Last time we talked about the layout of the SD5 and how much I enjoyed using the macro keys (which is a lot). Today, I’ll wrap up with the meter bridge and how it sounds.
The Meter Bridge
Initially, I didn’t think I would be very impressed with the meter bridge. On the top of both the left and right touch screens, there is another display for metering the channels assigned there. At about 4” tall, it’s pretty high resolution, and sure looks nice. But I’m used to metering right next the faders on the SD8, and I thought I would be distracted by the SD5 meter bridge.
I was wrong. Turns out, it’s actually very informative. For soundcheck, having the heads up meters is fantastic. I can watch the band then simply glance down a little bit to see where my gains are. And if that was all that was displayed, it would be handy. But they provide so much more info.
In addition to input level, you also get gain reduction for the compressors (with three meters for multi-band comps); a bar graph and numerical readout for input delay; gate status; de-esser reduction; and my personal favorite, a graphical representation of the DigiTube saturation. Seeing a couple of those on the bridge lighting up just makes me smile.
It Sounds Really, Really Good
I’m not sure what kind of pixie dust they sprinkled on the preamps of the SDRack, but I have to tell you, they sound fantastic. I have always thought our SD8 with the DigiRack sounded really fine, but the SDRack has taken it to a whole new level.
When I was mixing the first rehearsal on the desk, words like “transparent,” “effortless” and “clean” just kept coming to mind. I never got the sense that the desk was working hard to sound good. It just sounded good! There is not a hint of harshness to those pre’s, and they are probably the cleanest sounding I’ve heard. And that was with the system running at 48KHz; it will go up to 192KHz!
I would have liked to test it at the higher sampling rates, but it would have required significant re-working of our system to do it. If I owned the desk, I would probably change out layout to get to higher sampling (or maybe not; it sounds so good even at 48…).
I Enjoyed Mixing On It
That’s probably the summary. The SD5 is a fun desk to mix on. The amount of power available at your fingertips is amazing, it sounds fantastic, and it just looks fantastic. Last year, we had the SD10 at FOH for a few weeks, and it was good, but I didn’t mind going back to the SD8. This year, giving the SD5 back is going to be hard. I wonder if they would notice if we packed the SD8 back in the case…
Next time, I’ll compare the consoles—something several people have asked for.