New Live Sound Mixer

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Albatross

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I'm finally making the leap past my Yamaha MG10 mixer.

There's an old thread where we were debating the merits of the QSC Touchmix 8, the Bose Tonematch 4, and some others as an upgrade for my ceremony rig. I was always worried with the QSC that having fader control on the screen might be clunky to work with in the moment and that I couldn't make real-time adjustments as fast as I'd like. Or be on the wrong page or something and not have immediate access to what I wanted. And on the Tonematch - it would work with my exact ceremony set up but had no room to grow. Occasionally I'll have a guitar player or something that want to play through my system during a ceremony and I didn't want to be super constrained on inputs.

In addition, I've got a wedding this fall where the couple are musicians and want to have a number of their friends play throughout their wedding and I was planning to rent something that could handle more inputs.

So yesterday I saw Ben Stowe's post on Facebook in the DJIS group on the Digilive 16, and decided to pick one up.
Studiomaster-Digilive16-console-left-side-view.jpeg

This is certainly more mixer than I need for an average wedding ceremony, but I'm excited to have it as an option. It avoids my fears of only having screen based faders like the Touchmix, and opens up way more capability for me to take on projects larger than my Yamaha can handle.

I'm pretty excited to dig into this thing and start learning it!
 

Jeff Romard

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They are great mixers I was looking at one a couple of months ago but I talked myself out of it I got more mixers than I know what to do with it would be hard to justify. It is always good to have more than you need in a mixer you never know what might come up
 

sawdust123

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I have been considering a digital mixer. I have used many over the years and really like them. One of the nicest features for my needs is remote operation. The cheaper digital mixers (e.g. Behringer Air series or Soundcraft UI series) require you to provide your own control surface. The ones that have a built in control surface generally cost over $1K. I like the size of the Touchmix series. Of course, you don't get faders with a small package. The Digilive16 seems like a nice compromise between size and features. However, I'm not an Apple guy and they don't seem to support Android for their remote app.
 
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Albatross

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I have been consider a digital mixer. I have used many over the years and really like them. One of the nicest features for my needs is remote operation. The cheaper digital mixers (e.g. Behringer Air series or Soundcraft UI series) require you to provide your own control surface. The ones that have a built in control surface generally cost over $1K. I like the size of the Touchmix series. Of course, you don't get faders with a small package. The Digilive16 seems like a nice compromise between size and features. However, I'm not an Apple guy and they don't seem to support Android for their remote app.
100% agree on all of that. I didn't want to use a system where the iPad was my only way to control it and I didn't have any analog feel.

I own an older iPad, so I'll have to test to see if it's capable of running this thing. But even if I don't have wireless control initially I think for my needs it will be ok.
 

Albatross

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Did you need more inputs than the T8s though?
Honestly, I don't know. It would have been plenty for most of my applications.

Maybe I'm underselling Bose on this... but my impression of Bose is that they have worked so hard at simplicity, that they also take some of the choice away from the user. Kind of like Apple with iPhones.

If you want an intuitive product that just works out of the box... the iPhone is an incredible device. If you don't want Apple Music as your default media player... you can kiss Tim Cook's ass. They are willing to take that choice away, but there is no debating that the device works well as designed.

Bose seems like they put a lot of secret sauce in their pre-sets and settings, but if you want to develop your own magic it's not really the right tool. Again - that may not be fair, there could be all sorts of customization that you can do on that unit and I just didn't take the time to dig deep enough.

With the deal that NLFX is running, the money was pretty comparable and I feel like I'm getting more headroom to grow on the Digilive and more ability to learn and develop skills too.
 

TES3S

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Sep 18, 2016
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I am sure you will have no regret and you will love it!

I don't think you are giving the Tonematch enough credit and as you said, you didn't look into the customization. I don't use any of the presets for Ceremony stuff. I have fine-tuned and customized the hell out of the PEQ, Gate, other EQ, and Crossover settings to have unbelievable and arguably the best ceremony sound out of anyone I know here in California. You will do the same with any digital mixer. I use one for my main DJ setup too and have different settings per channel. So each mic has its own DSP, my Rane One has its own DSP, and Dinner music has its own EQ.
 

