SB (Stage Box) form factor for SQ-serie

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This topic contains 104 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Hugh Hugh 2 weeks, 5 days ago.

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    Profile photo of Hugh

    I have a SQ5/DX168 combo and have a QUsb for small quick set-ups. The 24/96K sonic audio quality of the DX168 is clearly better than the 24/48K QUsb pres and converters. The question of whether or not the improved sonic quality of a DX168 is a sufficient reason to replace the QUsb is really what we need to consider. It is highly un-likely I will be a buyer of a SQsb to replace my QUsb. The primary reason is I can put both the SQ5 & DX168 in a Gator suit case for very easy portability and the current price point of the QUsb is properly aligned with similar 24/48 devices. The certain increase in price point for a SQsb will have to be justified by the number of folks that are willing to pay for the given amount of sonic improvement: IMO it will have to be a marketing move to meet competitive movement into the 24/96K that at this point we have not seen!

    Profile photo of DB

    I would really love to see a SQ version of the QU-pac. I think all the benefits from SQ over QU are obvious, and much more future ready (dante, 96khz, processing… and so on). Besides that, QU still doesnt have a proper remote control app for Android which I find a huge drawback (and yes, I know there is a 3rd party app). So for me, all these drawbacks keep me from buying an A&H rack mixer these days, since I’m buying such a device for years to come, it needs to have the modern benefits like stated above.

    Now, enough with the whining. What would I like to see then? I think the outter form-factor of the QU-pac is already nearly perfect. A lot of customizable buttons, channels easily accesible, not to overcomplicated for beginner users. The QU-pac i/o is sufficient for small gigs, its also great for the smaller fixed installations. So in my opinion just copy-paste (with SQ features ofcourse). Need more i/o? just add a stagebox… Speaking of fixed installations, I would like the mixer to be “power cycle proof” so switching it off without proper shutdown (which can happen a lot in fixed installs without professional operators) would not harm the device or running software. (not saying this is an issue now, but I can imagine it could be) The SQ app is already great in my opinion (and android too) so just make it work also for the rack version. Since I don’t want to be dependant on my mobile device, I would say the physical controls are a must.

    As I’m reading this, I think i’ve just requested an SQ version of the QU-pac 😉 It would be perfect for my needs and I would buy it tomorrow knowing i’m future ready with all the SQ advantages. Just goes to show how good the QU-pac already was, it just needs an 2021 SQ update. I know a lot of other people are waiting for it too. Please A&H, make it happen!!!!

    Profile photo of Alex_Petrov_59

    SQ-SB and SQ-PAC for small bands +1000

    Profile photo of Alex_Petrov_59

    My proposal for structure of SQ-SB is very easy:
    – take SQ-5 and cutoff all faders, buttons and display;
    – from backside view of SQ-5 nothing changes except XLR inputs – they have to be Combi XLR/TRS
    That is it. Software is the same. Cards are the same.
    Form factor is stage box with 19” rack volumes

    Dear All! Let’s discuss of the structure of SQ-SB rack mixer – it will helps to Allen&Heath to understand what an optimal structure has to be… but don’t forget about costs and end price.

    Profile photo of Hugh

    Please remember the potential gig killing wifi limitations: they are very real and will prevent universal acceptance of any protocol that is restricted to the poor dependability of the router world and it’s inherent latency issues.
    The major change I would support is a new controller that abandons the XLR inputs on the SQ5. but deploys D-Live D/A converters for all of the out puts along with the present FPGA processing. The pres and converters on the DX168 are clearly superior to the SQ’s: this along with the many advantages of keeping the capture as close as possible to the performers on stage make the DX168 stage box one of the best Quality/Value bargains available anywhere in the market.
    Where I differ with the SQsb request is the unilateral nature of the request. The investment involved in retooling the DX168 to include the features that have been described in this thread will be much easier and less expensive to accommodate in a two box scenario that offers professional redundant controls. A “DL Mini Control Module” that is cat6 connected with knobs and faders along with the wifi capability, that we all enjoy using, offers professional processing controls and world class sonic quality from the existing DX168 stage boxes.
    It is my belief a controller module of this type will find a much broader market demand with far less development investment that the SQsb that has been requested.

    Profile photo of Alex_Petrov_59

    Yes, it could be DX168 but with combi XLR/TRS inputs and with place for one card (Dante or Waves… will be very useful).

    Profile photo of Showtime

    Somebody already looked into de cdm32? 32 input 16, output, expandable, card options.


    Profile photo of Alex_Petrov_59

    Yes, the dlive cdm32 is splendiferous… except one thing – price is too high 🙂

    Profile photo of Hugh

    The pros and cons of a D-Live CDM is not relevant to this thread. The A&H brand has already made a decision to make available at a street price point of $1,000. world class D-Live pres and converters for 16 inputs and 8 outputs with the DX168. A pair of DX168s that require a 2K investment that offers essentially the same 32 inputs and 16 outputs as a 7K CDN32 is pretty much a no brainer. The critical issue is how to control the stage boxes.

