Sometimes you just have to look at the world differently…

No, this isn’t going to be a profound post, just something that happened over the weekend, and it might even sound like an ad at times, so if that bothers you, skip this post…

Backstory… I’ve been playing with a new band since January this year.  We’ve already played a full 4 hour gig, plus a 1 hour charity event.  We put together a very basic PA for playing most clubs around here.  Some basic speakers, and a really basic mixer.  Well, the bass player has been moved on, and the mixer was his.  So, I started looking for a good replacement mixer.  I’d been thinking about the Mackie mixer that uses the iPad as the control surface, but Behringer is planning on bringing out a better one mid summer for the same price.  Unfortunately, the band events have forced my hand to get something else.  I’ve used the Presonus boards with great success.  There’s only one problem… all of the mixers I’ve mentioned really need someone watching the board.  The band doesn’t really want to spend any more money than we already have for an extra person…

Here’s where the think differently part comes in.  Everything I looked at, be it analog, digital, or even iPad based, operate around the same principals.  Channel strip plus effects equals sound.  One still has to know about EQ, about compression, about noise gates, limiters, etc…  As I’ve spent the last couple of years helping with the sound, and for the last year running the board for my church, I’ve gotten to understand how all the different pieces work.  I certainly could run the board for the band, but… then my playing would be limited.  One can either run a board, or play.  VERY few can do both.  Enter Line 6’s Stagescape mixer.  They completely threw out the ‘traditional’ mixer concept.  Everything is a touch screen and knobs that change color according to the screen.  The mixer presents concepts more in tune with a how non-audio engineer would express concepts.  The basic changes are done using terms like ‘boom’, ‘clarity’, ‘smooth’, etc.. and they are tailored to the instrument that is on the channel.  This makes it MUCH easier to dial sounds in if you do not have an audio engineer.  The good thing is that if one still wants to get to the regular parameters, the parameters are still available.

My biggest concern is how fast it will be to manipulate the mixer.  The one thing that the traditional boards have is that everything is right in front of you.  It’s fast to make a change to the mix.  I’m hoping familiarity will make for fast adjustments.  I went through the same phase with the Presonus board; after a while I can fly around on it pretty easily.

So, the band ordered the new board, and I may post my learnings as I go along.  It really is a big shift in mixing, and I hope that Line 6 continues to try to be different.  It does make a lot of sense 🙂