One of Hofstra University's Soundcraft Si Compact 32 consoles
Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., is the largest private college in Long Island, offering a broad range of liberal arts and sciences, education, health sciences, law and other courses with full accreditation in 19 academic areas. When the Hofstra University School of Communication finally needed to replace the analog broadcast production consoles in its two TV studios, it chose Harman’s Soundcraft Si Compact 32.
“We’d been living with two analog consoles for 25 years,” says Chief Video Engineer Joseph J. Valerio. “We were ready for a serious upgrade to our studios. As part of a complete rebuild, we took our time to explore all console technologies and manufacturers and the choice came down to another brand and Soundcraft. We compared them neck and neck at NAB and at a dealer demonstration and the vote was for the Soundcraft Si Compact 32.”
Hofstra’s consoles have 32 mono inputs, though these can be grouped to stereo by linking faders, and two additional stereo line inputs for a total of 36 inputs. The Si Compact 32 also has an AES input and 16 outputs plus an AES out. “Although the board is the smallest in the line of Soundcraft ‘smart’ consoles, it’s the largest model of the Si Compact Si range and has proven to be just right for our needs,” Valerio says.
“We recently used the Si Compact 32 for a very large production in our main studio that involved a band, live audience, a mix for television and the web and a mix for stage monitors,” Valerio continues. “For the first time there was no longer a need for an external console in the studio to mix the band, as we had done in the past. The Soundcraft handles all these mixes at the same time.
“The students, with some basic training, essentially programmed the configurations and handled all the mixes themselves with no problems,” he says. “One of the students specializing in audio production was glad to see we’d installed this console as he had worked with it at various venues and knew its capabilities.
“The operating surface has a good clean layout with plenty of indicators to assist the person using the console. A simple mix is easy to set up, but so are highly complex mix-minus feeds, mono feeds and groups of busses. You can get very complicated if you need to or want to. Also, the onboard effects are wonderful especially considering they’re genuine Lexicon effects. If you want to, external effects are easily connected—we have a vintage compressor and effects unit.
“I want to put in a word about the optional Compact Stagebox: outstanding,” Valerio continues. “We connect it with Cat5e cabling to run MADI audio to the board. You can get up to 32 ins and 16 outs although in practice we need some in the control room for monitor functions. The setup was literally plug and play; no fancy tricks needed to be done other than basic board mapping of inputs and outputs.
“The sound quality is invisible, pristine.” Valerio concludes. “Overall, for the money this board is astoundingly powerful and easy to use—a winner.”