Proformance

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I was always worried with the QSC that having fader control on the screen might be clunky to work with in the moment and that I couldn't make real-time adjustments as fast as I'd like. Or be on the wrong page or something and not have immediate access to what I wanted.
The issue of the control surface is somewhat moot because you're still thinking like a DJ rather than a live audio engineer. I own or have used each of the mixers you cite and the only one I would stay away from is the Bose - which is more of a jack-knife than a main tool.

The issues you cite with the TouchMix and other models still exist with this one The faders do not have a one-to-one relationship to any channel or bus no matter what console you choose. You are working in LAYERS and must always be mindful of what is SELECTED or activated .That aspect never goes away. The Touchmix BTW, uses a rotary encoder rather than faders so, you don't have to use the touchscreen if you prefer tactile control.

The need to suddenly change something should also fade into the background as you learn how to do live sound mixing. Assuming you had 12 mics plugged into this thing you'd manage them at the group level not at the individual channels.

For example, your wedding is likely to have 3 open mics including a lavaliere on each the officiant and groom, and one on a stand for readers. Perhaps even a fourth condenser hidden in the arch. All of these mics operate in the same field with respect to your main L&R and should be grouped - hence you EQ the group rather than the individual mics. You would only EQ an individual mic if you were trying to alter it's real sound or compensate for some product deficiency like excessive handling noise. Any other useful adjustment would have been completed during sound checks.

Either way, once you learn the art you'll be buying a new mixer anyway if you catch the bug. This one may have some limitations or missing features that you will soon learn to appreciate, but like Belinda says: (Wizard of Oz 1936) "you had to learn it for yourself."
 
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Albatross

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The issue of the control surface is somewhat moot because you're still thinking like a DJ rather than a live audio engineer. I own or have used each of the mixers you cite and the only one I would stay away from is the Bose - which is more of a jack-knife than a main tool.

The issues you cite with the TouchMix and other models still exist with this one The faders do not have a one-to-one relationship to any channel or bus no matter what console you choose. You are working in LAYERS and must always be mindful of what is SELECTED or activated .That aspect never goes away. The Touchmix BTW, uses a rotary encoder rather than faders so, you don't have to use the touchscreen if you prefer tactile control.

The need to suddenly change something should also fade into the background as you learn how to do live sound mixing. Assuming you had 12 mics plugged into this thing you'd manage them at the group level not at the individual channels.

For example, your wedding is likely to have 3 open mics including a lavaliere on each the officiant and groom, and one on a stand for readers. Perhaps even a fourth condenser hidden in the arch. All of these mics operate in the same field with respect to your main L&R and should be grouped - hence you EQ the group rather than the individual mics. You would only EQ an individual mic if you were trying to alter it's real sound or compensate for some product deficiency like excessive handling noise. Any other useful adjustment would have been completed during sound checks.

Either way, once you learn the art you'll be buying a new mixer anyway if you catch the bug. This one may have some limitations or missing features that you will soon learn to appreciate, but like Belinda says: (Wizard of Oz 1936) "you had to learn it for yourself."
You're right that I think like a DJ. I'm at the beginning of my learning curve when it comes to mixing audio.

I do, at least, understand that there are multiple pages of faders on this unit. But I can fit my normal wedding ceremony on a single page and keep that one live.

I tend to keep the groom's lapel off until it's time for the exchanging of vows. And just earlier tonight I had two readers that spoke at wildly different volumes into the handheld mic that was on the stand. I don't expect to be EQing those things on the fly, but having quick access to those levels feels important. Maybe there are better ways to do it, but it has worked for me.
 
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sawdust123

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I have worked with layers a lot in the past. This was for musical stage productions. Weddings by comparison are a piece of cake. However, one thing I really appreciated was remote software that could show every channel, even though the mixer could only show half of them. I was using Yamaha's Studio Manager software. I try to set up my layers so that only one needs to be visible at a time. This is where features of digital mixers really differ. Some let you set up a custom layer with a mixture of inputs and groups others don't.
 
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Proformance

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I do, at least, understand that there are multiple pages of faders on this unit. But I can fit my normal wedding ceremony on a single page and keep that one live.

