My review six months on

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Brian Brian 1 week ago.

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  • #110140
    Profile photo of Alec
    Alec
    Participant

    My thoughts having moved over from x32 to SQ7 over six months ago in a 250 cap music venue. The upshot is that I mainly love it, but that there are some really poor bits.

    The first couple of shows were hard work. Mainly little infuriating interface things. Routing, although simple, still caught me out. DCA assignments were tucked away where I’d never have thought of looking for them. I had to dig out the manual to work out how. Stero linking was non-obvious, too. Had to dig out the manual again to work out how on earth to change any of the effects units – that Library key never entered my head. Very disappointed at the scribble strips – small, limited to 6 characters, and not very legible. All that said, I mixed the shows successfully, and all worked.

    Six months and plenty of shows later, I’m much more comfortable with the desk and can reasonably fly around it for a show. I love most of it, and it’s generally a great step up from X32 world. But I’m still really irked by some design decisions – some out to be easily fixable in firmware, some would sadly be engineering changes which are presumably unlikely to appear.

    Positives

    32 fully assignable faders on the surface – simply fantastic!

    Stereo channels folded into a single fader – saves me having to burn a DCA just to save a fader – fantastic.

    Similarly, the ability to turn an output mix bus into stereo, rather than having to burn two mono mixbusses for stereo – fantastic.

    48 channels to mix – let’s face it, 32 plus 6 less functional aux ins on X32 was enough for most people in club-world, but 48 full input channels gives much more flexibility.

    Patching, once you’ve got your head around it, is lovely and easy, as well as being incredibly flexible.

    The whole XCVI FPGA thing – in reality, in a club venue, the audio quality of a mixer like X32 was never a limitation for me. Knowing that the audio processing is higher quality is clearly good, along with the phase coherence.

    Recording to USB – so lovely and easy – no DAW needed.

    Talkback functionality – it all just works. Great to see a HPF in the talkback section, and even better that the TB input can be patched as a regular input.
    Signal generator – nice and easy, and very effective.

    GEQa on all mixbus channels without needing to use an FX slot – tick.

    For a 32 fader mixer with 48 channel mix capability, this desk is really compact.

    Deep plug-ins – fantastic to have this capability in a mixer in this budget range, without using up the main 8 effects or intruducing latency. Hoever, see negatives…

    Negatives

    Scribble strips – at the bottom end of usability. Hard to read, especially the red colour. The six character limit is absurd! I always thought that X32 scribble strips were poor, but they’re fantastic compared with SQ’s. Most shockingly, as far as I can see, even DLive shares this limitation – the mind boggles…

    Mixbus buttons – let’s face it, we’ve all screwed up a monitor mix by forgetting we’re in sends-on-faders mode. It’s crying out for a really “rude” indication that SOF is active. A good solution would be flashing (or invert flashing) all the scribble strips.

    Mute/select/PAFL buttons – just feel wrong. The Select button should be much bigger, as it’s the one you’re using all the time. Also, it would be much better for the whole button to illuminate, rather than just the embedded LED – make it easy to spot when busy. Muscle memory is taking over, but I don’t think I’ll ever find their design optimal.

    No input expanders – come on, how difficult would it be to give, say, a more tweakable gate that gives expander funtionality. There are the expanders in dLive – we don’t necessarily need that level of functionality, but a basic expander makes such a difference – should I say X32, again…?

    No real time clock. Yes, I’ve got a watch. Yes, I’ve got a phone in my pocket. Yes, I’ve usually got a tablet with me. But the clock on the X32 was incredibly handy…

    Stereo channel links not stored in scenes. I’ve heard the explanation of why this is so, but it’s pretty poor that channel links are not stored in scenes. This has caught me out more than a few times.

    Show/scene management. This still bewilders me. At a basic level, scene storage/recall is just fine (other than the stereo/mono channel issue). But why on earth can’t we store multiple shows on the desk? I’ve still never fully got to grips with off-line scene editing to an extent that I’d trust that I’d be able to rock up with a tablet/USB stick and load my scene without problems.

    USB formatting. I get why A&H want everything to be in the SQ-DRIVE format, as it gives a higher level of control. But this precludes easy playback of audio files from USB. And if only I could have meaninfully named files on the USB drive.

    DCA Mutes/Mute groups – is it me, or does the the flashing cycle make it harder to identify muted channels at a glance compared with a more regular flash cycle (, say 0.5 sec off & 0.5 sec on, rather than the brief flashes). Also, is there really no way of unmuting a single channel that’s muted by a mute group/DCA mute? Different people have different preferences for mute groups – would be great to see some configurability over this.

