Both have there place. Digital x-overs/ speaker processing work great, however i am not a fan of digital desks either - hard to use on the fly and when one goes wrong, it really goes wrong (not good during a large scale concert). Also they`ve brought out digi desks with just one cable going back to the desk (a/d connverters at stage box), great piece of enigneering to fit all that signal down one cable! But what happens when that ONE cable stops working during a gig - your in the sh*t!
For consoles, I tend to prefer analog for the simple reason of accessibility. On an analog desk, every control is in front of me, and I can adjust it immediately. On a digital desk, I may or may not need to dig through menus to access the controls I need.
For signal processing gear, I would go with either analog or digital, since it's not something I would need to be changing every few seconds in the middle of a show.
depends, definitley analogue for a live mixing console, but all audio editing, playback (be it from computer, cd player or md) is easiest done with digital
i must admit the feel of using faders and knobs far outweighs any tangible benfits of digital boards,
(anyway how much cooler does an analogue look with all those knobs,,, ha. "do you know what ALL those knobs and switches do..?"
I'm seeing a lot of judgments here that are based on digital consoles that aren't designed for live use. Mind you, that's understandable, because consoles like the Yamaha PM1D and the DiGiCo line are quite expensive and not likely to be come across until you're out working professionally (and even then only in limited venues).
That said, you cannot judge digital consoles on a whole if you haven't used these. Recording consoles, particularly the more popular ones from Yamaha, are super-kludgy and a pain to use. I'm touring with an 02R right now, and it took me a good month or two to become really comfortable with it. Even now I still don't love it, but I've gotten to the point where I can quickly do anything.
With consoles designed specifically for live use, however, things get soooooo much easier. The PM1D is better by far (although not my favorite). It eliminates many menus, you have tons and tons of faders at your fingertips, it's not the same as Eqing on a dedicated channel strip, but it's still not too bad once you get used to it.
The DiGiCo line, however, is amazing. Everything is super easy to get to, right in front of you, and by having only one channel strip section for EQ and processing of a bank of 8 faders, things are actually easier to use, because they're less clutterred. Again, a little adjustment is necessary, but surprisingly little.
Anyway, I just wanted to point out that it's not a fair evaluation to judge a whole category on the basis of a few common but less than optimal options when there are much better representatives of how things can be done well out there.
As another plug for the digital side... as far as editing and working with sound on your computer, you can get the feel of real faders and knobs for many popular software packages by getting an external (usualy USB) control desk that bascily just acts like a highly specialized keyboard (with knobs and faders) that are asignable to different settings in the program. I have never used one of these, but they look like they are nice (although they are $$).
If anyone has used one of these, please let me know what you think, I am looking into recording optoins and probably feel comfortable enough with a mouse (i am truely a computer nerd at heart) but would like any input people have regarding these controls.
I'm going to second what Andy said above, don't know the accesibility and functions of a digital console until you've used one designed for live applications. Myself I've gotten the chance to see a PM1D in action (though not actually used one) and the engineer didn't seem to have any problems with tweaking what he needed right away. My only hands on experience with digital was with a Sony piece of crap in a studio. I hated it, I used the Soundcraft Ghost whenever I could (analog).
Having heard both types of consoles in action I'd have to say I perfer the sound of an analog over digital. A/D converters seem to detract from the quality of the signal (this is a personal opinion, as it is with everyone. There is very little/no frequency difference in an analog or digitally converted input). Digital just sounds processed ... which might just be what you're going for in some gigs, so it's really a matter of weighing the pros and cons.
In the end: I voted analog. Nothing like all the "ooos" and "aaahhs" when you bring in an MH4
I am for digital integration in an analog world. For example I like VCA groups and automated mute groups. I also like the feel of an analog console, and the fact that the only thing that can go wrong is a pop, no crashes. At the same time recording is much simpler with digital audio. I would choose analog over digital for live, digital over analog for a studio application.
See, even with the 02R, while there is that nervousness in having so many eggs in onebasket, the flexibility in having so many things available in one package makes it soooooo much more useful than an analog console.
With digital, you can have dynamics processing on every channel if you need it, a graphic display of the EQ curve on your parametrics channel EQs, built in delay on the outputs, built in effects processing, etc.
To do what I do with the 02R, I'd need a rack full of outboard gear with an analog console. Have you seen the massive FOH racks that most musicals tour with? On my last tour, "The Full Monty", we had one single FOH rack, which consisted of ClearCom, a CD Burner, two MiniDisc players, and some video gear. ALL of the system processing happened right in the PM1D, which made for a smaller FOH setup, a quicker load-in, and a lighter truck pack.
So yeah, I like digital. Not to say that I don't love a nice analog console, or that I think digital is perfect. But it definitely has its benefits, and it's here to stay.
Digidesign Venue looks like a really great digital solution for live audio. I still works analog if the CPU crashes. There was a really good review of it in FOH not that long ago. In my opinion, digital is the way to go with large shows, even thought I've never really used a digital board.
Ahh! We didn't get our grant for new sound equip. They said it was a capitol improvement. But there might end up being a seperate sound budget in the future, instead of sharing with lights. (Sorry, little rant over now.)
Im gonna stay with analog for as long as I can. Some of the new digital consoles are looking pretty tempting though. But unfortunately none of the venues i work with wants to spend $7000 or more on a console. Which i find sad because I really want to play with the mackie tt24.
That's just the point I'm trying to make, SuperCow--a digital console designed with live use in mind not only has plentiful knobs and faders, but is easier to use because there are fewer of them. Instead of having a huge barrage of knobs to twist, you have one set of knobs (or, in the case of the DiGiCo D5, one set per 8 faders), and all you have to do is touch the fader or the select button for the channel you want before you reach for the set of knobs. This way, you're always reaching for the same spot, and don't have to scan through a ton of knobs to find the right one.
Again, digital has its ups and downs. I've had a PM1D crash (thankfully not during a show), and it isn't a pretty sight. But overall, [i[with a console designed specifically for live use[/i], if you take a little time to get used to it, it's actually easier than an analog console in certain respects. It's just an adjustment because you're used to the analog way of working.