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Digi mixer thoughts.


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Well, got a capital spend budget approved this evening for a few things to invest in over the summer dark period, one of which is a replacement mixer for the AH GL3300.


So options on the board range from a Midas M32 (which I understand is a similar beast to the Behringer X32), A & H GLD or the Digico SD11.


Just had another thrown in to the mix - Roland M480...


Each with stage box on Cat5/6 network down to stage as needed.


We need to expand from the 32 channels that the GL currently gives us, so at least 40 would be ideal, 48 is practical, though we don't need full capacity to be presented on stage. 24 minimum on the stage box, preferred 32 if feasible.


Remote iPad software and/or PC for local pickup/manipulation is a big bonus.


Budget at the moment is around the £8k mark and I believe all four of these so far come within that, two of them significantly below.


Question is, can I get some real-world hands-on feedback on these three to start with, and would there be any others on the current market that might be worth considering.


I will be looking to audition the desks if possible, preferably on site, depending on what the usual suspects can sort from suppliers.



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can you clarify purpose - it may help focus thoughts - and also how essential 40 channels with full facilities are - the m32 as I understand it will be more or less the same as the x32 but with better build construction, and a different badge - but that means it's limited to 32 full capability channels and 6 aux channels with reduced capability i.e. not the 40 you are asking for.
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We went from a GL3300 to an X32 and are enjoying the change. We only find we are channel limited twice a year so not exactly the same situation as you. Given the recall ability of routing we found we could fit different set ups into the 32 without physical repatching. On the GL we had channels that were dormant most of the year but were none the less occupied.

Also remember that the inbuilt effects returns and 2track recorder are in addition to the 32 inputs and 6 aux inputs. Not needing to set aside channels for effects (unless you want extra dynamics on fx returns) made a difference for us.


The GL sits in another (smaller) venue now but I wonder for how long given the price cuts to the x32 compact and producer.

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It is already summer and you might want a longer timescale than the summer dark period before making your choice. These days there is no excuse to make a digital mixer which doesn't sound good so what you are choosing is the control interface. The only way to make that choice is with your hands on maybe using the experience of others to eliminate some contenders early in the decision making process. I would attend any manufacturers training days available and hire or borrow if you are lucky potential purchases before choosing.
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Real world hands on experience on the M32 isn't something you're likely to find from anyone for the time being...


We've actually got our first batch of M32 units landing at SFL next week, all are welcome to pop in and have a play in our demo zone. We'll also have one available for hire very shortly.


Drop me an email at patrick.smith@sflgroup.co.uk if you want to swing by.

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can you clarify purpose - it may help focus thoughts -

Ooops! Indeed - my apologies. That was intended for the original post but got missed.


We are a small but very busy volunteer run venue. Shows/events range from dance shows that just require a stereo input for music tracks, with maybe a mic or three depending if they have announcements/possibly one of the twirlies singing for a bit of variety up to larger scale musicals. eg, the main panto often uses 14 radio mics, 3 floats, 2 audience pickups, couple of fixed mics, and maybe a dozen mics for the small band. Sound of Music earlier this year had a 14 piece band plus all the obvious radio mic requirements for the large cast. We have a varied experience base so I need it to be simple enough (and not too scary to look at!) for the newbies to sit down at and after a brief familiarisation session be able to drive the dance shows etc, for those with a little more background (like me) to do something a bit more complex, yet be able to cope with the handful of sound-centric regulars who can do the full shebang.


As I've said before noise isn't my primary bag, but I'm the one with the control over what we buy, so I need to understand more of what we're looking at before I accept. I'm therefore looking for that understanding here and elsewhere :)


It is already summer and you might want a longer timescale than the summer dark period before making your choice.

To be honest, looking at what we have coming in at the start of the season we could likely last until the mid/end of October :)
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I've owned and used a Roland M480 for a couple of years now - mainly doing musical theatre work with the occasional band. I also own quite a wide selection of stage boxes including 2 of the S-1608's and 2 of the S-0808's with the S-4000M merge box to power them.


As with any desk, I've seen pro's and con's, so I'll try to be as honest as I can. It's worth saying from the start though that I really do like the desk, it's packed full of features, and I think it's sadly really quite under rated.


The console is actually more than a 48 channel desk - 48 does not include the stereo returns which are available both for the internal FX engines, and external FX engines via the desk's local I/O. It's well built in a chunky folded steel chassis and all the hardware feels robust. Some people have commented that the desk looks a bit "my first mixing desk" - lots of coloured buttons and the user interface has a slightly less utilitarian look to the likes of Yamaha consoles. The important thing is that everything falls to hand and is easy to find in the dark. I really don't miss the fact that it's not a touch screen - everything important is on top, with only a few clicks needed to get where you need to be for the less common stuff. Copy and paste functions are good and you'll find throughout the console that Roland employ a "tick in the box" method for things like that - you select copy and then decide via tick boxes what attributes you want to paste in to the next channel you select. Granted that's not quite as easy as some other manufacturers whose desks allow you to copy a certain set of the channel attributes just by hitting a select key in that section. The Roland more than makes up for this by allowing you to past to multiple destination channels at the same time via tick box.


