Matt Bacon AMPS

16-Channel Analogue to Dante Location Mixer

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If a 16-channel location mixing desk could be created for your SD PIX recorder what features would be a must-have? I am assuming SD are not going to create a CL-16 so if you could design a hybrid control surface / analogue to Dante mixer which features would you include and what would you leave out to keep costs down??

Would you give such a concept crowd funding support if we could find a manufacture to take on such a task?

My must have features would be: 12v DC, Dante, 16x Line-in only inputs (save on cost of pre-amps and stick a MixPre in-line for your boom channels), L/R outputs, 2x Aux outputs, Penny and Giles faders. 

Do we really need EQ or Comms ports? Is AES or MADI really required as we would be interfacing with a SD PIX anyway... Obviously it wouldn't have the feature set of a Yamaha, Midas or Behringer digital mixer - would that be such as issue? Be honest!

 

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"If a 16-channel location mixing desk could be created for your SD PIX recorder what features would be a must-have? I am assuming SD are not going to create a CL-16 so if you could design a hybrid control surface / analogue to Dante mixer which features would you include and what would you leave out to keep costs down??"

First of all, we need to be clear that a hardware control surface (like the CL-16 you say they will not build) would not work for interfacing with SD 970 and PIX recorders --- the mix engine has to be somewhere, the 970 does not have a mix engine.

"My must have features would be: 12v DC, Dante, 16x Line-in only inputs (save on cost of pre-amps and stick a MixPre in-line for your boom channels), L/R outputs, 2x Aux outputs, Penny and Giles faders."

12 vdc definitely, Dante also, but I disagree with line (analog?) only inputs --- many people still utilize hardwired microphones (boom, plants, music  gigs, etc.) so for me at least a minimum of 4 beautiful mic preamps built in. 

"Do we really need EQ or Comms ports?"

Definitely a Com 1 and Com 2, user assignable, comprehensive EQ as well --- many jobs require fairly complex communication needs that might go beyond just having a couple of aux outputs. Slate mic needed too with selection of built in or external mic.

"Is AES or MADI really required"

For inputs, where to do you connect wireless receivers with AES (or will all of this be handled by Dante?). I'm not too clear on this.

 

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You might consider a phone convo with Ron Meyer of PSC about this--maybe he's already thought about this subject (if anyone has).   I guess you already checked out what small Dante-having mixers there are in the MI and FOH markets already?   None that I know of come close to checking all your boxes, but they are available now, and with support from decent sized companies.  

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1 hour ago, Philip Perkins said:

You might consider a phone convo with Ron Meyer of PSC about this--maybe he's already thought about this subject (if anyone has).   I guess you already checked out what small Dante-having mixers there are in the MI and FOH markets already?   None that I know of come close to checking all your boxes, but they are available now, and with support from decent sized companies.  

Not a bad idea Philip. I have spoken to several manufacturers both big and small. The big companies say the 12v DC market is too small and the small companies say the R&D costs are huge? I have looked at several FOH mixers and your points are very valid but none are 12v DC ;-( and I'd rather not run an inverter.

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Very yep.  But the big-batt/invertor/put-put thing seems to be inevitable for mixers above 12 chan or so.  In the analog days you COULD have an FOH type mixer converted to run on (a lot of) DC, but with digital no one will touch this kind of conversion.  I wonder if SD or Zax etc could be persuaded to make a fader surface that could address TWO of their recorders.....   The modularity of such a setup would have a lot of appeal for location soundies, esp those who might not need the big rig all the time....

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Only a guess, but I'm betting on SD to bring out a 16 track MixerRecorder because they have been successful with their other products and it seems like putting them together all in one unit is well within their abilities. I'd buy one and I'm not far from retirement. I think TV & Film guys in the Bigs, (LA, NYC, London, Atlanta, Vancouver, etc) would want an all powerful cart unit that' Dantes to Venues and other devices. Personally I'd want MicPre's on a minimum of 8 channels. All 16 even better. A premium recorder/mixer on every level. I know all about the all in one argument vs the component idea. Both are valid enough. But if I had this wet dream box and it went down, I'm sure my other gear would get me through.

