- by George Petersen
in Technology Spotlight
Digital technology has been a godsend for pro audio, bringing more flexible and powerful products to a wide array of users. However, with many devices, a massive feature list is often accompanied with a complex and involved learning curve. And there’s the rub, especially in certain environments, such as performance spaces, and the educational and house of worship markets, where audio gear may be used by a mix of experienced pros and volunteer or novice operators.
Ashly Audio started out in pro audio manufacturing building reliable analog mixing consoles to meet the demands of the burgeoning live music industry. Now, more than 40 years later, Ashly is returning to the console market equipped with decades of experience building powerful, easy-to-use digital signal processors that pair seamlessly with control technologies that users can easily navigate.
With this goal in mind, the first product in Ashly’s new range is the digiMIX24, a versatile, compact 24-channel digital mixing console with professional inputs/outputs, integrated signal processing and effects, user-friendly software and intuitive mixing via the live control surface. Additionally, a free digiMIX iPad remote control integration app lets users remotely set stage monitor volumes, tweak parameters or to mix from different places in the venue.
“The Ashly digiMIX24 combines the feel of a traditional analog mixer, the intuitive control of digital systems that we’ve pioneered in the work with our Ashly Protea DSP units, and the conveniences and flexibility of a recallable digital mixer,” says Ashly’s John Sexton.
In keeping with the product’s goal of accessibility to all users, “the digiMIX24 offers two modes,” Sexton notes, “a normal technical mode with all of the depth and flexibility that an audio professional would expect and an ‘EZ-Mode’ for non-technical users, such as in schools or churches.”
The digiMIX24 has 24 inputs — including: 16 Class-A mic/line inputs; up to 14 mix buses (user-configurable); eight aux outputs, eight channel inserts; 33 channels of dynamics and equalization processing; and two stereo effects processors with reverb, delay, chorus and more. Its control surface combines a seven-inch LCD color touch screen and intelligent metering. The system management software makes it easy to save, load, or copy mixer setups. Optional field-installable cards provide either Dante connectivity or a USB interface for easy multi-track recording or playback.
Physically, the digiMIX24 is fairly compact, with a 20 x 14-inch footprint and weighing in at just under 18 pounds. As shown in Fig. 1, the rear panel has 16 combo 1/4-inch-XLR line/mic inputs with TRS insert points on the first eight inputs. Inputs 17 through 24 are analog stereo line pairs fed through TRS jacks (17-20), RCA tape inputs (21-22) and USB (23-24). Outputs include stereo mains (on XLR and TRS jacks); eight 1/4-inch jacks for the four aux outs and four subgroup/aux outs; stereo RCA tape out pair; and stereo 1/4-inch control room outputs. In a live situation, the “control room” outs can be used for a feed (with a separate level control) to a lobby, narthex or cry room or even to drive a set of monitor speakers when mixing in a booth or enclosed space.
Ethernet and USB control ports are provided for connecting the digiMIX24 to a network for remote iPad control or loading “digiMIX Utility” firmware updates. The back panel also has a slot for an optional Dante or USB multi-track expansion card. The ports for the USB 2-track I/O and a 1/4-inch headphone output are conveniently located on the top surface. And no wall warts here — the internal power supply is fed from a standard IEC AC connector that accepts any voltage from 100 to 240 VAC.
The Control Surface
The user interface on the digiMIX24 is distinctly different than most consoles, but is designed for fast, easy operations, and virtually every mixer function can be accessed via the touch screen and/or dedicated controls. The top of the mixer has rotary trims for the channel inputs and bright, 12-segment LED meters. Below each meter is a select button that navigates that source directly to the 100mm Alps moving fader and that channel’s control interface. Aux, sub, FX and main levels are all individually controlled via rotary controls. Bright colored buttons offer access to the six DCA groups, solo/mute/PFL/channel assigns, effects, phantom power, the 31-band graphic EQ (on the main, sub and aux outs), and — on all channels — the 6-band parametric EQs, expander/gates and compressor limiters.
Two digital effect buses are available. Via tweakable parameters, customized effects can be assigned to each bus and include three types of reverb, delay, tremolo, flanger, chorus or combinations. User-defined effects can be saved to 104 presets.
The mixer’s EZ-Mode offers a simplified and secure user control interface for a non-technical person to control the mixer with the same ease of use as if they were operating lighting dimmers. All signal routing, levels, EQ, FX, DCA groups and aux sends must be configured ahead of time in the main mixer before using EZ-Mode, but once there, operation by novice users becomes very straightforward.
Additionally, within the system control page, an admin user can also set a password, and prevent unauthorized access to any features in either full system or EZ-Mode, with only the input trims and AC power functions not subject to lockout.
Options and More
With the optional, field-installable $499 Dante-32 module in place, the digiMIX24 can be integrated into a Dante digital audio network, allowing the console to receive and transmit audio with other Dante devices
such as stageboxes, secondary mixers for monitoring or broadcast mixes, etc. Dante stream configurations require Audinate’s free (Windows or Mac) Dante Controller software that uses a simple matrix to connect Dante audio receivers with transmitters.
Ashly also offers an optional, field-installable 32-channel USB digital audio module for interfacing the digiMIX24 with other multi-track USB audio devices. Applications include multi-track recording or playback from a USB audio device, or interfacing directly to a multi-track DAW or playbacks for virtual sound checking.
The digiMIX24 is shipping now and carries a street price of $1,249. Like all Ashly products, the digiMIX24 is covered by the company’s five-year warranty (three years on the touch screen and moving fader). For more info, visit Ashly Audio at www.ashly.com.
digiMIX24 Digital Console
- Channels: 24
- Outputs: 8 aux channels; or 4 aux channels and 4 subgroups
- DCAs: 6 DCA fader/mute groups
- Resolution: 32-bit A/D and D/A conversion
- Sampling Rate: 48 kHz
- Dimensions: 20.15 x 14 x 5.65 inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 17.65 pounds
- Street Price: $1,249
- Manufacturer: Ashly Audio
- More Info: www.ashly.com