Midas’ brand new analogue console with FireWire interface, the ‘digilogue’ VeniceF, has completed its first-ever tour with Eliza Doolittle, whose FOH engineer John Delf, purchased one of the first off the UK production line for his own use.
Delf encountered the VeniceF during a PRO6 training day at Midas. “I saw a prototype that wasn’t even assembled, and when I heard about what you could do with the built in 32x32 FireWire interface I was blown away and started thinking about all the different applications I could use it for,” he says. “I decided to buy one there and then, without having heard or played with it as I was confident it would have that Midas sound. I tour with lots of different bands, plus I wanted a desk for my own studio, and I’d always wanted to own a Midas desk, so this seemed the perfect solution.”
The VeniceF 32 more than lived up to Delf’s expectations during the tour. “It feels more like a baby Heritage than a Venice, given the sound quality, the XL3 four-band sweepable EQ, the feel of the double stacked knobs, the colour, appearance and general feel of it,” he says. “It sounds like a big desk, and has an output level loud enough to drive any size of PA. Although I could see its potential straight away, it’s actually exceeded my expectations; it sounds better, and it’s incredibly flexible. I chose to take it on tour with Eliza because the shows channel count is less than 32 but if I have a band with more, I can add a sound card and bus it back into the desk. I’m also finding that this 4 bus mixer is actually a 36 bus mixer because you can mix in the computer and return everything in any combination you want. For example, you could group the drum kit back down channels one and two, or have all 32 faders set as group returns, or have 16 stereo pairs. It gives you so much flexibility. You can even do your whole mix in the computer just using the desk as a soundcard.
“I also thought I’d use the six aux sends up quickly, but I’m using the effects on the computer, so once you’re through the gain, you’re into your DAW. You then have all the aux sends available on the DAW mixer, and you can use as many effects as your computer can handle, then bring those back into a stereo return on the desk digitally, and still have your six desk aux sends to send to any outboard analogue equipment.”
Delf is running the VeniceF with Logic on his Mac Book Pro via the FireWire interface. “It worked immediately,” he says. “I plugged it in, loaded it up, and it was away. On the first gig I recorded an hour and 20 minutes of 32 channels of audio, straight to a USB hard drive without any problem, and could play them straight back. There were no glitches, dropouts or computer crashes. The FireWire speed is exceptional, the quality is really really good. I can record the soundcheck and if the band want to hear it, they can come out front and have a listen to their performance.
“On this tour I’ve had the option of using house digital desks, but because the Venice is so small I can take it in set it up anywhere; I much prefer using the MIdas. It’s so much fun, as well as being easy to use, it sounds so warm. There are no latency issues and the A-D and D-A converters are great, I don't notice any deterioration in the quality of the sound even when I’m using plug ins on every channel. Everywhere I go, house engineers are hearing this desk for the first time, and they’re blown away with what it can do and what it sounds like. In situations where the venue’s digital desk is being used for the support band, I don’t think there’s a single person in the audience who would realise the headline act’s being mixed on a much more inexpensive desk.”
The VeniceF is now being installed into Delf’s new facilitiy, Edge Studios in Cheshire (www.theedgestudios.co.uk). “I can use it to record in the DAW programme of my choice,” he says. “It’s like having a 32 channel sound card with a built in desk which has the EQ of one of the best desks in the world, plus many more features besides! The VeniceF really is the best of all worlds, it gives you total recall, the ability to use a full range of plug ins, and it’s also a great analogue desk, so if the computer does crash, you’ve always got a show. It’s so small I can pick it up myself, take it out of the studio, into a flight case and out on the road. Although I’m already thinking it’d be nice to have two, one for the studio and one for touring, because they are so good...”