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Console for New School Theatre Consoles
Old 14th November 2009
  #1
Gear Nut
 
dubaifox's Avatar
 

Question Console for New School Theatre

I have done live mixing for a school's production for the last 10 years on a 24 channel Midas board. They put on pretty good musicals.

Next year they are moving to a brand new, state of the art 700 seat theater.

They are asking me for advice on what type of board to get, and I first proposed a Digidesign Venue System, with a second choice being a Digital Mixer from Yamaha or Midas.

Can anybody comment, or provide some insight as to what you might see for a board in a 700 seat theater.

The theater consultant seems to want to be going with an Analog board (Allen Heath 32/8) and have been circulating the paragraph below;

"Digital consoles are more expensive, more time consuming and difficult to learn/master/teach, and carry with them an inherent potential to crash. That being said, they also allow for a massive amount of inputs, an incredible level of interfacing and control, a cleaner signal, and the ability to program settings for different purposes, save them, and recall them whenever you need them.
Analogue consoles on the other hand, are dirt cheap in comparison, much simpler to learn/master/teach, and will only crash if the power goes out. Due to their inexpensive nature compared to digital consoles, you are also able to purchase top-of-the-line analogs, fully loaded with remarkable features, for the same price as a bottom-of-the-line, entry-level digital console with basic features. The cons remain basic: analogue boards are unable to save their settings to be, and they will always emit some miniscule amount of electronic noise that will be heard through the speakers (though all sound professionals will agree that this amount is typically a non-issue, and more noise tends to be emitted from the other electronic equipment used, like the amplifier for example).
Although a wonderful ideal for user interfacing and audio organizing, digital consoles are simply not cost effective. A well-manufactured professional digital mixer, loaded with the necessary features, is just far too expensive. Due to this fact alone, a digital mixer should often be considered a last resort, and only if there is enough in the budget to pay the massive premium for a top-of-line console. There are exceptions to this rule though, as these mixers are greatly suited for large churches with huge worship teams and productions on Sundays, as well as throughout the week. In those venues, the cost factor becomes insignificant due to the fact that the benefits of a digital console become overwhelming. Those venues have a need for a massive number of inputs, and the ability to interact with them on a much more complex level; this is not the case with the remaining vast majority of churches. In almost every situation, an analogue mixer remains the best choice of consoles for a churches needs. They’re straightforward, cheaper with far greater quality and features versus a digital console of the same price, and are much easier to teach others how to use - which in a church environment is an absolute necessity for the majority of those able to help with sound teams.
One day, when digital consoles are able to offer the same features, and high-quality, for close to the same prices as their analogue counterparts, they will undoubtedly find a valued place in churches; however, that time has not yet come, and for now an analogue mixer remains the most value for the your money, and for their ease of use."
Old 14th November 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Yamaha LS9. The cost argument is very flawed. This person is obviously not considering the price of outboard gear
Old 14th November 2009
  #3
Lives for gear
We use Yamaha PM5D in teathre and I like it although I noramly hate digital.
When you select channel you have everything on rotary encoders so it isn't much more difficoult to work with it then with analog console and you get full recall. It's also great for theatre because you normaly have more than only two speakers. So we have 4 groups for main speakers, two for speakers behind the stage and aux send for cluster above the stage but if needed we can change level of different speakers in each channel individualy. This console also has 8 DCA groups (same thing as VCA groups in analog world) so you can stil group channels when you use all audio groups. It has compressor and gate with physical knobs for all functions. It also has lots of useable effects that you might need and two stereo outs which you can easily use as mono outs that saved my life when two TV stations wanted MONO signal and they came to me 5 minutes before show. So it's actualy like haveing whole big analog studio in medium sized board.

However... if it costs to much and you wont need all these functions you can go also analog way.
Old 14th November 2009
  #4
This is for a theatre?

Digital, hands down. The full-recall alone is worth it.

The reasons for going with a digital sound board are similar to those for going with a digital light board. Saving your settings. Establishing presets. Flexible routing. Saving on outboard / extra lights. I'm SURE they've had the experience of having EVERYTHING changed on the sound board even though they had it perfect at tech rehearsal. Digital board = problem solved.

If they are building a new space, then NOW is the time to buy it. There will never be enough funds for a new board if it isn't bought as part of the initial contract / cost.
Old 14th November 2009
  #5
Lives for gear
 

This seems to be a classic argument of what you don't know scares you.

