QSC TouchMix-16

QSC THROWS AN­OTHER HAT INTO THE CROWDED RING OF POR­TA­BLE DIG­I­TAL MIX­ERS, AND ALEX WIL­SON MAKES A CALL ON WHETHER THE TOUCHMIX-16 STANDS OUT FROM THE COM­PE­TI­TION.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Touch­screen and tablet tech­nol­ogy has for­ever changed the world of mix­ing equip­ment. Venues, artists and man­u­fac­tur­ers have em­braced de­signs that as­sume and ne­ces­si­tate own­er­ship of an iPad or sim­i­lar de­vice. This is not a ter­ri­ble thing at all, but it does present its own set of prob­lems. What do you do if your iPad breaks or can’t com­mu­ni­cate with your hard­ware? What about those sit­u­a­tions where a touch­screen just doesn’t feel as good as a real pot or fader?

LESS IS MORE...

The TouchMix-16 by QSC is an at­tempt to an­swer th­ese ques­tions with­out cur­tail­ing the flex­i­bil­ity of a dig­i­tal mixer by a tablet. It’s easy to see that com­pet­ing prod­uct lines like Sound­craft’s Ui, Mackie’s DL and Behringer’s X Se­ries are all quite sim­i­lar – your pref­er­ence just de­pends on which spe­cific take on the boxy rack-of-analog-ins-’n-outs design suits you best. QSC read the sit­u­a­tion well, in­stead of­fer­ing a unique take on dig­i­tal mix­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Rather than be­ing re­liant on a tablet, the TouchMix-16 is only more flex­i­ble and in­tu­itive with one. No more, no less. And for when your tablet fails (be­cause let’s be real here, your tablet is bound to screw you over at some point in a task), the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of the mixer’s de­tailed and in­tel­li­gent con­trol sys­tem are still ac­ces­si­ble via a built-in touch­screen and hard­ware con­trols.

Any­one who is fa­mil­iar with Mur­phy’s Law will im­me­di­ately sense the ben­e­fit here. The 16 is QSC’s midrange prod­uct, sit­ting be­tween the 8 and the 30, and they ap­pear to be fairly sim­i­lar apart from the ob­vi­ous chan­nel count. And it’s true that the TouchMix’s 20 in­put chan­nels are a lit­tle less than sim­i­larly priced units, but that’s a fea­ture, not a bug. At this price point, there are le­git­i­mate rea­sons for favour­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity over chan­nel count.

NEW AND IM­PROVED

De­spite be­ing around since 2014, con­stant firmware sup­port keeps the TouchMix up to date with in­dus­try stan­dards. The lat­est 3.0 up­date re­hauls the GUI with some more modern graph­ics, as well as a slew of new fea­tures that will be cov­ered be­low. What re­mains un­changed is the unit’s com­pact design. It’s 35-by-30 cen­time­tres, with a slant that pushes the back end up by a mea­gre five cen­time­tres. The touch­screen takes up just un­der a third of the de­vice’s real es­tate, but uses this amount of space well with­out feel­ing too small.

Tap a pa­ram­e­ter on the screen and you can shift it us­ing the con­trol knob off to the right – this tap-and-tweak work­flow is re­ally smooth. When you fac­tor in that the knob al­lows you to press down to ac­ti­vate fine ad­just­ment, it’s also eas­ier (and sim­ply put, bet­ter) than us­ing an iPad to wran­gle some mix­ing tasks.

Having the tablet on-hand takes us­abil­ity to an­other level. Apart from the ob­vi­ous mo­bil­ity ben­e­fit, I re­ally liked having my mixer dis­play set up on the tablet and be­ing able to play around with the chan­nel ad­just­ments us­ing the in-built con­trols. It’s a mar­vel­lous fea­ture.

POWER IN SIM­PLIC­ITY

The GUI it­self ap­prox­i­mates a modern dig­i­tal con­sole. The EQ is a full-fea­tured SSL-style para­met­ric; on­board are hi and lo fil­ters, switch­able hi and low shelf/bell con­trols and a real-time anal­yser. The comp can be set to ei­ther pre-EQ or post-EQ set­tings, graphs the ac­tion of the al­go­rithm for you, and in­cludes a de-esser.

The gate is con­trolled like an in­verse of the comp, again in the SSL style.

You also have a use­ful chan­nel over­view to con­trol all of the above, your FX and AUX sends, and in­put de­lay. Rout­ing of the sends can be set to pre- or post-fade set­tings as well. There’s noth­ing re­mark­able here; it’s all just pow­er­ful, sen­si­ble and easy to use.

...BUT THERE’S MORE, AND MORE, AND MORE, AND... YOU GET THE POINT

And speak­ing of ease of use, one of the big­gest sell­ing points of the TouchMix se­ries are all the awe­some work­flow perks that be­lie the unit’s hum­ble ap­pear­ance. You have DCA and mute groups avail­able. You have a talk­back line built in. You have two user-de­fined but­tons, and two that can be used for copy-past­ing pa­ram­e­ters.

You have a ‘sim­ple’ but­ton on most chan­nel con­trols, which is as use­ful for a vet­eran work­ing on a time crunch as it is f or a be­gin­ner just start­ing to fig­ure things out. You have scene-based mix­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, but also the abil­ity to lock cer­tain chan­nels out of scene-based changes. You have AUX and FX ‘wiz­ards’ to get your rout­ing up at a glance. You’ve even got in-built pink noise for test­ing sys­tems.

And you have two USB ports, which can be used for con­nect­ing WiFi gear, multi-track­ing to HD, play­back of au­dio files or DAW con­nec­tiv­ity. There’s even more to be un­cov­ered, too, should you choose to re­ally dive deep into the man­ual.

RRP: $2,149

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