It’s not been long since the A&H flagship iLive was replaced with dLive and the full-scale S Class solutions. These were functionally up to date, with multi-gesture touch screens, new levels of processing power and 96kHz digital audio. To fill the gap between the S Class and their well-known GLD range of digital mixers, they are now bringing a compact dLive solution to market – it’s called the C Class. How do the new units fit in with their current S Class offering?
Allen & Heath dLive C Class Compact Digital Mixers
Although the C Class is being sold as the ‘compact’ range, they are very much still members of the Allen & Heath flagship dLive digital mixing system. The largest surface in the range, the C3500, still boasts dual 12″ touch screens as you would find on the top model S Class, the S7000. With a total of 24 faders, the C3500 is certainly a professional tool. At the other extreme, the new C1500 surface with a single 12″ touch screen and 12 faders, can be rack-mounted. This is an interesting concept because this is a surface which is a member of the dLive family, and yet can be compared to the likes of Digico’s SD11.
By retaining the ‘brain’ of these systems in the stage box, Allen & Heath are managing to provide this now extensive range of products within the same dLive family. The new MixRacks – CDM64, CDM48 and CDM32 – have the same processing power with the same XCVI 96kHz FPGA core as the S Class. This will enable a large variety of mixing and matching between 6 surface and 6 stage box designs for any dLive system.
Besides the cutting down of physical size and functionalities such as the number of option cards available in the MixRacks, it’s striking to see so many similarities. All MixRacks support 128 inputs + 16 stereo FX returns, with a total of 64 mix buses. The surfaces are all built with the exactly the same 12″ touch screen and layout, it simply boils down to how many screens and faders the surface sports.
On the whole, I am very impressed with the simplicity on offer from Allen & Heath, with fairly cutting-edge interfacing. The multi-gesture touch screens and effective use of touch screen and hardware controls leaves much of the competition in the dust. On the flip side to this simplicity however, Allen & Heath are making an unnecessarily big deal about the ‘DEEP’ processing architecture, which includes their version of ‘plug-ins’. These so-called plug-in effects, which comprise of a handful of modelled compressors, EQs and effects, we’ve had ever since GLD firmware version 1.5. I’m sure they sound great now operating at 96kHz, but it’s not quite as flexible as having a plug-in platform such as Waves.
For more information about the new range of C Class dLive products, visit the Allen & Heath webpage. One of the advantages of having many products under the badge of dLive, will mean solutions can be scaled to meet technical and financial requirements. As an example of pricing however, Allen & Heath have provided a guide price of 21,500 USD for a CDM64 MixRack + C3500 Surface.
Here’s the official promotional video for the C Class range of dLive digital mixing solutions. Seen here from the Allen & Heath UK YouTube channel.