Welcome to Part II of my blog on Live Sound Spotlight, where I will be discussing, evaluating and testing live audio gear and giving my best assessment based on my experiences in the trenches. In my live sound classes at The Blackbird Academy, students will have their hands on all kinds of gear, from large touring systems, to more portable rigs you can throw into your car and go from gig to gig. In part 1 of this series, I talked about my wishlist for an affordable touring rig I can load under a bus, or even in a car. The underlying theme here is quality – and there are plenty of great choices!

Consoles

I chose a Soundcraft’s Si Performer 3 for front of house, and Si Expression 3 for mixing monitors. The reason? The audio quality is outstanding and even after the first test run on the road, I was moving quickly around the desk half way through the show.

Front of House Console – Soundcraft Si Performer 3:

  1. 32 recallable preamps
  2. Up to 66 channels
  3. 8 stereo returns for inserting and interfacing analog outboard gear
  4. 14 auxiliaries, 4 FX Buses, 4 Matrix Outs, 8 VCA’s, 8 Mute groups, LCR Panning Mode
  5. Assignable Fader Layers
  6. Built in Lexicon FX, BSS GEQ’s, Studer Signal Processing, and dbx Dynamic Processing
  7. Security Mode: Very important when I have a guest engineer using my console to mix the opening act, I can lock them out of my settings and not worry about changes to my setup. Or, when I’m the only user, I can lock down the entire console after sound check, walk away and know when I come back for showtime my work is exactly as I’ve left it.
  8. 37” x 21” and 46 lbs. (not a back breaker!!)

Monitor Console – Soundcraft Si Expression 3:

The Soundcraft Si Expression is the same weight and size as the Si Performer but the Performer has two card slots, allowing I/O expansion up to 80 inputs from CobraNet, AVIOM or AES inputs.

For my setup, I’m using the two card slots for my digital snake and the recording card. One slot houses the MADI Card, from FOH; I run a 150’ Cat 5 (Horizon- Duracat CAT5) to the MADI input of my Mini Stage Box 32.

The 2nd card slot houses the Optional Multi-Digital Recording Card allowing me to record 32 tracks in/out interfaced with Pro Tools. It also features Virtual Sound for getting the band dialed in prior to sound check.

Soundcraft also has the ViSi Remote iPad app allowing remote control of multiple consoles on a single iPad and multiple iPads to control a single console. I can run both desks from anywhere in the venue! Plus I can give each musician an iPad so they can control their own monitor mixes. Powerful stuff!

At The Blackbird Academy, we will be working with many systems at many prices, you will be conversant on gear from many manufacturers. If you want more info on our programs, click here to contact a representative.