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Allen and Heath ML4000

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by airkarol, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    Hey-

    I'm designing a new sound system for a theater. Has anyone had any experience with the Allen and Heath ML4000? Also, any input on automation programming control would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    David
     
  2. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    They're good. A friend of mine owns one, and he swears by it. Of course, then again, he swears by anything made by Allen & Heath. If I remember correctly, the automation only recalls mute status and VCA assigns. I couldn't find in the manual how to create a snapshot. But I find them very useful to recall my mutes for a show. Just beware, if you use the VCA mutes, those override the snapshot mutes. That's gotten my buddy in trouble a few times.

    What frame size are you getting, and who's the theater for? Have you considered going digital? A Yamaha M7 or LS9 gives you full automation and recall over just about every parameter, not to mention full dynamics on every channel.
     
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  3. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    You're correct about the automation. Thanks for the advice. I'm planning on at least 40 channels, as we've maxed out our current 32 ch. Mackie. It's an semi-outdoor theater in a summer camp. I was looking at the PM5D, but then realized it was out of the price range. The LS9 is too small, but now, after read this, I've started looking at the M7CL-48. Is it worth the price difference?
     
  4. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    YES. The M7 is a great desk. The touchscreen makes life extremely easy. And for theatre, the scene recall makes life slightly less hectic. It's also very stable, and the preamps aren't half bad. It also fits in to a much smaller footprint, and you don't have to stretch your hands all over the place to make things happen.

    Plus, it eliminates racks of comp/limiters, EQs, effects, and other things usually necessary to make a live sound rig happen the old analog way. And you can put a Cobranet card in it, and put amp racks with DME Satellite units in them anywhere you need and just plug in a pair of ethernet cables, and you've got 8 channels of audio on the spot. The best part is when you have a main act and an opener, and the main act sound checks before the opener - you just save the main act's settings to a scene, and make another scene for the opener. Then when you're changing over to the main act, you don't have to set the knobs back to where you want them for the main act.
     
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  5. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    I second pretty much everything Soundlight has said. Once you add in the cost of the outboard racks, plus the ML4k, you're probably right around the price of what an M7 costs. The full dynamics, and full recall also make it worth it in my book. Didn't want to seem like I was touting its horn in my first post.

    The only downside, people will start to think you're the lighting guy :lol:.

    Another plus is Studio Manager. While you can edit cues for the A&H on a computer, SM lets you edit the entire console on a virtual representation of the control surface. It's good for letting me set up things ahead of time on the computer, saving me time at rehersals.

    Just my two cents.
     
  6. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    The other great thing about the Studio Manger software is that you can get a tablet PC and use a wireless network adapter to edit settings on the console from onstage. For instance, if you want to adjust levels for an onstage monitor, you simply send signal through it, and hop up on stage with your wireless tablet, and set levels for that mix. The 16 omni outs that are assignable as mixes, auxes, matricies, etc. are also a huge bonus, as different shows require different assortments of each.
     
  7. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    Thanks for the advice. With multiple shows running at the same time in that space, the snapshot feature will be great. Also, direct outs-- it doesn't have that. We record a lot of our shows, and currently, we're taking direct outs of the leads, and group outs of the ensemble. Is there a good way to accomplish this with the M7CL. A big decision maker is the price. It seems about 10k more; is that correct?
     
  8. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    You can put option IO cards in (16 inputs and 16 outputs per card) and use those for your recording outputs. You can get them in just about any digital format, as well as 8in/8out analog format. The price difference (yes, the M7 is about 10K more) is worth it because with the M7, you don't need any outboard. It has thousands of dollars of dynamics processing in it, as well as hundreds of dollars of effects processing and another few hundred of graphic equalization. Toss in a free test OSC, the Studio Manager software, the snapshot recall, etc. and it definitely becomes worth it.

    Also remember that if you add option IO cards, you've got a second layer of channels! You can put 32 more channels of input in to the board via the option IO cards with digital input units. So suddenly you have an 80 input console instead of a 48 input console, or a 64 input console instead of a 32 input console.
     
  9. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    If you can, since you're in NY, try and get both consoles to demo. Rent them for a show or two and see which you like better. Yes, the M7 is about 10K more, but if you can afford it, I'd say it's worth it. Once again, I completely agree with Soundlight over the bang for your buck. Having all those features in one console, eliminating outboard (though I'd still want a graphic EQ for something fast to grab if mistress feedback rears her head) makes the price tag worth it, if not breaking even with all the processing.

