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Allen and Heath SQ-5 VS QU-16 Mixers (Digital)
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Allen and Heath SQ-5 VS QU-16

The SQ-5 is Priced at $4600 (aud) SQ-5 - Allen & Heath
The QU-16 is priced at $2200 (aud) Qu-16 - Rackmountable Digital Mixer for Live, Studio and Installation

1. what one would you get?
2. for what scenarios?
3. and why?

4. my scenario is I'm starting my own PA company mostly aimed at corporate events and a few band events like weddings and hopefully some larger gigs further down the track. i don't have a lot of money to spend but i want gear that's appealing for others to cross hire with me. what one would you get in this situation?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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snoskit's Avatar
Fundamental difference between the two for me is the sample rate

48K for the Qu series
96K for the SQ series

IMHO
48K is ok for live sound scenarios
96K is ok for recording scenarios

Wider range of potential customers for the SQ series in simple terms
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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At corporate events I prefer desks with groups and matrices (groups for different mic groups like headsets, lavalier, lectern mics,... and matrices for delays, frontfills,...)

The QU16 does not have any of that. The SQ does.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

QU16 is limited to mixing 22 inputs whereas, with additional stageboxes, SQ5 will mix up to 48 inputs.
QU is fixed layout, SQ supports multiple custom layouts
QU has no LCD scribble strips - SQ does.

For the kind of use you're describing, the SQ would serve you much better in every respect - except price. The QU would run out of steam (channel count) at the larger gigs you aspire to, whereas the SQ's 48 channel capability is unlikely to be outrun by requirements.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
As an X32 user, my next console looks to be an SQ (unless Music Group comes up with a competitor), Essentially you get a 96K console for the same price you paid for the 48K console you're replacing. The SQ series offers a whole bunch of features that the Qu doesn't. And the feedback I see from the SQ user forums is that the console sounds very good and A&H are rapidly improving features and functionality.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
S21
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Which city/market?
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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It is important to factor in a few relevant factors;
1. The pres, conversion and USB 2 recording appear to be identical to the QU line.
2. The additional cash investment for 96k sampling and the FPGA processing may or may not be needed or evident given the overall nature of your gigs and the relevant performance capabilities of the balance of your gear.
3. Most folks that are working with the QU line have found the Wi-FI I-Pad/Airport controls much more intuitive and functional than the knobs and faders we all grew up with back in the old analog days.
The QUsb, that is my quick rig, has 16 inputs and a 32 channel core that interfaces with the same stage boxes as the SQ5. I frequently will choose to set up my KV2 EX10 wedges on poles with the the QUsb and one Tube mic for my small venue one man solo gigs. It all fits well in the trunk of my Toyota Camry: that will not accommodate my Digigrid/Waves LV1 system that is optimized for 96K performance.
The single most important advice I can give you is do not eliminate the range of alternative options you have based on anything other hands on experimentation. When you experience the sweet spot fit you will know it and buy with confidence!
Hugh
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
FWIW not sure I like the paint color choices for the SQ series of mixers. Makes them look like toys or the control console for the star ship Enterprise or the Millennium Falcon. I love A&H gear just not their new layouts and color choices.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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anadelman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
It is important to factor in a few relevant factors;
1. The pres, conversion and USB 2 recording appear to be identical to the QU line.
According to A&H, the pres are NOT the same. They are somewhere between the GLD (which are better than the QU's) and the dLive pres.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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I scanned the long detailed realease Info for the SQ and due to the fact there was no explicit info pertaining to the pres or conversion and the expansion stage boxes appear to be identical to the QU's we are left to assume they are QU pres and conversion. The pres and conversion in my QUsb work well enough within the overall design and produce a very usable sonic delivery however they are not optimized to maximize 96K performance. For most of us precise info pertaining to the front end capture before conversion is a pretty important deal: if A & H has new pres optimized for the SQ I find it very strange indeed they are keeping it a secret. Perhaps anadelman will encourage his A & H source for his info to post it here so we can all be brought up to date.
One of the primary reasons I invested in a complete Digigrid/WavesLV1 system two years ago was the quirky USB 2 multi-track recording protocol A&H deploys in the QU line: it was not reliable enough for important two hour concert captures.
It is exactly the same deal in the SQ.
I am a loyal A&H owner for many years and in no way want to degrade the quality of any of their gear, however the OP's question deals with a decision between two specific A&H desks and whether or not the increased investment in one over the other is worth it. Too this end, IMHO, neither one may "best suit" his long term needs: the QUsb may be better.
Hugh
(There are 4 optional stage boxes: 3 are QU 48K compatible and 1 box, the DX168, is a 16 channel D-Live expansion box and is 96K optimized. Street price for the DX 16 channels goes up from $1,100. to $1,700.)
I still have found no published specific info pertaining to the SQ internal pres.

