SOUNDCRAFT UI24R

AN IM­PRES­SIVE AT­TEMPT TO FIT VIR­TU­ALLY ALL GIG PRO­DUC­TION GEAR INTO 4RU SPA­CES. BY ALEX WIL­SON

Australian Guitar - - Testing 123 -

The past few years have seen sev­eral com­pa­nies tout­ing in­te­grated dig­i­tal mix­ers as so­lu­tions for the multi-faceted tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments of live per­for­mance. The Ui24R is Soundcraft’s most ex­ten­sive and full-fea­tured of­fer­ing to this mar­ket, and we re­viewed its smaller cousin, the Ui16, last year. Even at 24 chan­nels big, the Ui24R can only man­age a smaller chan­nel load than com­peti­tors from other brands.

For those un­fa­mil­iar with these kind of units, the Ui24R can look a bit daunt­ing at first glance. But the con­cepts be­hind it are quite sim­ple – the key is un­der­stand­ing how they fit to­gether. The core tech­nol­ogy is built around 20 ana­log in­puts, which are kit­ted with high-qual­ity Studer preamps. These al­low the artist and their crew to take what­ever sig­nals re­quired, from drum mics to vo­cals to bass and gui­tars. Two line level in­puts and two chan­nels of dig­i­tal USB play­back make up the 24 chan­nels im­plied in the prod­uct name. The Ui24R al­lows for the sounds to be mixed on its dig­i­tal con­sole en­vi­ron­ment, pow­ered by dbx, Lex­i­con and DigiTech pro­cess­ing. As well as hav­ing ana­log out­puts for a front-of-house mix, there are also eight aux­il­iary sends for mon­i­tor­ing or other out­put needs. The unit also func­tions as an A/D con­verter, al­low­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ous record­ing of all 22 in­puts and the stereo mix onto a USB drive, a com­puter or both.

HAND ME THE RE­MOTE

The unit pow­ers its own built-in dual-band Wi-Fi net­work, which al­lows for up to ten mo­bile de­vices to con­trol the unit re­motely. In prac­tice, this means that all but the very largest of bands will be able to have both crew and per­form­ers con­trol rel­e­vant parts of the mix from their de­vice of choice.

This is made all the eas­ier by the in­spired de­ci­sion to code the mix en­vi­ron­ment as a web in­ter­face rather than a mo­bile app. This elim­i­nates some of the soft­ware is­sues that might come up when your FOH guy wants to work with a lap­top and mon­i­tor, but your gui­tarist is ad­dicted to his iPhone.

Each band mem­ber can also be as­signed a per­sonal ‘view’ of the the mix chan­nels and choices that are rel­e­vant to them. With the right setup, the FOH mixer can have full purview of the mix while band mem­bers are re­stricted to con­trol­ling chan­nels rel­e­vant to their mon­i­tor mix.

MASS EF­FECT

Soundcraft have put their web in­ter­face up on their prod­uct web­site, with some sam­ple au­dio run­ning in it, to give prospec­tive cus­tomers a chance to get a feel for the unit be­fore pur­chas­ing. Hav­ing spent a bit of time with their mix in­ter­face, I think it does the job fairly well. Any­one who has fa­mil­iar­ity with the dig­i­tal mix con­soles found in most venues will be at home.

The qual­ity ef­fects pro­cess­ing from dbx, Lex­i­con and DigiTech will be found among the very clean and use­able ef­fect pool. This in­cludes the stan­dard EQs, comps, gates, de­lays and re­verbs and then some nice ex­tras like cho­rus, de-es­s­ing and even gui­tar amp sim­u­la­tion.

Sounds repli­cat­ing big-name amp com­pa­nies are in­cluded, along with some ba­sic gui­tar FX. Your mileage will vary on whether you see them as ap­pro­pri­ate for mon­i­tor­ing, as a backup/par­al­lel rig, or the ba­sis for the main gui­tar sound.

BANDS BIG AND SMALL

Ul­ti­mately, the Ui24R is best suited to tour­ing groups that have some de­gree of con­trol over the pro­duc­tion specs of venues they are booked to play. With­out time and co-op­er­a­tion from venue staff to patch a unit like this cor­rectly, it would be hard to ex­tract all the ben­e­fits from it.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The Ui24R is one of the units that tries to do ev­ery­thing and mostly suc­ceeds. There has been lit­tle that has been left out, and it’s a very at­trac­tive propo­si­tion for se­ri­ous tour­ing groups with so­phis­ti­cated live per­for­mance needs.

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