Need Soundboard Advice?

TorrieS

Member
So I have a dilemma. The college has agreed to upgrade our sound system (badly needed!) but only gave me 40k to do so. (and this is almost a complete rebuild) While I want a Yamaha QL5, it won't fit the budget, so I had thought to get a TF5 for now and upgrade in two years or so to the QL & move the TF to the black box.

The problem is....all of the Yamaha stuff is back-ordered! While I can get my hands on the board, I can't get the stage breakouts. Usually, I would just wait until they came in, but I can't do that due to state purchasing cut-off dates.

So, alternate board ideas? I'm looking at the Soundcraft Si Impact, the Behringer Wing, Midas M32, and the PreSonus StuioLive. I'm leaning towards the Soundcraft but I haven't used one since my Analog days.

This is for a 2-year theater program mainstage, 450 seats, two musicals, two straight plays, two dance concerts a year, usually run between 15-25 wireless max. We're currently running a Behringer x32 that has been put through the wringer.

Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope!

:)
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Wow! I was going to ask why you weren't including Allen and Heath. I know lots of people who are frequently singing their praises. Then I checked for stock status at the usual online sources. The system shortages seem to be hitting all the major contenders. Good luck in your search.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
So I have a dilemma. The college has agreed to upgrade our sound system (badly needed!) but only gave me 40k to do so. (and this is almost a complete rebuild) While I want a Yamaha QL5, it won't fit the budget, so I had thought to get a TF5 for now and upgrade in two years or so to the QL & move the TF to the black box.

The problem is....all of the Yamaha stuff is back-ordered! While I can get my hands on the board, I can't get the stage breakouts. Usually, I would just wait until they came in, but I can't do that due to state purchasing cut-off dates.

So, alternate board ideas? I'm looking at the Soundcraft Si Impact, the Behringer Wing, Midas M32, and the PreSonus StuioLive. I'm leaning towards the Soundcraft but I haven't used one since my Analog days.

This is for a 2-year theater program mainstage, 450 seats, two musicals, two straight plays, two dance concerts a year, usually run between 15-25 wireless max. We're currently running a Behringer x32 that has been put through the wringer.

Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope!

:)

Consider the Tio boxes and QL5 surface. How many analog outputs, or non-Dante digital outputs, do you need? That will drive any expansion card choices....

All presumes Tio is available whilst Rio is MIA, and that's a big presumption right now.

The chip factory fire a few months ago is really hitting home - a great deal of AD/DA and related silicon was made there and that capacity is months from being replaced.

Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy flight.

Edit ps: Have a frank talk with your purchasing manager and see if any funds can be "encumbered" from the current budget cycle for goods on order but not yet invoiced. It's a Really Big Guess when there will be an appreciable change in supply chains for things that need new factories (like semiconductors). Shipping containers, ships, and port berths will eventually equalize on their own but until they do, what used to be reliable and predictable shipping times are just quaint memories.

If my damn digital crystal ball were working, it would probably say "two years, lucky time."
 
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MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Assuming it doesn't violate your policies, you might be able to place an order with a Yamaha dealer and they can invoice you before the products are delivered in order to make the purchasing cutoff. When I worked for an integrator we did that periodically when someone realized last minute their budget cycle was about to lapse or they had grant funding that was use-it-or-lose-it but the order/install couldn’t be performed in time.
 

themuzicman

Well-Known Member
What does your Behringer X32 not do that you think a Midas M32 will solve for you? They are in essence the same product with different pre-amps. What problem are you solving with a new audio console that your current one isn't fulfilling?

Take a look at the shortcomings of your current console, and then figure out which product fulfills those gaps, and finally figure out which one is the best learning tool for your students. I'd make a workbook of the biggest show you've done to date, and then add in all the inputs, busses, and outputs you wish you could have done but were limited by gear - this will help guide you to the console. PM me if you want a workbook example - I'm actually in this process on a show right now, I chart out what I need from the show and that helps me guide the choice of console I request from the rental shop.

For me, the TF5 is not a console I'd really be considering - between the lack of MIDI, the limited bussing, the lack of matrices make it a console I just wouldn't ever want to do a musical on if I had the choice between that and an X32. Then again - if your biggest musical is 25 RF, then maybe you really need the additional 15 channels of input the TF5 has over the X32 to get some band and QLab inputs into the desk, but on the flipside bussing a musical on the TF seems like a bear if you don't have some system processors already downstream - if I was looking at using a TF5 for students I'd also be looking at getting a system processor with an internal matrix to fix those shortcomings.

It's a tricky balance, but from the list provided I'd probably be saying the Behringer Wing because it has the I/O to grow into over your current X32, offers the best bussing options of the list provided, and you can repurpose your X32 into a monitor console should you need that. (I think?).
 

waltg

Member
To echo what others have said, I've spent more hours than I can count on a TF series console and I have a very hard time recommending it for anything other than a very basic tech program. Just by the nature of it being a beginner console, it feels very clunky and limited, not to mention I seem to have consistent issues with DANTE.
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
I did this decision tree 3 years ago, and my top picks were the AH SQ-5/6/7, the SI Impact, and the X32.

I like the Impact's UI a lot, but people I trust say the audio path isn't up to snuff. The A&H's are nice, but have no Cue Clear key, which drives me up a wall.

X32's seem ok in the channel so far, and they're not bad, really. And with a million or more in the field, they're pretty rider friendly nowadays. And they have 4.0 firmware, so they're keeping the line running.

If you need the preamp quality, sure, M32...
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
I've been looking at "pre amps". For the most part, engineers managed to design "straight wire, but with gain" well back into The Previous Century. Why there is so much written, discussed, and debated about them continues to surprise - and occasionally bewilder - me.

