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Allen & Heath SQ5/6

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Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby Driller » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:55 am

These fantastic looking consoles have been around for a good few months now but strangely enough there doesn't seem to be much forum discussion about them at all.

Having got back to music after some years away, I've been using a Mixwizard WZ4 with the USB option for band rehearsal which was my first "proper" mixer and it really is a lovely bit of kit. It feels so solid and real somehow, the pots don't move at all laterally compared to some cheaper products (which comment will surely sound naive to all the veterans here!) and it's all logically and clearly laid out.

I'll keep mine forever but if anyone's looking for an analogue desk I wholeheartedly recommend the Mixwizard.

I wanted to avoid digital at first, to get a good handle on what a mixer really does but now its time, especially to get a few more aux outputs for monitors. Having been so impressed with the quality of the WZ4 and having been comfortable with its layout, it made sense to stick with A&H.

Obviously the QUs have been around for a bit but the lack of scribble strips bothered me and I was sure that they would sort that out due to the competition (X32...), so hung around for a while. Sure enough out came the SQ.

I haven't seen one in the flesh but on paper and in pictures it looks like just the thing. So bearing in mind the lack of discussion on them, does anyone have one and if so could they share their experiences? Anyone moved from an analogue mixer to an SQ and how was the transition?

Thanks for your comments
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby MarkPAman » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:06 am

I'm fairly sure I'll be getting one sooner or later. I love my Qu-16 & Qu-Pac, but find I'm picking the Pac over the 16 more and more these days for the things like matrix & groups that if offers.

An SQ5 would give me all of that (and much more) without being much bigger than the Qu-16.

However, at the moment, I think the SQs are still in their early stages, and need a firmware update or two, before I'd be fully happy with it. Some things I use on the Qu, do not (yet) work on the SQ. It also (for me) needs the promised Dante and Slink cards to be available.
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby Driller » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:41 pm

Hi Mark, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I waited a bit before replying hoping that a bit of debate would start.

I agree that the firmware will get surely get better with time but otherwise they seem like great machines at all levels.

I still don’t get why they’re not talked about more.
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby Dave Rowles » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:13 pm

We've just got an SQ6 in the venue near my house. Haven't used it in anger yet, but it's pretty good just on the little mess around I've had. Will update when I've managed to get a gig under my belt with it.
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby Driller » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:38 am

Thanks Dave, I’ll be watching with interest!
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby MarkPAman » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:53 am

Driller wrote:I still don’t get why they’re not talked about more.

There's quite a lot of discussion on A&H's own forum of course!
https://community.allen-heath.com/forums/forum/sq

If you've any specific questions, I'll see what I can remember form there.

I'm sure it's a great desk right now, but the feature request part of that forum is big! There are things I'd like it to do that are not ready yet:

At the moment, you can connect a Qu (which must be the master clock) to an SQ and get all the local inputs on each each desk to appear on the other. An additional stage box is not supported in this setup, though some people have reported that the AR2412 works.

The iPad app for the SQ is not what I'd consider a finished product yet. On a Qu, all functions are controllable with an iPad, but many things are still missing from the SQ's app.

The promised extra plugins do not seem to be appearing yet - though the tube pre-amp is said to be very good.

Having been bitten, at much expense, by my first digital desk*, I'm only going to be buying something that already works as I want it to.

* A Roland which was "supposed" to get updated, but then they brought out a new one instead, and it was cheaper, so the S/H value of mine disappeared overnight. :thumbdown:
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby Driller » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:31 pm

Thanks for all that info Mark, didn’t know there were forums on A&H, I’ll head over there.

No specific questions but it’s always interesting to read discussions on products one is interested in buying. By the sounds of it I should stick with the mix wizard until there’s been a software update or 2.
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby rsweigert@gmail.com » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:36 am

Time for me to jump in and join i guess.
I am a AH fanboy.