First of all, Analog consoles are NOT cheaper. A cheap POS analog board will cost you less, but do you really want that? Then, add to the cost of the console the cost of a drive rack. How much do the comps cost? How about reverbs? How are you going to EQ the system? All this can be done inside a digital board. I would also argue that you can keep a "house curve" inside the board and then let anybody mess with the house EQ on a specific show that wants to. That curve can be stored in memory and recalled at a moment's notice.

Along the lines of EQ- how sweepable are the individual bands and can you vary the Q on them? Lower-end analog boards usually have a rather limiting EQ section.

Sound arguments are purely subjective. There are bad sounding digital board and bad sounding analog boards. Many of the digital boards that don't sound very good are helped by clocking externally. If you go digital, plan on getting a master clock. You'll be happy you did...

Now, the issue of usablity... Who is going to be mixing on it? This is honestly the only issue that holds water in this consultant's argument. Many schools/churches do not have a competent engineering staff. If they don't have the ability to figure out how to change a headamp level up or down (as I've seen again and again), this is going to be an issue. I have a client that just got an LS-9 16 and while they are nice folks, they are clueless as to how to use this board. It isn't tough and I've explained it to them time and time again, but they still don't get it. They get lost in the menus and don't understand the terminology.

If you have a staff that has half a clue, then the usability arguments go out the window as well.

--Ben
Old 14th November 2009
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
I suspect this is another "Recording school paper" thing, "analogue or digital live sound console for new 700 seater venue, discuss".

The terms used in the example by the "so called" theater consultant are amateurish e.g. "Analogue consoles on the other hand, are dirt cheap in comparison",

"A well-manufactured professional digital mixer, loaded with the necessary features, is just far too expensive."

"Due to this fact alone, a digital mixer should often be considered a last resort, and only if there is enough in the budget to pay the massive premium for a top-of-line console."

As pointed out above by many other posts, the statements are factually inaccurate, grossly missleading and do not address the clients issues.

If by any stretch of the imagination this is a genuine install, they need to get a true professional in there quickly before they throw their money down the tubes.

Regards


Roland
Old 14th November 2009
  #7
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubaifox View Post
I have done live mixing for a school's production for the last 10 years on a 24 channel Midas board. They put on pretty good musicals.

Next year they are moving to a brand new, state of the art 700 seat theater.

They are asking me for advice on what type of board to get, and I first proposed a Digidesign Venue System, with a second choice being a Digital Mixer from Yamaha or Midas.
A couple of things here come to mind, firstly the LS9 is the cheapest "live" board available followed by the Allen & Heath. Digidesign, even the Venue SC48 is a lot more money and the Midas is very expensive and possibly a bit of a "turkey".

Is this what you were looking for?


Roland
Old 15th November 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Digital for sure.
If this:
"Digital consoles are more expensive, more time consuming and difficult to learn/master/teach"
is a concern then a Yamaha M7CL might be a good choice.

I personally want one of these:
Soundcraft - [Products]
Old 15th November 2009
  #9
Lives for gear
 
jude's Avatar
 

if you do go digital, i'll take that old POS analog midas off your hands
Old 15th November 2009
  #10
Gear Nut
 
dubaifox's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
The terms used in the example by the "so called" theater consultant are amateurish e.g.
Indeed. I posted it here because I want him to see how dated and off the mark the argument was.

This is definitely a real situation. It is for the new American School of Dubai campus, opening next year.

Superintendents Welcome Message
Old 15th November 2009
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dubaifox View Post
...

