PRO2 and PRO2C Introduction
Think of an audio mixing system which offers unprecedented levels of control integration in terms of speed and ease of workflow. Think of an audio mixing system which has the most intuitive, operator-driven user-interface yet imagined, yet costs no more than an ordinary console. Think of an audio mixing system which has all of this, and sounds like a Midas. Think of the Midas PRO2 - Radical thinking – It's simple!
The Midas PRO2 and PRO2C may be the smallest and least expensive Midas digital consoles so far; however, they represent a quantum leap forward in both technology and in concept for the art of audio mixing.
PRO2 can be operated in a number of different ways, depending upon the experience, ability and willingness of the operator to adopt new ideas. In "normal" mode, PRO2 behaves in a manner similar to many other digital consoles. Engineers who are new to Midas digital can relax, enjoy the PRO2's sample-synchronous audio quality, and operate the console from well within their comfort zone. As an operator becomes increasingly familiar with the console, they can activate the advanced navigation features which enable access to undreamt of levels of ease and speed of workflow on an audio console. Digital or Analogue!
PRO2 is also available in minimum-footprint compact form, PR02C. PRO2C is essentially the same mixer, the only difference being the physical size of the user interface. The PRO2C features all of the facilities of its larger sibling, yet this 64 channel mixer is no larger than many 24 channel analogue consoles.
In addition to the 56 primary input channels, PR02 features 8 aux returns, all of which feature 4-band parametric EQ and insert points. These 8 aux returns can be used as returns for the PR02's internal FX processors, or as additional mic channels, if enough mic inputs are available on the network I/O hardware.
A total of 64 input channels have routing to 27 mix buses. These buses comprise 16 user-configurable aux buses, which can be mixes, subgroups or mix minus groups, and the 8 matrix buses. The Matrix buses source from inputs, as well as groups, and so can be used as additional auxes (monitor mix and FX sends). All buses can be linked as stereo pairs (except the MONO bus).
All audio paths can be routed to multiple destinations and the console format can be reconfigured live on a scene-by-scene basis.
The Console is a typical robust Midas steel frame, which employs engineering principles similar to those employed on established products such as PRO6 and XL8. The frame is fitted with two removable power supplies, only one of which is required for full operation. The power supplies are auto-voltage sensing, auto-switchover, fitted with locking AC connectors, and are hot-swappable.
The standard DL251 remote stage-box included with each PR02 system has 48 Midas mic/line inputs, 16 analogue XLR outputs and features dual power supplies as standard. The DL251 can be located up to 100 metres (330 feet) cable distance from the console. You can choose from a range of optional I/O including the DL431 mic splitter so you can tailor the hardware to your chosen application.
Midas Digital Sound Quality
The Midas reputation for fantastic audio quality has evolved over 40 years of development and research. By designing the best mic pre’s, equalisation and using the superior components, Midas has carried this tradition into the digital realm. Adding the best converters and custom processing algorithm to the mix Midas, takes audio quality to another level. In addition Midas digital systems are the only live sound systems in the world to have a comprehensive and automatic latency management system. Which, in addition to managing all internal routing and processing latency, also includes compensation for external analogue inserts. This means that all audio samples are synchronised before summing, resulting in absolute phase coherency at all outputs.
Midas digital feels, as well as sounds superb. All the variable controls on the console are genuine analogue high precision potentiometers, not mechanical encoders. These access the FPGA-DSP engine through precision instrumentation A-D converters and Midas’ custom interpolation algorithms. This means that as well as all audio, all operator input is fully interpolated to ensure a linear, analogue-style, silky smooth “feel” to your mix.
The Midas microphone pre-amp is the one by which all others are judged. Still built from discrete components, and still based on the designs which were so successful in the legendary Midas analogue consoles such as the XL3, XL4 and Heritage, the current expressions in the XL8 range and PRO Series sound better than ever. Whether you want pristine, transparent reproduction, or that renowned Midas warmth and colouration, Midas’ dual (analogue and digital) gain stages enable you to shape the mic amps’ character according to your own preference.
A major problem affecting many digital consoles is a lack of attention to delay management. All digital processing takes time to run – typically just a few samples, but never zero. ADCs and DACs have much bigger delays (typically a few milliseconds) so if analogue insert points are used, the channel in question will be delayed significantly relative to the others.
