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Soundcraft SI Expression Digital Mixer - Professional Review

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[Music playing......................♪♫♪♫] I've always said that Soundcraft makes one of the absolutely best mixers in the world for somebody that's moving from an analog mixing console to a digital mixing console. This console, the SI Expression, is extremely easy to use because it runs like an analog console but gives you all the benefits of a digital console. It's very straightforward. It's designed specifically for live, not live and recording ot mostly recording and a little bit of live. This is a "live" guy's board. I'll show you why. First of all, the big feature here the big selling point, the big operating point, the big benefit is moving faders. For all of these faders that I have set up here, when I make an adjustment on them, and then I recall a scene, you can see how they all move. They all change. Now, when I come back to that scene, those faders move again. I don't have to do level matching or look at some display and change the level. The flying faders or moving faders move. Now, you've seen that on some other consoles, but because of the expense of flying and moving faders, typically you have to go through a lot of layers. Well the breakthrough here is this is a 32 channel mixing console and it has 30 moving faders. So you can operate up to 30 channels visible at one time. Then you can flip to another layer if you want. You can pick up another 14 channels. So you can have up to 54 mic inputs active. The rest are your matrixes, your Aux masters, and your returns. So let's take a look at this. They also make a 16 channel version with layers and a 24 channel with layers, at incredible price points. But, the one I'm excited about is the 32 channel version right here. So first of all you're going to take a look at this channel, this is channel 1, and this encoder. The encoder is typically your trim control. The trim control is what lets in the amount of sound level that you're going to be able to work with. If you've got a hot mic you turn it down. If you've got a mic that's not as hot or a source that's not as hot, you turn it up. What you use to determine what that encoder does is, there's a gain switch here, a filter switch, or a pan switch, so that encoder could be any of those. Most guys will just leave it right on gain. Then you're on/off switch. What's really cool about this on/off switch is "green" is "on," and this is off, it's just blank. Then you go ahead and turn it on and it glows nice and bright and it's a nice soft switch. The "select" switch, which is typical on a digital console because you have to then select what channel you're working with, is right here. So I select channel 2. I select, 3, 4 and back to 1. There's a solo button so I can solo that channel on a pair of headphones and listen to what's happening. So it's very "analog." You also have input level controls. So you would have a "signal present" control, and then 6 LED ladder control. Now, like I said, nice 100mm moving fader right here. Now, what happens when you want to adjust a channel? You simply select it and this is where your EQ and your effects are. So you have 48V phantom power right there. Turn it on or off. You have the polarity switch, on or off. Then you have gain or trim here as well, either one. You can see when I move this one this one changes as well. I have a high pass filter. I can turn that on or off. WHen I turn the high pass on, I can go from zero to 1K Typically I'll set a high pass at 100 Hz for vocal microphones. So I'm cutting out some of the rumble. If you've got an instrument microphone, go ahead and turn that off. You can turn it on or off and you can adjust it right nere. Again, this section is not encumbered by a lot of different switches or multiple on/offs or anything like that. It's very, very clean. Now go to the gate. I can have a gate where it's, say for instance I have a kick microphone that I don't want the sound from the stage leaking into, but, other than when the kick is being struck, I can set a gate so that as soon as that signal exceeds the threshold the gate opens up, lets the kick sound through and then it closes down as soon as that kick sound is off. It makes a very tight sound. Snares are particularly enhanced with the gate. Piano, same kind of a thing. There's a compressor to control the dynamics. Again, I can turn it on or off. And I've got everything I need here to see where to set my threshold. I set my attack and release, very, very easy to do. The EQ section is similarly straightforward. It's a four band EQ with two mid sweeps. So the top end, the high is simply a shelf, and I can set the frequency of that shelf and the amount of boost or cut, just like you would on an analog board. The low frequency is the same way. It's a shelf control. I can set the frequency of that and the amount of boost or cut on the bottom end. The two mids have an additional control and that's the Q. They're sweepable mids. I can control where on the frequency spectrum those EQs will sit. On the low, mid, high and anywhere in between and how wide, based upon the Q. I can have a narrow boost filter or a narrow cut filter and I can sweep it back and forth. I have encountered very few situations where I needed more than 4 bands of EQ and 2 mid sweeps. This board covers that. Then you've got the out you can put some delay on this channel if you want. So if you want to synchronize a microphones with the monitors you just set a little bit of a delay on there. With the pan control you can send it left or right or mono. Everything's right there. There's lots of room. It's very easy to see. So that's the channel input strip. If you want to have channel 10 you just select channel 12... whatever, it will all move and recall the settings for each channel, You can instantly grab them and change them. It's very, very straightforward. When you want to operate auxiliaries, your monitor sends, your in ears or wedges, that's extremely easy as well. I mean it just couldn't be easier. Mix 1, I simply press that button. Did you see the color change here? The color changes to indicate to you as the operator, that you're now on a different setting for these. They aren't the inputs. They are the auxes. Each one of these channels, channels 1 through 30 this is the send for that aux. So, say I want to run the drums into that aux and I want a little bit of lead vocal and lead guitar, I just simply bring that