    Deep plug-ins being a chargeable extra – this really sticks in the throat. When X32/Wing offer a far wider range of emulations/effects out of the box at a cheaper price, albeit without the elegance of the way A&H’s architecture handles them, this feels really tight. I get that they’re adding value, but suspect that the proportion of SQ users that actually shell out is relatively low. So frustrating to see these tools but not be able to use them without additional spend on what is still a “budget” mixer.

    The constant flipping between the HPF and PEQ screen, and the lack of ability to see the PEQ curve on the HPF screen. I’d have loved View buttons in each processing section to let you view, say, the PEQ curve. I finally twigged that you can do this by touching the PEQ part of the channel strip on-screen, but it’s not as instinctive (to me, or maybe I’m too old)

    Oh, for a couple of additional bands of PEQ on the mixbus channels…

    The LED illumination bar at the rear of the mixer should be a massive asset, but it’s not great at illuminating the surface – positioned too low, but that’s a factor of the desk’s (excellent) compact design.

    #110176
    Profile photo of Singtall
    Singtall
    Participant

    I’m with you on everything you said. I’m a little less than a year into my SQ6, and though I’m enjoying the tone, It took a few gigs to get used to it. Part of my problem is that I tried to do too much too soon. I setup submixes with eq and effects, which sounds like a great studio idea, but it took a bit to get used to it live. for example: I had the drums all submixed and I used a compressor to parallel crush the kit, cool. then I added an eq to boost low end, cut low mids and boost highs, things I do on drum channels anyway…but I forgot that I did that and really fought with the kick drum eq especially. just too much bass. lol. my bad on that one. I also was used to the channel gain structure of the X32, so it took me a minute to figure out that I had to pad the kick channel even though it wasn’t showing a clip light.

    I bought the compressor add on pack. It did kinda tweak me the wrong way that it cost that much more after paying that much for the mixer. I got this instead of the Wing. I would like the EQ pack, but I just can’t justify it yet.

    #110180
    Profile photo of Mike C
    Mike C
    Participant

    I’m with you on everything you said. I’m a little less than a year into my SQ6, and though I’m enjoying the tone, It took a few gigs to get used to it. Part of my problem is that I tried to do too much too soon. I setup submixes with eq and effects, which sounds like a great studio idea, but it took a bit to get used to it live. for example: I had the drums all submixed and I used a compressor to parallel crush the kit, cool. then I added an eq to boost low end, cut low mids and boost highs, things I do on drum channels anyway…but I forgot that I did that and really fought with the kick drum eq especially. just too much bass. lol. my bad on that one. I also was used to the channel gain structure of the X32, so it took me a minute to figure out that I had to pad the kick channel even though it wasn’t showing a clip light.

    What works in the controlled studio environment most likely does not work well in the live wild world.
    Was there a lot of gain applied somewhere else on the kick mic channel processing?

    #110192
    Profile photo of Singtall
    Singtall
    Participant

    just plugging in a kick mic without a pad caused a nasty sound. LED showed that it was hitting 0db with input gain turned all the way down. tried several mics, beta 52, D6, etc.

    #110199
    Profile photo of Dave Meadowcroft
    Dave Meadowcroft
    Participant

    That’s odd.
    I use a D6 on nearly every gig, no pad and always have to use some gain – there has to be some gain from a compressor, EQ or insert somewhere for that to be happening.

    #110201
    Profile photo of Mike C
    Mike C
    Participant

    I use a D6 as well and never had that issue.

    Are you saying the other mics you tried do the same thing?

    I would check the channel insert for something adding a lot of extra gain.

    #110202
    Profile photo of Alec
    Alec
    Participant

    The discussion about the kick mic overloading reminds me of an oddity in the default settings for SQ where pre-amp gains are all set to something line 20db of gain (can’t remember the exact amount, as I don’t have the desk in front of me), rather than being set at minimum levels.

    This caught me out a few times with higher level inputs. I very quickly set all gains in my personal blank default scene to 0.

    No pad needed, but definitely less gain!

    #110225
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    Hopefully the SQ series will see an expander added. A&H did not have an expander until just recently. It was developed for the DLive system first, but it made it down to the Avantis level with it’s last major update. I would have to assume it will eventually make it down to the SQ level. It’s free on the DLive (as all deep processing is), part of the Deep processing plugin package of the Avantis (one price gets you all the plugins), and I’m sure it will be a another paid plugin on the SQ series if/when it is released.

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