I tend to keep the groom's lapel off until it's time for the exchanging of vows. And just earlier tonight I had two readers that spoke at wildly different volumes into the handheld mic that was on the stand. I don't expect to be EQing those things on the fly, but having quick access to those levels feels important. Maybe there are better ways to do it, but it has worked for me.
The Fader banks are only one example of layers. They exist everywhere in the system and you still have to move through menu and sub-menus as you work on any given channel or the entire rack of dynamics control now available to manage volume fluctuations.

Once you setup a mic channel for optimal performance you want to leave it alone. Any volume adjustment you feel you have to make should be done downstream or by DCA where it doesn't affect any of the inter-channel relationships.

The "DJ Think" refers to your assumptions regarding the audio path, and in this case - a single "layer" feeding direct to LR Mains. While you can certainly turn mics on and off and feed direct to mains, that's not the best way to mix. The result will be as you point out - that you will have to ride the faders for each new person who steps up to the mic or begins speaking. Its likely part of someone's voice will get cut. Volume adjustments and muted mics will be readily apparent to listeners and captured for all time on any feed you gave to a live-stream or videographer. Even worse - the moment a mic doesn't respond the way a person expects they recoil and stop speaking, drawing even more attention to what might have been just a momentary glitch.

More importantly, if we change the volume of the reader's mic then we will have changed it's relationship to all the other mics and we will quickly end up in a game of whack-a-mole with our faders. What started as a "good mix" might devolve into what feels like chaos at the controls. In addition to to learning about your mixer - study up on the acoustical gain relationship of multiple mics capturing the same sounds. We're putting mics on discreet people but, those people are not in isolation and we have to account for that in how we mix. Turning mics on and off is one way, but it comes with its own set of problems.
 
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Albatross

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The Fader banks are only one example of layers. They exist everywhere in the system and you still have to move through menu and sub-menus as you work on any given channel or the entire rack of dynamics control now available to manage volume fluctuations.

Once you setup a mic channel for optimal performance you want to leave it alone. Any volume adjustment you feel you have to make should be done downstream or by DCA where it doesn't affect any of the inter-channel relationships.

The "DJ Think" refers to your assumptions regarding the audio path, and in this case - a single "layer" feeding direct to LR Mains. While you can certainly turn mics on and off and feed direct to mains, that's not the best way to mix. The result will be as you point out - that you will have to ride the faders for each new person who steps up to the mic or begins speaking. Its likely part of someone's voice will get cut. Volume adjustments and muted mics will be readily apparent to listeners and captured for all time on any feed you gave to a live-stream or videographer. Even worse - the moment a mic doesn't respond the way a person expects they recoil and stop speaking, drawing even more attention to what might have been just a momentary glitch.

More importantly, if we change the volume of the reader's mic then we will have changed it's relationship to all the other mics and we will quickly end up in a game of whack-a-mole with our faders. What started as a "good mix" might devolve into what feels like chaos at the controls. In addition to to learning about your mixer - study up on the acoustical gain relationship of multiple mics capturing the same sounds. We're putting mics on discreet people but, those people are not in isolation and we have to account for that in how we mix. Turning mics on and off is one way, but it comes with its own set of problems.
I'm familiar with all of the issues you're laying out, and maybe this is just the learning curve, but I don't understand even with a more powerful tool what will make those kinds of adjustments without doing it manually.

To add a number to it just for simplicity, if I want the overall volume for each voice to reach be the equivalent of a 10. On an average speaker they are at a 3, so I'm adding 7 with amplification. If the next person steps up and speaks at a 1, I have to add 9 to get them to the same overall volume as everyone else.

I'm not necessarily worried about the mic now being hotter than the others because I had to do something to get them to the same audible level as the rest of the people speaking.

During a toast at a wedding I see all sorts of poor mic handling technique that constantly needs adjusting. They hold the mic low needing additional power to amplify them, and then swing it around sometimes getting too loud, and sometimes even quieter.

What process should I be using to control for the element of the users not being consistent in their volume?
 

Albatross

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The example you're laying out seems to make way more sense to me when mixing a band. If I have all the drums set up where each individual drum mic is in perfect relation - then I just want to bring the drums as a group into the rest of the mix without disrupting the relationship between the kick and snare.

