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Recommend me a console!

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Recommend me a console!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:45 pm

I've been asked by a friend to recommend a live-sound console which can be remote-controlled from a phone/tablet etc.

Live sound isn't really an area of which I have huge up-to-date knowledge, and I only really have significant first-hand user experience with the Mackie DL1608. I know there are so many similar alternatives on offer these days with various pros and cons, so I thought it best to canvas opinion from the forum members.

My friend is looking to spend around £1k for something with around 16 mic/line channels, and as compact as possible. He wants something that can be controlled from phones so each band member can adjust their own foldback mix while his son can balance the FOH mix from the floor.

So, gentlemen, start your engines....
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Ramirez » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:56 pm

With the caveat that I have ordered one, but not yet used one...

Soundcraft UI24R ticks A LOT of boxes for a lot of scenarios if physical faders aren’t a must. It looks perfect for what you’re describing, has on-board WiFi and does not rely on an app for control - anything with a browser will do it.

I have extensive experience with the small Behringer X32 Producer, and it’s great. The lack of scribble scrips is a major drawback though, and you can get lost on larger sessions.

I also really liked the Allen & Heath QU16 when I used one. Great workflow, but above budget.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:23 pm

Nowt wrong with the DL1608, and still the easiest of the bunch to learn to use IMHO. There are a couple on ebay for around £400 which is a lot of bang for buck.

The Berry X-Airs are ok too but slightly less intuitive.

If he needs faders the X32 Producer is a little over budget but would probably be my choice but I do have the Compact so I know the operating paradigm.

All the apps are available for free download and AFAIK all have demo modes. It's well worth having a play with them before settling on a desk.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:31 pm

I must admit I am drawn towards the Soundcraft -- I like the fact that a specific app isn't needed (having been caught out more than once in other areas by app upgrades rendering a tablet/phone obsolete!) And I've heard good things about the A&H QU16.

Not sure about whether real faders are needed, but I suspect not. He mentioned the B X-air so I'm interested that you rate them.

H
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:00 pm

I have an XR12 which I use for the occasional duo or solo gig if I'm playing. The built in wifi is ok but not perfect as it only runs 2.4GHz. For anything bigger than duo stuff the DL1608 is still my goto unless the gig justifies the X32 Compact.

If he has little experience of digital the DL has a lot to commend it. iPad/iPhone only though.......

QU is nice but when I demoed it it was limited to only 3 or 4 devices and, of course, has a fixed number of channels (QU16 has, IIRC only 20 or 22 inputs) and is not expandable like the smaller X32s.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby resistorman » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:17 pm

I sold my X32 when I moved, and kept the XR -18, intending to buy a bigger console when I settled in to my new area. So far I haven’t needed to... it sounds just as good, and I’ve used it past my comfort zone without crashing and burning. A couple of things, though... I always use an external router with 5ghz WiFi, 2.4 ghz is way too crowded. And I got a nasty surprise when I was setting up time delay speakers at a festival... there is no delay on any of the busses. I wound up using one of the 4 efx units, but it was really fiddly. I guess they never thought anyone would be foolish enough to use it in that kind of situation.

I am drawn to the Soundcraft too... it’s got pretty much all the bells and whistles and has a built in 5ghz router. And the A&H looks great. But if someone needs something basic, stable, inexpensive, and absurdly tiny, the XR 18 has done well. There’s also a Midas branded version for not all that much more, but I have no experience with it.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:19 pm

The Midas will have the better 'Midas' preamps, but TBH I haven't heard anybody complaining about the 'Midas designed' Behringer ones..... Otherwise it'll be identical as the only other operational difference between the Berry X series and Midas M series is the moving faders and the XR ain't got any of those.....
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:37 am

In smaller format digital mixers I’ve used the Mackie DL1608, Presonus Studiolive 16.0.2, QSC TouchMix 16 and Midas MR-18. The QSC and Midas are a considerable step up, quality wise, over the Mackie and Presonus and I’d be happy to use both for serious recording as well as live sound.

I prefer the Midas app over the QSC.

QSC has physical gain controls which you cannot operate remotely, which is a serious oversight, however, if you’re sitting at it, you can operate it without a device, which is an advantage.

FX, particularly reverb, is excellent on both the QSC and Midas, I disliked the reverb on the Mackie.

