need some additional saving, but come with the snake already.


The Roland or a used iLive system are the next 2 most realistic options I think. The Roland is far cheaper if I go for the 2 stageboxes, rather than the rack version. I'll just have to work around the shortage of faders or come up with something clever with a midi controller.


I'm in the fortunate position of having no ties or preferences. I've had my hands on all the above consoles apart from the Digico. Are there any you'd consider that I've missed? SC48 is getting a bit out of my budget.


There are used LS9's out there, but to be honsest their prices aren't that much cheaper than new ones (probably a good sign that they're holding their value - though the ones I've been looking at have been for sale for a while, so they're also maybe not selling) and I've got a good working relationship with my local suppliers who are an international firm and will give me some excellent support in the future, so I'd much rather be with them than a desk from ebay, even if I do save a little bit of cash.


It's a tricky one! Share your thoughts!



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Edited for muppet mis-reading.


Having played around with the SD9 a bit, and used a couple on the firing line now, once you get past the small fonts etc. I found it a very nice console to use, but yes it took some getting used to.


I've also played around with the Roland desks, and liked them, but haven't had a chance to use them on the firing line, so not sure how well they perform there. The only drawback with the Rolands was that on the smaller format desk, you ran out of memory for effects very fast, so you could only have one delay and one reverb from the built in engine.

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I've spent a lot of time with the ls9 and like it,however after getting a go on the midas pro2c my loyality is slowly changing,ok its double the price of the ls9,but the tour pack comes with flight case and digital multi system,dont be put of the lack of faders,the pop groups make it very quick to jump around and the extend button gives you 16 faders to play with.if you can get away with 24 anolouge inputs maybe give the pro1 a try,not much diffrence in price between it and an LS9-32
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I did take a (brief) look at the Pro1. Sadly though I really need access to all 24 of those faders at once. I had to think carefully to make my last show fit on the M480 with its' 24 faders, and that wasn't a particularly complicated show. I only just about managed so 24 really is the limit. I tried pop groups but when your radio mic group is more inputs than the number of faders on the desk, life really does get difficult. I can go from all 24 radio mics up, to all except 3 down. Doing that with the time I have pre-show often means just reaching for every fader and dragging it down. No perks of pre-programming at my end of the business I'm afraid.


I could fill 24 analogue inputs just with radio mics before we even start thinking about stage mics or the band I'm afraid.

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As you mention the ls9 has been around for a while. But if nothing else that is definatly an indication of the fact that generally they just work and carry on working. Every man and his dog has came across them, and as I expect you have found while looking to purchase one - they hold a decent amount of money.

Id buy one if I was in your boat.

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This is the argument I keep coming back to. The LS9 ticks a lot of boxes, I know it reasonably well, I only know of one person who's ever crashed one, and pretty much every hire company around here own one. It's also a great sized little desk that packs a lot of punch.


One thing I've been trying to find out for ages now, and I'm sure I've seen it on a forum somewhere. Do the external preamps on the ethersound stage boxes sound any nicer? Do they suffer from the same -14dB "thump"? If not then the answer is simple - I put my radio mics on the desk inputs (they sit nicely well above the noisy section of the gain) and I put my pit and stage mics which are likely to have far more variable gain, on the stagebox (or even the Dante stagebox from the CL range, which I'm hoping should sound pretty nice).


I can convince myself it's the right thing to do, and then just before I commit, something else comes along and changes my mind. Most recently my little brother (a trombonist) has been touring with a folk group. I asked what kit they were using so he went off to find out. Apparently their engineer said "just another *%~#£$ LS9". That stuck in my mind for a bit!


I was talking to my dad the other day about it. As somebody who's never been near a mixing desk he asked me to describe it in car terms. I described the LS9 as a Mondeo or Ford Focus - Been around for ages, you know what you're getting, it's not going to set the world on fire but it'll probably keep going forever. The Behringer X32 was the Skoda (possibly - we'll see!). You get the idea! It's a method I actually use for lots of purchases now. Sometimes find it useful to focus the mind a little bit! My current desk is a Landrover. Rough, battered and well used, but you can't help but love it.

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Do the external preamps on the ethersound stage boxes sound any nicer? Do they suffer from the same -14dB "thump"?


I believe the preamps are the same.


