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The Mixing Desk

Posted By: Lee Bowden On:


Yes, Back 2 Miami run a “state of the art” full blown digital mixing desk to control their front of house and stage monitor sound.

October 2014 update.

How is the mackie TT24 fairing for the band? Brilliantly! What do we like about it (just read the specs), the best bits are its flexibility (IO mapping) and the matrix.

The “Mackie” TT24 is still going strong. Now finally it has a strong competitor, and from its own stable. The Mackie DL32R, a rack mounted 32 channel digital mixing desk has been released (but it has less knobs than the TT24). The competition is also hotting up with PRESONUS entering the race with a seriously competitive solution which is also rack mounted. So when we decide to next reduce our setup times and physical space required to set up in we have some options for space saving. In our last update we hinted at the industry striving to get a single audio standard adopted for multi channel audio transmission from point A to point B cat6 cable based, still not a strong leader yet but some formats are rising up at the moment. All manufacturers have still missed the boat on wireless streamcasting out from the mixer to individual hand held devices which would make IEM’s merely a case of using an “Iphone” plus an app. Maybe the next update?

What do we not like about it after all this time? Cross talk is too high, zipper noise occasionally appears, faders still fight, effects settings are still rubbish, its heavy. Oh and the noise floor gate level setting over the whole desk varies with line voltage.

2013 March update. The “Mackie” TT24 is still going strong.

OK more different versions of digital mixing desks have hit the market since we first purchased our desk and we have had chance to review the TT24 against some of these “other” desks we have met on the road. Our verdict. Pound for pound, feature for feature the TT24 is still great value for money (shame they are not still available). Physically it is still a little large. Technically, it still has internal “bleed” or cross channel interference which can be heard when pushing the desk with a full input board. The default reverberation and echo/delay settings are still bland verging on poor (being polite). However we still love it!

In my opinion the desk (and Mackie) pushed the industry forward with this price and feature breaking tool. Competitors have since taken up the challenge and “rounded” the corners. Now other (more recent) desks have improved the internal signal quality. Some striving to create a market for these new desks and so called “industry standards”, have via larger companies realised  that “mass markets” will drive standards by adopting features. So selling “licensed technology” at a reasonable prices now offers lower priced desk manufacturers the chance to include professional features to drive acceptance and adoption these “industry standard features”. Now we see the next phase of professional mixing desk development. The alignment of professional features and facilities to the mid market masses or borderline full time professionals. These are the club land semi-pro’s that have trodden the boards for years, they know the kit they want but in the past they cannot command the fees to raise the funds to buy the REAL PRO KIT facilities!  Today with the onset of this rush of high powered fully featured gear into the mid masses market these true entertainers now have the chance to shine and become recognised as the long term entertainment stars that they truly are (does this mean the old WEM copycat or Roland Chorus box is now dead)?

What does this mean to us?

Top (no compromise) kit at the right prices with fully featured facilities at mid market prices?

Great “true” entertainers reaching the pinnacle of their career being recognised for their skills and paid accordingly?

Probably not, most likely a job for a “nerdy techocrat” will be developed and clubland entertainment managers will ask if we can fit the nerd and the new desk into a telephone kiosk backstage. Oh and PS, times are hard the salary has gone down by 10% (and why isn’t it wireless)?

2011 April update. The Mackie TT24 is still going strong.

We stopped carrying the 16 channel spare desk at last.

2010…..

How is the band getting along with this DIGITAL mixing desk? Well every gig when we turn it on we have our fingers crossed hoping it will work. So far so good. Every gig we carry a small light weight 16 channel analogue back up desk in case (that’s bad). We don’t want to go back but we have to be able to perform. We love the desk to bits….but it is rapidly becoming out dated and is no longer manufactured. However so far it is doing its job and doing it well. We record direct from the desk to a 24 ADAT recorder at every GIG. The results are brilliant. We save every gig settings to the desk recall system (just a great function).

What does “going digital” mean for you?

OK. At long last Back 2 Miami go DIGITAL.

What does this mean for Back2miami?  Well several things really.