The Midas wifi suffers the same criticism as the Behringer equivalent. I’ve only had a momentary dropout once, so not a huge problem, but because of this (perceived problem) I do use external wifi in larger rooms.

Thinking about it, the QSC, because of its design, appears to be pitched towards being used from the operator’s position, whereas the Midas takes the form of a stage box - it’s very compact.

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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Dave B » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:59 am

+1 for the QSC.

I'm a bit of a worrier, so mine is usually near the stage with short run stage boxes to keep things tidy(er). If the FOH has a wifi failure, he can still mix using the onboard screen. It happily chugs along with 6 of us attached via iPhones/iPads. Sounds great and is flexible. I'm also miffed about the hardware gains, but there is a cunning software gain boost for the odd occasion that you under-gain in soundcheck.

Another band I play with are (finally) looking to move to the Berry XR18 shortly, so I'll get to see what that's like in anger.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Dave Rowles » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:06 am

I use the X32 rack version. Totally iPad controlled. I use an Apple airport express to connect. I've never had connection issues.

The X32 rack does come in at budget, and is a little more expensive than some of the other options mentioned here, but obviously you've got the option of expanding from 22 ins with extra stage boxes in the future.

The MR18 does sound a little bit better, but to be honest, at this level there isn't much in it. I find all the low cost digital mixers to have a compromised sound in some areas, so in reality it's the workflow and user interface that means more, which kind of means downloading the apps and seeing which one makes more sense to you.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Ramirez » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:23 pm

Awaiting delivery on my Soundcraft UI24R tomorrow. Happy to post first impressions over the weekend if it's of interest, though I won't get to put it through its paces for a while.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby MarkPAman » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:30 pm

A&H Qu-16 & Qu-Pac owner here. I've not used other makes of desks in this price range much, so will not comment on those (other than to say I wouldn't touch the Soundcraft Ui 12 or 16 with somebody else barge pole, though I understand the 24 is much better).

The Qu-16 will be a little over budget & is limited to 16 mic channels (sort of), with no groups or matrix.

However the Qu-Pac & Qu-SB are around the budget, both use the processor from the Qu-32, so can (with additional stage boxes) go up to 32 mic channels.

They have 4 groups (which can become additional stereo mixes) & 2 stereo matrix mixes available - though you'd need a stage box to use all the group & matrix outs. Pac does have the ability to control everything from the front panel, though not quickly, while the SB has only a headphone volume on it.
They're not quite identical with their built in I/O so worth looking carefully at that if you're going to load it fully. The SB has a useful dual foot switch option to act as additional soft keys for FX muting etc.

The (external) WiFi connection supports up to 8 iOS devices, 2 of which can be iPads running the full Qu-Pad control app, while the rest can run either Qu-You (simple monitor app) or Qu-Control (really designed for install stuff I guess, but still very useful as a set of extra soft keys & level controls). Qu-You is also available in android flavour, though still counts as one of your 8 think.

Additionally there's an "unofficial" android app, Mixing Station Qu, written by the same chap who made the one for the X32 series which looks much the same. It doesn't quite give control of everything, but you can certainly mix from it. Some people like it better than the A&H app, others, including me don't. This app can, I believe, be an additional 9th remote connection though I've never been in a position to try 9 at once.

Then of course, there's the ME boxes available in both 16 and 40 channel versions, if you want a hardware based personal monitoring solution.

IMO all Qu desks sound great, and I find never touching the desk, mixing from an iPad only, very easy. I use an Airport Express, and have never had a drop out while mixing. 18 track recording to USB stick is useful once you've found a stick that works!

Bad points? Probably not a great studio desk. Recording to computer (32 tracks I/O)) is a complicated issue with most newer computers due to Intel's "interpretation" of the USB3 specs, but that's another story. DAW control also seems to leave some users very frustrated, though seemed to work fine on the one occasion I've tried it.

So for your friend, Hugh, I think I'd recommend the SB over the Pac for this use (and it's cheaper too), but I'd say both are worth a serious look.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby MarkPAman » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:56 pm

MarkPAman wrote:Additionally there's an "unofficial" android app, Mixing Station Qu ......
This app can, I believe, be an additional 9th remote connection.