CrewC

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Bash   

I am pretty sure that as JW mentions, there is no mix engine in the PIX recorders. That will pretty much for certain scupper that idea.

The concept of an external mixer/fader surface for a pix is a great idea, but what you are basically suggesting is something of the ilk of an Allen & Heath QU-16, or better still a GLD, but with a DANTE card. You could maybe pipe the ISO feeds of the inputs out on DANTE to the fader panel/mixer, then pipe them back in on other DANTE channels. The devil in my ear says 'delays'. 

TBH I wonder whether the PIX is the machine on which to hang all of this. The no mix engine breaks the idea really.

Enjoy, sb

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So how hard (rhetorically) would it be to add a mix engine to a 970?   And who knows if it might already be there, slumbering until awakened by the sort of fader surface Crew mentioned?

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The 12VDC makes this hard.  There are plenty of Dante mixers with fair to midlin' preamps and lots of routing capability with Dante out there.  I wonder how many new-development products of the type you describe would get sold.  It's a pretty specific product.  That is asking a huge R&R commitment for no real guarantee of sales.

The control surface that runs one or two recorders has appeal but those recorders aren't Dante enabled, AFAIK.  A Presonus (or Yammy) panel and a JoeCo Dante would work well but it involves a fairly sophisticated inverter and an efficient battery.  I used to run a Yammy 01V96 but the Lithium big block batteries and the real sine-wave inverter cost almost as much as the mixer and took a large commitment to field the rig,

D.

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1 hour ago, tourtelot said:

A Presonus (or Yammy) panel and a JoeCo Dante would work well but it involves a fairly sophisticated inverter and an efficient battery. (Snip)

Matt, have you perchance talked yet to Joe (JoeCo) ? If not, I'm sure that he would be helpful enough in general if not interested in particular to advance and extend the JoeCo line, which appeared out of a need (at the time, or at least the first market, music, but from a broadcast perspective with the Sadie background and a fast road into the high channel reality market).

Jez

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Not sure how many P&G strips will fit in a 19" RU space. That would be essential for me. I think there are far fewer mixers running cable than JW thinks. If that was important to someone, an external pre (lots of lovely 442s around) could supply the small number of mixers with mic pres, and keep the build cost well down for those who don't require them.

I think a 12-14 channel board, 12v, with at least a few routable analog outputs and a Dante card would be well received. Coms are important, I think. EQ is not, beyond LF roll-off. 

Sadly there's just nothing in it for manufacturers. How many of us would drop $10,000 on a 12-14 channel Solice with Dante, for example. Other than me, that is.

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I don't understand the mix engine problem. The mixer would be in the mixer, wouldn't it? It doesn't need to be in the 970. in fact, I highly doubt that SD or Zax or any of the others would provide their control protocol so that someone else could build a controller. So the mix engine would have to be in the mixer, and that would make it more flexible anyway, as it could be used stand-alone.
Extensive COMs are a must for me. I would love a full EQ section, and ideally the EQ could be switched pre or post.
And I really want a small display per channel to which I can assign the role names. I hate having to put tape on my expensive mixer just so I can have the track name there.

And I think it would be useful to make this mixer modular. It seems clear that everyone will have different needs so how about a core mixer which can be filled with various modules as needed. For example I don't need Dante as yet, but could do with an EQ section, which others don't need. Some want 16 mic pres, others don't need any, and so on.

And the A/D converters need to be top-notch, otherwise it won't sell. Not to me anyway

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Here's something I had a look at earlier in the year and I've mentioned a little about to Mr Bacon, however it would require a bit of work to get the control surface mappings sorted- it wouldn't be plug and play.

