CTW NAMM Coverage: Pivitec Personal Monitors

In case you hadn't noticed, personal monitors are exploding. Well, that's not true; the market for personal mixers is exploding. Aviom started it all back in the late '90s (and hasn't done anything since...), and we've seen many new players take the field in recent years. Roland has their M-48s; MyMix is doing well, we looked at the new Elite Core system at WFX, heck, even Behringer has a personal mixing system. And now we have Pivitec

The analog input module.

The team at Pivitec are the same guys who designed the original Aviom system. Apparently, they are not content to sit around doing nothing for 10 years, so they have taken a new approach to personal mixing. The system is based on the open AVB standard, so it should be fairly easy to convert from other protocols. Like every other system on the market, it's based on an input module (a 16 channel analog in to start with), a distribution switch (in this case an 8-port POE managed switch), and a module for each musician.

Where they diverge is in the control surface. Instead of the standard box with a bunch of knobs (or a single knob), they are using an iPad app to control each mixer. The iPad has a few distinct advantages. First, it's big and self-illuminated. That makes it easy to use on dark stages. Second, it's just software. So changes are easy to make. 

The mixer module.

Each individual mixer has plenty of DSP inside to handle things like master EQ and individual channel EQ. They could even add compression and reverb if they want to. The system will initially ship with the ability to mix up to 32 channels, and the expect to be doing 64 channels by summer. They told us that mixing 128 channels is easy and they can probably go up to 400 or so. 

And this is where it gets interesting. While it might be possible to mix 400 channels, they also realize it may not be a good idea. They plan on listening carefully to their customers and rolling out features that make sense for the end user. We talked with them about coming up with a monitor engineer function, for example, and they thought that sounded like a great idea. As I said, the benefit of doing this in software is that it's easy to make changes to the interface.

The switch.

It was a bit hard to tell from the tracks they had playing, but overall, the audio quality was good. The software is still in development so I'll withhold judgement for now. They expect to ship in low quantity by March, with volume ramping up after that.

Pricing is not too bad; the input module will list for $999, the individual mixers are $795 and the switch will be in the $500 range. Of course, this doesn't include the iPads, so you'll have to consider that. Still, the ability to mix up to 64 channels for $1300 per mixer (plus input modules) isn't too bad. 

The interface is pretty clean, and easy to use. Since it's not officially out, we can't yet give it the thumbs up or down, but it's certainly a product to watch.