Despite having seen occasional references to noise when passing through 14dB gain, I've never experienced any problems there. There's a tiny acoustic click of the internal relay but I've never heard even the slightest noise from the speakers. I'm told problems can occur when using unbalanced sources but even on the rare occasion I've needed to do so, still no issue. How does one recreate this problem?

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The Digico SD9 is another good option. Nice sound quality, compact stage boxes, big touch screen. Drawbacks for me - I find the surface hard to navigate in the dark due to the low contrast legend and stylised writing. It's also only just got enough faders available again. No Dante option, though it can do Madi. There are some good deals on the new "rack pack" with case and 2 stageboxes at the minute.

Dante is an option, unfortunately you would have to have a much more expensive rack to accommodate the card. There are some very simple MADI recording options available to record straight onto a laptop though.

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The iLive is very nice, do you need the T112 or can you get away with a T80? There' a T112 and IDR48 for sale in the Southwest at the moment. They're good desks and easy to use. I don't like the LS9 (or M7) and couldn't get on with the Roland desks either.


I'd not discount the X32 myself, as you say, it appears to be the Skoda of the desk world.


Look at the GLD if you think you can get away with 20 faders. What hippy says about the Pro2C is a very valid point. I've run 44 input festivals on them, no advance riders and can get away with just 8 faders, never even having to hit extend. Assigning stuff to pops and VCAs is so easy, you could do it on the fly during a show and get away with it.



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LS9 -32 does tick all the boxes. However your right once you add the costs of SB168 and the cards it does become quite expensive. However the only other option I would consider is the new CL3. Its got the fader count, its not very big and the fact its all Dante based means you can record outputs and use stage boxes without buying anymore cards. The only issue is the price of a CL3 which is quite a bit more than a LS9-32 and stageboxes !


I would save some more and go with a CL3 if your unsure. You don't want to get the LS9-32 ( although a good digital console) and then have a nagging feeling over whether you made the right decision.



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As per Josh Ilive and T80, you loose 5knobs for compressor and limiter and control them by one knob and screen presses and some faders but get the same functionality in a smaller footprint. Currently own T80 and idr48. Its alos far more flexible in its set up than LS9 and sounds better to my ears
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I'll have to have a look into MADI as it's not a protocal I've used before. Dante's more appealing for playback than recording for me (though I'll use both) as the virtual sound card presents its' outputs as ASIO, meaning they'll work with my playback and sound effects software. 16 outputs from the PC sounds quite appealing! I guess the same is possible with MADI, but I've not done quite the same depth of research into it as I have with Dante.

On the subject of Dante it's worth noting that the LS9 Dante cards are only 16 channels each way, whereas the iLive one is considerably more (64). Big difference between bus recording and individual channel recording available.


The CL3 is tempting, but once you add a decent sized stagebox it really does leave my budget in the dust somewhat, even with some decent deals from my suppliers. Don't think the DM2000's quite what I'm after either I'm afraid. Thanks for the offer though!


Here's the crux of it, I've never actually had an audio quality issue with the LS9 myself. Yes it can get a bit hissy and the noise floor is poor as you approach -13dB, but the answer is to stick it at -14 and pull the fader back a touch. I think the "thud" I've heard while stepping through gains is actually the reduction in the noise floor. I've heard an audible artefact when this has happened, but I guess it depends what you've got plugged in to the channel.

A lot is currently riding on what price I can negotiate (if it comes available) for thei iLive system. I also need to run some proper pricing for the Roland system as I've only been quoted the more expensive stage rack version at the minute.


Sorry it's turned into another "what digital desk?" thread. I did at least try and phrase the question slightly differently! :-)



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I'm not sure that the ls9 actually comes particularly close to your spec. It doesn't have 48 channels out of the box and by adding the stage box to it you're likely to end up with 32 preamps which are adding weight and not really regularly used. In short the spec seems to be inferring a second gen digital desk and the ls9 concept is still very much in the analog replacement mould.


In terms of solutions, I don't think the iLive is the best thing since sliced bread, however I reckon it could be a real winner for you. The main reason, is that I believe you can use the inexpensive pl controllers to act as an extra fader wing to fit your requirements. Also, of course the iPad app itself is a great way of accessing the faders. As an aside am I the only one who finds switching between layers on a 16 fader desk at quicker than the run from channel 1-48 on a Midas Xl 3?



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