QSC TOUCHMIX-16 COMPACT DIGITAL MIXER
QSC’s ﬁrst foray into the digital live sound mixer ﬁeld shows you can have professional quality in a compact package, writes Morten Støve.
t seems like there is a smorgasbord of new small digital consoles on the market, including the QSC Touchmix-16, which I’ve been using in recent months. It’s a 16-channel digital console with practically everything you can imagine built-in. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind: the Kristin Korb Trio tour in Sweden and the United States; a tour with the vocal group Lines for Ladies; and ﬁnally, a jazz cruise with JazzDagen from Costa Rica to Miami. Manning the helm at FOH, I’ve tried to travel light with a number of the microphones I need – all DPA and Neumann – a TC Helicon monitor and a small digital console. I typically only use around 10 to 12 channels, so it is not a major production. You’ve surely experienced this as I have: every venue seems to have a diﬀerent console. If it’s one of the new digital consoles, it takes a minute to ﬁnd your way around (while you keep telling yourself that you really are a sound engineer). In touring scenarios like mine, why not travel with your own mixer?
Features The TouchMix-16’s main features include 16 input channels, eight to 10 auxes, four eﬀects channels plus basic recording capabilities. Using its preprogrammability – setting parameters before the gig – setup is very quick; users then simply name main channels, monitor channels and eﬀects. TouchMix’s built-in Wizard allows eﬀects to be set up swiftly and easily. [Visit qsc.com/products/Mixers/ Touchmix_Series/TouchMix-16 for QSC’s comprehensive rundown of features– Ed]
In Use I have now been on tour with the TouchMix-16 for several weeks, ﬁrst with the Kristin Korb Trio – vocal, bass, piano and drums – using a 10-channel set up with only one monitor. My normal procedure is this: I begin by playing some tunes through the PA just to get used to the room; I rig everything else up while the band warms up; and ﬁnally, I play my PA test tune – Bill Cantos’ Don’t Say A Word – for EQing purposes. The EQ on the TouchMix-16 – a
1/3-octave graphic EQ with four-band parametric on stereo auxes – works great. I quickly discovered the Touch-Mix-16’s intuitive nature. On purpose, I did not read its manual before I turned it on. Just like arriving at a venue with an unfamiliar console, I wanted to see if I could ﬁgure it out right away. I did, yet when I hit a wall and wanted to ﬂick through a manual, it was right there at the press of a button: I simply clicked INFO on the right side of the mixer. How cool is that? After the Sweden tour, we did two weeks in Germany for the Lines for Ladies tour featuring ﬁve vocals, four monitors plus piano and bass. The shows ranged from a 500-seat church to a variety of small jazz
Joanne Ruddock speaks to Gerry Tschetter, QSC vice president, professional product management, and Jon Graves, product manager, mixers, two of the driving forces behind TouchMix. What was the thinking behind the move into the digital live sound mixer space? WIth the success of our K and KW loudspeakers it became clear that there are lots of users who have high aspirations for live sound production quality. The majority of these users do not, however, need speaker systems that can cover arenas or mixers with huge input and output count. So we saw an opportunity to bring these users products that provide the quality and tools the top pros rely on but with a cost and scale that makes sense for them. We felt that we could oﬀer systems that delivered better results to musicians and production people working in small and mid-sized venues.
Was the intention always to go with a compact oﬀering – what challenges did this create and how were they overcome? When the decision was made to pursue TouchMix, we went all in and aimed for a laptop-sized form factor that would be extremely powerful. Essentially, the two TouchMix models are about as small as they can be while still having enough space to ﬁt the controls and connectors. Probably the biggest challenge was getting the sensitive analogue circuitry (mic-pres), the DSP and the digital control circuitry to get along with each other. We have some engineers who are really good at ‘mixed signal’ design and they worked hard to get it right. On the other hand, relegating so much of the user interface
Key Features Twenty total inputs: 16 mic, (four with XLR/ TRS combo connector) and two stereo line (TRS) Dedicated talkback mic input Stereo Main L/R outputs (XLR) Ample monitor outputs (eight in total) with six mono auxiliary mixes (XLR) and two stereo auxiliary mixes. Class A microphone preamps 32-bit floating point processing 24-bit A-D/D-A convertors RRP: $1,299 www.qsc.com
to the touchscreen allowed us to forego a lot of hardware controls that would have expanded the footprint. How important was ease of setup and use when designing the TouchMix? Other than sound quality, nothing was more important. There’s a story about a guy who attached a rocket engine to a Chevy coupe and ended up becoming one with the side of a mountain, thus demonstrating that lots of power with no control is a dangerous thing. We spent many long days mocking up our user interface and making sure that it made sense to users. Then we did an extended ﬁeld beta test with real-world users and reﬁned the ﬁrmware based on their input.
Was it diﬃcult to balance this ease of use with giving pro users the functionality they expect? That is a ﬁne question but I’d add one more element – how to balance these factors and help the novice get near-pro results. There are some areas where there really isn’t a conﬂict, for example the workﬂow on TouchMix seems to function well for pro and novice alike. But in other areas it’s a bit more tricky. For example, eﬀects processing is the secret sauce
Published on Feb 6, 2015