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New Digital Mixer

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#1
So I treated myself to an early Christmas present. I got a QSC TouchMix 30 digital mixer. This thing is so cool. My normal load on a rock band gig would include a 16 channel Mackie mixer in a big rack case, two six space rack cases filled with equalizers, compressors, effects units, etc., and a 100 foot stage snake. That's about 200 pounds of bulky stuff. The new mixer does all of that and weighs 17.5 pounds (the mil spec case for it actually weighs more than the mixer). It has a tablet control app (iPad or Android) which eliminates the need for the snake, although you could still use it if you wanted a FOH sound man at the console. It also has 14 auxiliary outputs so each band member can have their own personal monitor mix that they can control with their tablet or phone. From the console, I grant permission to their device based on their needs, without surrendering control of the main mix. While it initially seemed a bit confusing, after a couple hours, I had pretty much everything figured out, and created a base "scene" for our band. One of the best things is that once you get everything dialed in, you can save a scene for every venue (up to 99) where you play. Next time you are there, just recall the scene and you are ready to go.

I can't wait to use it on a gig. Now if they could only make lightweight speakers that sound good.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#3
Anything? Hmmmm.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#5
That's a very nice way of putting, "We're not making any money." :p
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#6
I don't think too many "semi-pro" players are making much money these days. In my heyday in the Chicago area, (late 80's & early 90's) I would usually make between $3,000 and $4,000 per year. Not great, but enough to buy a horn or some PA equipment if I felt like it. Part of that was being in a wedding band that played a lot. We never got less than $100 per person per gig, and often a lot more. Flash forward to 2005 and beyond, and it was hard to land a gig that paid more than $50 per.

I'm playing pretty regularly now in the Knoxville area, but typically making between $50 and $75 per night. This is with a 7 piece band. Our New Year's Eve gig this year pays the whole band $1,000. I can remember playing some NYE gigs at nice hotels and making $500 per person. Those days seem to be long gone.

The very talented 17 piece big band I play with has had two paying jobs in the last three years. We do a lot of free gigs at veteran's or retirement homes and such, but just can't break into the festival / commercial circuit, such as it is. It's mostly for fun, so that's fine, and we do get a lot of appreciation from the older folks.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#7
Everybody needs a hobby.

Most of the bands and choirs I was in/I directed were church groups, so all volunteer and low pay, if any.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#8
I used the mixer on a gig for the first time last night. I love this thing. So easy to use, and we knocked about 15 minutes off our setup and tear down time.

We did have an extended sound check a couple hours before the gig to get everyone dialed in just right. This is a venue where we play frequently, so I saved the scene for future use there. The anti-feedback feature works like a charm. You push the master volume until it starts to squeal, and then tap a button to slice out that specific frequency. Rinse & repeat a few times and no feedback.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#9
In my continuing quest to downsize and lighten the load, my next step was to find smaller monitors. I have been using two Mackie SRM450s. Powered (400 watts) 12" speakers that weigh about 51 pounds each. I also have a smaller Yamaha MSR100, which has an 8 inch woofer and 100 watts of power that weighs about 25 pounds. The Mackies sound good and you can really push them if necessary. The Yamaha not so much.

I have now upgraded with three new QSC CP8 powered speakers. 1000 watts of power in a 21 pound package. Not as much bass response, but I don't feel the need for lots of bass in a vocal / horn monitor. The sound is really clear, and I have way more power than I need in almost any gig that we would play. Also, since I have a QSC mixer, there is a setting in the mixer to optimize the sound for QSC speakers.

It's pretty amazing what manufacturers have been able to do with adding more power in much smaller and lighter packages. The first power amp I bought back in the early 90's was a Peavey CS-800. It was 200 watts per channel and weighed almost 90 pounds. I used to haul two of those monsters to every gig, plus the big box speakers and monitors.
 
#10
I play in a duo, but we are both multi-instrumentalists. We don't have a FOH sound person. I use a Samson MPL1204 analog mixer. I have a few, because if one breaks, I can swap it out and get it repaired. They don't break often, but I play music for a living and am a "the show must go on" kind of pro.

Usually when one of these things go, it's only one channel. I need 10, use 11. We are both multi instrumentalists, my partner plays synth and guitar, I play sax, flute, guitar, wind synth, and drum controller on stage (I also play bass and keyboards and make my own backing tracks). With two voices, 4 synth modules, two guitars, and two backing track channels, that leaves 2 spares. I use one for a customer mic (we don't like them using our mics - they might have a cold, we might catch it, and that would cheat a future client).

I built a 4 channel passive mix for the synth modules, so if I ever lose more than one channel I can put all the synths on one.

The Samson takes up 4 rack spaces (not bad)

As the Samson is discontinued, and nobody seems to make a low real-estate 12 channel analog mixer anymore (the ones advertised as 12 are really 10 with two channels in stereo) I thought about digital.

Then I looked at the way I use it and one thing stood out. When the client using the mic drifts in front of the speaker to cause feedback (even though we ask them not to - they don't understand and are nervous anyway) I need to get to their gain control knob instantly. My take on digital mixers is that it takes a bit of time for the iPad (or whatever) to warm up, and using a mouse or a finger is never as quick as "reach and twist".

Am I exaggerating this problem? Or imagining a problem that really isn't a problem?

Insights and incites by Notes
 
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