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Midas XL8 Completes First Live Broadcast In North America

United States
English
1 December 2006 — Eastern Canada’s most distinguished sound engineers were introduced to the Midas XL8 live performance system at a series of demo’s held in Montreal during the last week of October. Just one week after attending one of the hands-on sessions, Solotech (Montreal) were confident enough in the XL8 to put it to task at one of Canada’s most prestigious annual live events: the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards in Ottawa, held on November 4th.

Richard Lachance (VP International Development, Solotech) and Mario St.-Onge (Special Projects Director, Sound Department, Solotech) operated the XL8 for the show, which also marked the XL8’s debut in a live broadcast application. Lachance and St.-Onge gave a field report on how the XL8 handled and sounded:

Richard Lachance (left) and Mario St.-Onge (right)

“The XL8 performed extremely well as an audio mixing board,” says Lachance. “The word that springs to mind when I think of the XL8 is “fresh’—it brings a new level of responsiveness and sound quality to the digital realm. Another characteristic that sets it apart from the other digital consoles we use—all of which are great boards in their own right—is that it doesn’t feel like a digital desk; the layout is appealing before you even consider the audio performance. At the end of the day, it is a very, very digital platform, but, speaking as an engineer, it has that very familiar Midas feel—it’s very easy to slip into the XL8.”

Room for Two

“The XL8’s capacity for dual operation is another great advantage,” added Mario St-Onge. “The XL8 is big enough to comfortably accommodate two engineers, adding another dimension to its already impressive ergonomic layout. The systems engineer can use the right hand side of the board for traffic cues, outputs and track details, while the FOH engineer can mix the audio inputs on the left side. In being big enough for two, the XL8 actually saves space, as normally, when running 100+ inputs, you’d have one board dedicated for mixing and one for traffic. Plus, when two operators are clustered on the board, you can use one of the five screens for SIM or prompting. We can put the director’s prompter up there, so we know all our cues in advance. Midas really thought about how the XL8 would be used from a practical, as well as technological, perspective.”

POP Groups

St.-Onge continued: “Of course the XL8 sounds very good, as one would expect from a Midas product. But there are so many other technical features that set it apart from the digital crowd: In particular, we really enjoyed using the POP groups, which allowed us to manage the show without snapshots. The operator can immediately recall whatever page is needed at the touch of a button, rather than scrolling through the whole show. There were various presenters and special guests scheduled to appear on stage, and being able to switch between the various mics and mix settings in a split second was great. With other digital systems you have to remember what page to land on for a specific input; the instant recall POP groups alone put the XL8 in a league of it’s own in terms of user-friendliness. It’s easy to get lost in pages of programming on other digital desks. Combine features like this with Midas sound quality and it’s clear that XL8 is going to change the way people mix—it brings all the best elements of digital and analog together.”

XL8: Worth Waiting For

“In my opinion, until now, the digital market has been talking to itself, rather than listening to engineers, Lachance added. “The XL8 is for people who know how good a classic analog console sounds and feels, yet with all the technological advantages of digital. Not all operators are 22-year old computer buffs, many of whom haven’t heard how good a Midas preamp feels as it warms up under their finger on the fader. I agree that the XL8 brings the best of both worlds to everyone in this business. If you’re not having any fun doing what you’re doing, you may as well stop! XL8 keeps the fun part of mixing intact. If someone tells me: “you can operate this whole show off your laptop’, I reply: “why would I want to do that?” That’s not an alternative for me. Though Midas weren’t the first to design a digital console, having bided their time before bringing a system to market, they’ve done it their way, and it was worth waiting for—it’s a completely different animal.”
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