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I would deeply appreciate some advice for a mixer for our new art/performance space. we have the capability to have 12 inputs into the system, and 12 separate speakers. We would like a mixer that would allow us to adjust the gain of at least 8 input channels on the fly as pass-thrus, and we would also like the mixer to be able to mix those down to a stereo pair. It would also be great to be able to jack a laptop directly into the mixer via firewire to get inputs and outputs to software like ableton live and Cycling '74 Max, but this could be a second box.

We are currently looking at: Soundcraft Si Compact 16 (unclear if it can be upgraded to accept firewire in) PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 (can talk to Ableton Live but I am unclear if it can do the pass-thru channels) Soundcraft FX16ii (does what we want except no digital i/o)

Any and all advice is appreciated!

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2 Answers

Interesting request. Let me make sure I understand what you're asking for:

  • 12 inputs - do all of these need to be mic (XLR), or can you have 8 mic/line and 4 stereo pairs?
  • 8 aux outs - you have 12 speakers, but only need to mix out to 8 seperate feeds? Or do you want to use the inserts to get a line off of each channel?
  • 1 stereo master out
  • Discrete firewire recording capabilities for all sources

Let me first say, I hope you have a significant budget. These kinds of mixers are not cheap.

Here's what I would do, if I were you and was looking to save some money - get a patch bay. Have your sources be the inputs, and make sure it has HALF-NORMAL wiring. That way you can have your sound board hooked up to one row of outputs, and when you need to record, you can jack into the sources you need on the other row. Signal flow is split between the two. This way you can find an analog board (cheaper!) that meets your sound mixing needs, and a recording setup (like a Presonus Firepod or two - also cheaper) that meets those needs.

I would also check out the Mackie Onyx series of boards - they have great recording capabilities and might be the all in one solution you're looking for. Not too bad on price.

Third option - get a DSP to do a lot of our routing. This might not be a bad idea for something with a lot of speakers anyway - you need something that can provide EQ for all of those speakers. Getting a dozen analog EQs will be pricey.

That's all I got based on what I can tell you're asking for. If you need more info, please clarify a bit and ask more.

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To address some of your questions:

The inputs could be of either type, we can always to converter cables, but alot of the system will be xlr. The mixer will be routing things into a crestrom 20x20 audio system, which lets us have some level of matrixing as setup, but not much in the way of adjustment on the fly, which is what the sound board is for.
Currently the crestron is accepting 10 xlr's and one stereo pair inputs, with additional inputs available thru cobranet. Recording is largely unimportant for our needs as we will mostly be outputing multiple channels out of breakout boxes from laptops, and not dealing too much with instruments or mics. After some discussion today, I am seriously considering the Soundcraft FX16ii because the direct outputs are fader controllable, so we can adjust the levels of each channel individually and still send them back out to individual speakers. Instead of buying a mixer with the digital built in, we will buy a motu firewire->8 channels breakout box and then use a 8 channel xlr snake to connect that to the mixer, where we can also route any additional inputs.

I am intrigued by your mention of needing the ability to EQ each channel, but do not know what board would allow us to do that to each channel and then send that out of the "direct" outputs so that the channels stay discrete. The most important thing for the space is to be able to address each speaker with a seperate source when needed.

Hopefully that does not raise more questions, and I would love to get feedback on our proposed solution.

Thanks!

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@digitalColeman this is interesting. since this is more live sound/integration, let's take this offline instead of going back and forth here. colin(at)vcprod.com. btw, i'm a Crestron programmer by trade, so i might be able to offer some better solutions to using the audio processor - they generally have a lot of internal control that just takes an xpanel to unlock.. might not have to buy a console at all. –  VCProd Nov 17 '10 at 15:09
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