Most modern audio interfaces have dsp mixing engines in now, and they'll work with a control surface- I've got a couple of the MOTU AVB boxes and have them working with a computer running the control translations from midi to OSC, but hope to have another box replace that.

http://rtsound.net/audio-interfaces-location-mixers/

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6 hours ago, Constantin said:

I don't understand the mix engine problem. The mixer would be in the mixer, wouldn't it? It doesn't need to be in the 970. in fact, I highly doubt that SD or Zax or any of the others would provide their control protocol so that someone else could build a controller. So the mix engine would have to be in the mixer, and that would make it more flexible anyway, as it could be used stand-alone.

My comment about mix engine was just to clarify the understanding of this discussion --- quite a few people when asking for a control surface for the SD 970, something like the CL panels for the 6 series, seem to use the word "mixer" and all the faders they want and inputs and outputs, etc., which is fine when these functions are part of the recorder (the recorder IS a mixer and a recorder). 

3 hours ago, Richard Thomas said:

Here's something I had a look at earlier in the year and I've mentioned a little about to Mr Bacon, however it would require a bit of work to get the control surface mappings sorted- it wouldn't be plug and play.http://rtsound.net/audio-interfaces-location-mixers/

Really nice write up, Richard, on the various computer interfaces (I have been a big fan of Metric Halo for years), but you are right that this wouldn't be for everyone and does require quite a lot of computer configuring that might be beyond what most people would want to do.

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48 minutes ago, Jeff Wexler said:

My comment about mix engine was just to clarify the understanding of this discussion --- quite a few people when asking for a control surface for the SD 970, something like the CL panels for the 6 series, seem to use the word "mixer" and all the faders they want and inputs and outputs, etc., which is fine when these functions are part of the recorder (the recorder IS a mixer and a recorder). 

Sorry Jeff for not answering sooner. I knew what you meant! Yes the 970 does not have a mix engine like the 6-series. What I envisage is a traditional mixer which would be platform independent and could work with any Dante enabled recorder (PIX range, JoeCo etc.).

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Matt, I was pretty clear on what you were describing, a straightforward stand-alone digital mixing panel designed specifically for our style of production work. My general feeling is that as long as people are able to buy full featured mixer-recorders (most all of the offerings from Sound Devices, Zaxcom, Sonosax, Cantar) where there is a mixer-controller-interface available, there will not be much motivation to build a standalone platform independent mixer. Most everyone seems to have settled in to having a mixer-recorder with its hardware controller interface and those who wish to use a recorder that is NOT a mixer-recorder (like the 970) are doing okay with the various digital mixers (like the Yamaha and Behringer, etc.) that work okay even though they were not designed for our typical production sound recording work.

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17 hours ago, Jeff Wexler said:

"If a 16-channel location mixing desk could be created for your SD PIX recorder what features would be a must-have? I am assuming SD are not going to create a CL-16 so if you could design a hybrid control surface / analogue to Dante mixer which features would you include and what would you leave out to keep costs down??"

First of all, we need to be clear that a hardware control surface (like the CL-16 you say they will not build) would not work for interfacing with SD 970 and PIX recorders --- the mix engine has to be somewhere, the 970 does not have a mix engine.

"My must have features would be: 12v DC, Dante, 16x Line-in only inputs (save on cost of pre-amps and stick a MixPre in-line for your boom channels), L/R outputs, 2x Aux outputs, Penny and Giles faders."

12 vdc definitely, Dante also, but I disagree with line (analog?) only inputs --- many people still utilize hardwired microphones (boom, plants, music  gigs, etc.) so for me at least a minimum of 4 beautiful mic preamps built in. 

"Do we really need EQ or Comms ports?"

Definitely a Com 1 and Com 2, user assignable, comprehensive EQ as well --- many jobs require fairly complex communication needs that might go beyond just having a couple of aux outputs. Slate mic needed too with selection of built in or external mic.

"Is AES or MADI really required"

For inputs, where to do you connect wireless receivers with AES (or will all of this be handled by Dante?). I'm not too clear on this.

