The GR05 is a new, one rack-space audio mixer from Allen & Heath. Like the GR1, which was introduced a couple of years ago, the GR05 is designed to meet the various requirements of multizone venues with a range of program sources – typically clubs and restaurants, theaters, retail locations, business facilities and conference centers. The design of the GR05 intelligently addresses the specific needs of both installers and users, allowing flexible configuration on the one hand, and easy operation on the other.
The GR05 ($595) is a five-by-four zone mixer, with each of the five input channels assignable by internal jumper to any output or combination of the four outputs. All configuration is done internally. The only external controls are power on/off, input and output levels, a single muting push button, and gain matching for the microphone inputs. Essentially, only those controls needed for day-to-day operation are available to users, and access to even these can be restricted. The knobs are removable for screwdriver presets or the holes can be plugged.
Front panel metering consists of three-color LED displays for pre-level input and post-level output signal status. The LEDs are positioned directly above the respective channel level controls. Green indicates signal present, yellow indicates 0 dB signal and red indicates peak 5 dB before clipping. There is an identification block above each LED for control identification. In all, it’s an uncomplicated control layout for simplified use by nontechnical operators.
All input and output connections are on the back panel. Inputs 1 and 2 are mic/line, with balanced XLR connectors and gain-matching pots. Inputs 3, 4 and 5 are stereo line, with dual phono (RCA) connectors. Outputs for the four channels are balanced XLR connectors. There is also a 25-pin D-type female connector providing inputs and outputs for system expansion and special functions such as remote control, battery backup and alarm interface.
Internal jumpers are used to set system functions and parameters, such as channel routing, input and output level ranges, ducking functions and more. For the mic/line inputs, available functions include 30 dB attenuation for high-level inputs, phantom power, low-cut filter and an EQ section designed to optimize speech intelligibility.
The line inputs can be assigned in either mono or stereo and set for either -10 dBV or +4 dBu. With respect to the output zones, inputs are routed either directly to the zone or to the zone through a VCA. When routed direct, the inputs are exempt from level controls or ducking. VCA routing allows use of remote control.
The four output zones have level trim and high and low equalization. The output level can be set between -10 dBV and +4 dBu. Outputs can be ganged so that more than one zone or, possibly, stereo zones are controlled by a single front panel knob.
All inputs and outputs have VCA circuits for remote control. A +10 V reference is provided at designated pins on the multipurpose 25-pin connector. Hardwired potentiometers can be used to control individual zone outputs from those areas or to control input levels from a remote location away from the equipment rack. Along with the remotes, the expander/remote connector allows for alarm signal routing and for the GR05 to be powered from an emergency DC backup supply for uninterrupted operation.
GR05’s ducking circuitry lowers background music or other program levels for voiceovers. Any input can be given ducking priority. Microphone inputs trigger internal ducking that is jumper configured and requires no additional circuitry. External ducking for line inputs must be hardwired through the 25-pin connector. Ducking has selectable depths of 10 dB and 20 dB and either fast or slow release times. Selected output zones can also be assigned for muting via a push button on the front panel.
In addition to contractor components like the GR05, Allen & Heath has long been a manufacturer of high-quality mixing consoles for recording studios and sound reinforcement. Maybe that corporate heritage explains why, in my experience, their products are uniformly well designed and flawlessly built.
Besides being aesthetically satisfying, this helps in practical ways. For example, the circuit board’s orderly layout makes it easy to identify and work with the numerous jumpers and trimmers during configuration. The metal work is noticeably solid and free of sharp edges. A schematic diagram printed on top of the case is a handy reference to the signal paths and location and function of the jumpers. Similarly, the supplied documentation is complete and to the point.
In the GR05, Allen & Heath has produced a mixer with both elegant simplicity and the appropriate level of functionality for its intended market. Take the front panel arrangement of a single LED indicator located directly above each level control. That’s absolutely, intuitively correct from the user’s point of view. One channel, one knob, one meter. Helpful for the contractor during setup and easily grasped by even the least knowledgeable operator. Yet the mixer’s versatile routing architecture will allow installers to configure input/output and control matrixes for a wide range of installations. This, and a price that won’t break many budgets, should make the GR05 the zone mixer of choice for many applications.
Contact Allen & Heath at 801-568-7660.