The Midas XL8 digital live performance system garnered rave reviews for its stage debut with Sister Act, The Musical (www.sisteractthemusical.com/), the new show by eight-time Academy Award–winning Disney score composer Alan Menken. After completing a sold-out run at the Pasadena Playhouse, the New Year saw the show move to The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta for a six-week stint, accompanied by front-of-house engineer Pierre Dupree (pictured) and an XL8 deployed by Sound Associates Inc., whose Carl Casella, Wallace Flores and Domonic Sack completed sound design for the show.
Now that the XL8 has completed its first live production, Carl Casella of Sound Associates says, “First of all, the XL8 sounds spectacular—until I heard the XL8, I’d yet to hear a digital desk sound as good as an analog desk. With the XL8, Midas has accomplished that mission. And, from a hands-on perspective, the XL8 is a really well-thought-out. It’s a highly sophisticated piece of equipment, but it has a vast range of practical features missing on other digital offerings.
“All digital desks ‘work’ in a controlled environment, but we, as engineers, do not,” Casella adds. “The XL8 was designed with that in mind. Around 175 cues are written into the XL8 for this show, including 28 songs and all the cues for the orchestra. We’re running over 80 inputs, including 24 lavalier mics—it’s a pretty loud show. At any given moment, there aren’t any more than two vocal mics, so you’re really mixing. As well as the storage, recall and redundancy power XL8 is packing, its design elements allow the hands-on element of mixing, including on-the-fly fine-tuning, to remain part of the mix process.”
“The layout and work surface design on XL8 is superb—so intuitive,” agrees Pierre Dupree. “For example, when I hit the VCA buttons and see instantly, on my left, what’s on those VCAs, it makes locating something way down in a mix very easy to find and fix. Having this much processing power not only means functions are immediate, it allows very intuitive, quick recalls for more intuitive blending and mixing. When you're dealing with 20-plus vocal mics with many different vocal arrangements per song, it's very hard to get a consistent-sounding mix this quickly on other digital boards.
"My house console at the Pasadena Playhouse is a Midas Heritage 2000, which I absolutely love,” Dupree continues. “Being a Midas fan, the XL8 completely blew me away: This is a digital console that feels just as good as my favorite Midas. The weight of the faders is perfect, and I love how easy it is to go between the VCAs and the regular channel faders. It’s all so smooth—I feel like I have a tremendous amount of control on the XL8.”
For more information on the board, visit www.midasconsoles.com/xl8.html.