The company's product specialist Nicola Beretta describes the console's successful first 12 months since its launch at NAMM 2012, and explains why he thinks it's been so well received.
How much of a step forward is the GLD-80 compared to previous digital live mixers from the company?
In 1998 Allen & Heath pioneered the concept of accessible digital mixing with the Icon series. With its ten inputs and four bus, Icon offered gates, compressors, FX and eq in a compact console that gigging musicians, schools and churches could afford. Back then, digital was the exclusive realm of big-budget broadcasters and studios. A few years later we set out on a different mission, which resulted in the iLive range – customers' demand was for a professional digital desk with the flexibility to manage the smallest or largest live sound application equally well. At the time however, the cost of available technology did not allow us to deliver such a mixer at a price point which smaller rental companies, houses of worship and live venues could buy into.
We followed up the flagship modular iLive range and expanded the family with new, less expensive fixed format iLive Surfaces and MixRacks. So in a way GLD is back to where we started – that is, package for the price. It brings all the key features of the iLive series into an affordable and scalable mixing system. It relies on the same acclaimed FX and DSP algorithms, but it’s also designed with plug-n-play simplicity in mind to appeal to both sound engineers and non-technical operators.
Why do you think it has been so successful in its first year?
With GLD, we have opened up all the benefits of digital technology to a wider group of customers and applications with a lower budget, including those where our GL analogue mixers have become an industry standard. Its success builds on the trust in the A&H brand for ‘value for money’ earned by the GL series. Digital technology has become essential for most applications, but customers still expect a product that is easy and intuitive to mix on. This is where GLD’s analogue style controls and 8.4” colour touchscreen excel.
Tell us about some of the installation projects that GLD has been involved in so far. Why do you think the system was picked for these venues?
A good example is the Henegar Center for the Arts in Melbourne, Florida – a 493-seat proscenium-style theatre designed by award winning Peter Feller. The Center recently upgraded its audio gear with a GLD system. One of the resident sound technicians said: “GLD is easy to learn and setup, and everybody loves the sound quality.” The system is designed with multiple CAT6 runs from the mix location to both sides of the stage, the orchestra pit and the balcony. The Center has an AR2412 Audio Rack and a pair of AR84s, so they can put mic inputs and monitor feeds wherever they need.
Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre in Armagh, Northern Ireland, has also replaced an analogue desk with a GLD system, as part of a wider overhaul of the venue. The team of four technicians put forward names of desks they thought may be suitable, as well as consulting industry colleagues. They demoed a few desks but the GLD came out on top for price, ease of use and input capacity. Among them, Gary Bawden said it sounded the best in their comparison listening tests, and they were impressed with how easy it is to configure and move things around on the desk.
How has the GLD-80 fared so far in the live/touring market and what sort of feedback have you had from rental companies?
Initial response to GLD has been overwhelming and it is already appearing on riders and hire stock lists. Being so versatile and expandable, GLD is great as rental stock and for smaller companies looking for a future-proofed system that can grow as they grow. PA companies across the globe have put GLD to work at several top level events; they have found it very reliable and they are especially happy with the sound quality. DHE Professional has purchased three GLD mixers to add to their hire stock inventory. Two were used to manage FoH and Monitors at the recent Homelanz Festival in London. Matt Suttle reported that the whole team was impressed with the versatility and functionality of the mixer for its size and price point.
On the firm's API Award win, Allen & Heath managing director Glenn Rogers added: “We are thrilled that the new GLD digital mixing system has been recognised by the API Awards. Launched at NAMM 2012, market reaction to GLD has been extremely positive and sales have been overwhelming. GLD makes a great addition to our digital product range.”
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