Last edited by hughshouse; 1 week ago at 02:54 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anadelman View Post
According to A&H, the pres are NOT the same. They are somewhere between the GLD (which are better than the QU's) and the dLive pres.
And you can actually use the Dlive stage boxes if you want those pre's. You can actually use any A&H stagebox I think (check specs for that)

If you're looking for something that can grow with you the SQ is the way to go. The QU is still great for any situation where you don't need the added channels and tools, but it is what it is, which is its strength and weakness.

As I type this Im working on a QU16 in a hall for 900 seats where theres 8 house wireless and some presentations. Personally I'm missing group and martix routing to make my life easier. But it works.

Any time they need to do more though, they need to fly in a bigger console like the SQ.

So personally, I'd go for the SQ if thats in the budget, and possibly get a QU later on if you have simultaneous gigs that only need a few channels.
Old 6 days ago
  #12
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I see that the OP has been a forum member for 4 years but we do not know the degree or level he has been involved in SR. The gear presently owned and deployed and actual experience history are extremely relevant factors.
The D-Live family of processing, pres & conversion, integrated plug-ins along with the appropriate Dante or Waves card to accommodate high end multi-track recording is about as good as it gets. However the price tag of assembling a rig of this caliber does not fit with a limited budget and furthermore, the benefits of this level of gear is wasted unless the balance of deployed gear is at an equal level.
The QUsb has a 32 channel core that has more features than the QU16 and is street priced $1,000. USD. My pragmatical view for the events the OP plans to begin looking into for work opportunities: the QUsb will work well enough and probably find more utilitarian secondary use as a loaner for rent than the SQ unless a lot of $ is spent to package it with appropriate ancillary gear. The ability to secure work as a secondary SR provider will depend a lot more on mixing skill than the gear he can bring to the gig. We all need to start at an entry level when embarking on a new venture because the journey will certainly present many challenges that will require a lot of unplanned change.
Hugh
Old 6 days ago
  #13
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Having owned and used both I can say the following...

1. The SQ definitely sounds better than the Qu. That is not to say that the Qu does not sound good, but rather that the SQ sounds a lot better. Please do not assume that this is down to the 96k conversion as I think there is a lot more to it than that and it is the sun of its parts, or rather design philosophy.

The math yields more headroom.
The latency is lower...and on it goes.

2. You are able to use Qu/GLD interfaces at 44.1k or d-live or local interfaces at 96k. Making this board very flexible.

3. SQ is 48input capable whereas Qu16 is only 16 + 3 stereo input capable.

4. By adding a gigace card to a d-live you can use the d-live as the front end and utilise gain sharing in a simple "plug & play" scenario. There is literally nothing to do once it is plugged into the gigace port and simply requires routing which you need to do regardless of the interface. There is not even the need to switch to digital trim as it seems to just be automatic. So the SQ can be a monitor board split from a d-live.

There are many other differences, but sonics and flexibility are certainly the obvious differences here.
Old 6 days ago
  #14
S21
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S21's Avatar
 

It all comes down to what fits with the OP's business plan. A cool mixer isn't a business plan.
Old 6 days ago
  #15
S21
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Maybe 5% of the investment in starting a sound company can go into a mixer. If there is a $100,000 investment plan, $4600 on a mixer is ok-ish.

If there is a $5,000 investment plan, ....
Old 6 days ago
  #16
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by S21 View Post
It all comes down to what fits with the OP's business plan. A cool mixer isn't a business plan.
I completely agree.
Old 5 days ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aisle 6 View Post
Having owned and used both I can say the following...

