Q-SYS as a performance mixer


As DSP systems become more powerful their applications grow as well. With Version 3.3 of Q-SYS you can create a complete performance mixer in software.  One may ask why?

1. Zero sight lines: Putting the mixer in the machine room allows you to not have a traditional front of house position. Aesthetics are especially important in theatrical and house of worship spaces. This allows you to have the power of a large front of house mixer with no visible hardware in the performance space.

2. Totally customizable. You can easily create a mixer that fits your application. Q-sys includes everything you use in a performance mixer. You specify the number of channels auxes and VCAs you need and then create your own channel strip. In addition you can add Reverbs, Chorus, Flange, and Delay. Because of the huge amount of DSP horsepower in even a basic core 250, you can make high channel count mixers with very little DSP consumption.

3. Wireless control: In addition to control from a PC laptop you have control of Q-sys via UCIs (user control interfaces). These are totally custom control interfaces that can run on on a PC or Apple iOS devices.  You can make these control interfaces as simple or as complex as needed.

To put this concept to a test I put together a mixer based on a standard feature set. specifically my mixer has:

• 32 input channels

• Each channel has 4 band fully parametric EQ, HP filter and compressor

• 12 aux busses

• 2 Reverb processors

• Multi effects processor with delay, chorus, and flange

• 8 assignable VCA groups

Using the Q-sys designer software I was able to build it in about 2 -3 hours. This included creating all of the user control interfaces. Below is the layout:

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 3.17.46 PM

The first mixer module is for input trims and meters. That goes into the channel group that has all of the individual channel processing. The second mixer module is the output gain stage. There are also additional inputs for the effect returns. Lastly there is a snapshot processor for saving scene data. You can also see the individual effects processors.

Here are the user interfaces I created:

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This is the main mixer page. The inputs and meters are not the top. Below them are the VCA group assigns, solo and mute buttons. There are also channel labels.

Here is the “Fat” channel view:
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There are controls for the 4 band parametric EQ, HP Filter and Compression settings

Here is the master section:
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Here are the aux and effect send pages:
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The Effects pages:
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Lastly here is the VCA page:
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One of the nice thing about the UCIs is that you can make tabbed pages. The little tabs on the left hand side of the screen allows you to very quick switch views. You can also resize controls to fit your application. Placing the controls is as simple as dragging them onto the UCI from your schematic page. You can group and align the controls very quickly.

So is all of this practical? You bet! A fully configured Core 250 with 32 I/O runs under 5K. My mixer only consumes about 15% of the DSP power. Lets look at the other specs:

64 network channels

Networkable external I/O

AES, Dante, CobraNet interfaces.

When considering many similarly configured mixers are in the 20-30K range this should present an appealing option for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing alternative to a traditional FOH mixer.