Mix engineers working on analogue consoles routinely combine signals with different signal paths and processing and expect to do the same with digital. On many current digital consoles, combining signals in this way leads to the summing of signals that are in effect partly out of phase. This causes undesirable “comb filtering” effects, where specific frequencies are cancelled out completely. All Midas digital consoles have comprehensive automatic time alignment to correct any path related delays. Plus the additional latency introduced by the A to D conversion on the analogue inserts is also automatically compensated.
Unique to Midas digital are the I/O and DSP units which can be freely distributed into multiple locations. In particular I/O units can be placed exactly where they are needed – on the stage, around the auditorium, at FOH or remotely in a broadcast truck. Midas’ digital audio network is easily configurable to route signals from where and by when they are needed since the patching is done a scene-by-scene basis.
Every transition of a network adds delay. Midas networks have only 70 micro-seconds of latency per hop so even a multi-hop routing has negligible aggregate delay (latency) making it perfect for in-ear monitoring. All inputs and all outputs are time-aligned to sample accuracy, no matter where they are in the network or how they are routed. This is another major contributor to the performance of a Midas digital console and that magical Midas sound.
Navigating the Channels
The concept of "paging" or "layering" is eliminated. Instead the operator is invited to create groups of mix or musically related channels, which are structured around the process of mixing the show. This is preferable to locating target channels from arbitrary "layers" or "pages" which have no logical delineation and often start and end at inconvenient points (i.e. half-way through a logical sequence of inputs).
There are three types of groupings available on PR02: VCA (Variable Control Associations) MCA (Mix Control Associations) and POPulation groups. These groups are identified using colour coding and high-visibility labelling and further supported by the full-colour daylight-visible TFT screen. Selecting a VCA or POP group will bring all of the members of that group to the designated area of the control surface, populating from the VCA area outwards. If the group has more members than visible input channels, the group can be viewed either by scrolling the input faders, or pressing the EXTEND button. This will populate the VCA fader area with the additional input channels.
Advanced Navigation Modes
The PRO2 features three modes of channel navigation. These options make it possible for an engineer to easily and efficiently mix a large number of inputs on a very compact control surface which makes the PRO2 Midas' most dynamic user-interface to date. The Advanced navigation modes are accessed using the four large illuminated advanced navigation hardware buttons.
When the FLIP button is engaged, selecting an output will flip the input faders to become the input channel send levels to the selected output.
When the GEQ NAVIGATION button is engaged, selecting an output which has a GEQ assigned, will present the GEQ on the VCA faders. Scrolling the VCA faders left and right will provide access to all 31 GEQ faders. If FADER FLIP is also engaged, the input channel faders will become the contributions to the selected mix. If HIDE UNNASSIGNED CHANNELS is selected, the operator will only be presented with input channels which are sending to that mix.
When the FX NAVIGATION button is engaged, selecting an output which is patched to an internal FX processor will deploy that FX processor on the screen and map the ASSIGNABLE CONTROLS to it. If FADER FLIP is also engaged, the input channel faders will become the contributions to the FX processor. If HIDE UNNASSIGNED CHANNELS is selected, the operator will only be presented with input channels which are sending to that FX processor.
If the MCA button is engaged, when an output (mix) is selected, the MCA faders for that output are deployed on the VCA fader bank.
MCA groups (Mix Control Association groups), operate similar to VCA groups, but are specific to the selected mix. When the PRO2 is in Advanced navigation mode, and MCA navigation is engaged, the MCA faders control the contributions of their members only to the currently selected bus. This is a unique and powerful mixing tool, which puts the PRO2 in a class of it's own for innovation and usability.
PRO2 has the ability to make working with the console as simple as requirements dictate, or as deep and complex as a user desires. To introduce the concept, think of multilayered 3-D VCA's, or a mixing console with 200 linked VCA groups! Both are valid starting points.
Hide/show unassigned channels when flipped
When in this mode, and the FLIP button is engaged, selecting an output flips the input faders to become the input channel send levels to the selected output. The console will only populate with the input channels which are assigned to the selected output.
One of the most critical requirements for Theatre applications is the power and flexibility of console automation. The Midas PRO2 has taken into consideration these very specific requirements, and features the same automation software as the XL8, which is itself no stranger to Broadway!
