This is the third and final installment in my series on putting together a portable, yet powerful, digital sound system for running audio at front of house, while running monitors and recording the show.

In parts One and Two I talked about my gear choices, and why I chose the Soundcraft Si Performer 3 for my FOH, with the Soundcraft Si Expression 3 for my monitor desk. I also added a Mini Stage Box 32 from Soundcraft, plus I ordered the recording card option and another needed MADI card to make it all work as I envisioned.

Soundcraft has thought about the users’ experience, and remedied many problems you’d run into during a show. These range from having the headphone output jack LED backlit so you can find it in the dark, to more complex solutions. For instance, one issue with two digital consoles sharing preamps from the Stagebox (with its remote preamps) is that if you’re feeding your recorder from the direct output, changing gain on the preamp would effect the gain to the recorder. This could be disastrous, sending your recorded tracks into the red or reducing them greatly, just from moves you’d make in the normal operation of the console. Soundcraft has remedied this with D.O.G.S. (Direct Output Gain Stabilization) which maintains system gain between mic in and direct out so your recording level would remain the same no matter what you do with your preamps.

Plus, the system is so easy to setup and operate quickly. The Mini Stage Box has a 30’ Cat 5 cable (Cat5e Ethercon) that feeds the monitor console- that’s a one line run as opposed to 32 channels of copper! And as mentioned earlier, the FOH split is done with one 150’ Cat 5 line. The analog outs on the Stage box make it convenient for digital soft patching the outputs to IEM (in-ear) mixes or as FOH returns to Stacks & Rack feeds, along with AES/EBU- the output options are numerous.

I can see either of these consoles handling the most demanding productions from theater, to gigging bands and houses of worship. The size and quality of this system is amazing – my set up and tear down time has been reduced drastically, and as we know it’s “all about the load out.” I’ve only owned these consoles for two weeks, so I’m sure I will discover more valuable options. I will update you here on my blog as to what I discover, be it good or bad. I will also be incorporating these Soundcraft consoles, recorder and Stagebox into our Live Sound Engineering program at The Blackbird Academy, so students can see the incredible, pro-quality gear you can get at an affordable price.