Mixers/Consoles Review Allen & Heath SQ6 (SQ5, SQ7)

NickVon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Location
07003
Allen & Heath SQ6

My Background:

Primary console: Yamaha LS9

Secondary Experience, Berhinger X32, Yamaha CL5, A&H GLD, A&H Dlive/iLive, Soundcraft Expression

My primary console at work is an ls9 where I mix one off events, Community/semi Pro Musical Theater, College Events, and Dance. Off-site and freelancing I’ve encountered a variety of consoles that I’ve had passing hands on experience with. Clearly I won’t compare the 3500$ msrp SQ6 to the iLive/Dive and CL5 for obvious reasons. My Freelancing jobs are generally mixing Musical theater in rooms/theaters with established sound systems.

The Basics:

I have mixed two shows so far on the SQ6 with identical setups, same wireless mics and PA in the same room with in a 2 weeks of each other. (RENT and 13: the Musical) The Year prior I’d mixed in the same room with a GLD80

I really enjoyed the workflow of dialing in compressors/ FX racks/ EQ etc. Getting used to “MUTE” instead of Yamaha’s “ON” buttons took a couple days to get used to. I occasionally got confused about how to get to certain settings because there are a number of ways to get to the same functions of the console. It took both shows and some You Tub’ing to comprehend A&H’s Groups vs Aux mentality, since the LS9 just uses “mix”. I’ll be better prepared for there difference for fancier setups in the future I think.

I only ran a Main L+R into a system processor running splitting the mono-sub out, one set of delays on matrix, and a vocal monitor mix for the music Director.

19 channels of Body Mics,

5 channels of Band.

2 Stereo Sources (Playback from Qlab) and House music (ipod)

Talkback/VOG

Band was mixed into a Group Master, and the Vocals where split up into a Lead/Ensemble DCA’s

The sound was great, I don’t have a golden ear but I loved how room sounded and with my playing around I was happier with how the shows sounded this year vs the year prior on the GLD80


Things I really liked over the LS9:

Multiple fully customization layers and all the modern convinces of digital console. Features that have become staples that even high end older consoles (like LS9-32) don't have. (Scribble Strips, Touch Screens, Sidechaing)

The FX racks I felt where more intuitive and I felt it was easier to dial in subtle effects that didn’t come across as harsh or overbearing but still fit. (FX settings not a strong point for me as an individual skill.)

I still labeled with board tape channel numbers, despite naming the “characters” on the LED strip. (I mark a script with mic numbers as off and on, so a full word describing a mic is not as easy to recognize as a nice solid MIC 4 on!)

I tried the USB B multitrack recording and found it quite intuitive and powerful. That said 28 tracks at 24bit, 96khz was more than my 2017 Mac Pro Retina could handle. After between 60 -90 minutes The recording would hard stop, and need to be started again. Next time the console goes out I’ll try tracking in Logic at 16bit, 48khz for the recording testing. When my venue reopens i'll try it with venues Mac Pro.

Things I'd like improved:

I like the soft key Rotaries with the screens, but wish they indicated a DB meter when assigned to a channel fader level. I used 2 of them as “channel fader controls/ and mute on/off for play back and the emcee mic”

The Midi Control is a work in progress from A&H. I’m looking forward to what is anticipated direct midi control through soft keys assignments. (ie. Being able to send a very specific midi control that Qlab recognize, and interprets as Play/ Pause, arrow Up, Down, etc. There was some workaround by using “midi faders on a layer, and using the select, mute and cue buttons” but it’s harder to label what was assigned, and puts Qlab transport controls very close to buttons and faders which are being touched frequently in my circumstance.

I had hard time getting My 2 SanDisk Extreme 250GB SSD to be recognized as drives by the console. Either for saving show files or for stereo/multitrack recording through the SQDrive. I took a couple of attempts formatting on a computer before the SQ was happy to run it’s “formatting” on them.

Additional Thoughts:

Once my Arts Venue reopens after some works, I’m looking forward to doing a little A/B’ing between the SQ6 and the LS9 in a room I’m very familiar with.

While personally I don’t need to bring a console with for most of the freelance work I do, I will absolute be toting it around where I have the time to hook in, or at locations with no digital boards now that I own the SQ. I will probably even bring it to a local HS that has and X32, as I’m much happier with the added flexibility and workflow on the SQ over the X32. And it’s great to expose Students to all sorts of different gear!

