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  • #16
    Hi Craig

    Thanks for your valuable inputs.

    Here you are.

    Figure 1. THD+N Vs. Frequency - AP2700

    Figure 2. Frequency Response - AP2700

    Figure 3. FFT Spectrum - AP2700

    Figure 4. Summit's internal SG - RMAA

    Figure 5. RMAA Looptest - RMAA

    Best Wishes

    Larry Lai

    Phonic Corp.


    • #17
      Let's look at some more effects. This shot shows the chorus parameters, which like the reverb, are quite comprehensive. In addition to the "standards" (Initial Delay, Depth, LFO Frequency, and LFO Type [waveform]), you also have LFO phase as this is a stereo effect.

      Now let's look at the Phaser. What's interesting about this is that you can determine the number of stages in the phase shifter. Few stompboxes offer this option, and surprisingly, not a lot of plug-ins do either.

      The Tremolo is your basic tremolo with Depth, Frequency, and Waveform.

      And of course, what good are screen shots without audio examples? Check 'em out...I find the chorus quite luscious, and the phaser is nice and thick.
      CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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      • #18
        You may be able to revisit the effects before the review is done. We've got a new firmware coming in the next couple of weeks and it will add one new effect, plus slightly change the way that input and outs are assigned. The new system may be better or worse depending on your preferences, but the new effect is definitely going to make live performances better (ok ok, you twisted my arm, it's a 31-band GEQ).


        • #19
          Insider info Thanks Grant! Yes, the 31-band EQ is a great idea for live.

          BTW, not sure why, but my previous post showing the Chorus, Phaser, and Tremolo was treated as a "moderated post" so only moderators could see it (it's an anti-spam thing). It should be visible to all now.
          CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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          • #20
            Now let's look at some more effects, and of course, we'll lay on some audio examples.

            First up: The Auto-Pan.

            This is fairly standard, but it's unfortunate there's no tap tempo (remember, the mixer has no MIDI I/O, so you couldn't sync to MIDI clock). But Grant from Phonic reads this thread, and they do update the unit, so...hey Grant! How about tap tempo on Tremolo, Vibrato, Auto-Pan, etc.?

            Now let's look at Echo. This one doesn't have tap tempo, but there is a tap tempo echo effect.

            Note that this is a stereo echo, with separate delay times and feedback for the left and right channels. I also really like that there are highpass and lowpass filters - great for, saying, keeping kick drum out of the mix, or dulling the highs so echoes don't "step on" the dry sound.

            Next up: the flanger.

            Interesting aspects here are LFO phase for the two LFOs, and a lowpass filter.

            Finally, there's a vibrato -shades of those old Magnatone amps

            Pretty's a vibrato.

            Next, check out the attached audio examples so you can get an idea of what these sound like.
            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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            • #21

              Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
              View Post

              hey Grant! How about tap tempo on Tremolo, Vibrato, Auto-Pan, etc.?

              Ah, good one. I'll pass that along and see what they can do.


              • #22
                It's a little difficult to figure out how to explain what's going on, as this is a sophisticated mixer with a lot of options. There are also multiple ways to accomplish similar functions. For example, you can adjust delay parameters when you're viewing an individual channel. However, there's also a screen where you can see, for example, the delay parameters for channels 1-8 simultaneously. Why is this important? Because if you're working in one channel and you want to make a tweak, it's easy to do. However, if you want to set up delays on multiple channels, it would be more time-consuming to flip through the different input channels than to just go to the delay page and do everything there.

                Basically, we're not dealing with a linear product where you can start at the input, work your way to the output, and discuss everything in between. Instead, it's more like "parallel processing" and the way you'd work with the Digital Mixer 16 depends very much on how you like to work, what you need to do, and the context (for example, live performance vs. recording).

                So what I'm going to try and do is go from the more universal features to the more esoteric ones.

                The operating system segregates the mixer into various options, which you can select for display in the touch screen. We'll start with the View option, as this gives results that are most like a traditional mixer.

                For example, if you have an input channel selected, View shows you the equivalent of a "virtual input channel." If you're looking at the individual outs ("Multi" outs), you can see what kind of processing and other functions are available. View the auxes, and you see which channels have auxes enabled, and metering. For now, let's view an input channel.

                The left-most section has the basics - fader, panpot, enable, solo, phase invert, whether the meter to the right of the fader is pre- or post-fader, whether interfacing is active, and whether sending this to the main output is enabled. Oddly, the "virtual fader" isn't touch-sensitive, but hey, that's why you have physical faders! If you want, you can also adjust it using the data wheel.

