Dreaming of a Standard Digital Mixer File

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Standard Digital Mixer File?: Many engineers who enjoy console du jour (i.e., we don’t tour with our own mixing desks) know how much fun it is to carry a wallet full of USB drives, each with files for an assortment of digital mixers. File transfer between two “identical” desks from the same manufacturer can be dodgy; if the operating systems are different between the stored file and the console you’re loading, they don’t always play nicely. Many of us have experienced glitches when attempting to load files created on a newer OS into a desk that’s running an older OS. I’ve even crashed a system that didn’t like the OS of a saved file.

Luckily, some manufacturers provide translator files (notably DiGiCo and Yamaha) that work very well when moving files from one model to another. But no one has attempted a translator that could convert a file made on, say, a Midas desk into a file that could be used on another manufacturer’s desk.

I imagine there would be quite a few wrinkles to iron out, but the idea of having a “Standard Digital Mixer File” (SDMF™ La Cerra) is attractive. I’m sure that manufacturers of digital consoles think about this and have fits for a variety of reasons: they don’t want their code to be public, they don’t want to be responsible for what happens when a file created on another manufacturer’s desk is imported into their OS (and vice-versa), and tech support could result in a lot of finger-pointing. Those are all legit concerns.

Somehow, I can’t help but recall the reaction from the majority of companies that manufactured keyboards, drum machines and samplers at the time that MIDI was being developed. Just sayin’…

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SSL_S500m screens on front

Product of the Month: Solid State Logic S500m Console. Last month at NAB, Solid State Logic introduced the S500m mixing console, incorporating all of the features of a System T S500 console, but its form factor is 25 percent lighter, enabling it to be used in remote and off-site applications where weight and portability are an issue. The S500m is available in 32- and 48-fader versions with turnkey flight-ready packages; larger surfaces up to 96 faders can also be supplied to spec. As with the other members of the System T line, the S500m is a fully scalable, networked production system featuring Dante AoIP-based routing and audio I/O with AES67 capability, and full routing control of the Dante network from within the console. The S500m is compatible with a variety of SSL Network I/O interfaces, providing analog mic/line, MADI, and AES I/O.