But when mixing a band, you assume the kick drum getting quieter and louder is a choice from the musician, not just someone that has no idea how to speak into a mic.
 

sawdust123

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Proformance, you are describing problems that occur with bands where you may want an entire drum kit on a DCA or when running monitors from FOH. For a wedding with a guitarist or keyboardist and maybe three mics, 8 faders is going to be plenty. Many smaller mixers now offer Dugan automixing (or a ripoff of it). This is perfect for weddings and eliminates much of the need to ride faders and worry about the NOM.
 

Proformance

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Proformance, you are describing problems that occur with bands where you may want an entire drum kit on a DCA or when running monitors from FOH. For a wedding with a guitarist or keyboardist and maybe three mics, 8 faders is going to be plenty. Many smaller mixers now offer Dugan automixing (or a ripoff of it). This is perfect for weddings and eliminates much of the need to ride faders and worry about the NOM.
I haven't mentioned a thing about bands, drums, or monitors. The use of groups applies to all manner of live sound, and is also separate from the application of a DCA or even an automixer. A wedding ceremony often applies multiple mics to the same sound source - that alone implies "group" utility. It doesn't matter how large or small the group - the benefits are the same.

The Studiomaster probably doesn't include an automix feature or DCAs. It falls short of the current Touchmix models and even the Behringer XR series. (It's made in China for a European market and branded under a couple different names.) It will be a great start for someone just entering the digital mixer realm (far better than the Bose) but, if the application expands beyond a couple of wedding mics and he learns good skills he'll be buying a new mixer in about 24 months.

Unlike a DJ - a live audio mix should not call attention to itself. If you're a fader jockey than you're mixing like a DJ not an audio engineer.
 

Proformance

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The example you're laying out seems to make way more sense to me when mixing a band.
That's because your mindset about mixing is still fixed in the DJ realm and small analog utility mixers. So far, you've only spoken about microphones with respect to TONE - something that generally should be left quite natural for a wedding ceremony.

Live audio mixing starts by resolving the acoustic space. Most of what needs to be done has nothing to do with whatever tonal quality you might desire on a specific mic. You can apply such frosting later - but, you first need a solid cake to put it on.

If you try to build a mix one fader at a time you could need hours to setup or sound check and you'll surely be stressed. You want to develop good habits right from the start. A lot of things are common across channels so approach a mix by identifying the logical groups and applying what they have in common at a group level.

Every mic at your wedding needs a low-cut filter, and maybe a high shelf. You might apply a gate to only the reader's mic. So, right there you have reason to EQ at the group level and apply a gate at the channel level. Whatever feedback plagues the officiant mic is likely to be a problem for the groom's mic too - so you want to deal with that ONCE not twice. If there are backup mics you also want those to track with whatever changes are made to the mics they would replace - and using groups can do this for you.

If the readers mic is farther away or closer to the MAIN LR speakers then maybe you want to leave that out of the group, or group it with a backup mic located for that same purpose. The point is - mixing groups is easier than mixing individual channels and prevents you from getting lost in your setup. When something needs attention it is easier and faster to identify the offending group than to find the unique channel.

When you are applying a group approach there is far less need for multiple faders at your fingertips - hence the reason there are so few on a digital mixer.
 
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Proformance

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To add a number to it just for simplicity, if I want the overall volume for each voice to reach be the equivalent of a 10. On an average speaker they are at a 3, so I'm adding 7 with amplification. If the next person steps up and speaks at a 1, I have to add 9 to get them to the same overall volume as everyone else.

I'm not necessarily worried about the mic now being hotter than the others because I had to do something to get them to the same audible level as the rest of the people speaking.

During a toast at a wedding I see all sorts of poor mic handling technique that constantly needs adjusting. They hold the mic low needing additional power to amplify them, and then swing it around sometimes getting too loud, and sometimes even quieter.

What process should I be using to control for the element of the users not being consistent in their volume?
For the purposes you describe GAIN and VOLUME are not the same thing. DJ mixer inputs have a fixed gain with a volume control. On your console you will set a variable GAIN control for whatever mic or device is being used and then control VOLUME separately. Hence, you are not going the make the mic or device "hotter" but you can make the resulting output louder if necessary. You do not change the GAIN setting to make a soft talker louder.

How to set gain structure for the console is probably the first thing you should try to nail down using some online tutorials. Otherwise, you could unintentionally box yourself into to some very narrow limits or low headroom as a result of bad gain structure.