Exciting news introduced yesterday, the Digidesign SC48! I had a chance to take a demo for a test drive a few weeks ago since we are going to be strongly considering replacing some M7CLs with this console. If you’ve missed the details, the SC48 is essentially a D-Show Mix Rack/Profile system without the rack; everything is built into the console. It’s insanely small – 16 channel faders and 8 master faders. 48 in, 16 out is the standard config although you can expand the outputs to 32. It includes two mix cards with the capacity for 20 plug-ins in the rack (rather than 100 in the full-blown D-Show systems). Included as standard is ECX laptop control of the system and a firewire connection (Protools 8 LE also comes with the console) for 18 channels of I/O to a laptop or desktop for recording. There’s even an included shelf that fits perfectly on the left side of the desk for the laptop to sit in close proximity to the control surface. Price point is in the neighborhood of a M7CL.
I’m excited about this console for a few reasons:
- To the best of my knowledge Digidesign is the first and only company to create a range of live mixing consoles based on the same software with interchangeable file standards. In our multi-campus model, this is HUGE. The new SC48 means engineers at Kensington would only have to learn one software and it would be consistent whether they are mixing at a portable campus on a 48×16 system or at one of our permanent locations with i/o that could easily exceed 96×32 or more. Also means that our guys can build preset libraries of their favorite settings and travel with them from room to room with perfect translation.
- It should be no surprise, since Digidesign is first and foremost a software company, but the D-Show platform is the most powerful, well thought out, and intuitive digital audio platform I’ve ever worked on. The snapshot automation system is the standard every other console should be patterned after and the native use of plug-ins takes mixing to an entirely different stratosphere.
- I love that the SC48 carries on the same small footprint of the Profile with 24 faders (16 input/8 output). I love mixing on the Profile so much because everything is directly in front of you and instantly available and the SC48 feels great for 48 inputs.
- A new feature in v2.8 of the software makes the 16 channel faders really useful. Digidesign has modeled a feature after the Midas “pop groups”…double tap the select on a VCA fader and up to 16 of the faders assigned to that VCA populate immediately to the left of the master section. Regardless of whichever bank the drum channels are on, doubletap the VCA and they pop up to the top bank and are available for immediate control. As I play with a potential channel layout for our campus scenario, this feature is huge!
There are a couple weaknesses in the initial release…
- Initially, there is no on-board accommodation for an external stage rack or digital snake. Analog only inputs into the SC48. If you want to use a digital snake (such as the Whirlwind E-Snake we use currently at several campuses), there is no way to integrate gain control of those external preamps into the console. BIG weakness. C’mon Digi!
- I’m sad that there is no PQ control on board. The SC48 is not the only system to be missing PQ – the Mix Rack system also has no provision for PQ. If you’ve been following my thoughts since we installed our Venue system last Summer, you know that I think PQ rocks! I understand in a package of the SC48′s size, some things have to be left out. I just wish there was an expansion option to add PQ control.
Overall, this console rocks! Kensington owns four Yamaha M7CLs but I can’t imagine that lasting for much longer. Changing from a PM1D to the D-Show was the single best decision I’ve made for audio at the Troy campus and I have a feeling we’ll be saying the same thing soon about the SC48. Yamaha consoles are reliable, steady workhorses and are certainly a capable tool. But Digidesign’s software puts them in an entirely different league. It is intuitive, so powerful, and now compatible among multiple levels of systems. The Venue becomes far more transparent than any other desk I’ve used, allowing the engineer to focus on mixing while the technology supports that task, rather than being a slave to the workflow of the software.
We have a demo coming in the next few weeks so a few of our campus engineers can spend some time on the SC48. I’ll let you know how that goes.