1. The SQ definitely sounds better than the Qu. That is not to say that the Qu does not sound good, but rather that the SQ sounds a lot better. Please do not assume that this is down to the 96k conversion as I think there is a lot more to it than that and it is the sun of its parts, or rather design philosophy.

The math yields more headroom.
The latency is lower...and on it goes.

2. You are able to use Qu/GLD interfaces at 44.1k or d-live or local interfaces at 96k. Making this board very flexible.

3. SQ is 48input capable whereas Qu16 is only 16 + 3 stereo input capable.

4. By adding a gigace card to a d-live you can use the d-live as the front end and utilise gain sharing in a simple "plug & play" scenario. There is literally nothing to do once it is plugged into the gigace port and simply requires routing which you need to do regardless of the interface. There is not even the need to switch to digital trim as it seems to just be automatic. So the SQ can be a monitor board split from a d-live.

There are many other differences, but sonics and flexibility are certainly the obvious differences here.
I have long argued that there is no audible difference in a live setting between 96K and 44/48K consoles within the same price range ..... or at least that the difference in sound has nothing to do with the processing frequency.

The SQ engine and algorithms are better in every way to that of the Qu series. This will certainly provide a better output (no argument).

Given the remainder of the live sound rig, this difference may very well (likely) be dwarfed by the limitations of the speakers and microphones being used as well as the inconsistencies in the rooms it is used in.

For bar gigs, small festival gigs, etc, etc, the usability of the remote app, off-line editor, and console front controls will greatly out-weigh any sonic difference between the SQ and the Qu IME.

Given a small budget for the entire system (<10K), I would DEFINITELY recommend spending more on the speakers and less on the mixer. This is a no-brainer to me.

It is my understanding that the Qu-16 has DCA's (not subgroups). To be honest, DCA's/VCA's are a needed feature of any 16 channel mixer. Subgroups? Not so much.

I have both on my X32 and have never used a subgroup in over 7 years. I utilize the DCA's on nearly every use.

Given the price range of the Qu-16, I would personally opt for the Soundcraft Ui24 and forego the physical console completely, and save another $900 to boot.... and then spend the difference (now 2K from the SQ5) on better speakers.

Now..... just to muddy the waters

The SQ5 is a serious mixer with "big boy" features like dante, waves plug-ins, 48 channel expansion, 12 stereo mixes (for stereo IEM feeds for a whole band and more), etc, etc.

It is a damn fine mixer for 3K. Remember, that just a few short years ago, the X32 was a 3K mixer as well. My how things have changed (improved). (still, to even be mentioning the X32' 7 year old design in a reference to the SQ/Dlive is a testament to the X32's industry changing introduction).

It will be interesting to see if the come out with a SQ-sb rack mount version . If it were <2K, that might really turn a few heads.
Old 5 days ago
  #18
S21
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It'd be pretty embarrasing to have big-boy mixer features, but no van.

Or only crud speakers.

Or no mics or cables.

Or showing up to a wedding in trainers, jeans and a tshirt.
Old 5 days ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneEng View Post
It is my understanding that the Qu-16 has DCA's (not subgroups). To be honest, DCA's/VCA's are a needed feature of any 16 channel mixer. Subgroups? Not so much.

I have both on my X32 and have never used a subgroup in over 7 years. I utilize the DCA's on nearly every use.

.
I make a living mixing live sound since 12 years. I do about 50% music and about 50% corporate.
I do not NEED groups when mixing music (although I do use it if possible) but I WANT groups when mixing corporate and I have various different types of mics.

And I also WANT matrices when I have different subsystems of speakers (delays, frontfills,...).
I CAN work without, but I get better sounding results when I can use groups and matrices.
Old 5 days ago
  #20
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneEng View Post
I have long argued that there is no audible difference in a live setting between 96K and 44/48K consoles within the same price range ..... or at least that the difference in sound has nothing to do with the processing frequency.
The SQ engine and algorithms are better in every way to that of the Qu series. This will certainly provide a better output (no argument).
100% agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneEng View Post
Given the remainder of the live sound rig, this difference may very well (likely) be dwarfed by the limitations of the speakers and microphones being used as well as the inconsistencies in the rooms it is used in.