1) First and most importantly this moves Back 2 Miami into the latest technology. It offers more facilities for improving the bands overal sound. Top flight kit allows simple interfacing into serious professionall facilities without any problems, TV crews, broadcasting teams, PRO sound hook ups are now all a breeze.

2) The DIGITAL environment allows improved setup and teardown times (less out board wiring cos its all inside the desk now). Making B2M one of the largest but most efficient 10 piece soul bands around.

3) It allows the Back 2 Miami crew a high degree of flexibility for dealing with complicated venue requiirements, something that they struggled with (to some degree) previously. Want a GREEN room feed? No problem. Need to fly a balcony feed? No Problem. Need a feeder Bar link for voice over annoucement only? No Problem. This desk offers more ways of getting the signal out than a leaked government report.

4) It allows instant (neigh quicker than that) recall of excellent venues sounds or settings. If the band had a good night then at the push of a button that sound can be re-created. This reduces setup time evene further on repeat visits to venues as we will store the venue setup each time. Cool huh?

5) It potentially puts the DIGITAL mixing desk on the stage with a remote controlled PC (laptop) controlling the sound via wireless connection from the audience. Hight tech stuff yea but a reduced front of house foot print like no other band can do (yet).

It allows the engineer more chances of making the sound system whistle than ever before and there are less buttons for the locals to mess with when your back is turned.

Basically Back 2 Miami have more facilities and better sound quality and can setup in in less space and less time than ever before.

It is a major break through and heavy investment into the future for the growth and development of the band, a great opportunity. Time for you to make the most of it, go on book em Dan’o.

Want to read the full story from the begining over time about the history behind this desk? Read on.

Reviews:

Yep we have updated this page again February 2008 so read on, some cryptic comments about the digital desk and a statement of how we like it, plus details on our new additions.

Oh, the new additions for this year are so far a 24 track digital recorder using ADAT connectors straight into the desk, more on this later.

How are we progressing with the now not so NEW MACKIE digital mixing desk? The Band. Well it still whistles at some gigs so its not that good…. 🙂

We haven’t arrived at a gig yet that we cannot supply a feed too so it must work… 🙂

The drummer is moaning less…so something has improved… 🙂

On stage monitor still has too much vocals in it, so it cant be that good…must tell the engineer about this…. 🙂

We have stopped sound checking we are so confident in the desk, we only line check now (for the last 10 gigs……err I’m sure thats a good idea?). What new desk?

The Engineer, looking to swop reverb and delay files with other users to get the most out of the beast, so far so good.
Only a few bugs left to fix but nothing that cannot be worked around so far…looking good.

Great sound quality, fantastic flexibility, all round good value.

Want to read our story from day one? Then read on. First how we use the beast.

Setup one, straight FOH no tricks all mixing for monitors and FOH done from the desk at FOH position.

Setup two, FOH position is laptop running wireless VNC to laptop on stage connected directly to USB port on the desk. Monitors run from on stage TT24, desk not tracking the FOH laptop movements. Works well. Yet to find a solution that does not need a second laptop that is under the price of a second hand laptop.

Here we go, from day one.

It arrived and was unpacked to spend three night on my wifes kitchen table. I managed to get three hours “training” on it before it was packed into the truck. Well at least I managed to update the firmware to the latest spec at that time, setup one saved “patch” ready for the first gig, try to understand some of the more subtle limitations of its functionality and sussed out the PC connection.

The first gig (setup one).

Ground rules. We must clear the venue by a set time before the audience is allowed in. We can get into the venue only two hours before the “clear out” time.

We planned to arrive two hours before we had to clear the room, normally we would allow only one hour before an event (cos we are well organised???). Unfortunately, the truck lost a tyre on route. this caused a one hour delay in the gear arriving. So now we are back to our old setup time of 60 minutes. This is possible on a pre-aligned desk you are familiar with and no odd hassles. So NEW desk. No pre-alignment although the aux’s and channels were pre-routed and some wiring hassles.

10 minutes to unload and setup the desk and snake. In the next 10 minutes the back line (except the drummer) were up and running. Bass guitar DI’d in, feed live, sound on master outs all ok. Guitar, mic’d and DI’d in, feeds live, sound on master outs all ok. Key board, DI’d in, feeds live but horrendous digital zipper noise. Has the desk died from the bashing in the truck already? argh….!!