                The EQ has no adjustable parameters on this page, but shows the graph resulting from editing it in the EQ screen - which you can get to by touching the graph, as that opens up the editor.

                Similarly you can't really adjust the dynamics on this page, although it's worth noting that the dynamics section has independent Gate, Expander, Compressor, and Limiting. You can enable these individually on the channel view page, and the gate even indicates when it's closed or open - a very helpful touch.

                As the delay has a lesser number of parameters (Time, wet/dry Mix, and Feedback), you can adjust all of them on this page. Note that this delay is not just for tuning out timing differences, but with delays up to 1 second, wet/dry mix, and a feedback control, it's eminently suitable as an effect.

                Now take a look at the Channel and Order buttons. As these have little triangles, it means you can touch them and open a pop-up menu with more options. In the case of Channel, you can jump immediately to any other input channel (1-16) you can by hitting a hardware channel Select button (that's the kind of thing I mean about having multiple options). The Order button opens a menu with six different routing orders for the EQ, Dynamics, and Delay processors. So yes, you can have EQ before or after dynamics, compress echoed sounds or echo compressed sounds, and so on. This is another feature that's much appreciated, because I've found there's no one-size-fits-all solution when deciding, for example, whether EQ should go before or after dynamics.

                Toward the bottom, there's a strip of Aux send controls. Again, there's a screen where you can see more details on what's happening with the Aux controls, but also again, it's handy to see this info here. Aux pre/post is less intuitive, as you need to press the Enter button when an Aux is selected to toggle between pre and post. However, so far this is one of the few situations where you really do need to go to the manual to figure out what's going on.

                Below the Aux sends, you can see whether a channel is being assigned to a Group or not. One helpful fine point you can't see in this picture: If a group fader is turned up, these buttons will show the associated levels for the groups. This is great for why you're wondering how come you can't hear anything from Group 3 - if the button shows Off (as it does here), it means the fader is down all the way.

                Now let's look at the EQ and Dynamics sections in more detail.
                CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                • #23
                  First of all...I added in several more photos back at post #4 if you want to see some closeups of various parts of the mixer.

                  Anyway, as mentioned in the last post, if you touch the EQ display in the Channel view (or anything else with EQ, like the Multi or Main outs), you open up the full EQ where you can edit the settings. This is a full-function EQ with multiple options.

                  There are four fully-parametric bands, although the low band has low-shelf and low cut (highpass) options. Similarly, the high band allows for high-shelf and high cut along with a parametric response.

                  The frequency range for each band is 20Hz to 20kHz, with boost up to +18dB and cut to -18dB. You can enable and disable each band individually, and jump to the EQ on another channel by touching the CH button and choosing a channel from the pop-up menu. There's metering for the EQ input and output - very convenient and useful.

                  You can adjust the EQ curve using the touch screen, but I find it far more precise to touch the EQ parameter and use the data wheel to dial in the value. I could use the touch screen to do general settings, but for detailed work, the data wheel is the way to go.

                  I also think the data wheel acceleration curve may need to be tweaked. It's very easy to make precise adjustments with the data wheel, which is great. But if you want to move rapidly from, for example, the lowest to highest filter frequency, the display lags a bit if you move the data wheel rapidly. This isn't necessarily something I find bothersome as my priority is making fine adjustments, but I would make the acceleration curve a little less drastic for quick data wheel motions.

                  Aside from that, one other very important point is that you can save, load, and delete presets (you can also reset the curve if you want to start over). This is of obvious value if, for example, one of the channels comes from a singer who always uses a particular mic. You could store a preset like "Cheryl_SM58" and recall it whenever Cheryl is using an SM58. Of course, you don't have to be that specific; you could store a "point of departure" preset for something like acoustic guitar, and do minor tweaks depending on who's playing, and which guitar they're using

                  Next up: the dynamics section.
                  CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                  • #24
                    It's not unusual that a mixer would include dynamics in a channel strip, with compressor, expander, gate, or limiter. But what's unusual about the Phonic Digital Mixer 16 is that it offers compressor, expander, gate, and limiter--simultaneously. So yes, you can gate out low-level hum, apply downward expansion to hiss, compress the signal, and add the limiter so that if you choose, for example, a fairly long compression attack time to get through transients, the limiter will capture them. Dynamics as a whole can be enabled or bypassed, but you can also enable or bypass each of the four dynamics processors individually. This makes it easy to, for example, set the four processors as desired but enable/disable only the compressor for individual songs.

                    As you'll see in the shots of the mixer touchscreen, you can see all the curves simultaneously as well, so while you're adjusting something like the expander you can see how the threshold relates to the gate. As with the EQ, you can save, load, rename, etc. presets.

