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DiGiCo S21

Digital Mixing Console
Published April 2018
By Mike Crofts

DiGiCo S21

In the S21, DiGiCo have made their world-class digital mixing technology more accessible than ever before. We spent some time with it, both at DiGiCo HQ and at a real live event.

For many independent live-sound practitioners, owning a digital mixer from the DiGiCo range has always been firmly in wish-list territory. The S‑Series models changed all that, with the S21 and S31 — two seriously ‘pro’ consoles — putting this famous brand within the reach of us ordinary mortals.

DiGiCo were formed in 2002 with the purchase of Soundtracs — a company founded in the early 1980s by a group of recording engineers wanting to develop a better studio console than what was currently available. That led to some 20 years of successful analogue designs and their first development of a digital mixing console back in 1992. Since 2000, Soundtracs’ product range had been based entirely on digital audio, and they gained a reputation for the exploration and development of many new technologies; they are particularly known for their integration of FPGA-based ‘Stealth Digital Processing’, for introducing TFT LCD touchscreens as standard on their surfaces, and their use of 96kHz sample rates.

The first DiGiCo-branded product was the D5 digital mixer system, and the D-Series product line has grown over the years. Their SD-Series consoles significantly raised the bar in terms of processing power (something like eight times the power of the already powerful D5), and currently includes models to which many engineers have aspired but which have perhaps only been within financial reach of serious professional clients. I have consistently put ‘SD9’ on my Christmas and birthday lists but, sadly, with no positive result to date...

However, here’s the thing: a couple of years back DiGiCo decided to break completely new ground with the release of the S‑Series, using new processing designs to make the famous DiGiCo brand available at a previously unheard-of price. Using the same audio algorithms found in the SD consoles, the S21 and S31 use lower-cost FPGA components and a new control processor to deliver all that DiGiCo performance for, to put it bluntly, a lot less money.

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Published April 2018