Do you remember the days when Soundcraft was purveyor of such great consoles as the 800B, the 400B, and – more recently – the Series Five? Soundcraft has always built what is considered by many to be THE console for EQ and warm tones.
Today, Soundcraft, as well as many other manufacturers, make a fairly wide range of consoles to suit many budgets and needs. The latest offering from Soundcraft is the MH2, a new addition to the MH (which I always interpreted as Monitor/House) family, a series of dual use consoles with varying features that falls right in the middle of budget-reasonable, combined with lots of options for the engineer.
Live sound, sound reinforcement, installation
24, 32, 40, 48-channel frames; four-band EQ; high-pass filter; 10 aux sends; internal power supply; optional tour package.
$12,200, 24-channel + 4 stereo channels
Soundcraft | 818-920-3212
• Incredible bang for the buck value
• Great sounding Soundcraft EQ
• Pleasant faders, very smooth
• Very nice flight case with doghouse
• I could not find anything wrong with this console – really!
Soundcraft has built a few consoles in their day, so they know what they are doing. They definitely got it right with the MH2.
The MH2 that Soundcraft provided was a 24-channel console with an accompanying Tour pack (which includes a rather stout flight case, Littlites, and dust cover). The MH2 is available in 24, 32, 40 and 48-channel versions, with or without tour pack. Another feature on the MH2, which we see more and more mid-level consoles having, is an internal power supply. That can be argued both ways as a benefit or an issue. Some prefer the convenience of internal supplies – if you have crew members that have ever forgotten the PSU rack or the PSU umbilical cable, then you know what I mean. The converse is the accessibility for air movement and ease of repair of standalone power supplies. There is a connection on the rear of the MH2 to allow for connection of a redundant, outboard PSU.
The MH2 has a one-piece front panel that is hinged for repair/service. The first control on the channel strip is the input sensitivity, or trim, which has a 50 dB range on the actual rotary, as well as an additional 20 dB of pad via the depressing of a switch. The high-pass filter (low-cut) is fully sweepable, as is the four-band EQ section. Both are independently switched in or out of the signal path.
The MH2 has 10 auxiliary sends, which are switched pre/post in pairs on the first four sends, and switched as a group of four on Sends 5 through 8. The last two sends are able to be stereo coupled for an in-ear mix or stereo effects send and are under the full time control of actual faders for their masters. The output of each channel is assignable to any of eight groups that can be configured as stereo pairs, as well as assignable directly to the left, right or center master. Each channel has a PFL and each master has an AFL, allowing for instant monitoring of the signal at any point in the path. A nice little feature is the Input Priority switch, which makes the individual channel PFL override anything else being soloed.
The output section of the MH2 boasts eight VCAs and a matrix section, allowing any of 11 outputs to be sent to four additional matrix outputs via groups masters, aux masters or master faders. In the master section, there is a provision to allow the swap of the rotary aux masters and the group master 60mm faders, such that you may assign the action of the group master faders to become monitor masters. Just above the faders for the aux/group masters are four stereo returns, which are convenient for effects and playback. Soundcraft has equipped the MH2 with a full oscillator and talkback section, both of which are able to be assigned to any output master, and the oscillator fully sweepable from 60 Hz to 10 kHz. Right alongside this section is the headphone output and volume control, along with the six scene mute control.
The rear panel is laid out very cleanly and identifiable, with each channel having and XLR input and a 1/4-inch TRS direct out. One feature usually found only on more pricey consoles is the presence of dual point TRS balanced inserts, with separate send and return on all of the inputs, groups/aux masters and main masters.
One of our regular clients is a casino with a 400-seat showroom/lounge, which would prove to be the perfect setting for putting the MH2 through its paces.
We use the FOH position to mix both the main mix and the monitor mixes – a little difficult sometimes, but a console like this makes it very do-able. We assigned the first six aux sends as monitor mixes 1 through 6, sends 7 and 8 to reverbs, send 9 to a digital delay, and mix 10 to the subwoofers. I was able to insert graphic EQs on the first six aux sends for the monitor mixes via the dual point inserts. The connectors appeared to be top shelf for both the inserts and the input XLRs, making clean, positive connections. One of our first shows with the MH2 was a most excellent Beatles tribute called Twist and Shout. We provided five monitor mixes, for the normal Beatles setup and one additional mix for the piano position.
Throughout the sound check, I made note several times about the pleasant gain stages in the MH2, with the input preamps being very quiet, the HP filter being quite responsive, and, above all, the MH2 had that EQ that made Soundcraft famous. The individual aux sends had plenty of output to drive the monitors to the proper levels and the main outputs had more than enough horsepower to get it done.
We did at least 50 shows with the MH2, and found it to be a most pleasant console to mix with. There are just enough goodies on this console to make it a highly useful console at any level. The sound quality is superb, with very clean input stages and more than reasonable output noise. I felt that the EQ section was especially responsive: when I cut or boosted 2 dB of a frequency, I actually heard a 2 dB cut or boost. I am most pleasantly enamored with this console, so much, that I may have to get one for my own company.
Will James, owner and chief engineer of Atlantis Audio and Lighting, is a contributor to Pro Audio Review.
dbx IEQ graphic EQs, dbx 1066 gate/comps; various Audix and Shure mics; A-Line acoustics AL10 line array speakers, Yorkville TX2 monitor speakers.