Nope. A quick fiddle the xlr’s on the stage box reveals a faulty earth connection on one link from the DI to stage box. grab a spare and we are away again.

Feeds live, sound on master outs OK. Now quickly select monitor mode (the only blue light on the desk). Set the stage monitor levels for the side fills. Completed. What….no sound? Oops. Not plugged in. Why not, lost the lead. OK make up new lead…..use other lead from other side fill, swap around to ensure correct levels individually …OK completed. The desk was a breeze to set the monitors up.

OK 30 minutes have passed the back line and vocals are now up and plugged in. The lighting rig is raised up and running. The PA is up but still being wired.

Line check on the brass section, found one duff cable. Replaced. Re-Checked all now ok.

Drummer finally setup and “live”, drum monitors in place and “live”. Vox mic’s line checked all ok. Routed to master outs Ok. Monitors…nope we will come back to that.

The Drummer is waving me and shouting something (oh he’s ready). Usual routine, Kick, snare, hi-hat, rack1, rack2, rack3, floor, overheads. Monitor feeds. The blue light again. I love putting the monitor channels on the faders, great idea. Levels are there but the Kick is very low…output is very low. Not happy with monitors.

45 minutes have passed. The rig is live. Standard CD track played. Room levels assessed. Sound quality assessed. Back to the desk select the 31 band graphics on the output channels. the new desk is very clean but seems bass heavy (not true. The old desk was bass light, this desk is flat). Adjusted bottom end for reasonable balance. No time to noise source test and re-align/balance the rig. OK room sound reasonable.

8 minutes to go. Brass IEM’s to setup. Again the blue button. Quick as a flash a rough brass in ear monitor mix is running. Moving over to Vocal in ear monitors. Same again. Within a few seconds a rough IEM mix is running (love this desk in monitor mode).

Time is running out now we have to clear the room in 5 minutes. As you can read we have not sound checked, this is not normally a problem and the band are normally quite happy to go along with only a line check, a few comments because of the new desk about too long to set up etc (never happy that lot). Cases cleared out. Stage made safe. Safety officer checked all ok.

Drummer beating his drums is not happy with the monitors. A few swear words are uttered (well more than a few). TIME OUT, clear off!

CRAP! We have to clear the room the audience are being allowed in. Thats it until we go on stage.

Well not quite true. While the DJ is playing I sneak a lift in gain on the monitors forcing a controlled feedback to occur. This allows me to adjust the eq on the drum monitors to knock out the nasty boomy frequencies. What do you mean there are no graphics on the aux’s. Oh you are right, only 6 band eq. Hmmm thats not good. Quick route the aux’s to a group and then send the group to the CENTER out, you can use the CENTER out graphic then……argh cannot send aux’s to groups. Side fills like wise, 6 band eq can do some but not all the work required. Hmmm crap again springs to mind.

Brass player keeps whinging that he can then he cannot hear the audience in his “in ear monitors”, as if they keep cutting out. Never had that before he says. That one got me for a while. Then I realised this desk has a “MIC floor”, a gate that cuts off below a certain level. I’ll “off” that one quickly. Offing that opened up a big can of worms. On an old analogue desk all channels are open until I plug in a gate or compressor. On a Mackie this “MIC floor” gate is active by default (hey who reads ALL the manual). Now with all the channels open the previous fequency settings that I have made have changed, more gain is in the loop with all channels open making the system a little edgy…too late. Now I have an edgy PA bordering on the threshold off feedback on a couple of frequencies……we will work with it.

OK time to try out one of the new firmwares features. Labelling the channels on the PC…..hmmmm doesn’t want to play, cant do it on this firmware release. Crap again springs to mind. OK white tape across the desk….aaaaaaahhhhhhh thats better, although with 12 layers or more on the faders the tape is only valid for one or two layes at the most, very confusing. Hope Mackie sort that one out ASAP.

