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  #1  
Old 07-06-2004, 03:09 PM
RKrizman RKrizman is offline
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Default D-Control--Why so large?

Just why is this thing so huge? Sitting at the console you can't reach the top knobs, although it was explained to me that you can flip those functions to a lower knob. So maybe I could get a cheaper one with fewer knobs? Or even better, with more and SMALLER knobs? And since there's a screen, and a track ball, I assume you'll be using them, which makes jumping all over the board like a monkey a less desireable thing. Ouch, my back!

In a traditional analog console I presume there's a reason for things to be so big--circuitry takes up space. But here I don't see the point. Is this just to play to the expectations of the last generation of engineers who grew up on the analog beasts and like to run their hands over a lot of real estate (although an old saying about hats and ranches comes to mind)?

I can't help but think that most AE's out there are getting fairly used to dragging eq points around in 2 dimensions on their Ren EQs, and to them I would think that the D-Control would just feel like a huge Etch-A-Sketch (as it does to me). Does anybody else think this control surface is a lost opportunity by being too slavish of an imitation of an outmoded paradigm? You could squeeze 3 or 4 times more functionality into a much smaller space.

I've not had the full demo yet, but I have played with it a couple of times and these issues totally mystefy me. Anyone else?

-R
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Old 07-06-2004, 04:50 PM
The Eggman The Eggman is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

Quote:
Just why is this thing so huge? Sitting at the console you can't reach the top knobs, although it was explained to me that you can flip those functions to a lower knob. So maybe I could get a cheaper one with fewer knobs? Or even better, with more and SMALLER knobs? And since there's a screen, and a track ball, I assume you'll be using them, which makes jumping all over the board like a monkey a less desireable thing. Ouch, my back!

In a traditional analog console I presume there's a reason for things to be so big--circuitry takes up space. But here I don't see the point. Is this just to play to the expectations of the last generation of engineers who grew up on the analog beasts and like to run their hands over a lot of real estate (although an old saying about hats and ranches comes to mind)?

I can't help but think that most AE's out there are getting fairly used to dragging eq points around in 2 dimensions on their Ren EQs, and to them I would think that the D-Control would just feel like a huge Etch-A-Sketch (as it does to me). Does anybody else think this control surface is a lost opportunity by being too slavish of an imitation of an outmoded paradigm? You could squeeze 3 or 4 times more functionality into a much smaller space.

I've not had the full demo yet, but I have played with it a couple of times and these issues totally mystefy me. Anyone else?

-R
RKriz,

To my thinking, there is some goodness in familiarity. Here are a few thoughts:

1) If you asked 50 engineers today what they appreciate about analog consoles, many (if not most) would say that its size allows them to scan the surface to see the state of various channels, eqs, pans, comps, etc. My guess is that the Icon aims in that direction. Being able to see the gain reduction on every single channel comp with a glance across the surface is the type of thing that benefits from the extra real estate. Having meters for each channel ala an analog desk is another nicety left over from the analog consoles.

2) Pro engineers who are used to working on large frame analog consoles have gotten used to the distance between their sitting position and their near field monitors. If you vary that dimension greatly, you have to figure that situation out.

3) If you asked pro studio owners what was wrong with ProControl, C24, Mackie D8B, Sony DMX, one of the items would be that their rather small size is simply underwhelming from a visual standpoint. In the pro market, it would be a tremendous letdown to walk into an otherwise state-of-the-art room and find a 30" x 40" surface.

4) I would have been very happy to have simply had an extensive center section and much less on each channel, but I don't expect other engineers to think as I do. Keep in mind that the vast majority of major label releases are still mixed on an analog surface, so I'm going to presume that Digi is going after the engineers who are most used to working in that way.

5) You mentioned the monitor and screen, but with this product, Digi is hoping that engineers will mix in the traditional way of using ears rather than eyes...if you're adjusting compressor values or eq, you'll most likely still be sitting in the center of the desk, but aside from that, this product was built so that people could free themselves of mice and keyboard and screen. You may stand up occasionally to walk over to a far channel for some specialized purpose (or just to stretch), but I don't see this as a major problem.

I guess bottom line for me is that Digi has had a challenge getting the 'big name" mixers and studios pushing the concept of mixing ITB. Part of that may be the lack of a "professional" surface. Hence the Icon. I'm not sure that the engineers that Digi is targeting are as forward thinking as you might give them credit for. I doubt that Bob Clearmountain or Bruce Swedien would be so quick to refer to their methodry as an "outmoded paradigm".
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  #3  
Old 07-06-2004, 10:44 PM
RKrizman RKrizman is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?