    1) Is it smart to ask for reinventing the dx168 form factor to accommodate limited wifi control? Or should we maintain intact the DX168, the best quality/value stage box available today!
    2) The only major change I would support for the SQ5 would be abandoning all but talk back mic XLR inputs and deploying D-Live out puts.

    There are two primary reasons for my position;
    A) The sonic quality of the D-Live inputs and out puts is much better than the SQ’s and there are major advantages in placing the inputs and out puts as close to the activity as possible.
    B) A device that offers professional redundant controls that are cat6 connected to the stage boxes is essential with an optional Wifi walk around remote capability, that we all love to use, is the ticket that will sell. Any notion that limiting control of the mix to the known latency issues as well as the unpredictability of todays WYFI world is not going to sell very well.

    Perhaps we should think about the nature of the work flow of the people that are buying an SQ desk and why they buy it. The SQs, most of all, offer world class sonic quality with an approachable price point. Work flows that range from discriminating listening rooms to Institutional based multiple purposed efforts like Church sanctuary processing while real time streaming. The SQ fills the bill much better that any SQsb could: Maybe someone from A&H mgt. could share with us the demand differences between the QU and QUsb Even with a price drop of more than 50% I seriously doubt it made any real inroads into QU desk sales. Lets face it ; limiting all processing control to WIfi is a highly limited niche market for a small number of potential customers!

    Profile photo of Brian

    Lets face it ; limiting all processing control to WIfi is a highly limited niche market for a small number of potential customers!

    I think this market is bigger than you think. Just the House of Worship market is huge in the US and this is probably were it would be most accepted. There are also plenty of small bands that perform without a FOH engineer that would probably prefer this type of design over a larger console with physical controls. Then add all the situations were a console like this would be an addon to a larger system (such as an IEM rig or as a stage box that can also act as a backup to the FOH mixer in a pinch, etc, etc, etc) and I think the demand would be decent.

    Sure it won’t ever be has high as the existing SQ series with physical controls, but the whole point of releasing something like this is that the R&D costs have already been largely absorbed so the overall cost of releasing something like this is much smaller than it would be releasing a console in a new unrelated lineup. A&H just needs to come up with a rack mount design, but the components and software that should be used already exist.

    I’ll add my 2 cents in on the whole design element. I think A&H has to design it with a decent number of inputs and outputs in order for it to have a wider range of acceptance. Releasing a box with no I/O is simply too much of a niche product. I think having 8-16 inputs and outputs is going to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. Also, while the cost of the actual console would be higher with I/O than without, the total system of a “no I/O console” and a stage box would cost more than a rack console with built in I/O. So for the budget minded potential buyer, getting a console with I/O is probably more attractive.

    Profile photo of KeithJ A&H
    KeithJ A&H

    @Hugh –
    Both the Qu-Pac and Qu-SB are very popular in situations where lots of hands-on control is not required or there’s no FOH position available, a few examples being bands without an engineer, IEM racks, events in smaller venues, ‘headers’ for ME systems and installations where the Qu-Control app can be used to provide only the controls a non-engineer might require (so it’s not a small market, they’re incredibly popular! but whether this would be the same for a higher level, higher channel count mixer is what we would need to find out).
    (edit: I hadn’t refreshed the page so hadn’t seen @brian ‘s response with the same examples!)

    An important distinction here is that the DX168 is an expander which increases the I/O of the system, whereas a CDM is the mixer (with built-in I/O).
    That is to say, the DX168 does not carry out any audio processing/routing/summing and it would require quite a bit more than adding control, WiFi or otherwise.
    So the difference in price is due to the addition of a whole mixer!
    We looked at some of this ‘which bit does what’ in our recent stream about Digital Mixer Architecture available to view with many others here –

    For everyone contributing to this thread and as Hugh touches on with the comment on ‘ nature of the work flow of the people that are buying an SQ desk and why they buy it’ – what would be really helpful to understand is where/why this ‘faderless SQ’ would be used. i.e. why would this be chosen for use over an SQ-5 or Qu-Pac/Qu-SB?


    Profile photo of Brian

    For everyone contributing to this thread and as Hugh touches on with the comment on ‘ nature of the work flow of the people that are buying an SQ desk and why they buy it’ – what would be really helpful to understand is where/why this ‘faderless SQ’ would be used. i.e. why would this be chosen for use over an SQ-5 or Qu-Pac/Qu-SB?

    I think the primary reason someone would want a SQ Rack console over a Qu-SB is the 96hkz architecture – especially if there is the potential for future expansion.

    If a user wants the cheapest option out there and never plans on expanding their system, then the QU-SB is fine. However, if someone already has an SQ (or Avantis or DLive) and wants to add to their existing system, or if a person wants to start out with the rack console but wants to leave open the potential to expand the system later on, then a SQ Rack console is probably more appealing.

    Profile photo of MarkPAman

    If I do gigs with a monitor desk, I usually am working with a friend, and we use DANTE to share inputs between his (not A&H) desk and mine. I really wouldn’t want to do these gigs with a tablet/computer at either end, so a stage box format SQ is of no interest to me for those. If I were to need a 2nd desk for this myself I would almost certainly be an SQ 5 or 7.