Now to compound our problems. Our Normal singer cannot make the gig, one of the deputies is standing in so we need new balances in the monitors for this. On top of this we are showcasing our latest singing recruit for one number. He has never used IEM’s before (sweat).

We start the gig. Two 45 minutes sets and the band are nervous (rightly so too). By the end of the second number we have a flat safe mix, but crap monitors and we can hear an odd “digital like ring”. By the end of the third number we have good side fills and reasonable vocal IEM’s and we are trying to resolve the brass IEM’s. By the end of the fourth number all monitors except the drums are working fine, front of house is original but lacking lush effects.

Drum monitors are proving to be a problem. I have run out of frequencies that I can knock out and the levels are beyond what the settings can cope with so occasionally feedback or ring around occurs. I have to resort to riding the offending drum faders (thats bad). Ok apart from the drummer the band have really settled in to the gig. Finally we find out what the cause of the offending “digital ring” is. We used some of the group outputs to act as VCA’s controlling effects output volumes. Trouble is they will, if you push them up too far, force a form of digital feedback into the effects chain. Sounded crap, but we worked with it on lower levels, it was enough to get by with in this set.

First set comes to an end. The band are not happy. Drummer has more “F’s” in his sentances than ever before. The IEM’s are too low forcing the user have it set locally at too high a volume. The drum monitors because of the ring around are too low for the drummers liking. The bass player has turned up the bass on stage (why???). Grumble grumble grumble. I stayed in the bar (sweating).

The Second set.

Drum Monitors still a problem. IEM’s resolved. Side fills resolved. Front of house LUSH sound, nice subtle effects, strong brass sound, no ring, VCA issue resolved. Drums still poor, bass too loud.

I’m happpy now to hand over to our trainee engineer for hands on experience of new Mackie desk. Sound was getting tighter and tighter as we moved along the second set. At the end of the second set a standing ovation from the audience and a great encore from the team on stage.

Finish!

On his way out the bass player took the time to thank us for getting it together in the second set (nice). Time to wring out the sweat from my shirt and pack the gear away.

Things to do at the beginning of the next gig.

Patch in a 31 band graphic on drum monitors. Or find a way to use the CENTER graphic off the master outs on the Aux’s. Setup and use grouped MUTES. Set the IEM’s back to mono not stereo aux feeds (waste of aux’s, although we have enough). Make sure we have some spare desk patch leads. Up the input gains a little on all channels to get more drive in the aux sends. Remember that the Mackie seems to have similar signal levels internally to our old soundcraft spirit.

Tips Read all the manual. Practise carrying spare leads.

Issues with the desk:- You cannot label channels. Sliders stick when stereo linked or are controlling a second function. You cannot route auxs to groups. Unable to patch spare 31 band centre graphic into another section. Master left and right graphics although linked do not carry setting on left onto graphic on right, user has to copy and paste settings even when “LINKED” (a daft omission). Aux’s out are on stereo jacks not xlr’s (new snake was fitted with XLR’s, had to buy 12 new cables, we missed that one).

OK here is an odd whinge. With each channel XLR in place at the top of the back of the desk, the engineer cannot reach over and plug inserts in and out easiliy. OK, shut up please all the pros now shouting. We have the desk in a THON flight case with docking station on the back. Yes we have the flappy lid and double fold down back to get into the wiring area. Have you not noticed how easy it would be if the XLRs were on the bottom row? Not on the top row as they are? Think about that one. Which is the least frequent item plugged in or out? In our case the aux’s then the XLR’s. Think it through.

PS. We have 9-5’s so arriving mid afternoon at a venue is not on. Most UK venue’s are multi-purpose with very swift changeover times, the venue may have been in use during the day. Hiring in kit, in the UK, is not an option at our level of funding. Using the house PA is always a recipe for disaster.

The Second gig (setup one).

Arrived in plenty of time. Casually setup (by comparison to last gig). Leaving out the issue we had with three faulty speaker leads (which really got my back up) setup was a breeze. I pushed the recall button, copied the setting to a new save and named it. Saved it. Then started the line checks.