<<RKriz,

To my thinking, there is some goodness in familiarity. Here are a few thoughts:

1) If you asked 50 engineers today what they appreciate about analog consoles, many (if not most) would say that its size allows them to scan the surface to see the state of various channels, eqs, pans, comps, etc. My guess is that the Icon aims in that direction. Being able to see the gain reduction on every single channel comp with a glance across the surface is the type of thing that benefits from the extra real estate. Having meters for each channel ala an analog desk is another nicety left over from the analog consoles.>>

Well the Icon doesn't show you everything at a glance. It's all reconfigurable from moment to moment, so at a given time the very neutral looking controls could be reflecting almost anything. If all the controls were smaller then there could be more of a one-to-one relatinship between knob and function. Much easier to scan.

<<2) Pro engineers who are used to working on large frame analog consoles have gotten used to the distance between their sitting position and their near field monitors. If you vary that dimension greatly, you have to figure that situation out.>>

Nothing to figure out. You put your monitors on stands anywhere you want. Console reflections have always been a drag anyway.

<<3) If you asked pro studio owners what was wrong with ProControl, C24, Mackie D8B, Sony DMX, one of the items would be that their rather small size is simply underwhelming from a visual standpoint. In the pro market, it would be a tremendous letdown to walk into an otherwise state-of-the-art room and find a 30" x 40" surface.>>

That's just an "all hat and no ranch" scenario. If that's the justification for this console, well, it's just stupid. Just a continuation of bloated budget rip-off-the-artist thinking. People are commuting to work on skateboards these days.

<<4) I would have been very happy to have simply had an extensive center section and much less on each channel, but I don't expect other engineers to think as I do. Keep in mind that the vast majority of major label releases are still mixed on an analog surface, so I'm going to presume that Digi is going after the engineers who are most used to working in that way.>>

I would think that those guys would just continue to mix analog. Just because the D-Control is big doesn't mean it will sound like an SSL. (yes I took those listening tests, and yes I heard a huge difference). Moreover, the selling point that has been drummed into me about the desk is how it can be continually reconfigured, so all the knobs can be compressor controls, or control a Virus, or read out reverb sends. No muscle memory involved. No reaching up without looking to tweak an eq just by feel. Replace the screen with knobs that can mean anything, and it becomes just the opposite of an analog, intuitive way of working.

<<5) You mentioned the monitor and screen, but with this product, Digi is hoping that engineers will mix in the traditional way of using ears rather than eyes...if you're adjusting compressor values or eq, you'll most likely still be sitting in the center of the desk, but aside from that, this product was built so that people could free themselves of mice and keyboard and screen. You may stand up occasionally to walk over to a far channel for some specialized purpose (or just to stretch), but I don't see this as a major problem.>>

I'm wondering if you've actually spent any time at this desk. Since so many knob functions are assigned by software decisions, you always have to be looking at everything. Plus you still have to be getting back to the screen for whatever reason the screen is there. I mean, I'm sure no one's going to buy one without the screen or track ball. Or the top, unreachable row of knobs.

<<I guess bottom line for me is that Digi has had a challenge getting the 'big name" mixers and studios pushing the concept of mixing ITB. Part of that may be the lack of a "professional" surface. Hence the Icon. I'm not sure that the engineers that Digi is targeting are as forward thinking as you might give them credit for. I doubt that Bob Clearmountain or Bruce Swedien would be so quick to refer to their methodry as an "outmoded paradigm". >>

Exactly. And why would they buy a D-Control?

I agree that there is not a good professional control surface for Protools. I also feel that D-Control does not answer that call. Scale it down with smaller knobs, closer faders and more dedicated funtionality, with an ethernet rather than MIDI/HUI connection, for 20 grand, and I think you'd have something.

Thanks for your thoughts.

-R
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2004, 01:01 PM
FlorianE FlorianE is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

I've been working on a 32-fader ICON for over a week now.

At first, I was also bothered by the depth and size of the thing, especially with the main unit.

But, working to picture (as I am) , space and big knobs have the enormous advantage that you don't have to take your eyes off the screen to get hold of some Eq or other control. If you're trying to push a bit of presence in sync with an actors head movement, then it's nice if the knobs aren't fiddly. It does make mixing more physical, true. But that's OK by me; a lot of small work I prefer to do with trackball and screen, but mouse mixing?

Taking into account the amount of information displayed in the channel strips, they're not so much too big either. I guess they sized it so that you can adjust an encoder while still reading its display and the scribble strip.
If you make this much smaller, your own hand will block the view. Then you might as well forget about those displays. But then you can also drop the idea of making a configurable console, because without the displays you'll get lost very badly.

-Florian
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2004, 02:18 PM
The Eggman The Eggman is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

RKriz,

From your comments, I'm going to assume that you are not the target market for the Icon. I believe that it is aimed at high end mixing engineers and high end studios (be they post or music), and I'm going to assume that you may not fall into either category. Assuming that to be the case, you may not have a firm grasp on what these engineers and studios may desire or need in such a surface.