The PRO2's automation system can store and recall up to 1000 snap shot scenes. These contain the audio parameter values for every control on the console as well as the network routing, configuration of the FX rack, and the format of the mixer itself, all of which is scene-specific.
Hardware automation "safe" buttons are provided to enable the operator to quickly isolate selected processing areas from recall should this be required during a performance. In addition to these, the store and recall of scenes can be "scoped" such that only the areas that the operator wants to store or recall are affected (all other controls remaining in their current state).
Channel settings can be edited in advance of recall (across all scenes) from the SHOW EDITOR screen, and scenes can be re-ordered, inserted and deleted, simply and quickly without overwriting their designation. Scenes can be recalled instantaneously, with no discernible drop in audio, or via complex crossfade options, including programmable surround-sound panning events.
Midi input and outputs are provided, for control of external Midi devices, or for recalling console events from an external Midi source. All software versions (including stored shows on a USB stick) are both forward and backward compatible i.e. a show created on one PRO2 can be loaded into a console (via a USB stick) on another no matter the software version on either system. PRO2 and PRO2C showfiles are directly compatible with all other Midas digital console systems.
Between the screen and the fader bank are the 8 assignable rotaries and buttons. These controls are scrolled using the vertical arrow keys, and address the function of all primary rotary and switch functions on the channels populating this area of the console. The assignable controls adopt colour cues depending upon their function. The ALT button selects the alternative function (if one is available) for each area. Assignable rotaries can be used for input gain, compressor and gate threshold, aux send levels, pan.
To further enhance an already dynamic and flexible user-interface, PR02 features an AREA B. By default, these are the Left, Right and Mono master faders. However, as these faders are seldom used once the show is running, any of the VCA or POPulation groups can be deployed here as an alternative to the primary fader area. This allows the operator to "stick" high-priority channels onto this area of the surface for instant access.
The high-resolution screen remains visible even in direct sunlight. In this aspect, the PRO2's visual support is exceptional, as most conventional consoles become difficult, or impossible to operate in high ambient lighting.
Visual feedback for the entire system is provided by the screen. Pressing the HOME key (just to the left of the assignable controls) instantly displays the console overview screen, which keeps all vital information (all metering, all fader positions, mutes and solos,) in view at all times.
Detail panel area
The detail panel is a vertically oriented channel strip, with an almost identical layout to the PRO3, 6 and 9. The controls are configured in a logical, signal-path sequence and are easily identified by their relative positions. Both analogue users and digital adopters will find no difficulty using the large multi-colour LCD channel select buttons for navigating the console.
The PRO2 boasts two input gains per channel. First is the remote analogue gain for that wonderful Midas mic amp, the second is a digital gain. Set the analogue gain for the desired amount (if any) of that famous Midas "warmth", then use the digital gain to trim to your preferred gain structure.
Midas digital EQ features fully interpolated controls, which re-create the original phase-shift as experienced when working on the worlds' best-loved analogue consoles. Each input channel has 4-band parametric EQ, with a choice of four different filter types for both the high and low filters. These powerful EQ options enable the user to employ EQ filters which emulate the sound of historic Midas consoles, or, freed of the limitations of analogue circuitry, choose advanced digital filter types.
The dynamics processing on the PRO2's input channels is identical to the Midas XL8. Each input channel features a frequency-conscious gate and a choice from four different compressor algorithms. Further creative expression is available, as these compressor options feature variable knee, internal and external side-chain filtering, and colouration artefact options.
Output (bus) compression offers a choice of five different options. These compression algorithms are designed to provide the engineer with a broad pallet of options for maximum creative potential, right down to the visual display on the screen changing to support the different styles. More dynamics processing options are available in the PR02's FX rack, including multiband compression and dynamic equalisation.
The PRO2's 40 bit floating-point audio processing hosts a wide choice of virtual FX devices, which range from dual-mono delay units, stereo modulation and many diverse reverb FX, multiband compression, dynamic EQ and multichannel dual-function dynamics processing. All FX processors are custom-designed to function within the Midas automatic latency compensation system. This ensures a phase-coherent sampleaccurate mix regardless of whether the FX devices are used as channel inserts or on a send-andreturn basis.
Delay FX can be individually configured to synchronise to the PRO2's GLOBAL TAP-TEMPO hardware button. This makes on-the-fly changes to delay effects childs' play.