I have been Allen Heath for a while now. GL2000 (not so robust ) GL2200 much better
Mixwiz, and i agree a nice , well thought out mixer, 3 ilive stage racks and now a Sq5.
(i don't know why but i have not had a GLD)

I have only used the SQ5 for a couple of shows , because of "growing pains" . Mostly on my part.
1. I got used to the ilive software having a PEQ, COMP, and Limiter on each bus, and channel.
I have not found the "limiter" just compressor. No biggie Just need to reset my expectations that not all the tools are going to be there. (like an editor for the PC or MAC hint hint)

2. The board sounds fine , but i was expecting much more from the 96k hype. Perhaps as time goes on, and i'm old and perhaps i have just run too many loud shows.

3. Recording at 96K to a USB stick is problematic. I think this is a speed issue on the storage devices that you use. I run into this with cameras all the time. Be sure to use storage that can handle that data rate.

4. I did not think it through. Nothing else in my system is running 96K. like all of the recording that i have done! I could not just route those back through the board to play around with tracks. Everything i have was recording at 48K. That is not the fault of the board, but it would be nice to have a "step down" feature to use 48K coming in from usb interface. .

5. I have not gotten to the
dante issues of running 96k in a network at 48k. This may work out, but my point is if you are using the system with existing equipment, it not just plug and play yet.

6. I have not found a decent rack case for the SQ5. Fortunately i have a friend that is very crafty and he mod-ed a case from an R72 to fit. I was sure a third party (gator or SKB) would have something that would work. nope.

7. Options seem to be stupid expensive. Rack ears $80.00??

I seriously considered going back to GLD just because I was not ready for 96k.
Also, for what ever reason the bottom has fallen out of GLD used prices. This is possibly my next step to replace the Ilive (now almost 15 years old)

So to be honest:

1. i was looking for something that would be more enviable than owning a x32. i have taken so much crap from my peers for using AH ILIVE vs the x32. I have heard tillim blue in teh face how AH is not rider friendly. I can tell you this, the Ilive beats the sound of an X32 any way you want to look at it. I know the products are not comparable.
But i bought my ilives used and to me they have been a good investment.

So i am keeping the Sq5 , and will use it with small shows until all the connections are worked out. If you check out the SQ5 connects to other AH products, i think you can say this is a good investment protection story. I might add a GLD and use the Dlink to create a FOH and MON split. (if that works)

I welcome any comments / reactions. I think we are all in this to learn and improve what we do.
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby Dave Rowles » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:07 pm

I've got to use the SQ6 in anger now on a weeks worth of festival type shows. 2/3 acts a night.

The system:
SQ6 + s-link stage boxes
FOH: L-acoustics ArcsII over L-acoustics subs (Can't remember the model)
Monitors: Nexo PS10s

For reference, this is the desk in the venue. I actually own and use regularly an X32 Rack on my HK Audio Elements system.

The SQ6 is a good desk. Very easy to use, sounds nice and clear. There's a button for getting to pretty much any setting quickly. I've not found anything major that I miss vs the X32, but the desk is still an infant on the software, and so I expect more to be added as they develop it. The main thing for me is the Tube Pre-Amp emulation they have. You can add this on every channel if you want, and it certainly adds to the sound in a non-gimicky way. I found playing with the settings on it gave a nice smooth sound on the acoustic/folk instruments I had most of the week.

I think it's going to grow into a great desk, though it's not quite there yet. The only downside for me is the reverbs. You really need to sit down and fiddle with them for a while to get used to how to get the right sounds out of the, which is a complaint I had about the iLive as well. I ended up using the USB interface to send auxes 9-12 to my laptop and then used Slate Digital verbsuite reverbs, as ran out of time to fiddle and still wasn't happy with what I was getting. However, that process was easy to do, and is actually my preferred way of working these days.

Overall, I'm very happy with it, and I expect it to get better!
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Re: Allen & Heath SQ5/6

Postby Dave Rowles » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:11 pm

rsweigert@gmail.com wrote:3. Recording at 96K to a USB stick is problematic. I think this is a speed issue on the storage devices that you use. I run into this with cameras all the time. Be sure to use storage that can handle that data rate.

Yep. This scuppered me at one point as well. Make sure you research what sticks will work with the board if you want to go this route. It will only record 16 tracks to a USB stick as well, so if you want 32 tracks, you're better off going for the USB interface on the back instead.
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