It used to be a case of needing a second mortgage to afford a digital mixer, and then requiring a university degree just to understand how to get the thing running. That has all changed now. The last few years have all but seen the last of analogue consoles in a live environment when bands often need to move from one venue to another and pull a good mix quickly and easily in each one. Not only has the price come down, but so too has the size. The features list and quality, however, has continued to raise the bar. Soundcraft have been at the forefront of this, and the recent range of Ui mixers has set the standard for portable digital mixing.
One of the best features of this unit is that it really doesn’t require too much reading of the manual to get the most out of it. It’s such an intuitive design and such an easy setup that even the drummer can be left to organise the PA when the rest of the band is running late. Mixing with the Ui24R is a cinch, even when you want to get into it with compression, EQ and effects. The software is a dream to work with and will make you wonder why you may have been scared of a digital mixer in the past. This clears any concerns about usability and makes it possible for any member of the band to set up the mix without too much drama. And as far as portability goes, it acts like a stage box and mixing engine in one, able to be housed in a shallow 4U rack case. You could take this onto a flight as carry-on, it’s that compact. I’m not a fan of the rack mount handles – they seem a little flimsy when the unit is exposed – but when mounted in a case, it’s sturdy and stable, so no real concerns there.
The front panel offers no less than 20 microphone preamps, with ten on combination XLR/TRS connectors. There are also 10 XLR outputs and a couple of headphone outputs. Right on stage with you, there is plenty of connectivity without the need for a long and bulky multicore. USB connections are also available on the front panel, so when it is in the case, you can do all you need without having to dig around at the rear. Of course, this is just the front end of a very powerful mixing engine. The rest – what goes on inside –is all controlled from your choice of device. What is great is that this unit is not locked into needing an iPad or iPhone to drive it. You can operate from a PC or Mac laptop or other tablet if you like. Running through a computer, you can hardwire in for stability or use Wi-Fi for the freedom to mix around the room. Soundcraft actually have a demo for both phone and tablet on their website which enables you to see how flexible and yet simple the software is. Add in the ability to record and playback via USB and this becomes a serious tool that will make every gig a joy and never a chore.
Hits and Misses
Compact, lightweight and plenty of connectivity
Excellent user interface
Simple to set up and operate
Rack handles are a little flimsy