I do not have any additional accessories for the SQ series, stageboxes, ME monitoring system etc. If the Dante Cards for SQ come down in price from 1500$ I may very much look at one for Dante Sound Card Capture and integration with some older ilive IDR’s for expanded channel count. Though the ability use them with the AB/AR stage boxes also makes the SQ expand-ability quite budget friendly for getting all the way up the 48 channel count. (but at the cost of the Dante cards now, you’d spend more on the cards then just purchasing all the DX Stage Boxes’ you’d need for it instead.)

I don’t have much comment on the console in a touring band world. Though it’s flexibly still appears greater then it’s X32 competitor.

IF anyone has any specific question about my experiences with it I'll answer as best I can.
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
A&H are *very* pissy about disk formats, yes; it irritates me no end as the IT Guy.

A couple of specific questions:

On your LS9, do you use the UDKs? For what? (Mine are set for 8 mix-to-faders, and 4 group mutes)

Did you find that you missed Master PAFL Clear (Cue Clear)? Did you assign it to a UDK? Do you find the Yamaha UDKs more comfortable to use (as I do) being down on the surface?

Was there enough space to put down board tape without covering the scribbles? How wide?

And as for MIDI, I'm hoping they'll get religion (I've RFEd this on their forum) and implement OSC instead. Its introspection capabilities are really handy for programmers.
 

NickVon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Location
07003
A&H are *very* pissy about disk formats, yes; it irritates me no end as the IT Guy.

A couple of specific questions:

On your LS9, do you use the UDKs? For what? (Mine are set for 8 mix-to-faders, and 4 group mutes)

Did you find that you missed Master PAFL Clear (Cue Clear)? Did you assign it to a UDK? Do you find the Yamaha UDKs more comfortable to use (as I do) being down on the surface?

Was there enough space to put down board tape without covering the scribbles? How wide?

And as for MIDI, I'm hoping they'll get religion (I've RFEd this on their forum) and implement OSC instead. Its introspection capabilities are really handy for programmers.
I do use the LS9 UDK's Primarily: Store Current Scene, Talkback Latch, Start Recording (USB), Stop Recording (USB), Mute Group 1, Mute Group 2, Mutgroup 3, Scene Recall Inc, Scene Recall Dec. Qlab Go, Qlab Puase, Qlab Stop, Qlap UP, Qlab Down. Depending on the show.

It's a little annoying that there is no dedicated button for PAFL clear, But I did Assign it to a Soft key on the SQ6. worked just fine since there are bunch of softkeys.
I do prefer the softkeys being down closer to the palm rest area on the LS9, but I don't often run scene recall to run a show. So the softkeyes up top left and on the right side I got used to just fine.

There was plenty of space for board tape above the faders below the scribble strip (I believe I used 1") otherwise 3/4" would work I think would work above the scribble strip, which I did not try.
 

macsound

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Does anyone have any insight for USB drives on the SQ?
I tried a couple of USB3 drives and pre-formatted them as FAT32 and they don't seem to work. Old USB2 flash drives work and some USB3 flash drives, but I don't understand how I could depend on multitrack record onto anything small and USB2.
The manual is vague on USB2 or 3 compatibility but does mention using a hard drive is preferred over a flash drive.
Also, is there a way to record in mp3 or any format other than WAV?
 

FMEng

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Mar 31, 2008
Location
Tacoma, WA
Well, I know that A&H boards are incredibly, unreasonably pissy about wanting to format the thumb drive themselves; not that they don't say so, but...
That's generally true with any flash recorder, no matter the model. Let the recorder format the drive or there might be trouble.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Does anyone have any insight for USB drives on the SQ?
I tried a couple of USB3 drives and pre-formatted them as FAT32 and they don't seem to work. Old USB2 flash drives work and some USB3 flash drives, but I don't understand how I could depend on multitrack record onto anything small and USB2.
The manual is vague on USB2 or 3 compatibility but does mention using a hard drive is preferred over a flash drive.
Also, is there a way to record in mp3 or any format other than WAV?
I think A-H have a www list of USB thumb drives that work (or the models listed did on the day they were tested).
 

