First Week Mixing Live Jobs on PreSonus StudioLive
by, 03-10-2011 at 12:12 AM (2329 Views)
After reading Bigtree's posts raving about his new PreSonus mixer for the past couple months, I've been anxious to get one to evaluate in person. So far I've had a week with my grubby little paws on a StudioLive 24.4.2 at home, mixing some band tracks late at night - that was fun! I had a live show on the HD24 from a few months ago that I'd been looking forward to mixing - and it was a good chance to familiarize myself with the PreSonus' thought process. Having labored over the O1v before, I can switch the dottering old brain into menu-mode when the results are worthwhile.
I'm used to having hundreds of knobs, hundreds of buttons, and between 8 and 32 rack spaces of outboard signal processing within easy reach for live gigs - depending on complexity. On Monday, I delivered a StudioLive 24 to a local school and I have been operating it for their spring musical for the last few days with zero outboard gear to rely on.
Initial impression - Wow! For starters the pre-amps sound really good - a nice selling point for both live and studio users. But for live use - wrangling 14 wireless headsets [all very decent Countryman and AKG] - I can't tell you how nice it is to have gates and compressors on every channel without lugging in racks and racks of processing. You expect good pres, EQs, and routing in a mixer- but the dynamics processing is an incredible bonus. When the pit starts getting carried away the gates on the headsets hold up pretty nicely without any noticeable artifacts, thanks to the attack and release on the SL24. (The StudioLive 16 has fewer controls all around - so if you're thinking about the 16-channel version you should read up on the differences)
In the live setting was the first time I had to dive into the Auxes and Main Graphic EQ functions - but after a quick tweak of the way I think, it became second nature pretty quickly. Need the pre-recorded opening overture to sound like an old-timey record player being played through a speaker stage right? No problem, engage the 4-band parametric on the Aux feeding stage right; high-pass, low-pass, mid-boost, Done.
I got hooked on the different display options pretty quickly - you can monitor input levels, output levels, gain reduction, aux sends very easily. In addition to the obvious ins and outs meters, it's nice to see at a glance which channels are gated off too.
At first glance - the auditorium I'm working in it looks like some thought went into the acoustics, but as soon as you start to fill the room with sound you can hear it howling it's own resonant tune. So the onboard graphic EQs assigned to the mains helped clean up some of the weirdness at 100-125Hz and the octave above at 200-250Hz - but the ability to push a button and dial up the 4-band fully parametric EQ on the Mains was the icing on the cake for dealing with the room anomalies.
You have to be aware of other people [enthusiastic students for instance] trying to push buttons and twiddle knobs while you're adjusting something - next thing you know you're making adjustments to a channel YOU didn't select. So if you're accustomed to mixing by committee - you'll have to be on your toes unless you confine your assistants to the sliders.
We chose to transition the comings and goings of cast-members using faders rather than storing scenes. It just seemed to be more natural for this play. But it's nice to know you could write a scene anywhere things get tricky. The Recall process isn't too cumbersome, but even though the sound level is encoded and saved - the faders don't move to the recalled positions. That makes for an interesting moment when you first take back physical control of the fader if there's a big discrepancy in level from stored scene to live-action.
Tweaks I'd like to see on Version 2.0:
1) Some interface options faster than Firewire 400 ports.
2) A way to sidechain an EQ to the compressor would be more useful to me than keying the gate - maybe that's just me.
3) I'd like to see the GEQ button hotwired to override the 'fat-channel' display and show the EQ curve without the extra button pushing up in LCD town. (I know, you gotta pick which EQ you're looking at) The fact you have to scroll left and right to access some frequencies is already a bit unusual (although clearly unavoidable)
4) I appreciate the Mono Main output. I wish there was a fader or knob to control it independently from the L/R Mains.
5) The "Locate" process takes a while to put the faders back to their stored position based on the 'you're getting warmer/you're getting colder' method. Not a huge complaint, but one area the 01v has a distinct advantage.
5Q) I wonder how much flying faders would have added to the cost and weight? (it's already fairly stout)
I'm sure I'll think of a few more by the end of the week. (or learn that some of the non-mechanical wish list items already exist in there somewhere on a menu level I haven't found yet)
We may not be ready to give up ALL of our favorite outboard gear at live gigs, but all things considered the StudioLive has been very impressive so far.