By some weird coincidence, as I was writing this, it appears a new Beta, has become available, apparently allowing 4 (at least) android devices to run Mixing Station Qu, and adding extra features. So 12 remote devices looks possible, with 6 of them being "full" controllers.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby ReedySteadyGo » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:57 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I must admit I am drawn towards the Soundcraft -- I like the fact that a specific app isn't needed (having been caught out more than once in other areas by app upgrades rendering a tablet/phone obsolete!) And I've heard good things about the A&H QU16.

H

I was looking at buying a Soundcraft UI24R in particular for the same reason - I liked the fact that I didn't need specific apps.

I strongly recommend downloading the apps, or in the case of the UI24R, using the online demo to decided if you like the UI.

I played with the UI24R online demo a lot but found some frustrations on a PC with a mouse:
-navigating wasn't completely intuitive and often took several clicks to find the right screen;
-I felt the space on a large screen wasn't used very effectively and I'd have like to seen more option to configure the UI.
-double-clicking in the wrong place when trying to open a channel strip would send the fader to 0dB. Maybe this could be changed in the setting but I couldn't find out how.
-the settings on the effects looked rather limited. I only tried the demo so I don't know how they actually sounded (probably rather good).

By comparison I found the X-Air apps very good. The PC, iOS and Android apps are different and I would rank them in that order, with PC being the best.
The PC app can show a lot of information on the screen and if you have a touchscreen 2-in-1 type laptop would make a great interface (multi-touch works so you can move more than 1 fader at once, unlike with a mouse). The Android app very usuable, but not quite as good.

I don't have an ipad any more so that ruled out the A&H QU as this seemed to be iOS only. This was a shame because I have a ZED14 analogue mixer and really like it.

When I found an XR18 on special offer, the price difference between it and the UI24R clinched it.

On the connectivity I like the idea of being abe to use an ethernet port if I want to, partly for PC connectivity, but also I like the idea of being able to use a long ethernet cable to move a router closer to where my wireless device is.

I haven't had chance for a serious play with my XR18 yet, so cannot comment on live performance.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:42 pm

Thanks all, some really useful insights there, and I've passed a summary of it all on.

H
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby blinddrew » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:21 pm

I've been wracking my brain cell trying to remember where I've seen one of the Soundcrafts in the flesh and I've finally got it. JBL did a songwriter competition last year and when they did the recording stage they were using a Ui24 as both PA and recording device, being a nosy parker I had a good shufti at it and got a decent listen over headphones.
It seemed like a very good piece of kit for the cash, I don't have the same hands on experience with the competition, but if it was my cash I'd definitely have one on my shortlist.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby MarkPAman » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:47 pm

I've no experience of the Ui24, but have read good things.

Now, I know I've said not to be tempted to think the Ui12 & Ui16 are the same as the Ui24, before - but here's why:

The Ui16 I bought had very noisy pre amps (especially when phantom was on), made loud noises as gain was adjusted, and regularly refused to connect via WiFi, whether using the internal, or an external router.

Was a complete show stopper at one gig, and I only got through another because I had a laptop wired to it that time.

When I told the shop I wanted to send it back, they were not at all surprised, and I think they stopped stocking them soon after.

There have been firmware updates since, but many people say these have not improved things significantly.
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Ramirez » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:52 pm

MarkPAman wrote:I've no experience of the Ui24, but have read good things.

Now, I know I've said not to be tempted to think the Ui12 & Ui16 are the same as the Ui24, before - but here's why:

The Ui16 I bought had very noisy pre amps (especially when phantom was on), made loud noises as gain was adjusted, and regularly refused to connect via WiFi, whether using the internal, or an external router.

Was a complete show stopper at one gig, and I only got through another because I had a laptop wired to it that time.

When I told the shop I wanted to send it back, they were not at all surprised, and I think they stopped stocking them soon after.

There have been firmware updates since, but many people say these have not improved things significantly.

I've also heard some horror stories about the 12 and 16.

However, from what I've read the 24 is completely new design from the ground up, and reports seem to be positive. I sincerely hope that's the case...
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby ReedySteadyGo » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:57 pm

Ramirez wrote:
However, from what I've read the 24 is completely new design from the ground up, and reports seem to be positive. I sincerely hope that's the case...

Great review here...

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/soundcraft-ui24r :thumbup:
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Re: Recommend me a console!

Postby Dave B » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:03 pm

Regressive Rock (from these here parts) uses the ui24 and loves it. And he was a dedicated TouchMix user before that.

Just saying ..

:)
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