Midas, a name that has been synonymous with large, high-end touring consoles, now offers a line of small frame mixers, the Venice series. The three variants of Venice (160, 240, and 320) differ only in their numbers of mono inputs, 8, 16, and 24 respectively. The 320 ($5,325), the big brother of the three is the one reviewed here.
Product PointsApplications: Live audio, front of house, monitor, or both, and sidecar to a larger console; small venue installation, corporate and touring audio.
Key Features: 24 mono, four stereo inputs, four group, two stereo, six aux outputs, XL4 preamps., XL3/XL4 four-band state variable EQ, talkback section
Price: Venice 160 – $3,158, 240 – $4,325, 320 – $5,325
+ Excellent microphone preamps
+ Brilliant EQ
+ Versatility in a small footprint
– No matrix
– Phantom power switch placement
The Score: With a full palette of features and connections, the Midas Venice 320 is a great addition to the Midas console legacy.
Contact: Midas at 800-392-3497 ext 4482, Web Site
The Venice 320 has 24 mono mic and line inputs, four stereo input channels that feature the same mic pre as the mono channel including a high-pass filter. In addition there are four stereo line inputs (two line -level inputs to accept stereo signals) it also has six auxes – two pre, two post, and two switchable. There are four subgroups, master stereo, and master “b” output which is switchable mono/stereo, pre or post fader, and an extra 10dB of gain on the output, plus direct outs from all 24 mono mic inputs. Back panel connections are as follows: subgroups have four impedance balanced 1/4-inch jacks; the two pre-fader mono send have two balanced XLR jacks; the two post-fader aux has two 1/4-inch balanced jacks, the two independently switchable pre/post aux sends, stereo master, and master “b” out, are all on balanced XLRs. Inserts are available for all 24 mono inputs, subgroups and master stereo out via single point 1/4-inch jacks. There are also two stereo 1/4-inch headphone jacks switchable PFL/AFL.
Input gain for a mic is continuously variable from 0 dB to +60 dB, as with line input in a mono channel from -20 dB to +40 dB. Phantom power (48V) is switchable individually per channel and controlled from a switch on the rear connector panel with a 48V status LED on the top panel for each channel. Input line level (0 dB) into a stereo channel is continuously variable from -10 to +20 dB.
The most important and impressive feature is the quality of the mic preamps. All of the Venice series consoles have been equipped with the same XL4 preamps from their larger cousin. The XL4s can handle a maximum input level of +22 dB from 15 Hz to 100 kHz. Cross talk at 1 kHz was rated at <-80 dB channel to channel.
The EQ has incredible sound and versatility. The EQ on the mono channels starts off with a 2nd order Butterworth high-pass filter at 80 Hz. Treble is ± 15dB at 12 kHz (shelving). High-mid and low-mid are both ± 15 dB, with continuously variable frequency selection. High-mid at 400 Hz to 8 kHz (one octave bandwidth) and low-mid at 100 Hz to 2 kHz (one octave bandwidth). Bass is ± 15dB at 80Hz (shelving). The EQ on the stereo channels is as follows: treble at ± 15dB at 12 kHz (shelving), high-mid at ± 15 dB at 3 kHz (one-four octaves BW), low-mid at ± 15dB at 300 Hz (one-four octaves BW), and bass at ± 15 dB at 80 Hz (shelving). There is an individual EQ “on” switch for each input strip.
Each input is fitted with its own pan knob, mute and solo switch. Group assignments are switched as 1-2, 3-4 and/or master. It is possible to choose the solo signal to be PFL or AFL at the master headphone out. Incoming signal to both mono and stereo channels is displayed with two LED’s. Green for signal preset and red for peak signal. The Venice is also outfitted with long-life “super-slide” faders from ALPS.
