Choosing the right console for your studio is a big decision. But with so many choices out there, we know it can be tricky to figure out which model or style is right for your needs.
At Soundcraft, we’ve been innovating console design for nearly 50 years; our mixers range from the ultra-compact Notepad family of USB analog mixers to Ui Series surfaceless consoles to large-format Vi Series consoles used on major concert tours. Here, we dig into the Signature Series family of hybrid analog/digital consoles and outline a few ways to take advantage of their unique technologies and features to maximize your creative flow and sound your best, whether you’re writing, rehearsing, recording or performing.
1. MINIMIZE LATENCY TO COLLABORATE MORE ORGANICALLY
Latency, the delay between when a sound is generated and when it is heard, is a common issue in digital recording—and the disconnect can feel like you and your artist are working in two different time zones.
Lots of factors contribute to latency, but the culprits are usually digital; analog circuitry, like that found in Signature Series consoles, doesn’t add any latency. Signature Series consoles contain time-based digital effects such as reverb, but because processing chips are right inside the box, any additional latency is negligible.
When you eliminate latency, you’ll eliminate distractions, and your artist will perform more naturally. You’ll notice a difference when you’re tracking, and you’ll also transition more smoothly from rehearsing to the more-technology-dependent process of recording.
Let’s face it: There’s nothing more intimidating for a recording artist than the Record button. Anything you can do to make the situation more comfortable and natural will lead to better, more inspired performances all around.
2. CAPTURE THE CREATIVE SPARK WITH ONE-KNOB FUNCTIONALITY
In live settings, engineers need to work fast; they don’t have time to hunt and peck through software screens and menus in the middle of a show. For this reason, live consoles offer immediate “grab-a-knob” functionality. Soundcraft Signature’s architecture is so straightforward that even newbies can master basic operation in an hour or two. And because Soundcraft Signature consoles feature GB live-console-style routing architecture, you’ll always be able to make adjustments in real time. This is an obvious advantage on live gigs, but you’ll also be able to record more efficiently, responding quickly to keep creativity flowing in the studio. If you’re both the artist and the engineer, it’s even more important to have a monitoring system that gives you exactly what you need, on the spot. With Signature consoles, you can make quick adjustments on the fly, so you’ll never miss that moment of inspiration.
3. MAKE AUX SENDS THE SUPERSTARS OF YOUR SESSION
It’s easy to get caught up in the fun factor of amazing-sounding effects, but sometimes the most utilitarian features are the unsung heroes of your session. Case in point: The aux send.
When you’re tracking, giving your artist the right headphone mix is critical. Can you send your artist the perfect reverb? Can you easily adjust gain? Here, a Signature Series console offers distinct advantages over an audio interface: With Signature’s GB topology, aux channels are positioned exactly in line, left to right, for fast, easy adjustments. You can listen pre-fader (PFL) or post-fader (AFL), to monitor both your mix and your artist’s mix. And when you can dial in a mix that inspires your artist to perform at her best while ensuring that you hear exactly what you need to hear, you’ll elevate the whole vibe of your tracking session.
4. BROADEN YOUR PALETTE WITH ANALOG SUMMING
Sound is highly personal. Many engineers seek out the sonic “warmth” that analog circuitry can add to a track; an easy way to do this is through analog summing. Summing is simply the process of individually outputting all of a session’s tracks and then returning to the workstation as a single stereo mix. You can perform summing digitally, in your workstation, or you can do analog summing, by sending tracks out of your workstation into your Signature console, summing them through analog circuitry, then sending them back to your DAW. Analog summing, usually the domain of high-end professional recording consoles and expensive dedicated outboard gear, is accessible to any Soundcraft Signature Series user; it’s a great sonic tool that doesn’t require any new skills.
INSIDE THE SIGNATURE SERIES
Now that you’ve learned a few of the amazing things you can do with Soundcraft Signature consoles, let’s explore the line in depth.
The Signature Series features six consoles: The 10-channel Signature 10, 12-channel Signature 12, 16-channel Signature 16 and 22-channel Signature 22 include 2-in/2-out USB interfaces; 12- and 22-channel “MTK” (multitrack) variants increase USB inputs and outputs to 14-in/12-out (Signature 12MTK) and 24-in/22-out (Signature 22MTK).
We named the series Signature because it incorporates the best console technologies we’ve developed over the years—from incredible-sounding analog preamps to fast, intuitive audio routing—to provide superior sound quality and streamline workflow:
Ghost Mic Preamps: Signature Series consoles incorporate the same preamps found in our iconic Ghost analog console; these pres offer ultra-smooth control over a wide gain range (up to 60 dB), with low noise and high headroom.
Sapphyre EQ: Drawing technology from the legendary Sapphyre console, Sapphyre EQs are asymmetric, offering a broad Q (width) when the mid band is boosted and a narrow Q when the mid band is cut. This style of EQ imparts a musical sound and makes it easy to dial in the exact tone you’re looking for.
What is “British EQ”?
This term describes an equalizer circuit designed to emulate the classic EQs in the legendary consoles that came out of England in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. During that era, Soundcraft consoles became highly sought after by engineers and producers who favored their unique sonic properties, defined in part by their equalizer circuitry.
GB Series Audio Routing: Signature Series consoles feature smooth, premium-quality faders and a straightforward, intuitive audio routing structure made famous in the GB Series family of professional analog live mixers, offering flexible pre/post switching on each Aux and subgroups with powerful routing and switching options as well as dedicated outputs.
In addition to legacy Soundcraft circuitry, Signature Series consoles feature processing technologies from our partner HARMAN brands: Each channel offers dbx limiting on input, and a built-in Lexicon Effects Engine (Dual Effects Engines in the Signature 22 and 22 MTK) provides studio-grade reverbs, delays and choruses to add professional polish to your productions. And, Signature Series consoles come bundled with Ableton Live 10 Lite, giving you all of the tools you need to produce and perform your music, from sketching song ideas to finessing final mixes.
We’ve dug deep into working creatively with Soundcraft Signature consoles, but many of these concepts can be applied to our mixers with similar capabilities. Explore the full range of Soundcraft mixers and audio interfaces here.
YOUR SONIC CONSTANT IN A WORLD OF CHANGE
Those of us who are old enough to remember being astounded by the capabilities of 4-track cassette multitracks are here to tell you your recording studio will evolve. You’re going to get new plug-ins; your workstation is an ever-evolving system. But no matter much your rig changes, your console is a consistent centerpiece in your studio. Remember, your tools serve your process, not the other way around. A Soundcraft Signature console provides a simple, direct path to the sonic results you’re looking for, so whether you’re writing, rehearsing, producing or performing, you’ll focus less on your gear and more on your creativity. And that’s what matters most.
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