    And if you're using it for rock shows, you get two consoles for the price of one, in a way. You can put the board on-stage and have someone running the surface for monitors, while the FOH dude can run around with a tablet and Studio Manager mixing FOH on a wireless network. I've never tried it myself, but I have read about people doing it that way to great success.

    Also, if you're interested in the M7, do a search on the Lab at ProSoundWeb and see what people who use it say about it. I've read many good things about it over there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2008
  10. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    Thanks. I think we will have room in the budget for it. I'm also planning on a DBX Driverack for delays, and EQ on the speakers-- if only there were speakers for the room. :) It's a thrust stage, and there's a small balcony overhang in the center, and on each side. I'm thinking of putting 2 speakers under the center balcony, 2 above it, and one below each side balcony for fill there. There's also a pit (that's not really in a pit) in front of the thrust. I'm still thinking about a way to cover the seating areas that aren't under a balcony. I'm also planning on contacting a few companies in NY about demoing the M7.
     
  11. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Drop the driverack with the M7. You get graphic eqs, and you can individually delay the outputs in feet or seconds. Either that or get a DME Satellite unit and program all of the graphics, comp/limiters, etc in to that, and run it off of a cobranet card.
     
  12. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Don't buy a Driverack PA, you'll hate yourself in the morning.
     
  13. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    IDK, I'd like to see some sort of DSP running the system for x-over and alignment, if not limiting and some corrective EQ. Phil, I don't think he's planning on a DRPA with what he mentioned. I'd want at the minimum a DriveRack 480, preferably a 4800 if you're planning on going the dbx route. I know there are a few other out there, XTA, Sabine, Klark-Teknik if you can afford it. We use the XTA ones here, but I personally haven't used them. I like the PC editor for the DriveRacks better.

    The BSS products look interesting, since they work with CobraNet, but I haven't done very much research into them. You might see what they're about.

    To sum up, I'd have DSP to control the speakers, and possibly a graphic EQ next to the console if you don't plan on using the internal graphics. I've always found the internal ones to be a bit difficult to get to if you have feedback ringing through the system.

    I'd really want DSP if he's talking about multiple zones. You can drive them off the matrix outs if you want, but I'd still like to see x-over, limiting, and EQ for them.
     
  14. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Lots of options on system processing, I've used BSS London Architect, MediaMatrix, Biamp Audia/Nexia, Shure and several others. An increasing number of the system processors are coming with EtherSound or CobraNet I/O, meaning you might be able to use a card in a console slot to feed them that way rather than D/A out of the console and A/D back into the DSP.

    DSP's tend to fall into three categories; fixed, tic-tac-toe and drag and drop. Fixed units have a defined structure, processing and processing order, you can adjust parameters but the processing and routing is pre-defined. Some fixed units have multiple arrangements or presets too address different standard application, but you are still limited to the processing and processing arrangements that the device manufacturer has defined. The Driverack PA and XTA are examples of a fixed DSP. Tic-tac-toe boxes have a defined structure, but you can assign various processing and routing within that structure, so a little more flexibility to address different situations, for example you may assign different processing, not just settings but types of processing, to different outputs. The Shure P4800 is a good example of a tic-tac-toe box. In drag and drop processors you have a blank slate and completely define the processing and routing by dropping in available processing algorithms and connecting then as desired. The BSS, MediaMatrix Nion, Biamp Audia/Nexia and Symetrix SymNet are examples of such processors. In my experience, it is important to understand this difference as the processor needs to fit the application and unless thus should allow for the desired routing and processing arrangement and flexibility. If your system is not a 'standard' arrangement, many lower cost processors may not really provide the desired flexibility in fitting the processing to the system.

    I agree with the idea of using the console EQ, dynamics and delay for 'artistic' adjustments and putting the house processing and routing in a separate, password protected processor. I always prefer to separate the house processing from what I let everyone play with.

    On the speaker layout, we'd have to know a lot more about the facility, the performances, the budget, etc. to give any relevant input or comments.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2008
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  15. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    Thanks again for all of the replies. I attached drawings (it's the best i have) of the room. It's a semi-outdoor space with no acoustic treatment. There's a thrust stage, with a pit orchestra in front of it.

    Thanks for all of the information on processing. The Driverack I was looking at was the Driverack 4820. It seems great, although I like having the 8 inputs that the Sabine has. The problem with the Sabine Navigator is that it doesn't have GEQ on the outputs. We do own 6 channels of GEQ that can be used on outputs if a digital console is used. I don't really know much about the Yamaha products in this area. At a glance, the price seems ok, and it looks like they have a lot of functionality. Looking at BSS, their products look great. Cobranet cards for both would add about $1k to the total price. I'm worried about the budget there.