15 minutes later all line checks were complete. Bass guitar patched in with new config (learnt from last gig). Monitors were on, rig was on but…(leave it). OK line levels were fine. Monitor feeds were fine. Side fills OK. Drum monitor OK but weak as last time. IEM’s were not checked (a mistake).

Drum monitors. Needed work so we gave them some. Kick was nicer but not full, too round and flappy. All the rest of the drum kit was OK, no nasty feedback but a bit of a drone to be found. We went with it.

IEM’s. ooops crossed over the feed leads. VOX in BRASS and BRASS in VOX. Oh well my mistake. Sorted. Audience entering in 5 minutes.

Right we will run with it

I now spend 30 minutes making up three new speaker leads to replace failed cables……hmmm.

If you are reading this wondering what this has to do with the desk, the answer is simple. It was that easy because we had it all lined up on a recall. All we fiddled with this time was the EQ on the monitors and again while the DJ was playing I fiddled with the front graphics to remove feedback frequencies. The audience hardly noticed.

Yep once again we did not have a sound check.

First Set

By the third number we had a great safe mix with a good tight sound. Time to lush it up a bit. This is too easy. The desk makes it a breeze to do BUT!

Here’s the rub. Remember we have no channel id’s merely scribble on the desk tape? Well trying to recall a channel number while looking at the screen is a little difficult you have to peer….at the screen. It is hard to read. With the laptop setup it is lot easier but now you end up looking for the ruddy mouse position all the time (slows you down a little in the dark).

OK we have a nice mix, lush rich effects, nice. Drummer needs a liitle more in the monitors. Hit the blue button select errr mix 1 (wish we had a scribble strip down the side of the monitor numbers must get a plug in light for the desk too). That was done in a flash. Man that is a great way of doing monitors putting them on the faders, well cool.

Here’s the gripes. Be careful how you adjust the EQ using the mouse. You can make what appears to be a small change but in the real world it makes a huge difference, this especially true when diddling with the HF end. Controlling the on screen knobs with a trackball mouse is hard and a slow operation, using a laptops finger track pad is worse is you have fat fingers (an engineers curse). You end up making horrendous changes accidently (admittedly it is easier than a trackerball mouse).

We ended the first set on a high, nice sound, good audience response, band were tight (for any US readers that means they played together well not that they were drunk, OK, well maybe the drummer was tight in both respects).

Second set

We returned to the stage. Prepared, and on we go. I opened up the master faders and…..no vocals, no brass, no drums, no back line….nothing?????? Time to panic maybe….yep…the band carried on playing but giving me some strange looks. The monitors were working, the side fills were running but no front of house. Heres the odd thing. All I did was put the group master faders to zero then back to there original position and hey presto all was OK again. It was as if the desk had gone to sleep???? I intend to raise this with mackie technical forums. OK panic over

The band had a great second set. The audience really enjoyed the show. I managed to record this and a post gig post mortem results in a great tape off the desk.

Current feelings. The desk is well cool. Clean, tight sound. Reasonably flexible but with several limitations. The two touch and you are anywhere on the desk statement is a pain in the ass. You always forget to make the first touch correctly, but I suppose this will come in time as a habit. However it does show that a new visiting engineer to the desk will have some difficulties in using it for the first time. If MACKIE could make all the control program windows floating and scaleable it would be much more flexible piece of software. User configurable screens would be great. Ah well we can but wish and hope they read this. The sticky faders really needs to be resolved before I break a knob off. On the 96 faders view. If any faders not in use could be turned off that would be great (the digital “ins” in our case) and if they could have a bar graph down the side of each one to indicate channel activity selectable either input or channel output that would be great (dream on pal). The ability to setup desk configurations off line on a laptop would be an added bonus if MACKIE could ever sort that out I would sing their technological praises loudly (pun intended). Without a laptop it is a much slower desk to work with than with a laptop. The laptop makes it well cool.

I personally love the desk, the band are really warming to it as well but are still asking what they got for their money (thats a good sign if the truth were known). The audience will never know.

OK Summary so far. Nice desk, great sound, some software problems and a few limitations. Flight case a minor niggle, the THON case when we pack up I have to remove the channel number one xlr plug to lock the lid in place because it fouls the lid lock (silly mistake on a nice case guys). Was it all worth it?

