Soundcraft’s more affordable desks, like the Si Expression Series mixer I recently evaluated, are packed with elements borrowed from the flagship Vi6. The unit I received for review, an Si Expression 3 ($3,499, street), offers 22 assignable channel faders alongside two permanent L/R stereo master faders and sole mono master fader. One of the most unique and notable features of the Si Expression Series is “Fader Glow”—essentially customizable color- coding for control parameters for groups of elements like inputs and sends, allowing users very quick reference as to which one of four operational layers they are in.

Above the fader bank resides an assignable channel strip, accessed by the Select button per channel. The universal channel strip has a full range of controls for Soundcraft’s deservedly famous parametric EQ, an extensive compressor section, gate/expander, and pan. The gate and comp processors can all be run simultaneously with independent control.

The console’s built-in effects are actually four sections of Lexicon MX400 Effects Processors, offering a multitude of options in reverb, delay, pitch shift and other effect types. Each effect is totally accessible for parameters and EQ, giving you a very nice variety of inboard capabilities.

The Soundcraft Si Expression 3 is a superb, very well-built console that handled my company, Atlantis Audio’s road gigs for many weeks, functioning perfectly in some fairly adverse conditions: gigs in rain, heat and rodeo dirt, with all the general abuse an every-day, mid-level production company would throw at it. The Si Expression 3’s moving faders are very smooth, its menu is highly accessible and its sound quality is excellent; it clearly benefits from the noble characteristics it inherited from the Vi Series, most apparent in its high-quality mic preamps.

Only one issue I had with the console: I still had to use board tape to label channels. Personally, I’ll live without the name strip for a console with so much quality, features and I/O for the price.

I’ve mixed on many digital desks, and in comparison, I was most impressed with the Si Expression 3. Its menu options and parameters are on par with the “big boy” consoles, yet it was so quick and easy to operate; I didn’t even consult the well-written manual until after successfully using it multiple times on real jobs. I am putting my money where my mouth is; I’ll be acquiring a few of them for my own company as they are everyday useful.