                    First out of the gate is, well, the gate.

                    This is pretty conventional: Threshold, Range (reduction amount, i.e., how much the signal is attenuated when the gate is closed), Attack, Hold, and Release. The gain reduction meter shows the gating in action, but one cool feature is that the gate button flashes to show when the gate is opening and closing.

                    Take a close look at the graph: You can see the overall curve (in red) the represents expansion and compression. The small blue ball indicates the gate threshold. So, you can see that expansion kicks in at around -40dB, while gating happens when the signal goes below -53dB or so.

                    Now let's look at the expander section.

                    There's nothing really unexpected here - Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release, and Gain Reduction meter.

                    Onward to compression.

                    You'll find the usual compressor controls: Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release, and Makeup Gain. You don't get more esoteric options like a choice of knees or different compression curves, but given the dual studio/live emphasis, this is all you really need in a live situation and there's advantage of rapid setup.

                    For our final dynamics processor, let's look at the Limiter.

                    Not surprisingly, this has the smallest number of controls: Threshold, Attack, and Release. Note the little blue ball at the top that is the mirror equivalent of the gate - it shows where limiting occurs, and how it relates to the compression curve.

                    So, how does it all sound? To my ears, these are very smooth dynamics processors. Of course, you need to set the parameters properly, but for typical situations you won't really hear them in action except with more extreme control settings.
                    CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                    • #25
                      Some of you may be aware that New Mexico is going through its worst forest fire in recorded history. Well, it’s just across the valley from me, and it’s been happening for a week. The week before that, there was a smaller fire just north of here, and before that, smoke from the Wallow fire in Arizona that started at the end of May was being carried up through central New Mexico. So basically, we’ve been suffocating for over a month.

                      Here's what it looks like across the valley from my house.

                      So what does that have to do with the Phonic Digital Mixer? Well, my family relocated out of the smoke, and the Phonic was sitting in my office instead of the studio because I was taking photographs of it for this pro review. One afternoon I left the house with the office window open (definitely a mistake) and when I returned in the evening, smoke had basically permeated my office and there was a fine layer of ash over everything, including the Phonic Digital Mixer.

                      I was wondering if all that fine ash would cause problems with the faders, pots, or switches, but I blew some compressed air on it, and everything seems to be fine – no sratchiness or crackles. This also made me notice something I hadn’t noticed before – the motorized faders have small, flexible strips (rubber, perhaps?) on each side of the slider, and meet in the middle (there’s no gap) to protect the insides of the fader.

                      This is kind of hard to see in the photo, so I circled the place where it’s most obvious that the two flaps meet; note the line, and that there’s no gap. When the slider moves up and down, it opens up a space between the flaps, which closes up behind it. If you look closely, you can still see some pieces of white ash that my cleaning didn’t remove.

                      I looked at some other gear I had with motorized faders, and none of them had these flaps. the future, I’m going to check for this and give props to companies that have faders with this kind of protection, the same way I give props to companies that mount jacks and pots with nuts and lockwashers instead of just mounting them to circuit boards and having the jacks or shafts protrude through a hole (the Phonic uses lockwashers and nuts for the jacks, but not for the gain trim pots because obviously, they get a lot less use compared to the channel faders themselves).
                      CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                      • #26
                        I’ve been trying to "front-load" aspects the make the Phonic Digital Mixer unique in this review - like the outstanding effects, user interface, touch screen, etc. It’s not that something like an Aux bus isn’t important, and of course we will get to that, but the approach to the aux buses is fairly traditional...which is not the case with the Control Room section, so let’s cover that next.

                        The Control Room outs are separate from the Main Outs, and use two XLR balanced output jacks. There are also two 2-track RCA ins and outs. This shot shows these jacks on the rear panel.

                        In a studio situation in the days of yore, these would have connected to your two-track mastering deck – reel-to-reel or DAT. With today’s computer-based setups, these are less relevant, particularly if you have the USB 2/FireWire interface in the Digital Mixer as you can monitor the DAW outs via the interface. However for live use, this remains useful for doing live recordings, feeding in pre-show music from a CD player, etc.

                        As to physical controls, the layout is relatively simple. This shows them on the front (top) mixer panel.

                        There are volume controls for the Control Room outs and headphones out (the latter feeds the single front-panel headphone jack). The switch above the control room level control determines whether the 2-track input goes through the control room out jacks, or the main stereo or solo signals selected in the Control Room tab (described next). The switch to the right of that determines whether inputs 15+16 get their input from the standard mixer ins, or are switched over to listen to the 2-track input. This is all very straightforward.