It's easy for any of us to be "armchair quarterbacks", pontificating about what's right or wrong about a product. Some companies have made ill-conceived moves with many products, and surely Digi is no exception. However, one has to assume that Digi sought lots and lots and lots of input from all sorts of industry professionals before deciding what the Icon should and shouldn't be. Did they nail it? Time will tell.

I have only seen the product at trade shows, and my general thinking is that for those engineers and/or studios seeking a professional surface for the purpose of mixing in Pro Tools, it seems like a reasonable product. From what I know, it appears as though they incorporated some cool ideas into the product, it appears well built, the fit and finish is quite nice. Is every aspect perfect? Well, that might be doubtful with any product, but overall, I have a very positive feel about the Icon.

I know that there is a lot of disappointment regarding Digi's decision to make a product priced at the "pro" level, rather than at the "personal studio" level. I don't really have a big problem with the pricing, as I believe that a control surface that is well built is going to be pricey. When you look at a D8B or a Sony DMX, these things seem more like personal studio products than professionally oriented products. And the tendency is to look at those products and say "hey, these things include audio compenents and only cost $20k, so why does the Icon, which does NOT include audio components, cost $60k?" But, if you ask the "other" question..."if an SSL Axiom costs $600k, and I only want the surface, NOT the audio components, how much will I pay for just the Axiom surface?", then the Icon price at $60k might seem like a virtual steal.

It seems to me that you are after a product of similar build quality with lesser features for $25k. If that's true, perhaps Digi will fulfill your need there with some future product. I don't think they built the Icon for that market however. This one is aimed at the big boys, and we'll have to let some time pass to see what the big boys think about it...
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  #6  
Old 07-07-2004, 02:22 PM
The Eggman The Eggman is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

Quote:
I've been working on a 32-fader ICON for over a week now.

At first, I was also bothered by the depth and size of the thing, especially with the main unit.

But, working to picture (as I am) , space and big knobs have the enormous advantage that you don't have to take your eyes off the screen to get hold of some Eq or other control. If you're trying to push a bit of presence in sync with an actors head movement, then it's nice if the knobs aren't fiddly. It does make mixing more physical, true. But that's OK by me; a lot of small work I prefer to do with trackball and screen, but mouse mixing?

Taking into account the amount of information displayed in the channel strips, they're not so much too big either. I guess they sized it so that you can adjust an encoder while still reading its display and the scribble strip.
If you make this much smaller, your own hand will block the view. Then you might as well forget about those displays. But then you can also drop the idea of making a configurable console, because without the displays you'll get lost very badly.

-Florian
Florian,

KILLER post. Keep it coming. You're the first that most of us have met who is actually working on the thing. Please continue to let us know the pluses and minuses to the product. I'm sure we all love the data!
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  #7  
Old 07-07-2004, 02:26 PM
RKrizman RKrizman is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

Thanks for the post, Florian. I agree that the center strip and the screen integrate nicely. Especially if you use the same eq or compressor all the time twisting those knobs could become second nature. But that's not what is making the board so huge.

-R
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Old 07-07-2004, 03:06 PM
RKrizman RKrizman is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

<<RKriz,

From your comments, I'm going to assume that you are not the target market for the Icon. I believe that it is aimed at high end mixing engineers and high end studios (be they post or music), and I'm going to assume that you may not fall into either category. Assuming that to be the case, you may not have a firm grasp on what these engineers and studios may desire or need in such a surface.>>

As a composer/songwriter/producer I have a personal use studio which I happily don't need to rent out, along with an HD3/Accel setup. Total investment, about a quarter of a million. Spending 50 - 100k for a console or control surface is totally within my budget, and I would drop it without hesitation for a control surface that would really put me ahead of the game and make creating music easier on a fundamental level. However, since I have no need to impress outside clients (at least with the size of my console) then I have no need for any gratuitous "largeness". If I'm not the target market, fine, so everyone can weigh my opinion accordingly. No need to be condescending, however.

<<It's easy for any of us to be "armchair quarterbacks", pontificating about what's right or wrong about a product. Some companies have made ill-conceived moves with many products, and surely Digi is no exception. However, one has to assume that Digi sought lots and lots and lots of input from all sorts of industry professionals before deciding what the Icon should and shouldn't be. Did they nail it? Time will tell. >>

Well I've sat at the console a couple of times and formed some opinions accordingly. I don't mean to be pontificating, I'm just sharing a perspective. No, I don't think they nailed it. But now that they've done all the R & D it would be simple for them to put all the software sophistication into a better physical surface that might answer the needs of the majority of professionals who actually use protools every day, not just the expensive mixer guys who are looking for an analog surrogate. As I said before, why should they not just continue to use analog consoles? You think TLA is going to totally relearn his craft so he can tweak a Focusrite EQ across a bunch of knobs on a D-Control?