NickVon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Location
07003
Well, I know that A&H boards are incredibly, unreasonably pissy about wanting to format the thumb drive themselves; not that they don't say so, but...
That's generally true with any flash recorder, no matter the model. Let the recorder format the drive or there might be trouble.
I think A-H have a www list of USB thumb drives that work (or the models listed did on the day they were tested).
They are.
It is, and you should.
and they do.

That said. It was tricky to figure what "drive format" to format my Sandisk Extreme 250GB0 when using a MAC. Bottom line. "Fat32ex" should be the goto. From there the SQ can detect it and format and file-structure it as necessary! :) Becuase of the multitrack recording and playback the SQ is more persnickety then my LS9 in terms of driving setup.
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 11, 2012
Location
north central OK
In other SQ news,
https://dev-core.org/
is working on an SQ version of mixing station, they already have versions for QU and GLD.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Just looking at it briefly, this is a 3rd party software to use on iPhone or iPad? Is it officially allowed by these companies or is he using some exploit? Is it better?
Sorry for all the questions...
David Giga is the developer and he's a good guy. I don't know if he's developing for the iOS platforms but I'm using the paid "pro" version of his X/M32 Mixing Station for Android (the free version is less customizable) for 3 or 4 years now. David has progressively expanded the brand range of consoles he's writing for - rumor is he'll have one for Soundcraft Si series... He's very responsive to bug reports, feature requests and development ideas.

Regarding "officially allowed"... they don't have to support 3rd party efforts and I don't think there's much they could do if they didn't like what he does. That said, I was told that Music Group paid him for some of his code to be used in their own X/M32 'droid apps.

Set yourself free from the Tyranny of the iFruit; for <$100 you can get an Android device. If you really don't like either the Mixing Station apps or find you can't live with yourself after being unfaithful to the Ghost of Steve Jobs, you can give it away or return for a refund if you purchased somewhere with a good returns policy.
 

macsound

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Thanks Tim. Do you know his motivation? Like that the official apps aren't as flexible, too ugly, glitchy...
I'll definitely try them out, but I've battled too long with the world of Android and Windows and am very happy with my stockpile of Apple products.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Thanks Tim. Do you know his motivation? Like that the official apps aren't as flexible, too ugly, glitchy...
I'll definitely try them out, but I've battled too long with the world of Android and Windows and am very happy with my stockpile of Apple products.
I presume profit motive from sale of the fullest-featured version. The X/M32 pro version is about US$6 IIRC. I also think he's a sound person and musician so he's got an interest in having software that works, unlike the crap Soundcraft and Music Group were putting out. A-H remote software development is back-tracked to allow their folks to work on features/firmware for the consoles themselves, so David is writing for some A-H products, too. Pretty much any console that uses OSC (instead of Midi under the hood), he can write for.
 
Last edited:

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
[ reply to NickVon ]

In fact, no. My X32, my Ion, and my LS9-32 are all perfectly happy with flash drives they didn't format, as they should be. If Allen & Heath can't be bothered to use a filesystem library that's properly compatible with the Real World, it *is* my problem, but it's definitely their fault, and they should fix it.
 

JohnD

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 11, 2012
Location
north central OK
Informed sources say the Mixing Station for SQ should be available next week.
 
  • Like
Reactions: macsound

macsound

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Tried today to do a multitrack record from the SQ to garageband over usb. Every 3 minutes or so, I'd get an error that the disk wasn't fast enough.
Couple times tried doing 4 tracks, another couple time tried 8 tracks. Tried writing to the internal SSD of a MBP and also an external SSD over USB. Read/Writes between 300-500MBps and with my math, 8 tracks at 48k 24bit is like 9.2Mbps. So i should have plenty of overhead.
Has anyone tried this with Garageband or should I try Audacity or Logic or Protools?
 

steine

Active Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Location
Denmark
Tracks Live is both in Mac and PC versions, and super easy to transfer recordings between the systems.

It is free.

I find it takes up way less ressources than most other multitrack programs I have tried (on second place I have Reaper, but then we are in a fullblown DAW)
My old Macbook Pro 2011 handles 64 tracks recording in Tracks, and at the same time stereo sfx playback from QLab, with power enough to run extra programs like monitoring for wireless michrophones etc.

When you "only" need to multitrack record and playback, I feel this is the closest I have been to a good old Multitrack tapemachine. ;)

(edit for typo that hurt my eyes, additional gramma errors left on purpose.......)
 
Last edited: