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Compact mixing desks - what are you using?


Al Krow

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We've been using Allen & Heath mixing desks (Zed10FX and Zed60-14FX) models for a long while and they've served us very well. However, we're coming up against the constraints of the limited monitor outputs on the A&H desks though (one aux-out and one headphone out). I've recently come across the Soundcraft Signature series, which look well featured, and have three individually controllable aux-outs as well as a headphone out. Seem to get pretty good reviews online.

 

Any of you come across Soundcraft gear or, if not, be interested to hear what you're using and how well you rate your desks?

Edited by Al Krow
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Why not just go for the Behringer X series digital desks, the XR18 has 6 monitor sends and a separate aux out?

 

We have ours in a 3u shallow rack alongside a router, power strip and bluetooth adapter (for wireless aux out) and it's very compact, however on it's own it's just 31 x 13 x 15cm - absolutely tiny.

Edited by lemmywinks
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I did the sound for my old drummer a few months back and he had a soundcraft signature, I am not sure what model, but it was pretty big. it was ok for an old school mixer, although being an X18 user there was a limited number of outputs and its a little harder going back to that sort of mixer, but in the end I got a reasonable sound and they seemed happy enough on stage (there were 6 of them, sharing monitors). The mixer actually worked fine and was more flexible than the old alto my old group used to use, although made me realise how I couldn't actually go back to that style!

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Just now, lemmywinks said:

Why noy just go for the Behringer X series digital desks, the XR18 has 6 monitor sends and a separate aux out?

 

We have ours in a 3u shallow rack alongside a router, power strip and bluetooth adapter (for wireless aux out) and it's very compact, however on it's own it's just 31 x 13 x 15cm - absolutely tiny.

Cheers. Do you need a separate tablet or mobile phone to set up the desk and how easy is to tweak the settings on the fly? 

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Just now, Al Krow said:

Cheers. Do you need a separate tablet or mobile phone to set up the desk and how easy is to tweak the settings on the fly? 

 

You need a tablet. doesn't actually have to be separate, mine also does lyrics and runs soft synths.

But I also have a XControl, which gives me sliders and stuff

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Just now, Al Krow said:

Cheers. Do you need a separate tablet or mobile phone to set up the desk and how easy is to tweak the settings on the fly? 

 

Realistically a decent sized tablet for the main mix, I use an old Toshiba Portege Z20t convertible laptop but the software runs on pretty much anything. Band members use the simplified phone app to tweak their individual monitor mix but I use a 9" Windows tablet, I have this on a mic stand clamp attached to my bass stand so it's always within easy reach but not in the way. If you want to use it wirelessly you will need a 5Ghz router though so maybe the Soundcraft Ui or RCF digital desks would be a better bet.

 

Making adjustments is easy, once you get over the initial learning curve there's so many useful features that it makes life a lot easier. Loads of handy presets for compresson settings and HPF on inputs, stuff like that. Put it this way - I don't really know what I'm doing and it was easy to get a good sound!

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Also full graphic equaliser on any channel and overall channel, 4 effect slots with loads of choices (that are actually good). The 5GHz router (which you don't absolutely need) is about £30 and usb powered.

And the main useful thing is you can just stick it at the back where its easier for everyone to plug in, rather than have it where you can access it during the gig, and when you go to set up, you can wander out into the crowd and adjust it from the FOH.

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+1 for the Behringer XR12/18.

Our XR12 is more than enough for our needs, good preamps and as said a very versatile mixer. I use an old Samsung 9ins Tablet for chord charts and mixing on the fly, it's very easy to toggle between each App. I still use the onboard router without any of the problems that others have experineced. But many have upgraded to outboard routers.

Edited by JohnDaBass
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We use an old Soundcraft Spirit F1 16.     This doesn't have built in FX so we use an external FX processor.   Has three Aux Outputs (Pre, Pre/Post, P

ost) and all the other bit's n'bobs including Headphone and (studio)monitor outs.     It is "used and abused" by us and works very well.  In terms of sounding good (minimal noise) and robustness it's great.  Be better with on board FX's but otherwise great.    

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5 minutes ago, Pirellithecat said:

We use an old Soundcraft Spirit F1 16.     This doesn't have built in FX so we use an external FX processor.   Has three Aux Outputs (Pre, Pre/Post, P

ost) and all the other bit's n'bobs including Headphone and (studio)monitor outs.     It is "used and abused" by us and works very well.  In terms of sounding good (minimal noise) and robustness it's great.  Be better with on board FX's but otherwise great.    

Yeah the Soundcraft Signature series has on-board fx and, as we know, our singers do like a bit of reverb! 🙂

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1 hour ago, Woodinblack said:

I used to use an XR16 (still have it), it was actually enough, but the 18 lets you do multichannel recording so you can postmix, and I really wanted to do that!

 

The reason we chose the 18 is we wanted 5 separate monitor mixes and also every input is XLR which means we only need to have one type of cable. Although that last part sounds trivial it invalidates the "I don't know what cables go where" excuse from band members who want other people to do all the work.

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Zoom LiveTrack L-20.

Looks and acts a little like an analogue desk but also doubles up as a 20 discrete channel input DAW, recordable on usb drive, memory card or direct to laptop via usb cable. We record all our gigs and play with them later in Reaper or Harrison mixbus.

Also has bluetooth to tablet for wandering about mixing.

Great preamps and fx, gates, 16 standalone compressors, 3 band mid parametric eq etc..

scene setting for recalling each venue so less messing about in regular venues.

6 monitor mixes with each one an individual mix

Yes I am a fanboi!

only downside so far is the power supply is a bit flimsy

https://zoomcorp.com/en/gb/digital-mixer-multi-track-recorders/digital-mixer-recorder/livetrak-l-20/

Edited by skidder652003
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The band I tech for uses an A&H QU-SB and we use it for the stripped down "acoustic" version of our band as well. It has 4 x mono and 3 x stereo groups, in addition to main L&R.

 

It needs a router and a tablet to control it (unless you can get the MIDI connection to run) but it's a pretty useful piece of kit.

 

We use the X-Air18 at the theatre, which again is a good mixer and is directly compatible with the Behringer X-Touch physical surface.

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15 hours ago, skidder652003 said:

Zoom LiveTrack L-20.

Looks and acts a little like an analogue desk but also doubles up as a 20 discrete channel input DAW, recordable on usb drive, memory card or direct to laptop via usb cable. We record all our gigs and play with them later in Reaper or Harrison mixbus.

Also has bluetooth to tablet for wandering about mixing.

Great preamps and fx, gates, 16 standalone compressors, 3 band mid parametric eq etc..

scene setting for recalling each venue so less messing about in regular venues.

6 monitor mixes with each one an individual mix

Yes I am a fanboi!

only downside so far is the power supply is a bit flimsy

https://zoomcorp.com/en/gb/digital-mixer-multi-track-recorders/digital-mixer-recorder/livetrak-l-20/

 

Not considered these, but they do look well featured! £700+ though.

The smaller Zoom LiveTrack L-12 could, however, be just the ticket for us. 

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I have both a Soundcraft Signature 10 and an XR18.
 

The Soundcraft was purchased for really small pub gigs where there was no real need for more than a couple separate monitor feeds. It’s great, quiet, great sounding preamps, good (quiet) effects and useful touches like limiters on some channels, USB stereo out, interval mute (mutes all channels but the phono in (but annoyingly not the monitors) etc. I’d get another if I needed to replace it, though possibly the 12MTK. I was considering the 22MTK for live and home studio work too. 
 

The XR18 however is another league - once you get over the tricky learning curve it’s so much more useful and has so many better options. I have to say after a range of gigs using the XR18, when I went back to the Soundcraft I felt a little bereft! Band members were moaning about not being able to control their monitor mixes (makes a change from them complaining about being able to…) and I missed the easy setup with scenes etc. 

 

My only issue with the XR18 is the lack of a physical vol knob for when some jackass unplugs/plugs in the wrong thing and causes howling feedback. I do have the XTouch controller but don’t really use it as a physical surface any more. 

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1 hour ago, Woodinblack said:

Impressive but makes you wonder if you want that much stuff, why not go for the X32 which has the 16 channel sliders and the 8 bus sliders?

As a guess, I'd say it's so they can have the mixer on stage and just run a single cable out for the control. Unless they're using wireless MIDI as well...?

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I use the XR18 for my bands (and you should too!) but I also have a Soundcraft Notepad 5 that is superb. My Souncdraft is very small and just gets used for odd jobs, as an interface, for running music at parties, etc, but I would 100% recommend anything from them based on my expereience. 

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3 hours ago, Jack said:

I use the XR18 for my bands (and you should too!) but I also have a Soundcraft Notepad 5 that is superb. My Souncdraft is very small and just gets used for odd jobs, as an interface, for running music at parties, etc, but I would 100% recommend anything from them based on my expereience. 

 

I have the Notepad 5, in fact I think you recommended it ages ago after my Behringer 302USB started playing up. Been using it as my regular practice setup ever since, great little desk.

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Wow. I just found out you can apparently run the XAir App on a Raspberry Pi! 

 

I'm going to put together a Pi multitrack recorder to use with my XR18, but I also found out there's a Pi native version of XAir too. 

 

I was intending to use a 3.5" touchscreen for the recorder as suggested here: https://www.z-liverec.com/

 

I daresay that's probably WAY too small for Xair, but it might be useful to have as a backup to an iPad in a worst-case scenario. 

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