Patching is straightforward and is done in a matrix of tick boxes. This allows a channel to be routed to multiple destinations easily. It's worth noting the range of options you've got available in the patchbay - direct outs, channel outs, as well as individual pre amps - even if they're not mapped to a channel. The upshot of this is that you can map an input from a stage box on one side of the stage, to an output on the other side, without using up a channel strip. You can control the pre amp gain of each input even if it isn't mapped to a channel strip.


Other cool things - the scene memory is very powerful. It's a little clunky to get used to, and sadly the full features of it aren't present in the offline editor software, but for instance each scene has its' own individual recall scope, rather than a global scope set for the whole desk (though it has that as well). Takes a bit of getting used to, but it's actually pretty straightforward.


The console also has a whopping 16 DCA's, which are very useful. Other nice features include freely assignable key-in sources for your compressors (consoles like iLive limit this to only the immediate block of 8 channels that the source channel is in).

The Snake setup is also very good. 40 channels per cat5 in each direction. The protocol seems very robust. I've run it across a few buildings' own infrastructure, with random patch leads at each end - never had a problem with stability. The manual states that the cat5 cables need to be crossovers, which is a little odd for a digital desk. In truth if you're using the desk with a simple stage box per port then it auto switches to work on either.


Not sure if you'll need them, but their M48 personal monitor mixers are really great. Very easy to use and with some nice features like an engineer being able to take control of any musician's M48 with their own unit, to help the musician out if needed.


Sound quality is excellent. When changing gain on the S-1608's there's a faint click as an attenuator changes, but it's definitely not in the same league as the LS9 attenuator change! If it's a fixed install then I'm told the rackmount stage box has some absolutely stunning pre amps in it, though I've no complaints with the smaller ones.

The baby stage boxes are power over Ethernet from the merge box (which is also very clever!) so they're great for dropping in to a drum riser. One cat5 and you're done. The merge box is freely configurable from the console (or a laptop) so you can send any input down any multicore channel, then patch it to any channel strip - very flexible if you're feeling clever! This is really helpful if you have lots of stage boxes on the merge box. For instance if I use a 16 input box but only use 12 of the channels, I can start sending audio up the multicore from the next stage box along on channel 13 - no need to waste those 40 multicore channels if you've got empty inputs.

The console size (24 faders) is becoming less and less of a problem to me as I get used to it. 3 user defined layers give plenty of flexibility for workarounds, and the latest software update has made DCA fader control available via midi. This means I can have an 8 fader wing (Behringer) for my DCA's (which after all don't need select keys or solo buttons or any of the other niceties of the faders on the surface) and whatever else I need, while keeping the desk faders clear for "real" channels.




It wouldn't be a balanced review without a couple of con's I've picked up. They really are small ones, but are worth mentioning;

Turn off the fader touch select, and turn down the sensitivity (even though it's off). This function isn't something I like anyway, but it can cause the faders to "grab" just occasionally when mixing with several fingers.

The user defined keys don't have as many available functions as say an LS9 or M7CL. There are still plenty of options on there, but things like "dim console lamps" you won't find.

Scene memory is just a little slow. There's a slight delay between hitting recall and the desk actually responding - nothing too terrible and I've grown used to it.


I think the turning point for me deciding to buy it was when I found a forum post by Gareth Owen saying something along the lines of "I used one once and was ready to hate it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I didn't".

I know I'm a way away, but if ever you found yourself up in Leeds and wanted to have a play, just drop me a line. Likewise if you've got any questions then give me a shout.






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I'm not sure if it's shipping yet, but I'd take a look at the the Allen & Heath QU32 - 32 mic/line ins, 3 stereo ins, plus 4 FX returns (so the equivalent of 46 channels of analogue) and 28 outputs.


Absolutely beautiful desk to use (I've used the QU24 very happily), amazing feature set for the price (including integrated 18-track multitrack recording) - and may give you a bit more dosh for other goodies (if that's allowed), as I suspect it may be the cheapest of all the ones you've listed.

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I've used the GLD and its very nice but I just can't get away from the fact that the X32 is ⅓ the price with a very similar feature set. Likewise the Qu, had a play with the Qu16 in a shop for an hour, nice but far too many limitations when I can buy an X32 Producer for ⅔ with twice the I/O and features. Interested to hear what price the Midas, $4999 in the US so maybe a bit less than £5000 when it gets over here.
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How much automation/cue stacking/scene recall do you want to do?


I suspect there will be a fair bit... The X32 wipes the floor in that respect, Plymouth Royal have had the X32 before over LS9 etc due to that.


I really rate the X/M32 and couldn't see much need for anything else in the small upto and inc GLD112 size desk market unless more inputs are required.



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Out of the options you've mentioned, I really rate the M480. I haven't done anything complicated with it and it's been a while since I used one but my experience was positive. Biggest gig was 32 channels of orchestra, but mostly doing small outdoor corporate gigs. The interface is good, there's plenty of faders and it was reliable. I don't really rate the stagebox system we used (2 of the 1608 channel boxes straight into the desk) due to the form factor, but I've just checked the website and there's a few more options now.
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