YES I think so! I think the band would say so too but more on that later, the good news is that to the audience all they can see is a great show just getting better. Many thanks to the MACKIE crew for a great product.

The next GIG, gig number three. Total experience 6 hours on the TT24 (initial setup was setup two remote laptop).

A secret suprise for the bride is the band, hidden in an attached marquee.

Setup…no noise. No I repeat NO sound check or plunking of notes on stage or any one, two’s into the mic’s, etc. Just drop the curtains and full on, straight in to the set.

Wicked, full dance floor everyone up jiving, jigging and generally falling over into the desk…..yep, the floor had a slope on it. Absolutely wonderful audience, great crowd, lovely wedding, fantastic food. Every one had a great time, two full sets no hassles.

Why?

The secret, we arrived at 10am in the morning. Setup the rig. New cables loads of spares. Reset the TT24 output format from LR+Mono to LCR (a simple task beginning to love this desk). Laptop failed went blue screen so ran the whole gig from the TT24 LCD display (good test). Drum aux output was fed into line input channel 8 which was patched into the CENTRE master output.

EUREKA! Now I have a 31 band graphic in my drum monitors with an extra 4 variable frequency steep slope notch filters + dynamics. Wicked. Monitors are no longer a problem. Tightened up the gating on the drums through the morning, sounds a lot err tighter? Selected a better reverb for the snare and the vocals, modified the brass reverb and fed a little in to the brass IEM feed. Well it was a little too dry. Upped the IEM levels quite a bit, user much happier now. While the keyboard player was playing, fed his signal into the bass guitar and tidied up the compression on lower frequencies more in line with the kick drum now. Much tighter sound.

OK here’s a question.

How do you get to the graphics eq from the LCD screen setups? As yet I have not found a way. From the laptop session I can easily but not from the LCD screens, anyone any ideas?

Finished setting up by 1pm. Home we go, then back in the evening and just turned it on…..WHAM….well no it was Back2miami really but you get my drift. Great night. Many thanks to the family for allowing us to share in their fun.

OK. MORE gripes about the TT24 (remember the others as well but these are a pain).

I now understand why bigger desks can label the channels on screen (I really need that feature).

The sticky faders IS an issue, by the time it has released its grip the moment or squeek has passed….too late. In a live environment it has too happen immediatly (or sooner).

The desk does go to sleep. If you leave it for 10 minutes and come back to it nudge a fader it takes at least three seconds for the LCD screen to update, after that then it is immediate….as if in hibernate mode????

Finding the graphic eq on the onboard LCD is err hard? (not found it yet) laptop yep ok.

Faders not remembering the last position correctly. This is becoming an issue with me. Change banks and not all the faders move to the correct settings…some dawdle…eventually settling on a spot close but exactly where I left it last time. Oh, they cry, calibrate your faders. Yea, yea done that got the T shirt. Nope. They still drift a little. Man I though that would not happen on a digital desk. It like having a punter randomly wander upto to an analogue desk and mess with the faders (oh so slightly). Thats a real pain means you cant trust the levels. On a live stage at the edge of feedback another 3db lift could be disasterous. MACKIE please fix this.

Right enough said now.

We have some more Crimbo gigs. So I intend to only note hassles or wonderful moments.

Should you go digital…….YES! Should you choose MACKIE…..if you need 24 mic inputs and more aux’s and outputs than you can shake a stick at then yes. If you want a titchy desk you can carry under one arm then then employ the HULK to carry a MACKIE TT24, or pay more for a yammy. Beware on other models/makes/brands some do not have all the break in points like the MACKIE, neither do they have all the same output combinations without an extra card. Is it value for money….HELL YES! Can any road engineer fall into using it in ten minutes…..NO…beware of this issue. Is it intuative……YES. Does it sound good…….YEAP sure does and it comes free with its own wow factor when you first turn it on. Any chance of a button you can push that just flashes all the lights twice or something just the make the punters go ooooh!

🙂

Xmas updates.

