If you are in the market for a modestly priced digital console that has all the 'big boy' sounds, ergonomics, features, and clout, this is the one for you, writes Will James.
After 33 years in the production business, we have, as do most production companies, a rather large fleet of expensive, behemoth-like analog consoles. We have a small armada of Midas and Soundcraft analog consoles—each weighing in the 600-800 lb. range, about the size and weight of a small cow. Thus I refer to our shop as 'the barn.'
Lately, we have covered a couple of festivals where I marvelled at the compact nature and powerful capabilities of the new breed of digital desks. Even the 'Big Boy' consoles have come down in price dramatically while offering maximum sound quality and ease of operation.
I recently received a rather pleasant surprise for review in Pro Audio Review, arriving in the form of Midas’ smallest and most affordable entry in its line of high-end digital desks: the PRO1.
Midas was kind enough to supply us with the PRO1 console in a flight case and with the DL251 snake head, along with 300 feet of Cat 5 cable. The PRO1 took two guys to set up and remove from the case, as its flight case is rather heavy. In usual Midas fashion, the console is quite colourful. It’s also quite compact, weighing in at 47lbs. uncased/200lbs. cased. The surface is a pleasant steel/slate blue, accented with touches of Midas’ complement of pre-school crayon colours. The total surface is broken into five sections: upper left hand screen, lower left hand input faders, lower right hand output faders, upper right hand preassigned “hard” keys, and the lower-centre’s mouse/trackball and clickable buttons.
The bulk of PRO1’s FOH mode navigation is done via onboard mouse and left-click key, with other adjustments made at the faders, hard keys and centre-located UP/DOWN/ ENTER keys. In monitor mode, users mainly live on the hard keys, which flip the channel faders into send mode; when engaged, these remind users, in very large letters in red, that they are in Fader Flip mode.
The PRO1’s OS is notably unique and quite a bit more intuitive than many of the digitals I’ve used. The console arrives as a blank slate; users custom-tailor their initial data settings and preferences based on needs. The centre section keys allow instant access to menus and prefs, and building a show via naming, colour coding and arranging is quick and painless.
Midas has incorporated some very highend electronics into this package with a plethora of menu prefs and options. For example, the console can be configured to have six on-board effects and eight DN360 graphic EQs; or users can lower the effect count all the way down to one to have 28 graphic EQs; or users can mix and match anywhere in between. Each of the six effects banks have a variety of reverbs and delays that are instantly malleable to suit— plate, chamber, and vintage room variables plus the DN780 delay.
The output section contains 16 aux masters, six matrix masters, eight VCA group masters, and LEFT/RIGHT/MONO master faders with all names and colours programmable. Both the output section and the automation section allow for page-by-page, scene-by-scene operation. Just above the master faders resides the POP section, short for 'Population groups,' which allows instant grouping of any faders on the console to a one-touch operation; this is better than sub-groups, and not quite a VCA.