Gary's First Gig with the iLive

Hi Howard, 
Just thought I'd drop you a line to say that I used the iLive on Saturday for the first time at a gig. All went well, it was a Navy xmas ball with a 11 piece soul band. Being able to create monitor mixes whilst standing next to the person on stage during sound check is fantastic as you hear exactly what they are hearing and can adjust their mix on the spot, the band had never seen anything like it and were very impressed with the tablet laptop being wireless as well. When the band started playing I stood on the edge of the dance floor for the first couple of songs to get the FoH mix tweaked and then just sat in the corner of the room probably about 60 feet from the stage and mixed from there for the rest of the night. Various people from the audience quizzed me on my set up which hardly ever happened with the traditional desk! All I'm using is a domestic wireless router which sits in a 8U flight case just above the mixrack (8U for a 32 channel wireless desk with full processing on all inputs and outputs, its so compact!) for the wireless connection to laptop, its a dual band type router (2.4 & 5 ghz) and with this never had any freezes of meters or RTA on laptop.
Sound wise my rig has definitely improved with this addition, the low end (kick & bass guitar) really had some punch and were nice and tight which I'd not been able to achieve before to this degree and also had a great reverb going on the snare.
In addition a mate of mine is interested in monitor mixing for some shows maybe in the future, he's already got the Editor software on his laptop and as you can connect multiple computers to one mixrack which adds a 'virtual' monitor desk with all the mixrack processing very cheaply.
I'm looking forward to A&H's iPad app as one down side at the moment is laptop battery life which is sufficient for sound check and tweaking at the start of the show but then you need to find a plug socket whereas the iPad according to reviews I've read has about 10+ hours life under constant use.
I'd definitely recommend this set up to anyone wanting to go digital as I think the advantages outweigh the few disadvantages and I think A&H's continuous software updates is a really good philosophy and also free where I heard from someone that Yamaha's LS9 had not had a software update for over 3 years now. Also if I do want some physical faders in the future I can invest in a control surface when budgets allow meaning I'm not stuck with a laptop forever but I'm not convinced that mixing from a PC / iPad is slower or has any real disadavntages other than the status a large desk has...

Gary Plews: Talks about Mixing Live Bands on the Allen & Heath iLive Digital System

Gary Plews attended our 2 Day Live Sound Enginering course and has since set up his own sound engineering company Easy PA.

To begin with Gary was engineering on a traditional analogue mixing desk but found he needed more channels. As he was also looking to expand his outboard equipment such as gates, compressors, graphics etc he was concerned that he was going to be finding it difficult to transport and move it all on his own. Being main agents for Allen & Heath we suggested the new Allen & iLive Digital mixer which comprises of a digital stagebox that converts all the analogue signals and converts them into the digital domain but also acts as the brain for the entire system providing not just mixer functions but also has extended outboard and effects processor included. The stage box is not what you mix on however but links via CAT5 cable to one of several different control surfaces that Allen & Heath make or can, as is the case with Gary, be linked to a PC tablet via a wireless router and you can now be live engineering to a very high standard an entire band from either from either a PC tablet or the latest iPad.
Gary loves it and finds it particularly powerful by the fact he can wander onto stage and set the the monitor mixes for the bands with the laptop in his hand and get it spot on.

Here is what Gary has to say:

I always loved various music from an early age and took up guitar at 16. Played in various bands as mainly rhythm guitarist and was the one who usually sorted out anything technical or PA related as this grew to interest me more than playing the guitar. One day I decided if I could find a Sound Engineering Course for Live Sound and Google promptly lead me to
Base Sound and the next thing I know I was on one of Howard's two day courses. I followed this up with a 1 day one to one.

Then I had a bit of luck, a guy who runs his own small low key PA business I knew decided he was packing it in and offered me his rig at a reasonable price so I snapped it up. Some of the equipment wasn't the best you can get but it was a start and it also came with his contacts and with this plan I could see how it went and if it didn't go to plan then I could sell the equipment and not loose too much and if it went okay then I would invest in some new and better gear...  things went okay and now I have a new Allen & Heath iDR-32 MixRack with Tablet PC control!

As you can see from the photos the Mixrack is mounted in the top of an 8U shock-mount case, under the Mixrack is a 1U uninteruptable power supply and below that is a 1U rack drawer that holds my tablet PC. In the top surface of the case I mounted a speaker pole top hat and the wireless router now sits on top of a speaker pole (I have a short and a long pole, the short one is in the photo). The long pole gets the router up nice and high so I can have line of sight with my PC for the best wireless signal, not that I've had any problems so far... When packed away the the router stores neatly in back of rack.

Mixing with iLive
Allen & Heath iLive

Laying out the Pages and Using it

On my laptop screen I use the customs layers page, this fills up the top part of the screen but there are tabs on the side you can create custom pages. I have a FOH page, Monitor page and a Set-up page and FX page at the moment and on the custom pages you can put any channels, groups, auxs, DCA's, masters, FX, etc on these in any order you like and you can put blank gaps between faders i.e gap between drums & backline etc. On Saturday I had 18 inputs used including my iPod, with L&R FOH and six Aux's for monitors (I have four and the band came along with two of there own).

So I could catch any sudden feedback I assigned two DCA's as follows, 1) L&R FoH   2) All 6 Aux's for Monitors. I placed these two on every page in the same position so I could quickly lower or mute all the monitors or FoH with one fader movement no matter what page I was on at the time. With this I buried the L&R channels on the set-up page as there was no instant access required to them.

On the FoH page I also have all channels being used, extra DCA's FX sends I want to mute between songs and it all lays out very nicely no scrolling required. The monitor page again had most of the channels except sources I wouldn't put through monitors like drum overhead mic etc. The 6 Aux's I had set up were also on this page. The set-up page has iPod channels, L&R etc and the FX page has just has all the FX sends and returns I'm using but any that need instant control I duplicated on the FoH page if that makes sense?!

In the bottom half of the screen I had to the right the RTA running constantly which follows the PFL'd channel and this leaves enough room to the left for the pre-amp /EQ / dynamics window.
Regarding the EQ, you can either have virtual knobs to twist or it can be in a graph format which I really like because it gives you an immediate representation of the EQ setting.

The graph has four nodes which you can drag anywhere and there is an option that can be enabled so the bands aren't fixed, i.e. sound checking guitar, click on one of the nodes and drag it upwards increasing the gain, slide it along the frequency range until it sounds horrible and at that point drag in down below the zero line for cut then move onto the next band if required....  then save it for next time.