Prolight & Sound 2016 Reports – Audio Mixers, Processors & Microphones

After having sent a huge amount of information online directly from the fair, we have dedicated this report to the world of audio, and the products that, in our opinion, were the most interesting of the show. We must note that even this year, as similar to in 2015, we didn’t discover any “electrifying” releases, although after taking a closer look, we could find some companies with the desire to experiment and to propose something new and well developed.

pls 2016 audio report ziogiorgio

Let’s start from the audio mixing world with the brand that by now is considered as somewhat of a standard by those in the industry, independent from whichever “clan” you claim to belong to. DiGiCo didn’t launch a new console at the show, but instead raised the bar for the processing power with the Stealth Core2 upgrade for the whole SD Series. The update is especially imporatnt for the flagship SD7 Quantum, making it an increasingly powerful and flexible console. The upgrade, which will arrive in a few months, provides a new software version but also the addition of two hardware Cores. The cost of the modification is yet to be seen, but this is a considerable step further by the British brand, who for some years now have dictated the standards for digital audio mixers. We can’t report from their competitors at MIDAS because, as we already mentioned, by choice all Music Group brands were not present at this year’s PL&S.


Whilst not suitable for live use, but the launch of a new NEVE mixer made headlines at the show. The new DFC3D is specifically dedicated to the world of post production, especially for films. With a beautiful interface (we have always loved the colours of the NEVE encoders), the mixer features effective graphics courtesy of the clearly visible sloping LCD. The question has to be asked, why not develop a console for live use? Maybe they are thinking about it, but who knows…

The introduction of the new QU-Sb by Allen & Heath is not sensational news, but it is in any case interesting, and in keeping with the latest technology, as well as the new I/O card for Rivage RPio222. Of course it is also DANTE ready – DANTE cards and various boxes of this kind being something that seemed to be around every corner at this year’s show.


Another incredibly interesting discussion took place between ourselves and Luca Giaroli from Outline, who gave us an explanation of the new NEWTON unit. The official release will be in a matter of days, but on paper it certainly has some very interesting characteristics, and is certainly one to rewrite the standard in specifications for this type of “machine”. Stay tuned…

Teknosign is a quite young company, but is already known and appreciated at the highest levels (a prototype of a summing mixer was used by Alberto Butturini for the last Campovolo of the big italian artist Luciano Ligabue). Despite being located in the MusikMesse pavilions and not in the PL+S area, we were very interested to take a look at the stand and the expectations from this company have certainly been met. On show – the whole series of summing mixers of Sum Adjust in its variants: Classic, LT, Jounior and PRO now in its final form, and the new GAIN preamplifier. Interesting products primarily down to the audio quality that many have praised, but also because there are some very interesting features to be found by reading the specifications.  All are equipped with a custom toroidal transformer, an EMI filter, and each channel is assembled with a technology that allows you to mount small parts very close to one other, so as to maximise the level of the audio tracks and hence increase the signal to noise ratio. All summing mixers, as well as the two channel mic preamp GAIN, also have the advantage of digital control through a special plug-in (VST, AAX) that comes with the products, so as to combine the best of both worlds, both analog and digital. This function allows you to have a true Total Recall, plus the ability to automate any parameter, a very interesting feature, one not so obvious as it might seem …

thMackie presented an interesting line of small digital mixers with wireless control via iPad, called ProdX. It consists of a hardware section, complete with I/O on the rear, integrated DSP, and housing for the iPad which is entrusted with the entirety of the mixer control.Although not a novelty (we have already seen similar mixers at NAMM) this is certainly a product of quality, and objectively compact and intuitive with a price of $ 259.99 for the 4 channels ProDX4 and $ 389.99 for the eight channel ProDX8.