<<I have only seen the product at trade shows, and my general thinking is that for those engineers and/or studios seeking a professional surface for the purpose of mixing in Pro Tools, it seems like a reasonable product. From what I know, it appears as though they incorporated some cool ideas into the product, it appears well built, the fit and finish is quite nice.>>

I think it's nice to look at also, but in one demo when the Digi rep leaned on the center of the console to stand up and lean over to adjust a knob, the center of it sagged noticeably. Very different from my Trident.

<<I know that there is a lot of disappointment regarding Digi's decision to make a product priced at the "pro" level, rather than at the "personal studio" level. ............

IThis one is aimed at the big boys, and we'll have to let some time pass to see what the big boys think about it...>>

The big boys? Who are the big boys?

While you're waiting around wondering what the "big boys" think all the regular sized people will might be steering things in a different direction.

In terms of a business plan, the D-Control may make perfect sense. I mean a product doesn't have to be perfect, or even any good, to be marketed successfully and to make its money back, and I assume Digi has done a cost/benefits analysis to lead them to this point.

But that's not what I'm talking about.

And I don't think it's unfair to express negative or critical opinions about all this. In the past I've been critical on these pages of certain aspects of Protools, and lo and behold, over the years quite a few of my objections have been answered and the product has improved. I'm solidly a Protools guy and it's in my interests to see them come up with the best products possible.

-R
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  #9  
Old 07-07-2004, 03:22 PM
FlorianE FlorianE is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

RKriz,

configurable: any dyn or eq designed by the digi rules - Waves being an unfortunate exception - will map to the dedicated dyn or eq sections; you don't always have to use the same device. Just the buttons will always be in the same place.

I feel really at ease using ICON. You don't need to know it much to start using it, if you know ProTools. There is a gradual shift from mouse to console as you discover the interface.

The 'size issue' I find really secondary. If you spend all day working on a console, size is not all that matters (who said that?). Obviously, to get on with the job, you have to accept the thing as is and make it work for you. What matters is: how does it feel? I would say: uncluttered. Feels good.

Top on my Con's list is XMon, which wasn't designed for film use and can't directly interface with the Dolby units. So we continue to use our old monitoring switcher for the time being. Hoping they'll come up with a mod.

-Florian
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Old 07-07-2004, 04:44 PM
The Eggman The Eggman is offline
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Default Re: D-Control--Why so large?

Quote:
No need to be condescending, however.

Well I've sat at the console a couple of times and formed some opinions accordingly. I don't mean to be pontificating, I'm just sharing a perspective. No, I don't think they nailed it. But now that they've done all the R & D it would be simple for them to put all the software sophistication into a better physical surface that might answer the needs of the majority of professionals who actually use protools every day, not just the expensive mixer guys who are looking for an analog surrogate. As I said before, why should they not just continue to use analog consoles? You think TLA is going to totally relearn his craft so he can tweak a Focusrite EQ across a bunch of knobs on a D-Control?

In terms of a business plan, the D-Control may make perfect sense. I mean a product doesn't have to be perfect, or even any good, to be marketed successfully and to make its money back, and I assume Digi has done a cost/benefits analysis to lead them to this point.

And I don't think it's unfair to express negative or critical opinions about all this. In the past I've been critical on these pages of certain aspects of Protools, and lo and behold, over the years quite a few of my objections have been answered and the product has improved. I'm solidly a Protools guy and it's in my interests to see them come up with the best products possible.

-R
Kriz,

There was no intention on my part to be condescending, other than to assume that you were neither one of the big mixing engineers nor the owner of a studio catering to them or to the high end post market. If you're one of those two categories, I apologize. If not, my assumption was correct.

The question of whether or not any of the currently-analog big name mixers will move over to the Icon has been debated ad nauseum across the net. Let's give that time and see what develops.

I understand that the Icon is not what you'd like to use. No problem. You'd like a smaller surface with a lesser feature set at a lesser price point of 20k. What would be wrong with a ProControl with an extra fader pack or two? Smaller footprint, lesser feature set at the lesser (20K) price point for you. That's kind of exactly what you're asking for.

On the other hand, when the ProControl came out, the pro market said "That's not the right product for us. We'd like a product which is more full featured, we won't mind if that necessitates a larger footprint and we don't care if it costs accordingly. We'll be using the product in a commercial room and will charge the client accordingly like we always do". Thus, the Icon.

I think what you're saying Kriz is that you'd really like an Icon (or similar) at the price point of a ProControl. That would make you happy. All I'm saying is that I doubt you'll see Digi making such a product in the near future because it's probably not financially realistic. The Steinberg ID may strive to be such a product for the Nuendo market, but I'll bet once it's released you'll find that it doesn't have near the functionality of the Icon.

Could be wrong...it surely wouldn't be the first time!
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