For bar gigs, small festival gigs, etc, etc, the usability of the remote app, off-line editor, and console front controls will greatly out-weigh any sonic difference between the SQ and the Qu IME.
Although poor quality speakers will support this statement, I find more and more that really poor resolution speakers are rarely out there. Even small bars now tend to have decent systems where you can easily hear the sonic differences between the Qu & SQ. The biggest tell for me is that when I am on the SQ I am using next to no channel EQ by comparison to thew Qu. The biggest let down of the SQ for me is the lack of LPF. If I had that feature I am sure that I would have several dead flat channel EQ's. Whereas, I doubt that would be the case on the Qu. They really are night and day sonically and I rarely say that. Test them together, I know that you will hear a huge difference even on smaller systems.
Having said that, the sonic improvement may not be the overarching decision for the OP's purchase.



Quote:
Originally Posted by OneEng View Post
Given a small budget for the entire system (<10K), I would DEFINITELY recommend spending more on the speakers and less on the mixer. This is a no-brainer to me.
100% agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneEng View Post
I have both on my X32 and have never used a subgroup in over 7 years. I utilize the DCA's on nearly every use.
This is definitely subjective. I almost always use both DCA's and sub groups. It is all about the control and delivery of the end result.



Not that you need my approval or otherwise, but I did want to comment that different folks may see things a little differently. I think the biggest mistake a lot of younger Engineers make is to blindly think that 96k is better. It is not "better" in and of itself. If it is better, it is usually because the designers have designed a "better" system overall and used the advantages that can come with 96k wisely.
Old 5 days ago
  #21
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kyborg View Post
my scenario is I'm starting my own PA company mostly aimed at corporate events and a few band events like weddings and hopefully some larger gigs further down the track. i don't have a lot of money to spend but i want gear that's appealing for others to cross hire with me. what one would you get in this situation?
Having declared the differences and a preference for the SQ, I would recommend the Qu for you based on the statement above.

Price, simplicity and dry hire potential.
Old 4 days ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aisle 6 View Post
Having declared the differences and a preference for the SQ, I would recommend the Qu for you based on the statement above.

Price, simplicity and dry hire potential.
Of all the digital mixers within the same market segment, the Qu is hands-down the easiest to understand and work with IMO.

As for the subgroups discussion, I agree that it depends on your usage model. DCA's are easy even for beginners to understand. Subgroups are significantly more complex and therefor are more easily messed up too

Then again, for those used to having several microphones on a choir, having a subgroup to apply group compression to might be a single selling feature that makes or breaks the sale between an SQ and Qu (or X32, Soundcraft, etc, having subgroups).

I can't agree more with you that it is the entire package of a digital mixer that makes the sound. So many people get fixated on preamps and sample rate.

As for me, I am a mixer super-user for a bar gigging musician.... and I am a high level engineer by day, so I would likely have purchased something like the SQ if I were making a buying decision today .... but then I have a pretty good FOH to play it through, and I thrive on cool technology.

Who would have thought you could have a "big boy" digital mixer engine for nearly the price of an entry level digital mixer? Sure, it lacks many of the features of its big brother the D-Live; however, that doesn't diminish its basic capabilities.

I would really like to see a rack version though

For the OP, I would recommend the Qu all the way. I think you will find it to be an outstanding mixer. I also have an Allen & Heath ZED 10FX I use for small stuff (and to mix my computer and Kemper guitar amp into headphones at home). It is a nice sounding little mixer for sure. My previous mixer was a MixWiz, so I am quite a fan of A&H. I can say that while the ZED is a fine little mixer, the Qu will still give you better sound (much better) due to the army of tools at your disposal (not the least of which is a really nice channel PEQ).

My advice to the OP would be to go to a music store and try the Qu out. There are plenty of places to do so. I think you will be very surprised at how good it sounds.
Old 2 days ago
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Lots of great advices here. I'd add that if your primary intent is to cross hire, the very first thing to do is call the people you'd like to work with and figure out what their needs are. Maybe everyone in your area is set as far as consoles go, and need microphones on a regular basis. Or amps, who knows? I wouldn't go in blind. They will need to know your company exist anyway, so why not ask directly while you're at it?
Old 21 hours ago
  #24
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Roland's Avatar
The Qu is, for me the poor mans TF. Pretty much the same operation with not so good effects and a bit fiddly. I think the SQ’s are a much better step forward though I still have some reservations over fx.
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