                        The Control Room tab is where the real action happens, as it allows for all kinds of monitoring options. You could also consider this the “DJ page” as you could cue up a variety of inputs to do beat-matching and such that wouldn’t appear in the Main Outs. I’m not implying that this is a DJ mixer by any stretch, but that type of musical thinking is turning up in other ways (e.g., Ableton Live) and I’ve worked with acts that basically treated musicians as signal sources, and the mixer as an instrument for bringing the signal sources in and out, soloing, muting, cuing up additional sources, etc. The Phonic Digital Mixer would be excellent for this type of application.

                        Anyway, as we describe this remember that this is not about the main outs – this is all about monitoring and diagnostics. Referring to the screen, in the upper left you have the option to do all monitoring either pre- or post-fader (what Phonic calls “after-fader,” or AFL), on a global basis. Of course, you can also set individual channels, auxes, or groups to pre- or after-fader individually.

                        If you press the Solo button, you can then solo individual channels to monitor them. This is equivalent to pushing the front panel Solo button. When you do this, a headphone icon appears in the appropriate channel, aux, or group button on the Control Room screen. You can also clear all solos.

                        However when you solo a track, it defaults to being switched out of the main outs. You can defeat this by designating a channel as Solo Safe (as with channels 1-6 on the screen shot). As an example of why this is useful, imagine your mixing a concert and all of a sudden you hear a buzz and aren’t sure where it’s coming from. Place all the channels into Solo Safe, and then you can solo each channel in the Control Room section, isolate the source, and take appropriate action without interfering with the mix emanating from the main outs.

                        The remaining elements on this screen are the level meter that shows the level at the Control Room outs, the level control for setting this level, and the Stereo/Mono switch. I feel that being able to monitor in mono is essential when check out phase issues and whether a mix translates in mono for the people in the back row as well as stereo.

                        And that’s pretty much it for the Control Room section, although note that you can also solo the effects – great for making tweaks to the effect without being disctracted by any other sounds.
                        CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                        • #27
                          Y'know, sometimes I'm a little bit slow.

                          For some reason, I just wasn't "clicking" with the mixer. I understood all the elements, everything made sense, I was able to make it work, it sounded fine, the computer interfacing worked, and all that...but I felt awkward using it.

                          Well, tonight I was working on a post describing the aux busing/grouping and how that works. And that's when I realized I was approaching this mixer as I would approach other mixers, including previous digital mixers I'd used. But it's not the same animal.

                          I've mentioned the touch screen, but tonight it hit me that the heart of this mixer is the touch screen, not the multiple faders, switches, etc. With other mixers, the display is a readout of what's happening with the mixer, and that's fine. But with the Digital Mixer 16, the touch screen is more about adding an element of virtualization to the mixer that lets you access its operation from several different viewpoints. I'll explain this more later on, because what I said probably won't make sense until you see a practical implementation, but suffice it to say that all of a sudden I felt I understood the gestalt of the mixer.

                          Now, I'm not going to take all the responsibility for my mental block. The manual is very comprehensive, and explains every operational element with clarity and precision...which is what a manual is supposed to do. But what it doesn't do is explain why this is a different type of mixer, and why it's necessary to approach it from a different standpoint.

                          If I had to summarize my shift in thinking in one sentence, I'd say that before, I saw the touch screen as something that supplemented the mechanical elements like the faders, switches, controls, etc. Now, I see the mechanical elements as supplementing the touch screen.

                          Okay, let's look at this from a more practical standpoint: Dealing with auxes and groups.
                          CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                          • #28
                            We've mentioned that along with the Main Outs, Control Room Outs, 2 Track I/O, AES/EBU, Word Clock, and I/O added by the USB/FireWire card, there are eight balanced, 1/4" Multi outs. They're called Multi outs because you can assign any aux bus or group to whatever Multi out you want. In fact, you need to assign them, because there are eight aux buses and eight groups, so you have to decide out to divide up the eight Multis.

                            Let's look at the most conventional aspect of dealing with auxes and groups: sending signals from an input channel. As expected, there's a variable send for each aux bus, and the ability to switch into a group (you don't have send levels for a group because by definition, the channel fader sets the level going into the group, with the crucial control being the group master so you can bring the levels of the individual channels up and down simultaneously).

                            Before proceeding, I need to explain one more thing. The Digital Mixer 16 has several ways of classifying screens, two of which are View and Meters. These are part of the virtualization I mentioned earlier. I would actually think of them more as "Edit" and "Monitor" rather than View and Meter, but any one-word description is going to fall short.

                            Anyway, let's take a look at a typical channel view, in this case channel 5.

