Midas’ VeniceF series is the upgrade to the original Venice console, adding more of the professional features found on higher-end consoles, along with a multichannel digital I/O interface. This new console will delight anyone who thought the original console lacked some important features (16-, 24- and 32-channel versions—$ 2,500, $4,000 and $6,000, respectively). The F series features smooth 100mm faders on every input channel and output bus. The ergonomics of the desk and the flat fader tray make everything visible and accessible. The updated professional (Alex Cooper-designed) mic pre section now includes a -20 dB pad, polarity invert, phantom power and 80 Hz HPF switch on each input strip.
The four stereo channels have dual concentric gain controls, phantom and pad switches (affecting both sides) and a left-channel polarity switch. The stereo channels can be used with mic or line-level sources (or both at the same time). Possibly the greatest feature of the console is the XL3 EQ section, with 4-band swept EQ and two fully parametric midrange sections, as well as an EQ-bypass switch.
The compact nature of this console has really not omitted any features: six aux sends, four group busses, two matrices (with seven inputs), a 2-track send and return, a 1 kHz oscillator and routable talkback input. By integrating everything including the power supply, into the same box, even the 32-channel version is still a very compact tool. The built-in 32x32-channel FireWire interface uses ASIO or Core Audio drivers. The power here lies in the ability to use the FireWire interface and your favorite software to run inserts on each channel, effects plug-ins and record high-quality multitrack audio all at the same time.
The converters operate at 44.1 or 48 kHz, and the FireWire matrix employs the TC Applied Technologies DICE chip. Midas consoles are proven to last a long time, but will 6-pin FireWire infrastructure be so lucky and last for 20+ years? Midas notes that the FireWire board is a separate subassembly and can be replaced with alternate formats as market requirements change. The desk comes with Propellerheads’ Record software.
I started out using the desk as an analog mixer, plain and simple. Getting at the densely populated EQ controls requires a little care, so as not to make any unintended adjustments. As predicted, the mic pre and EQ sound very sweet. The highshelf filter really sparkles, the fully parametric mids are excellent and the bass-shelf filter adds a lovely warmth and fatness. Any adjustment you make is instantly audible, and you can feel that every component is of a high quality and individually secured to the main surface. I had no problem getting four monitor mixes and an FOH mix together. The desk sounded great.
There is nothing of this quality available with this feature set at this price point. Midas has struck a genius blow in the current climate of small (usually horriblesounding) digital products that promise large capability in a small package (if there is anything I don’t like about the console, it would be the lack of mute groups). As a console, it is extremely quick and easy to use. Couple this with whatever software you fancy, and you have a very powerful mixing/recording system.