In July 2009, Victor Harris, owner of the Total Eclypze Soundz sound production company in Broadview, IL, snapped a photograph of the first Soundcraft digital mixing console he had ever used.
Victor Harris (right) used his brand new Soundcraft Si2 on a show featuring musician Brian Culberson (left) right out of the box. A year later, Harris took delivery of a brand new Soundcraft Si2, taking it straight to a gig and putting it to work, literally, right out of the box.
Harris is an avid Soundcraft user, having previously enjoyed a Series Two for many years. “I’ve been itching to get my hands on another Soundcraft; I love the way they sound. When the Si2 came out and I got a chance to work on it, I was hooked. It sounds like an analog console. And you have headroom; you’ve really got to do something to get audible digital distortion.”
Harris is also a longtime fan of analog equipment, as befits someone who is the regular FOH mixer for the Chi-Lites and has toured with the Dells and The Main Ingredient. Indeed, many of the outboard effects units that Harris, a former musician, has been using since setting up Total Eclypze in 1991 are still in his inventory. As a fan of Harman International products — he owns gear from BSS, Crown, dbx, JBL and Lexicon — he appreciates the Si2’s built-in effects, which replicate those devices. “When I grab a compressor or a gate in the Si2, I’m grabbing a dbx, the reverbs are Lexicon, and I have BSS EQs on every output of the Si2.”
However, he continues, “You can insert anything that you want. That was the big thing with analog consoles: you could always insert your comps and gates and ’verbs.” On the Si2, Harris is able to insert what he calls his secret weapon: “I bought a dbx 566 and I put some 1960 Telefunken tubes in it. That’s my line driver; I come out of the board, through that and into the DriveRack 480 and the VerTec rig. What a fat, juicy sound!”
Above all, he says, “What appealed to me about the Si2 is that there are four different ways for me to work on any one thing.” Harris’ favorite mode is Global, where the single encoder at the top of each channel can be selected across the board to control gain, pan, filter or other functions. “My favorite way to work is to select gain, so everything I’m looking at is the input.”
Then, in the console center section, EQ and dynamics can be accessed in Channel Mode, where the top row of encoders manages the 4-band fully parametric EQ and the second row of encoders provides control of the channel compressor and gate. “So when I select a channel, I go to the center and there’s the EQ for that channel, and the comp and gate. That makes sense to me. What else do I need?” he asks.
If there is a feature with which Harris is not so enamored it’s the display in the center section. For example, he says, “They show you the EQ curve. Do I really need to see that, or do I need to hear that?”
But one display that gets a big thumbs up, especially compared with many competing products, are the channel OLED displays. “If I want to spell out the word ‘percussion’ I spell the whole word — I don’t have to abbreviate,” he shares. With the Si2 controls mimicking, as closely as possible, an analog console layout, mixers can make an easy transition to a digital desk. “It almost looks like an analog console until you turn it on and all the colors pop up. But give me five minutes and I can show you two basic ways to get it done,” he says. Unlike some other console systems, he adds, “You’re not going to a screen and all these different pages to try to get to something.”
But for all the bells and whistles, he observes, “It’s not the gear, it’s the people. You don’t want the technology to be the focus. You want the sound, and you — through your art and craft — to be the focus. At the end of the day I’d rather people patted me on the back than to walk past me and start patting the console!”
Contact: Total Eclypze Soundz | totaleclypze.com
Steve Harvey is the West Coast editor for PAR’s sister publication, Pro Sound News.