up. That's what I have on Mix 1 or Aux 1. Aux 2, same thing. I can create a different mix here. These are my input channels, but the send is to the aux. So I go ahead and adjust those. Say on this one I want some piano I want some backup vocal here, I just go ahead and set that. On mix 3, same kind of a thing. I go ahead and adjust that mix and away I go. Now, see how the faders move? In most consoles that doesn't happen. So you don't know where you're at and you have to rematch the faders. So when I go ahead and set the mix 2, that changes. Remember I had this mix where I brought in a little bit of vocal group and a little bit of piano, and Mix 3 changes as well. So I can instantly see where I am just by pressing that. So it's called a "sends to fader." All of these are very easy to adjust, you've got 14 mix busses to worth with. I can also go to matrix and I have four matrices and then I have effects sends as well. The effects sends will turn blue. So you'll know that you are working with the effects send. So the channel send to that effects bus, I just bring up. In this case I may just want to bring up one channel. I want a little bit of effects on lead vocal. The lead vocal is right there. I go ahead and route that. it's on effects one. And then, I've got four Lexicon effects engines in here that I can set my reverb. I can set delay, or a combination of reverb and delay. and away I go. So on my lead vocal I'll have some reverb and delay, bring that back through the returns, and then I've got three more effects engines I can use for inputs. Again, very, very easy. Each of those four effects engines has a tap switch. If I'm using some type of echo effect, I tap that to the beat of the music that'll set that. Then, when I bring that effect in, it'll match up with the beat of the music. So, very, very straightforward, very easy and convenient to work with. Here's a layer selection here. Remember I had Layer 1. I'll go ahead and switch it and go to 2. I can go to C. I can go to D. So I've got up to 54 mic inputs here. I've got my sends on fader that I can do. Here's always the master. Then I also have mute groups. If I can set up a mute group here, so "A" go to setup and I select the mute groups, put them on mute group 1 and away I go. Let's clear that. The mute groups are very easy to access. Mute groups are really handy as well because I can set up instantly and have back up singers on one mute group. I have my back line on another mute group. I just go ahead and select that during the service and it mutes those channels. Over here you have your mono send. You have the left and right send or this can be a center channel send if you'd like. You also can record scenes as you can do with virtually any digital mixer so I can roll through scenes and have all of my settings change. But again, with the moving faders, when they change I can see the change that's being made. The other thing I can do is store channels to libraries. So for instance, if I come up and I'm on the worship team, and you have a setting that works well for me. You have an EQ compression and the gate for the microphone that I use, and then I'm off for the next two months, they use somebody else. But now, when I come back on you just recall my channel library, bring my settings back and away they come so that you don't have to reset everything and try and remember what you did last time to make my voice sound the way that you want it to sound. You just go ahead and recall that. Then of course you've got the light that you would typically find on any analog console. Some people say that the screen is a little small on here, but really, that's kind of the idea. You're really only going to use this for patching. You're going to use this for effects. But it's a live person's kind of a mixing console. The real estate is here. Now, you notice that we have an iPad here. There is an iPad app so you can do your patching on the iPad. You can take this wirelessly remotely and just go ahead and plug this in to a router, a Wi-Fi router. You can walk anywhere around the building and adjust anything on the console. You can adjust your channels. You can adjust your sends. So if you want to mix monitors from the platform and get those set you can do that. The other thins, there is a graphic EQ. So you go ahead and select that and you can go ahead and get your graphic EQ, one through graphic EQ. You can adjust that, assign it to monitors if you want to. Assign it to the house and make all your adjustments off the iPad. So that's going to be very, very handy and everybody loves to use an iPad to be able to move around the sanctuary, move around the room and make the adjustments. Let's go ahead and take a look at the back panel. There's some exciting things going on there as well. Here is the back panel of the SI Expression. As I mentioned, there are 32 mic input pre amps. You've got 1 through 16 here. And then you've got 17 through 32 here. So just like an analog console, you simply plug microphones in here and away you go. You can swap this out directly for an analog console. The light will show you if you have 48V phantom power turned on for that particular channel. You have 16 outputs, of which, two of them are your mix out left and right. So you have 14 aux buses you can use for in ear, on stage monitors. That's usually plenty for most churches. You also have the ability to plug in cards. So you can use, her is one here that's a fiber optic card. But you can plug in an Aviom card so you can run your Aviom monitors directly off of this console. In the future there are going to be cards for MADI for firewire and other digital interfaces that you'll be able to use, including, of course, the DSS links. So you can communicate directly with your digital signal processing or the DBX on stage personal monitor system. Check it out at Simply click the link down below and you'll always get the best available price.

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 20 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: CCI Solutions
Director: CCI Solutions
Views: 1,011
Posted by: ccisolutions on May 10, 2013

Are you moving from an analog mixing board to a digital mixing console? Are you running live sound? This board is absolutely the right choice for you. This is a 32-channel mixing console with 30 flying, or moving, faders. The advantage to having this number of moving faders is that you don't have to work through a lot of layers, making the board much easier to use.

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