 

Yes the 970 does not have at the mix engine like the 6-series so the integration many are used too on the CL-12/688 is impossible unless Sound Devices open up the protocols (if they have even been written for the PIX series!). To be clear to some the CL-12 uses the processing power from the 6-series as such the CL-12 is purely a data controller which some (as Jeff mentions) call a mixer in the broadest sense.

I get your points on the Com1&2. I was trying to get to the bottom of what could or could not be left out to save production costs.

As I'm assuming the mixer plugs into a Dante recorder such as the PIX, the recorder would act as the bridge to AES etc.

7 minutes ago, Jeff Wexler said:

Matt, I was pretty clear on what you were describing, a straightforward stand-alone digital mixing panel designed specifically for our style of production work. My general feeling is that as long as people are able to buy full featured mixer-recorders (most all of the offerings from Sound Devices, Zaxcom, Sonosax, Cantar) where there is a mixer-controller-interface available, there will not be much motivation to build a standalone platform independent mixer. Most everyone seems to have settled in to having a mixer-recorder with its hardware controller interface and those who wish to use a recorder that is NOT a mixer-recorder (like the 970) are doing okay with the various digital mixers (like the Yamaha and Behringer, etc.) that work okay even though they were not designed for our typical production sound recording work.

You make good points. I think we may be talking cross purposes. You are correct, if Sound Devices ever produced a CL-16 for the PIX range it would blow out the water anything else on the market. I am a good example of what you've said. I own a 788/CL-9, a 688/CL-12 which both work wonderfully. I'm now at the point I need more tracks so have moved to the PIX range however I'm now stuck for a dedicated location mixer. The lack of 12vDC is a real problem for me as my locations are rarely studio based so there is no AC power. I am therefore facing running an inverter and the issues relating to that.

My Audio Development mixers can be upgraded to AES inputs but this doesn't overcome the lack of inputs... I kinda figured I cannot be the only person in this position...

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A good mixing panel is the hub of one's work environment, providing flexibility in inputs and routing and operational consistency. A new design incorporating digital interfaces and the advantages of computer technology would be a great thing. But, as often happens, there is some tension between goals of flexible configuration and cost control.

With the extensive use of radio links for boom and plant mikes, it's no longer important to have every fader connected to the best quality preamp with full EQ; some economy could be achieved if most inputs were line level controls. But I'm with Jeff and Constantine in favoring a mixer with some full-featured preamps so that a mike could be hard-lined to the console. Not every channel would need this capability but one would want at least two, maybe three, maybe four fully capable inputs.

Cooper and Sonosax addressed this sort of need by designing their boards with a motherboard that accepted plug-in channel circuits. It's an elegant solution that permits the user to configure the console according to their needs and preferences. Unfortunately, it's also an expensive way to build the basic unit.

The Solice panel from PSC competes very well against competitive designs from Cooper (now out of production, of course) and Sonosax. It is acoustically excellent and also reliable at half the cost or less. To effectively match the performance of a $20,000+ Sonosax and keep the price under $10,000 is an accomplishment. Ron Meyer told me that he simplified the design to meet the price goals. All the inputs in the Solice are an integral part of the main motherboard. The whole thing is stuffed with components (an automated process) in one pass. This does mean that a failure in one channel forces return of the whole console for service but it's a very reliable unit. Anyway, my own experience with a Cooper is that opportunities for dropping off only the offending channel board were few; one ended up sending in the whole console if anything went bad.

As often happens, what one really wants is the kind of dedicated unit that will inevitably be quite expensive because it would be costly to make and those costs would be spread over a small pool of users. But most of us are prepared to pay for top quality devices that suit our needs well. This is probably doable if it's possible to reach a general consensus on how many channels would need full capabilities and how many could be minimally featured line inputs.