                            The aux/group action is toward the bottom of the screen. Channel 5 isn't assigned to any groups, because the group buttons are black - tan would indicate channel 5 was feeding a group. But look closely at the group buttons: You can see the group master levels. This means that no matter what channel you have selected, you can see which groups are actually doing something - e.g., they have their masters up.

                            As to the auxes, here you see the amount of send, and whether the aux is pre or post. So, signal is being fed to aux bus 1, 3, 5, and 6, with 6 being sent post-fader.

                            The value of this screen is, of course, that's it's channel-centric - if the aux buses go to different processors, you can see how much signal is going to which processor. But what if you want to zero in on seeing what's happening with one particular bus?

                            Let's assume aux 1 feeds reverb, and you want to know which channels are feeding the reverb, how much they're sending, and whether any signal is going to the reverb at the moment. Go to the aux/group view screen, where all this data is available.

                            For example, here you can see that channels 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are sending to the aux 1 bus, as well as their send control levels, but only channels 4 and 5 are generating signals at the moment.

                            There's still one piece of the puzzle: Assigning the bus to the desired Multi. The following shows the Main/Multi View screen, where you do the assignment and quite a bit more.

                            Here we've chosen the Multi, which in this case is Multi 7 (I deliberately chose different numbers for the channel, aux, and multi so there wouldn't be any confusion about which element was being shown). You assign using the source buttons along the button, where you can choose an aux or group. Again, there are the helpful level indicators on the bottom of the buttons. The Multi outs are like any other outs and channels in that you can add EQ, dynamics, change the order of the EQ and dynamics, add delay, etc. as described previously.

                            You can also use the Meter screens to monitor what's going on very easily, which is what we'll get into next.
                            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                            • #29
                              Here's another aspect of the touch screen that's really helpful: The ability to use Metering screens to monitor various aspects of what's going on in the mixer.

                              Here's a fair simple one - metering for the channels and mains. This lets you see at a glance which channels are producing audio, and the overall main output level.

                              And here's the meter screen for monitoring what's going on with the auxes and groups.

                              The Multi metering screen gets more involved, as it not only shows levels for the multis, but also, fader positions and which dynamics effects are enabled. You can also turn Multis on and off here, and monitor what's going on with the control room out, AES/EBU in, and effects.

                              So you might be thinking "That's all well and good, but it's kind of a pain to have to switch among all those screens to see what's going on with the mixer." But, there's also an "overview" screen that shows what's happening with all the channels, auxes, groups, and mains - everything except for the multis, which as we just saw, has its own pretty comprehensive screen. This "division of labor" makes sense, because the multis are more of a set-and-forget type of parameter; it's what feeds the multis that you need to monitor. The Meter/Fader screen is ideal for that.

                              Bear in mind that you cannot manipulate these faders directly from the touch screen. They'll reflect changes you make with the mixer controls, and you can touch a control and move it with the data wheel. This is handy if, for example, the faders are set to the channel layer and you want to make a quick adjustment to an aux without switching layers; but as the faders are motorized, you can switch among layers easily anyway if you want to move a physical fader instead of doing an adjustment with the data wheel.
                              CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                              • #30
                                Well, mixer - obviously. But, there are some elements in common with an instrument. This is a mixer where I've definitely seen my ability to get around it increase exponentially in the last two weeks as I've become more familiar with the workflow. What at first seemed like too many options (should I select View Aux to see what's going on with the Auxes? Or the Meter screen? Or a channel to see what's feeding it?) now seems more like a way of letting you choose the most appropriate way to deal with a particular function.

                                The downside of this is that you need to know what the options are in order to take full advantage of them. But even if you don't, you can still manage as there is some redundancy of functionality among the various screens. It's just that like an instrument, the more you practice, the better you get. For example, when you start playing guitar, you might know only one way to play a D chord. That will work for when you want to hear D, but as you get better, you learn how to voice a D chord at multiple places on the neck, choose the most appropriate note for the root, and so on. It's the same principle here.

                                There's one additional positive element that's worth mentioning. Often with software-based technology, if I go away for a while, I forget how to accomplish some rarely-used, specific task ("now what was that way you can stretch a clip using DSP?"). So far, the Phonic Digital Mixer 16 doesn't seem to fall into that category. Although the overall logic behind the operating system escaped me at first, it's really quite simple and the most important aspect is to understand the difference between the main touch screen sections - view, meter, fader, patch, delay, effect, EQ, dynamics, utility, and setup. As delay, effect, EQ, dynamics, utility, and setup are all pretty obvious, that means once you know what to expect from the view, meter, fader, and patch screens, you have it nailed.

                                I've reached the point with this mixer where everything is really falling into place. Stay tuned...
                                CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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