The good news. When it works the desk is brilliant. However. It does forget the effects when switching from aux mode to channel EFX. It seems to go back to none on the main screen. The original effect is still running but the screen says NONE!…..a tad worrying initially, it also does not seem to save the EFX settings…???

Thankfully the last gig was only fraught with our usuall niggles on equipment (cables etc we really must lash out on some new ones soon). The desk apart from soft little glitches performed well. Real lush sound.

XMAS GIG’s.

Next gig, a wedding, no problems, setup simple, ran first time all ok. 2 sets 45 mins each. It was a lovely wedding in Mosely (no photos forgot camera). Great night lovely sound (shame it rained all night).

OK the beef.

When you save a snapshot or all the desk settings it does remember them …yep, I hinted before that perhaps it did not save them, it does. However the effects do not come on at the full previous set levels(this is the real problem). For some strange reason you have to access the effects sends to seemingly “open them” and access the effects to make them operational, then all appears at the correct outputs at the correct levels. Really strange. The effects are what we set, the levels are what we set but little or nothing comes out until we perform this silly task. Going to review this at the net gig. Once this task is done it seems to run OK all night.

OK I found the LCD access to the graphics on the LCR outputs. Think I need glasses.

Finally mastered the dynamics on the desk and have a lovely bass guitar and bass drum sound. The compression on the vox is smooooooth….nice. The gating seems a little one ended on the controls scale, tight down the end with little adjustment at our levels of volume. Could do with a facility to expand the range a wee bit.

New Years Eve Gig (setup number two remote laptop for FOH).

An early setup proved advantageous. Most of the Band had parties with family or friends to attend with the kids etc. So setting up at midday was a great idea. First set was 10:50pm, second set was 00:30 (Jan 1 in 2007).

We arrived to realise that the venue was expecting a 4 piece sould band…..hmm…usual stuff. Room was too closely laid out. So with the kind help and permission of the staff we relayed the room out creating a better staging area and dancing space whilst giving the guests much more sitting room.

Set up completed, I took the opportunity to try and work out why the EFX do not work through the group outputs. We also tried to determine why the drum monitors kept kicking off on a ring around frequency. This proved to be my previous success at linking out of an aux into the centre graphic, this seems to create a loop or oscillation at high gains/volume level. So we removed this and used the killer filters more wisely. We have monitors but badly EQ’ed now….hmmm we may need an external 31 bander on that.

The groups will not open up with EFX going through them for some odd reason. Routing the EFX through L+R they work first time every time. So something is definatley amiss in the routing section. (Time to talk to Mr Mackie?).

OK the new thingy. All night I succesfully mixed off/from a laptop (in the audience area) running a VNC (remote control program) connection to another laptop directly connected to the TT24. The first laptop was connected to a wirelas LAN and the so was the remote laptop. The link was definatley wireless…..man this was a cool way to mix. Audience reaction was great, many questions, lots of great smiles and looks, its a lovely opener to a conversation with the young ladies…(smile) and it works well and look at the space it saves FOH!!!!!

OK the GRIPES. I take what has been said by many before on board and agree with them all. No audio feed from the TT24 monitor source to the PC is the major limitation of this feature. Other limitations are:- The space on top of the desk is an open invitation to put something on it (see our pics). The result can be (as it did with us) a popped line/mic switch by dropping the headphones on it. I lost the bass guitar twice to this little folly, hunting out why no bass only to find the line switch now at MIC position….errr dumb. The resolution of the visual display and the time it takes to update means you can frequently over or under shoot your target fader position etc. This makes it sound like major jumps in level not subtle fade ups or down. The ability to turn off the digital or unused banks would be nice. To scale the resultant viwing window would be a great benefit cos using a remote controller forces you to scroll left and right all the time to fit it into your viewing window.

The wants. In the one (96th) empty fader slot could Mackie collectively add the mute groups buttons? This would be a really useful feature.