David

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ramallo   

I'm using a DAD AX32 as a front-end for music recording (Have one of the best preamps of the market IMMO)but I don't have resolved a battery supply for this unit (Only AC at this moment). The unit works with Eucon. I used it with a 970 and was great

Probably would be a nice task for the DAD guys do a battery operated unit (I'll try to write them)

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I've been talking about this for at least two years since Zaxcom announced the now defunct Deva 32 concept. It would've been the first Dante-enabled digital mixer with DC power (and built-in recorder too). Unfortunately for those of us wanting such a product, the Deva 32 transformed into the Deva 24 instead, which is no longer the same thing.

I so desperately would like a digital mixing surface with at least 12 banking faders (for most situations, enough, especially considering I only have 10 fingers to mix with, so that should be enough) that fits within a 19" rackmount space (and doesn't weight 50lbs), is DC-powered, and is Dante enabled. P&G faders would be nice, but not a requirement; it would need to be motorized, though. Infinity knobs for trim and settings. I'd be okay with a "Touch-and-go" knob a la Yamaha for trim and other settings. I think having some analog and digital I/O may be useful to connect to other pieces in the cart that are not Dante-compatible (say IFB transmitter), but I don't see having any phantom power mic inputs on the mixer necessary. Most inputs would be via wireless (so Dante), I would only really need one input for my talkback mic, but phantom isn't necessary for that. And if I actually did need phantom power, I could easily interface any Dante I/O unit separately depending on how many mic inputs I need, all of which could be powered easily over ethernet. So in essence, all I would need at the back of the unit is maybe 2-4 mic/line inputs, 4 mic/line/AES outputs, and you could even throw a bigger AES I/O count (8 in / 8 out) via multi-pin connector just in case. Any other serious I/O I would do via Dante. This would hopefully keep the size and weight of the unit down.

Flexibility is the most important thing. Being able to do custom routing with multiple buses is key, otherwise Dante is useless. Built-in DSP can be a big plus; EQ, compression, limiter, gate, delay, phase, even an automix algorithm would be welcomed additions. To that end, having a decent sized screen to be able to see settings, routing, effects, etc is essential. I do like the idea of small LED screen per channel that will display channel / track naming, as well as values for variables that are being affected on that particular channel.

Unfortunately, as many others have mentioned, I don't know that there are many companies that would be willing to make such a product considering that it wouldn't be many of us buying (I've asked). It's definitely a niche product.

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I'm a little surprised, Jose, how easily you dismiss Deva24 while praising Deva32 (and somewhat mis-characterizing Deva 32 description). It is true that Deva 32 did contain in one box, all the I/O, the mix engine, faders knobs and switches, and the recorder but wasn't really going to be a fully functional standalone digital mixer without also adding to the setup a mini-PC and some sort of display. Now, looking at Deva 24 (and it's really, really close to shipping, finally!), you have one box (essentially the same size as the older Deva Fusion) that does everything and more that you describe: DC powered, Dante, Mic/Line preamps, analog and digital I/O, comprehensive EQ, infinitely flexible routing, 8 outputs, etc. AND it has its own built in touchscreen. If you're using Zaxnet and Zaxcom wireless to get the extra benefit of being able to have total control over all your wireless (when using the RX-12 or RX-12R for example) from the same screen and all this fits in a bag if want to. Now, for a full blown cart setup, add the MIX-16 (which is very much like the mixing panel you have praised that was Deva 32 but minus the I/O and the recorder) which gives you full sized faders, etc. You can add as well, your laptop, a Mac Mini or Mini-PC and have everything that is on the Deva 24 touchscreen available, as big and bright as the host computer's display provides. 

I think there was absolutely nothing lost when Deva 32 morphed into Deva 24.

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1 hour ago, Jeff Wexler said:

Yes, Deva 24 will have Dante (as an option). 

I have not read up a great deal on Deva24. Will it be platform independent? Will I be able to use it as a traditional console and use the Dante output to feed my SD970?

I have no desire to use Zaxcom wireless or their IFB systems with it as heavily invested in other manufacturers.

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As with most things Zax I know of, it seems to be a "full platter" approach: fader surface, mix engine, recorder, wireless + wireless control, wireless monitoring and TC: all proprietary and very tightly integrated. 

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