It comes down to 2 things - we need additional voltage gain to raise the level of microphones to line level (or we did when everything was analogue); and some desire that preamps should "do something I like" to the sound. The former is a technical need, the latter an "artistic" decision.

Where the "straight wire with gain" model is tested is how preamps perform at either end of their designs - how much self-noise exists at Full Tilt Boogie, and how non-linear the circuit becomes at very low gains. Where the coloration model is tested tends to be entirely subjective.

The "Myth, the Legend" of "Midas" preamps goes back a long way. That mis-users of the circuit liked the results (non-linear behavior at higher-than-needed-gain) is what created the myth/legend that has become marketing fodder for at least 25 years. What is happening is by saturating the input, DISTORTION in the form of soft clipping was created. Distortion is the product of non-linear circuit behavior and analogue mixing is/was full of these circuits and behavior. One can spend a lot of time and effort to recreate the rich, creamy analogue chaos in the digital realm...

I'd submit that in theatre, we prefer for our console preamps to not introduce non-linear behavior and any analogue non-linear behavior that is desired will be created or specified by the sound designer. So if the mic pre amps aren't noisy at the amount of needed gain or impart their own distortion, the preamp is not on the list of equipment challenges that requires a horse, a squire, and a jousting lance. Now if anyone has seen Sancho Panza, I need to remount and tilt at other technical windmills.
 

FMEng

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
I personally own two X32s, one compact and one full size, and I work in two places with M32s. For me, the difference is ergonomics. The steeper rake of the rear of the M32 makes it a lot easier to see and operate from a seated position. The upside of the X32 layout is it makes for a much thinner road case. In a permanently installed location, I much prefer the M32. The M32 is a handsome console, too.

I choose between the the X32 Compact and the full size based on whether I'd be flipping layers too much, whether I have help for lifting it, and how much vehicle space I have. I love having the same, familiar interface in all of the models. When I'm the one man band doing video and audio, the PC software saves me a lot of running.

I have not compared the mic preamps in a controlled way, and I suspect the differences are pretty subtle. Maybe some day I'll take the time to try that. They're both decent sounding mixers. There's a reason the X32/M32 completely changed the mixer market, and it wasn't just the price.
 

NickVon

Well-Known Member
I'll 2nd @macsound . The TF5 is....fine. The X32/m32 is fine. (and if it's your daily driver I think it's flow and interface will grow on you.) I own a SQ6 and LOVE IT. Does it have as many matrixes as the M/X32? No... but 3 is plenty for my standard use cases. What I dislike about the M32 for "Theater" is the lack of a custom fader layer, and only being able to keep 16 inputs on the layer at a time. There are some workarounds for this, a piece of software linked on these forums that allow easy programing of channels in to DCA's to be cued up, but trying to solve problems that don the SQ doesn't have :) . I can't comment much on the TF series. I've only had hands one, once for a simple musical and it did the job.

THE QL/CL's give you much more for more money and I have loved working them. At the price point for the near term consoles you're looking at right now, I think the SQ is king, if it's Matrix count fits your needs.

Jay's point on the SQ not have a "cue/PFL" clear is valid. I use one of the soft key's to be my PFL clear. It does seem like an odd design decision to not include one designed into the layout.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
If one can purchase used equipment, there are a bunch of QL and CL5 with Rio 32/16 i/o boxes selling cheap these days.

Allen-Heath lost my business 10+ years ago when their USA distributor failed, repeatedly, to get demo consoles to my shop. We were up front about the size and nature of our prospective purchase and use cases but AMS simply blew us off. So unless they're the last desk on earth, A-H is back on the no bueno list for me.

Oh, we bought 5 mixers, a combination of Yamaha and Avid... YMMV and all that.
 

Calc

Well-Known Member
What I dislike about the M32 for "Theater" is the lack of a custom fader layer, and only being able to keep 16 inputs on the layer at a time.

Depending on what you mean by "custom fader layer", they added that functionality in the 4.0 firmware. You can rearrange inputs into 'User banks', and set those banks as your fader channels. Looks like the can be recorded inside scenes too, though I haven't done that. Either way, you're not stuck with the old banks-of-eight setup you were before.
 

macsound

Well-Known Member
I'll 2nd @macsound . The TF5 is....fine. The X32/m32 is fine. (and if it's your daily driver I think it's flow and interface will grow on you.) I own a SQ6 and LOVE IT. Does it have as many matrixes as the M/X32? No... but 3 is plenty for my standard use cases. What I dislike about the M32 for "Theater" is the lack of a custom fader layer, and only being able to keep 16 inputs on the layer at a time. There are some workarounds for this, a piece of software linked on these forums that allow easy programing of channels in to DCA's to be cued up, but trying to solve problems that don the SQ doesn't have :) . I can't comment much on the TF series. I've only had hands one, once for a simple musical and it did the job.

THE QL/CL's give you much more for more money and I have loved working them. At the price point for the near term consoles you're looking at right now, I think the SQ is king, if it's Matrix count fits your needs.

Jay's point on the SQ not have a "cue/PFL" clear is valid. I use one of the soft key's to be my PFL clear. It does seem like an odd design decision to not include one designed into the layout.
Yes, custom layers is wonderful.
It's very apparent because any fader can have any function. So I can have inputs mixed with DCAs and output faders, all on the same layer, right next to each other. This is really helpful because I personally hate controlling the reverb return and love that I can assign the reverb send to a DCA and put it right next to all my vocals.

My recollection on the X32 is you can only adjust layer functions in banks of 8.
 

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