"Digital consoles are more expensive, more time consuming and difficult to learn/master/teach, and carry with them an inherent potential to crash. That being said, they also allow for a massive amount of inputs, an incredible level of interfacing and control, a cleaner signal, and the ability to program settings for different purposes, save them, and recall them whenever you need them.
Analogue consoles on the other hand, are dirt cheap in comparison, much simpler to learn/master/teach, and will only crash if the power goes out. Due to their inexpensive nature compared to digital consoles, you are also able to purchase top-of-the-line analogs, fully loaded with remarkable features, for the same price as a bottom-of-the-line, entry-level digital console with basic features. The cons remain basic: analogue boards are unable to save their settings to be, and they will always emit some miniscule amount of electronic noise that will be heard through the speakers (though all sound professionals will agree that this amount is typically a non-issue, and more noise tends to be emitted from the other electronic equipment used, like the amplifier for example).
Although a wonderful ideal for user interfacing and audio organizing, digital consoles are simply not cost effective. A well-manufactured professional digital mixer, loaded with the necessary features, is just far too expensive. Due to this fact alone, a digital mixer should often be considered a last resort, and only if there is enough in the budget to pay the massive premium for a top-of-line console. There are exceptions to this rule though, as these mixers are greatly suited for large churches with huge worship teams and productions on Sundays, as well as throughout the week. In those venues, the cost factor becomes insignificant due to the fact that the benefits of a digital console become overwhelming. Those venues have a need for a massive number of inputs, and the ability to interact with them on a much more complex level; this is not the case with the remaining vast majority of churches. In almost every situation, an analogue mixer remains the best choice of consoles for a churches needs. They’re straightforward, cheaper with far greater quality and features versus a digital console of the same price, and are much easier to teach others how to use - which in a church environment is an absolute necessity for the majority of those able to help with sound teams.
One day, when digital consoles are able to offer the same features, and high-quality, for close to the same prices as their analogue counterparts, they will undoubtedly find a valued place in churches; however, that time has not yet come, and for now an analogue mixer remains the most value for the your money, and for their ease of use."
This "consultant" is a bad apple, as Roland already pointed out.

There are many real advantages for analogue consoles also, but he has not even pointed them out. (Since they are usually not within the cheap consoles)

"If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."
Old 17th November 2009
  #12
Gear Head
 

That may have been true in 2000 - but not now! Every musical I run on an analog board (even with mute and VCA recall) I kick myself wishing I had a digital. The Allen & Heath iLive stuff is supposed to be a good alternative to Yamaha but I think is more money.
Old 17th November 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
 

The iLive T series is a little less money than the M7CL (especially when you factor in the snake). It is MILES beyond the sound of the Yamaha digitals. I have used the LS9/M7/5D for years and didn't realize how bad they were until using the iLive. EQ actually does something, compressors work... On the Yamahas I find myself doing drastic changes to get anything happening; the iLive is the complete opposite - very responsive.
Old 17th November 2009
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 

That consultant should be forced to clean 120 Cadac P&J Faders, then vacuum the frame, then move the power supplies. By himself. What a load of BS. I can't believe that someone is making a living with THAT kind of attitude.

I'm livid. I hope you find a good way to shove that paragraph down their throats.

Good luck. Let us know?
Old 17th November 2009
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Larry Elliott's Avatar
Interesting that this information is coming from the Theatre Consultant.

Most Theatre Consultants I have worked with, whilst they are familiar with the basics of a sound mixing console, audio is not their speciality - more likely it will be staging or lighting. You might like to ask for some reference clients and see how they liked the consultants advice - I would be worried - but then I am an acoustic consultant...
Old 17th November 2009
  #16
Lives for gear
 

I'll add to what I said earlier that some of the worst things I've seen in theaters were because of the recommendation of some sort of Consultant- most of the time they have had some sort of other agenda that has gotten in the way of the install. In *every* case, the theater has had to spend the bucks on a new install based off of what the engineers that use it recommend. In every case, the new install to fix the issues has ended up costing more than the original.

So.. the moral? The people that run this place would be stupid to ignore what you are saying. They'll end up having to do something different at some point and it will cost them a LOT.

--Ben
Old 17th November 2009
  #17
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Enginearing's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dubaifox View Post
.
One day, when digital consoles are able to offer the same features, and high-quality, for close to the same prices as their analogue counterparts, they will undoubtedly find a valued place in churches; however, that time has not yet come, and for now an analogue mixer remains the most value for the your money, and for their ease of use."
The advisor is wrong, that day has arrived.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
This is for a theatre?

Digital, hands down. The full-recall alone is worth it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
A couple of things here come to mind, firstly the LS9 is the cheapest "live" board available followed by the Allen & Heath. Digidesign, even the Venue SC48 is a lot more money and the Midas is very expensive and possibly a bit of a "turkey".

Is this what you were looking for?

Roland
Quote:
Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post
The people that run this place would be stupid to ignore what you are saying. They'll end up having to do something different at some point and it will cost them a LOT.

--Ben
I think the above quotes pretty much summed it up...

I would be thinking:
Soundcraft Si2
Digidesign SC48
Yamaha M7CL


(NB: with regards to the Si2 - I haven't driven one personally though the bigger brothers are getting big raps in terms of sonic quality and ease of workflow. I have heard word that one of the companies i work for is taking delivery of a Si3 to compliment their 2*Vi6 - i look forward to checking it out.)
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