    Our budget is about 35k. Included in that are 12 new Shure ULX Series Receivers, 12 bodypack transmitters and uhf sm58's. That will come out to about $10k.

    This is all for a summer theater, where 3 shows are produced in this particular theater every 3 weeks. They all run at the same time, which is why I'm leaning towards digital. In between, the room is used for other smaller performances. We tend to have between 15-25 lavaliere microphones in most shows, sometimes going up to around 30-40.

    For speaker placement, I was thinking of putting two EAW VR62's above the center balcony, two below. Also, one below each side overhang. Those would be fill for those areas. I'm still thinking about what to use to cover the front seating areas, and those around the thrust. Line arrays seem to get a bit expensive, and I'm hesitant to put speakers directly over the stage, as it will only aid in feedback. I'm thinking about putting something on the sides of the proscenium to fill those areas to the sides of the thrust. We currently own two of the VR62 speakers.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    What is the sound system used for? Is it primarily speech reinforcement or effects or music playback? Do the shows include full range, high energy/level music as a major component? Where is the mix position and where would other equipment be located? What power and conduit or raceway provisions are provided for the audio system? Not trying to do a full design here, but rather just identifying some of the issues that could affect the system and that should be considered. You may have already addressed all of these, if not you need to as they can affect the options available and the costs involved.

    The thrust stage, balconies and seating arrangement make it where it will likely take looking in some detail at what mounting locations are feasible and the actual speaker coverage you can obtain, so any quick 'off the cuff' suggestions are pretty much just guesses. With that in mind, my first reaction is that some form of center array or cluster with a very wide pattern and located out near the end of the thrust stage might be your best bet, along with some side fills off either side of the stage, but the structure may not allow hanging anything like that out there. Next would be an exploded mono array at the front of the seating, but again, I don't know where it is actually practical to hang or mount anything, We don't even really know if a mono system is acceptable.

    With the VR62, you can rotate the horn to get the box to work better physically for most fill applications, but if you look at the actual pattern of the box, the nominal 60 degree vertical pattern has a big dip between 1kHz and 3kHz and the pattern drops to only about 25 degrees at 2kHz. Since that is in a fairly critical range for intelligibility, you might need to consider it when looking at the coverage. And unless they were special ordered, I don't believe the VR62 are intended for outdoor or exterior applications, which sounds like it may be a factor.

    When looking at the CobraNet costs, be sure to look at the related cabling, hardware and installation costs as well as the equipment costs in order to make a fair comparison. Not saying CN or ES the way to go, but don't look at just the card costs in making that decision. In fact, be sure to consider these other costs in general as the installation, cable, equipment racks, adjustments and tuning, etc. for the system are usually a significant portion of the total system cost. Don't neglect those aspects, it makes no sense to spend all your money on equipment to just throw it together.

    This also ties back to the DSP units as the system processing will be only as good as the programming and adjustments. Unless you have the tools and experience for all the setup, don't forget to factor in someone to help on it.
     
  17. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    The sound system will be used mostly for speech reinforcement over a live pit orchestra. It's also used for a lot of music playback. Power will not be an issue.

    About mounting positions, speakers can be mounted from the top, and from any of the balconies. Nothing can be on the actual sides of the stage. We can also mount to the sides of the proscenium. Mono would probably be the best bet, as it will be hard to get a stereo image through the whole room because of the thrust stage.

    The room is enclosed, except for the back, behind the bottom center seating area. The humidity is really the only problem with that (besides not being able to see the lighting effects during a matinee.) Rain and such won't be an issue there. Is there something else in the price range of the VR-62 that you would recommend? Also, these will depend on what is used for the main center cluster.

    The thing with CobraNet, it would be nice to go from the mixer into the DSP, which would probably end up adding about $1k to the cost, possibly a bit more. That's would include room for cabling. Would there be a substantial quality loss with the added conversions of using analog outs from the mixer, into the DSP? We own a few racks that can be consolidated. We will keep the current rack our amps are in. We'll probably need another 8U for the added microphones, and something for an additional power supply if we decide to purchase one. Another $1k will be set aside for any cabling, which will be minimal as much of it that will be needed is already owned.
     
  18. hsaunier

    hsaunier Active Member

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    Another feature of the M7 in a student application is user profiles. You can create a usb jump drive "key" with a user profile allowing novice users access only to parameters that you choose. So if you have very new operater and you don't want them to access EQ's for example, simply lock the parameter.
     
  19. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Then wait for the feedback to blow some horns.
     
  20. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    Or just don't give access :D
     

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