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Digico S21 as a recording console.
Old 6th May 2019
  #1
Digico S21 as a recording console.

Anyone have any thoughts or experience on using Digico for studio recordings? They make amazing live sound consoles but I would be interested to see if they could work as a recording console or if anyone has tried.

If it doesn’t work does anyone have any suggestions on digital consoles that are proven to work well in the studio environment?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 

S21

Ive had the S21 for about two years now working in live and broadcast, have also recorded multitrack shows into pt with it via UB Madi, definetly great if you will need to be doing studio work/recording big sessions on the road, but if you planning on doing only studio work there are much better options. The preamps sound ok, very clean. Easy to route large sessions for multitracking because of the UB madi up to 40in/out. The thing is while i love this console and it suits me very well for what i do, it has a really major flaw, the dynamics on board are really bad, which is funny because one of the major selling points of the S21 was their multibands. The compressors are so bad that you will either need to get their waves system or as i do, have a rack of analog hardware. That being said its not a dealbreaker, where it really shines is the flexibility it has, in terms of routing, portability, reliability, and ease of use, there is nothing like it in its pricerange. The EQs and the fx rack are great. Pricewise while it may seem cheap take in count you need to get a Drack+flightcase+either hardware comps or dmi waves card plus server. Overall its a great console for live and in situations where you really need flexibility (eg. routing multiple masters and multitracking either for broadcast/post) and portability. It also looks great never fails to impress clients. Wouldnt use it for only studio work though. Hope this helps!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Overall my perspective is any great live performance console will function equally well as a front end for a DAW driven studio recording protocol. I am in full agreement with IndiJBA pursuant to the ancillary needs of the S21 and for these and several other reasons I chose a Digigrid/Waves LV1 system that does more things better for less money.
Hugh
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiJBA View Post
Ive had the S21 for about two years now working in live and broadcast, have also recorded multitrack shows into pt with it via UB Madi, definetly great if you will need to be doing studio work/recording big sessions on the road, but if you planning on doing only studio work there are much better options. The preamps sound ok, very clean. Easy to route large sessions for multitracking because of the UB madi up to 40in/out. The thing is while i love this console and it suits me very well for what i do, it has a really major flaw, the dynamics on board are really bad, which is funny because one of the major selling points of the S21 was their multibands. The compressors are so bad that you will either need to get their waves system or as i do, have a rack of analog hardware. That being said its not a dealbreaker, where it really shines is the flexibility it has, in terms of routing, portability, reliability, and ease of use, there is nothing like it in its pricerange. The EQs and the fx rack are great. Pricewise while it may seem cheap take in count you need to get a Drack+flightcase+either hardware comps or dmi waves card plus server. Overall its a great console for live and in situations where you really need flexibility (eg. routing multiple masters and multitracking either for broadcast/post) and portability. It also looks great never fails to impress clients. Wouldnt use it for only studio work though. Hope this helps!
Thanks for this reply. Confirms a lot of what I had suspected. Have you used any other digital mixers that you would consider more for studio use?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
Overall my perspective is any great live performance console will function equally well as a front end for a DAW driven studio recording protocol. I am in full agreement with IndiJBA pursuant to the ancillary needs of the S21 and for these and several other reasons I chose a Digigrid/Waves LV1 system that does more things better for less money.
Hugh
Good to see people on the same page with this. The Waves FX as an option is huge. Mind you you can also have the processing going on at the DAW level (regarding studio use). I might look in to having a demo done for the S21 to see how different it is from the SD series. Do you have any experiences with other digital consoles for studio use?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 

The S21, when it was first released, was the first FPGA processing I ever heard and it was, by far, the best I had ever worked with. Unfortunately the footprint size, price and necessary ancillary gear to multi-track was not a fit for my work flow. To this end 50 years of live gigs and studio work have narrowed my needs in front end bells and whistles. The Americana music world I work in demands transparent sonic quality and very restrained filtering and embellishment. My DAW (Studio One 4.5 with Fader Port 8 controller) post production gear is totally removed and a much different process that benefits from many plug-in options.

1) There is no difference between the processing gear needed to provide high quality live concert sound reinforcement or head phone artist cueing in the studio. Most all decent digital desks offer delivery of "pre only" tracks to a DAW.
2) Today most of us stay in a DAW one and zero processing world between capture and delivery. I used UA plug ins for 12 years years until I moved over to Waves processing 3 years ago. No one would have ever been able to convince me a better compression plug than the UA 140 plate existed: until I tried the Waves H-Verb. Wow, was that an eye opener.
3) Serious multi tracking will lead to either a Dante or Waves DAW protocol and because I do not now nor do I ever plan to need a massive multiple desk network I am very happy in the Waves DAW world.

Today we benefit from rapidly declining digital desk pricing of high quality processing. The A & H SQ5 offers expandability and FPGA processing, @ FP32/96K, in a $2,700. package that I would have bought in a heart beat 5 years ago when I was looking at the new S21. It is the right footprint, sonic quality and offers the essential features I require for FoH processing at a fraction of the investment I have in the Digigrid/Waves LV1 or an S21 rig. Bottom line is we must know what our real needs are and invest in gear that meets these needs with the opportunity to expand if necessary.
Hugh
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WeAreNotOkay View Post
Anyone have any thoughts or experience on using Digico for studio recordings? They make amazing live sound consoles but I would be interested to see if they could work as a recording console or if anyone has tried.

