The DiGiCo D5 Live is the introduction of UK post production specialist Soundtracs into the live sound reinforcement market. Traveling around and mixing over a 150 shows a year, I encounter many sound companies and venues in the market for new live sound mixing consoles. The topic of mixers in the digital domain always comes up, and I am amazed how many times I hear that engineers are resisting the temptation to accept this new mixing format. The D5 Live digital mixing system provides a versatile cost-effective solution to the live mixing market. The list price of the D5 56EX is $175,874 for the 56-channel version and $224,807 for the 112EX-channel model. With simple, yet powerful intuitive operation combined with excellent audio quality, the DiGiCo D5 Live is a must see for anyone considering a digital mixing system.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound, sound reinforcement, installation
Key Features: Innovative digital mixing layout; four LCD touchscreens; 96 kHz sample rate; Variable Sum Gain control; digital scene recall control
Price: starts at $175,000
Contact: DiGiCo USA at 843-856-4336, digiconsoles.com.
The D5 Live is a 96-channel work surface and comes with one remote (stage rack) Digirack, which contains the 56 A/D and 8 D/A converters (56EX version). Connection to the console is via fiber optic cable, with 150m provided with the system. A second Digirack, which sits next to the console, provides 56 external ins/outs for inserts, effect sends, local monitoring or playback. The 112EX D5 adds a second stage rack with 56 A/D and 8 D/A.
The DiGiCo EX is packaged as a cost effective, complete road system with control surface, and a reel of fiber to connect the stage with front of house and with onboard FX and IPC (32 output processors).
The design of the D5 provides an intuitive user interface that is highlighted with the use of four LCD TFT color touch screens. All four-touch screens are pressure sensitive, so you must slightly press the screen to select a control or change a setting. Each screen shows the settings of eight input channels with a combination of LCD buttons that provide real control of all functions to every input. Under the screens, there are three rows of assignable rotary controls; well-designed and give you the option of having control of the most often used physical controls desired.
Each input channel has its own analog input gain, digital trim and gain tracking switch and presets, along with phase reverse, phantom power, six-band EQ. A delay function enables you to add up to 240ms of delay to any of the input channels. The dynamics section for each input is activated with another press of the screen, displaying all the settings for the compressor/limiter and gating functions.
The D5 Live’s output section is displayed in a similar fashion to the input blocks, only with 16 output or control group faders. A touch screen has dedicated control sections for metering talkback, snapshots, monitoring, matrix (38 x 8), and a master fader.
This screen can also show system function, saved shows, console layout, automation snapshots, control groups, matrix layout, effects, and a general system setup display.
The D5 effects card features its own dedicated DSP engine that allows you to run up to six digital effects per channel simultaneously without any load being placed on the console’s central DSP engine.
I had the opportunity to use this console for two days at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas with Tony Bennett and his quartet. The console was a recent purchase for the casino. Rob Orlinick, head of audio for the Golden Nugget, took considerable time testing every digital console available and felt that the D5 was the best fit for this property given the repeat entertainment and the flexibility, ease of use and audio quality of this product. Taidus Vallandi of DiGiCo was present when I arrived.
One of its unique features is its use of the touchscreens. It is one of the most intuitive user interfaces I have used on a digital work surface. Within no time you become comfortable with it and can enjoy the sonic characteristics. The true 96 kHz D/A converters provide an excellent sonic performance and a remarkable nonexistent noise floor. The 32-bit floating point internal processing sounded smooth and rich in the all reverb sounds. I used the internal compressors and found them quite adequate.
The long throw moving faders had a nice smooth feel and an adjacent backlit button shows you the level change in real time accurate to 0.1 dB. You can assign the faders to 24 VCA-style control groups, if desired, providing flexibility in mixing style. The input and output EQs were very responsive with a wide variety of parameters. Storing snapshots and scenes of mixes, and copying input or output settings were very well thought out again using a touch-type of control with the faders and the screens. You can also store your mixes on a USB-type storage media for future recall on another D5.
The meter bridge is comprehensive with a 30-segment LED displaying input level, gain reduction, gate activity, insert send level and direct output level. A great design feature on the meter bridge is when a termination of a microphone or signal is present, it illuminates one LED bar showing you that signal is present, alerting you that termination is there without having to solo or PFL the input.
The DiGiCo D5 Live is a well thought out, innovative mixing platform. Having used all the digital consoles available for live sound reinforcement, I found this product extremely user-friendly. Its sonic characteristics were very good, giving me no hesitation on using this product in the future.