Soundcraft has introduced a new compact console line: the Si Performer series. As Andy Trott, president of Soundcraft Studer, told Pro Sound News in an exclusive interview, “It is something that’s a little bit radical and it’s one of those things that you go, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done this before?’ We think that this an idea with phenomenal potential, and that is that we’ve integrated—as far as we’re aware—the first-ever console that does both lighting and sound.”
In development for the last year, the series is kicking off two models. The Si Performer 2 offers 24 mic and eight line inputs, while the Si Performer 3 has 32 mic and eight line inputs, plus four FX return channels. Reportedly the desks offer nearly twice as much DSP power as Soundcraft’s Si Compact series, and each have an input capacity of 80 inputs to mix via Soundcraft stageboxes and option cards from the Soundcraft ViSi Connect line, or from CobraNet, AVIOM or AES inputs via other appropriate cards.
But the eye-grabber—literally—is the fact that the console can handle lighting, via a DMX512 port. “The Performer, first and foremost, is an audio console,” said Trott, “so it takes the heritage of the Si Compact, which has gone down very well in all markets that we sell it. We’ve enhanced the user interface and the feature set of the console. But now, we’ve got a DMX output on the back and you can flip into lighting layers and drive a small show from it. And it’s all tied into scenes, so as you’re changing scenes, it’s changing all your lighting as well.”
The current version of the desk’s lighting software (and there’s more iterations on the way) provides four scene masters that oversee slave channels on the ALT fader layers. Users can dial in parameters for color intensities, and basic automation can be achieved by storing DMX settings alongside audio settings in the snapshot system, allowing both audio and lighting settings to be recalled via button press or an external MIDI command.
For now, the lighting aspects are limited—“It’s not targeted to be a replacement for a big show; that’s not what we’re trying to do” said Trott—but there’s already a roadmap in place for the product’s evolution: “The first version of the software is just that—you flip it into lighting layer and there it is. The next version will be that you can bring up lighting controls and audio controls next to each other, and you’ll be able to have all sorts of crossfading going on, for instance, so it will become a more sophisticated thing. We’re looking further down the road at having a lighting app on an iPad that interfaces to our console. So there’s a lot of iterations to come, but the basic principle is very interesting.”
Unsurprisingly, the desks are aimed at small clubs and theaters, houses of worship, and corporate work. “We’re looking at the business model of a small theater,” said Trott, “and if they’ve got two consoles—a lighting console and an audio console—maybe they can now put our console in, save some space and put in more seats. That allows them to get more revenue. Look at a small church, for example; maybe now they can have a better presentation, run from a single operator. And that’s where we’re coming from—an added value of ‘what more can we bring to the business and experience?’”
While Trott is demonstrably enthusiastic about the new Performer series, he’s also aware that the product’s uniqueness will be both a calling card and potentially an initial hurdle. “We’re very excited about it,” he said. “I’m not sure how it’s going to go down. I think it’s one of those things where there’s going to be a lot of skeptical people and a lot of people who see an opportunity. But we’re on the first step of a staircase leading to where we think it could be a really interesting proposition.”