The SD7 console was given its public debut this year at PLASA.One of the stars of the PLASA Show in London last month was a product that may never be built. DiGiCo's SD7 is described by the company as a 'Concept' and is intended as a way of showing the possible shape of digital mixing consoles to come, rather than a definitive product line.
The SD7 was unveiled at an exclusive gathering of distributors, sound engineers, designers, and rental companies at London's Tower Bridge, then given its public debut a week later at PLASA. Partially shielded by a glass enclosure, the 'Concept' showcases a number of new ideas, not least the potential of a signal-processing technology new to digital audio.
"The SD7 uses a combination of the new Tiger SHARC processor from Analog Devices for its effects and emulations, and embedded FPGA [Field-Programmable Gate Array] processing for the rest of the signal path," said James Gordon, DiGiCo's managing director.
"Potentially FPGA gives us a lot more power than the DSP you would typically find in other digital desks today. It is not necessarily any harder to program than regular DSP, but there are relatively few people in professional audio who can do it. We are fortunate in having one of those people [John Stadius, technical director], which gives us a head start."
The SD7 showcases a number of other innovations. For example, it is the first console to appear with no labels screen-printed onto its metalwork. Instead, all labeling is done on the desk's built-in LCD touchscreens.
"We've all enjoyed working on this," Gordon enthused. "We set out to design what we thought was the ultimate digital audio console, given current technological boundaries. And we've already had one other manufacturer come up to us and comment that it is ten years ahead of what anyone else is doing."
As well as a design exercise, the SD7 also emphasizes DiGiCo's renewed sense of purpose, following the company's MBO earlier this year, which Gordon said has made the manufacturer "even more agile and more focused".
There are no immediate plans to put the SD7 into production, and it seems more likely that some of its ideas will find their way into future DiGiCo products. Having said that, Gordon added cheekily: "If somebody wants us to build it for them, then we'll build it!"