StagePro's Dan Herman at one of the company's two Midas Pro6 consoles.
Jumping to a digital desk after years of using only analog consoles is not a decision to be taken lightly. But for Dan Herman, head audio engineer at production provider StagePro, located just outside Kansas City, KS, the Midas PRO6 was the obvious choice when the company finally made the transition, acquiring not one, but two.
As longtime users of Midas analog consoles, StagePro resisted the almost industry-wide trend to adopt the first digital desks on the market. But eventually, says Herman, “We were getting to a point where digital consoles were becoming a necessity just simply for how they functioned and their recall abilities in festival situations. There are a lot of good consoles out there; each has its pros and cons. We went with the PRO6 for sound quality and ease of use. Those were the two main things.” Plus, the price was right: “The PRO6 was the first Midas digital to come out that was at a price point a normal production company that isn’t trying to fulfill band riders could afford.”
With one-off gigs accounting for 90 percent of their schedule and festivals regularly on the itinerary, Herman and company owner Jay Waller needed a console that could handle multiple bands yet be userfriendly, especially for diehard analog fans, so the Midas pedigree was also key. An engineer may not like mixing on a digital console, but when he sees the Midas name he’s soon won over, observes Herman.
Although feature-packed, it’s easy to use, he stresses. “I’ve been able to teach everyone everything they need to know to mix a show in 15 minutes. Obviously, there’s a ton of features that they’ll never use on a one-off show, but they don’t need to know that today.”
Topping his list of favorite PRO6 features is what Herman calls the “follow me” feature. “Everything is touch-sensitive; whatever I touch shows up instantly on the screen. Every knob has a label, which makes it very easy for a guest engineer to walk up and look at it.”
For analog fans, the fact that the PRO6 follows a VCA group paradigm rather than a pages format means that it doesn’t matter where inputs are patched. “We’ll do a festival patch, and [the guest engineer] doesn’t have any idea what my patches are, or that his kick drum is actually in channel 38. But when he hits the drum VCA, his drums are there,” he elaborates.
If anything falls short, it’s the onboard processing, admits Herman. “Their EQ is top-of-the-line, musical, alive and active — everything that you would expect from a Midas. Their compressors and gates are seamless and wonderful. But everything else — reverb, delay, pitch shift, flanger, phaser — is generic.” The one exception, he says, is the reverb: “It has the [Klark Teknik] DN780 emulated in there.”
StagePro’s two 56x24 PRO6s are nominally designated as a FOH and a monitor console in StagePro’s A rig. That said, the PRO6 — as with many Midas desks, both past and present — can do double duty. The consoles can also be networked, although opportunities to try linking the desks have so far been limited, Herman reports.
The ability to split the PRO6 into an Area A/B configuration has also been particularly useful, he says, especially on multi-act events with guest engineers. “Each side of the console functions in parallel but completely separately. We can stand on opposite sides of the console; I have my own EQ section and everything, and I can help him get a basic mix started. Or he can start his show, and I can still mix the MC and the video, and make the changes I need to make as a system guy without affecting what he’s doing over on the other side of the console.”
But it was a piece of hardware — the monitor screen — that was the clincher, according to Herman. “I can put the console in direct sunlight and still see my screens. I have not seen any other console that can do that. When they brought the console here to demo it, we rolled it outdoors at noon, turned it on, and said, ‘OK, we’ll take two.’ We spent a lot of money on those screens, but it was worth it!”
Contact: StagePro | stagepro.com