Unless something really major or great comes up thats it on this blogg. 5 gigs, around 10 hours of play time and I think we are comfortable with the desk (as it is). It works in a fashion, not 100% the way it says on the tin but almost. I am sure Mr Mackie will correct the sillys. If you are going digital good luck. If you are thinking about it email me and we can swop info/horror stories. (chris@thebowdens.info)

OK it is now May 19th. No further updates from Mr Mackie yet, the desk still has a tendancy to forget to open the effects settings to the master outs. Will need to Email the man to find out what is wrong. Now noticed over last few gigs that the output graphics seem to have phasing issues….does not quite seem to work in a similar way to a standard 31 band EQ unit. Oh Oh yet another email coming up. Other than that the quality off the desk is superb….should have gone digital years ago!

Do you remember Mackies your only 2 button pushes away from anything statement. Well I can confirm many circumstances where that statement is really not true. From the Main mix mode to changing an in ear mix is four button pushes before you can adjust the faders to where you want them. This is the most frequent one. It does become second nature after a while but it is a real pain in the…ask me another question quickly.

Oh mute groups……we have a solution for that they say……ha ha ha….try using it in a live situation….three button pushes later it is muted. Remember 3 button pushes later….try a cheap analogue desk hmmm 1 button push = MUTE! Try a PM5D its not a three button push operation is it? C’mon Mr Mackie. Use that spare fader space on the big fader display to include 4 or 6 mute buttons for operation from FOH only ……you win all the way round and we are all happy (well nearly all, some want 8 buttons but hey space is tight). C’mon support the user base please.

JUNE UPDATE!

Well, it is June20th and Mr Mackie has done the deed. A new update is available. So downloaded and armed ready to go.

June 23rd, next gig. Armed with the down load and new operating system we arrive at the gig. Setting up is a breeze as usual. Set in 40 minutes, rig alive. We have a new drummer depping tonight so a few intro’s were tested. While this was happening I uploaded the new operating system to the TT24. Five minutes later I was calibrating the LCD touch screen and ready to rock and roll….convert the backup file from version 1 to version 1.5. Load the backup into the desk and ready to go.

Immediate differences. Solos work differently…hmm nice. At last I can name the channels. 2 minutes later that was done…could argue 6 characters is a bit tight, 8 would have been better but hey it works well. Oh, heaven tap inputs on the delays at last, what a difference that makes. Some nice tidy ups in other sections that you don’t immediately notice but quickly accept cos they work, nice. Effects are active without fiddling with em….at last the fix I personally wanted. although not a documented fix (exactly), they certainly work with out any pampering now, they did not before. Aha, the Graphic EQs are correctly labelled and accurately represent what they do now…much better. Also the Outputs dont drop off when using group DSP….thats better. Nice fixes. Only a few whinges left now.

Hey extra features for new digital snake control interfaces have been added plus desk linking features and more, this is a way cool update. Mentioned all this to the team and they actually suggested looking at getting the digital snake solution….wahey…moving forward again.

What can I say, a great update. It has already made a difference to the way I operate. The Efx settings are much tighter now I can tap in the time, the channels are easy to work out cos of the titling/naming. I think it is fair to say this desk is one of the better moves this band has made. Thinking of going digital and want 24 channels look no further this is a live sound engineers dream. Buy one now.

All that said. I want to make one big whinge. Mute Groups. Please. Please. Please Mr Mackie put 4 programmable mute buttons on the 96 faders screen (in the empty fader slot). Changing layers to perform group mutes is tedious and time consuming and memory taxing (my memory that is). Mixing on a laptop from FOH, end of number hit mute button one….job done! Please review this Mr M.

Well here we are at the end of the year and more whinges….latest software updates installed but still issues….oh stop whinging….the desk has been the best thing since sliced tomatoes (Northern Soul Joke). We have a minor issue surfaced since the last software update…we have just notified Mr M.. and hopefully his boys will sort us out as they usually do. We have had a full year with little or no problems with the desk and system (although we need to “up” the power amps shortly).

End of the year passes and plans are a foot to up the amps in the near future….cool megawatts of power coming…

Alesis ADAT HD24. Meanwhile we have brought a 24 track digital recorder to track the nights line up and generate some “specific” format CD’s for rehearsals (you know missing vocals or no drums etc to allow practise sessions to be more realistic). Maybe even a “Live CD” might appear with some subtle re-mixes, who knows.


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