    A lot of what I do though, does not use a monitor desk. I’ve SQ6 for “proper” gigs, and Qu-Pac for small/simple stuff – but the Qu is also a useful backup “just in case” for the larger stuff.

    At the moment my only stage box is an AB2412. I increasingly find 24 inputs is not enough & have used the Qu-Pac for extra inputs a few times now – but dislike not having direct control of the preamps from the SQ.

    So, I need another box, and think I should future proof myself and improve quality by going to 96kHz, so not getting another AB/AR.

    That means DX168, or DT168 (I already have cards for either) look to be what I should get now, adding a second box soon if/when gigs really start happening again. Still can’t decide between DX or DT though.

    But – if there were an SQ-stage box with 16+8 (or thereabouts) I/O then I’d almost certainly replace the Qu with it – and swap the AR2412 for a DX168. Bonus points if one SQ can control preamps on the other. It would be a better backup as shows could be transferred straight to it, and sound better.
    I’m obviously expecting that this new desk would cost less than an SQ5.

    Although I have a Qu-Pac, I’ve never actually mixed from the front panel and never had any wifi problems, so would be pretty happy with and SB type box -especially given that it could be hard wired to a laptop. However my suggestion to give it a few soft keys & foot switch still stands.

    Profile photo of Alex_Petrov_59

    I’d like explain my view on the SQ-SB/PAC.
    What is main thing for every musician? Does not matter it a symphonic orchestra or small amateur’s group 2…5 persons. Of course – quality of sound!
    The best quality of sound is analog. But today we need many addons to analog sound to make modern sound: compressors, dynamic EQ, echo, delay, and other FX-devices. And they are from metal and are very heavy – but we (small groups) need a portability and light weight… That is reason why we need a digital mixer.
    But a digital mixer on DSP chips with 24 bit / 48 kHz has not a good quality of sound (comparing to analog sound) because:
    – By processing on 24/48 some coloration (overtones) of sound is lost;
    – By DSP-chips processing a phase of signals is not coherent on input and output of mixer – it is loss of clarity, non-musical distortions, muddy sound;
    A mixer on FPGA-chip 24/96 kHz has more precise and amenity by AD/DA conversions and processing of sound:
    – 24/96 kHz has smaller latency;
    – Phase coherent (all mixers with FPGA-chip inside are phase coherent devices = dLive, Avantis, SQ-serie);
    – More overtones are living in sound.
    About quantity of inputs/outputs
    For small groups 16 physical inputs and 8 outputs will be enough in many situations. Architecture FPGA with 32 channels inside will allow to make parallel processing of channels in some reasons. Slink – allow to add more inputs/outputs if it will be needed by additional one or two stage boxes.
    About “faderless controlling”.
    Today every musician has a gadget – Android, Apple, Windows are platforms for control application for the faderless mixer. And the gadget technology leaps forward very quick. I think, it is no sense to install a gadget inside of the mixer – it will be non-modern in short time. Wi-Fi router and Touchscreen has to be non-installed in the mixer.
    About cards.
    Yes, of course. Dante, Waves…. It is a future. The less AD/DA conversions of a sound then better for the sound.
    Footswitch – yes, of course. Not a lot of small groups has a sound’s engineer/operator and footswitch will be very useful in many reasons: rever-delay on/off, mute a group, change a scene for next one.
    So, short to say – for me an optimal construction of digital mixer would be – “cut off” of all faders and buttons from SQ-5.

    Profile photo of Mfk0815

    what would be really helpful to understand is where/why this ‘faderless SQ’ would be used. i.e. why would this be chosen for use over an SQ-5 or Qu-Pac/Qu-SB?

    Hmm, before we can discuss a faderless, rack version of the SQ. We should talk about a better and flexible integration of mixers to a more complex system. Maybe you should start to look over the border of the A&H dish and see what other companies do with their products. Ok, maybe you think that others cannot do that job as well or even better than A&H, but there are a lot of things you can learn imho.
    First of all, I am missing two build in SLink connectors. I know, there is an option card to add a second one, but that will avoid using Dante or Waves. Two build in allows you to use stageboxes and connect to another mixing console at the same time, or allow you to connect one console with two other consoles. Sample: Monitor console with DX Stageboxes <-> FOH console <-> Streaming console.
    Second, add the possibility to remote control the head amps of the local sockets or the one of aconnected stage box by a second console. This eould allow us to control the head amps of the monitor console and the connected stageboxes via the FOH Console. This will allow us to use an second, unattended, SQ as Stagebox and IEM Mixer which head amps can be controlled by Operator at the FOH console.
    Additionally there is a need of a full featured remote app to control every aspect of the console In online and offline mode. The best solution is that this app is available for at least Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. Support of a hardware control protocol like MCU and a better Midi implementation will allow the user to do the job even without physical access to the console.
    Then it would be time to think about a surface less reckmount console either with local IO like the QU-SB or even a version with very limited IO, some inputs for playback music, a monitor and headphone out.

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