If it doesn’t work does anyone have any suggestions on digital consoles that are proven to work well in the studio environment?
One thing you need to be aware of is the talkback issue. Studio consoles have talkback that dims the monitors when you hit the button. FOH consoles either have talkback that doesn't dim (for obvious reasons), or no talkback at all.

So you have to address that with a separate box.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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huub's Avatar
What everyone else says

Very useful little console, I would not want to mix studio music on it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

In real world terms , there is no difference between controlling communication between a FoH & stage monitoring sound check in a live gig and establishing studio communication between an artist in the tracking room and the console. The primary difference between analog live and studio consoles were obviated with digital processing via the deployment of DAWs. It matters not if you choose racks of hard-wear pre amps or a live console's pres for the front end of todays studio recording: the heavy duty lifting is done with your DAW. It is my belief an ensemble benefits from monitoring all discussion pursuant to cue levels. This is where special needs are expressed and accommodated, when possible, and given the individual artist monitor control some consoles offer it has become a moot point.
A protocol ritual can become a limiting factor in our daily work flow if or when it prevents an open mind from trying newer and possibly better or different methods to get the job done.
Hugh
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
In real world terms , there is no difference between controlling communication between a FoH & stage monitoring sound check in a live gig and establishing studio communication between an artist in the tracking room and the console.
Sure there is, if you're in a studio control room and you hit the talkback and your monitors don't dim.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 

fpga instead of dsp chips does not sound better by default: there have been digital desks which sounded very good years before digico started making a big fuss about fpga's and some manufacturers use both dsp's and fpga's (or process directly on the computer cards)...

(i'm a frequent user of digico desk, back since the days they were still known under the soundtracs name, but i don't like their interfaces much, regardless of whether it's the s- or sd-series; besides the efx, they both sound ok though).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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huub's Avatar
I've recorded the Rolling Stones on an S21 b.t.w.

(Well, the audience mics anyway)

Huub
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Brent seems to be a bit concerned about processing a talk back protocol with out a control room monitor dimming function. I have used an AT 8666RSP touch switch that controls an ATU857Q podium mic with it's own console channel and corresponding assigned output levels. Over the past 15 years I have experienced no problems of the nature Brent raises when my talk back mic has been deployed with four different front end live desks. I can see the possibility of some unpleasant ear splitting feed back if Rock and Roll control room DBs are in play, however even back in 1976 when I was working with a pair of JBL 4350 monitors in the control room the only occasions when the DBs were even relatively hot would be to sell a mix, never tracking or in post production.
Truth be told the 4350s best use was not in a control room but for near-field small club SR. At 250 lbs each the band got very tired of lugging the beasts around so they were sold in 1977.
Hugh
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
Brent seems to be a bit concerned about processing a talk back protocol with out a control room monitor dimming function. I have used an AT 8666RSP touch switch that controls an ATU857Q podium mic with it's own console channel and corresponding assigned output levels. Over the past 15 years I have experienced no problems of the nature Brent raises...
I'm glad it's never been an issue for you, but I think it might be for many here who have separate control rooms and live rooms. It would be for me, and my listening levels never get loud.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
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Funny Cat's Avatar
I don’t think talkback is a big issue either. My analog console has a talkback function but since I don’t do headphone mixes with the console I had to come up with another solution. I just use an astatic push-to-talk gooseneck mic and route it to the cans. Works a charm. Even when I was in big studios with built in talkback features I don’t recall a situation where I didn’t hit the “stop” play button before addressing the talent in any event. Just a habit I suppose. There are also monitor controllers with nice talkback features included.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Sure there is, if you're in a studio control room and you hit the talkback and your monitors don't dim.
my choice of talkback mic is a bit different (sm58s) for live use but i've been using a couple of live desk in the studio environment for many years: a ducker on the monitor out mostly did well enough...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
Hey guys and girls, I’m using a s21 live on a club with waves multirack both FOH and monitors ,and recording rehearslas and live shows in S1... couldn’t be happier
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by deniis35 View Post
Hey guys and girls, I’m using a s21 live on a club with waves multirack both FOH and monitors ,and recording rehearslas and live shows in S1... couldn’t be happier
I found him! The only studio1 user

(this is a joke, studio 1 is pretty cool and there are absolutely hits being made in it)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by huub View Post
I've recorded the Rolling Stones on an S21 b.t.w.

(Well, the audience mics anyway)

Huub
Thats amazing. Congratulations! I've always wanted to work on classic rock tours. Sadly I was born much too late to be running shows back in the 70-90s and my current contact network is nowhere big enough to get one of the stones on the line
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WeAreNotOkay View Post
Thats amazing. Congratulations! I've always wanted to work on classic rock tours. Sadly I was born much too late to be running shows back in the 70-90s and my current contact network is nowhere big enough to get one of the stones on the line
judging from your reaction, huub's post imo is a bit misleading in terms of the s21's fighting weight: in broadcast, we're using desks from calrec, lawo, stagetec and studer costing many times as much as the s21 with far larger processing capabilities - it's true though that smaller desks get used as backups or for smaller tasks such as recoding ambient mics (meaning crowd noise in live sound): my dm1000's got a huge track record too...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 
huub's Avatar
There have been other threads about the S21, I've said it before; I really do not want to mix music on one personally.
In fact, I would not want to mix any other broadcast on one.
But I have done it, I took one to some flight pack recordings because:

Our own smallish Lawo MC2 36s where not available.

It's very compact and very light.

The preamps and conversion sound totally fine (you can use any digico rack as well)

Rental price is very good.

Huub
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