From Waves we have the eMotion LV1 Live Mixer, available in 16, 32 and 64 Stereo Channel versions. The SoundGrid-based digital mixing console is designed for front-of-house, monitor and broadcast engineers, and with it Waves aims to bring their renowned sound quality to live environments. The system is designed to be operated directly from a computer, and is especially designed to work with multi-touch and gesture based touch-screen monitors. Upon demonstration, we were incredible impressed by the responsiveness of the software to these gestures, which have clearly been carefully thought through to avoid the “fiddly-ness” that touch screen systems can often bring. Waves are also renowned for the intuitive workflows of their plugins, and this is certainly something that they have aimed to bring to their live sound solution. Alongside a maximum of 64 mono/stereo channels, the system also has 36 buss/return channels, 16 auxes, 8 audio groups and a 32-bit floating point mix engine, with up to 96 kHz sample rate. Each of the system’s channels is capable of running up to eight Waves or third party-plugins, meaning the operator can mix with their favourite plugins, maybe straight from the studio! Users can of course use pre-existing plugin purchases, but the system is also pre-loaded with Waves eMo plugins, including eMo D5 Dynamics, eMo F2 Filter and eMo Q4 Equalizer. All of these are incredibly powerful and feature-loaded in their own right, so the system is more than ready to be used straight out of the box (or should we say screen).

stand outline

Top of the range with regards to condenser microphone, and dedicated to live applications, comes the C7 from AKG, a super-cardioid condenser with a special custom designed capsule to handle very high sound pressure levels. Very competitively priced, at around 270 EUR, it was achieved through the adoption of the now-proven metal chassis used for most of AKG stage microphones for live, and the mounting of the new capsule within this format. Also from AKG we have the MICROLITE series of cardioid and omnidirectional lavalier and ear hook microphones. Incredibly lightweight and discrete, the microphones are designed for theatre, broadcast and conference applications, were a microphone that does not distract from the speaker, actor or singer is required. The series is also designed with an extended frequency response, proposed to be capable for a wide range of vocal performances, from bass to soprano.

It may be interesting for all Yamaha users that Yamaha Pro Audio and Shure Incorporated have announced that the Yamaha CL and QL series can now control and monitor the ULX-D Digital Wireless System (ULXD4D Digital Wireless Dual Channel Receiver and ULXD4Q digital wireless four-channel Receiver enabled with Dante) through complete integration.

In the world of microphones, Electro-Voice and Dynacord presented their highly anticipated ND Series. The series is made up of 8 different models, with four dedicated to vocal and four dedicated to instruments. As the successor to the popular N/Dym Series, they are designed for both live performance and studio applications, with features dedicated to enhanced acoustic performance, control and robustness.Electro-Voice Dynacord PLS2016 ND Microphone SeriesFrom the vocal microphones, the ND76 and ND76S (with switch) offer all-round performance, whilst the The ND86 is tailored for large concert and festival-sized venues. Then we have the ND96, designed with extremely high gain-before-feedback that allows the vocal to be pushed up in the mix even on use in a particularly loud stage environment. From the instrument range there are Three dynamic models and one small-diaphragm condenser model available, each optimised by polar pattern, capsule voicing and mechanical design for their specific application. The ND44 is a small, clip-on microphone designed for tom-tom and snare, whilst the ND68 dynamic aims to deliver a powerful kick drum sound with little or no additional equalization required. The larger ND46 is designed for general instrument micing, and finally a small-diaphragm condenser model, the ND66, with filters, pads and locking pivoting head. At an affordable price-point, we are sure these will definitely be the tools of use for a large number of engineers before too long at all.

201511131353341447394014006TXT1adminAlso of note in the microphone field is a 3D recording kit from microphone specialists MICW. Sold as a kit, consisting of i3DMic Pro Earphones, the iDAQ 2022 and USB lighting cable, the kit makes any iPhone capable of recording binaural soundscapes, as well as the ability to analyse the sound source with great accuracy. The in-ear earphones are worn like standard earphones, so can be placed on a dummy, and utilised using standard binaural recording techniques.

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