The comprehensive master section on Venice features four high-resolution LED bargraphs. These meter monitor 1 and 2 as well as master left and right. The monitor bargraph is automatically switched to solo (PFL or AFL) if any channel solo button is engaged. The four subgroups can be routed to the stereo master or used as independent outputs from the rear connector panel. An XLR talk back input is also provided on the front surface and controlled with a rotary pot for gain. The talkback may be routed via a series of nonlatching switches to monitors, aux groups, and masters. Dimensions for this small wonder are only 35.7 inches wide x 22.4 inches deep x 7.6 inches tall, and the 320 weighs only 57 pounds.
The Midas console was used on a variety of shows over two months. The Venice is beautifully versatile; covering the gamut of corporate audio, satellite linked teleconferences, to the straightforward rock-n-roll gig. The aux setup allows the Venice to perform as either front of house, monitor, or both.
It performed flawlessly at a corporate awards show, using multiple lavalier mics, lectern and standard CD playback. I have always been a huge fan of the clarity and accuracy of the Midas EQs. This smaller Venice console was no exception. I liked the control and performance of a larger console in a compact form. This way I do not have to lug around an XL3 (or other same-sized console) to a show where I know I will only have 20 inputs; yet I keep all the qualities of that larger version.
I was able to group the lavaliers and lectern mics separately and insert a parametric EQ over each group. I was truly impressed with the over all sonic performance. There was nothing lacking and the mic preamps held up to the “Midas sound.”
I also used it with a wedding/cover band. The Venice met all my needs for this show. It was both the front of house and four-mix monitor console – driving BSS compressors and EQs to QSC PowerLight 3.4 and 4.0 amps and six EAW KF 300 speakers as the main system. I wanted to hear how a drum kit sounded with the Venice. Well, in a word… Perfect! The sonic perfection really shows through on a properly gated kick drum. The EQ is transparent in its colorization and the clarity of the XL4 pres was amazing. Just that slight 3 – 4 dB bump at 6 kHz was accurate and appropriate to brighten up the vocals over top the searing bass lines of the 70s funk medley.
Monitor functionally was easy. I ran four mixes (prefader) into BSS FDS-355 Omnidrive processor, BGW GT amps, and then into EAW SM500 speakers (biamped). I still had two auxes left to run signal to Yamaha SPX 990 and Lexicon PCM 80 effects units. Everything needed in a small frame console without sacrificing the sound quality. The band was happy and so was I.
Finally, on a large, multiple room conference all inputs and outputs were fully loaded and I fed a Drawmer DA6 distribution amp from the stereo master “b” for extra outputs. The Venice held its purity of audio quality – even when connected to multiple sources. The feeds to and from video and the satellite link were not jeopardized due to an inferior console. It is in these situations that you enjoy the sound of silence from the Venice; when you know silence is all that is supposed to be heard.
The only down side to the Venice 320 was the fact that the console is without a matrix. The stereo master “b” is a great functioning extra output that can be use to feed a distribution amp or the Midas XL88 (outboard matrix), but it still does not act as a multisource matrix itself. I also found that the 48V phantom power switch (per channel) is located on the rear connector panel and not on the front console surface where it would be more accessible. Those negatives aside, the Venice 320 was a trooper and took everything I could throw at it.
Overall, in the large market of small consoles, Midas has made the Venice series with a welcome quality the others do not have. Midas’s motto of “pure performance” holds true with the Venice 160, 240, and 320. The versatility, sonic superiority and logical layout should make the Venice a want of any club, small sound company or sidecar to the touring professional. If the price tag looks a little high ($5,325 list) it is; but it is also well worth it.
BSS FDS-355 Omnidrive Compact processor, FCS-966 graphic EQ, DPR-402 compressor; Yamaha SPX 990, Lexicon PCM 80 digital effects processors; QSC PowerLight 1.4, 3.4, 4.0, BGW GTC amplifiers; EAW SM500, KF 300 and RCI 390 speakers; Countryman Isomax IV, Shure Beta 58, Beta 85, SM57, SM58, SM85, Sony ECM-77, beyerdynamic M 88, M 160, Sennheiser MD421, ME 40 and AKG C 391 microphones; Countryman Type 85 DI box.