With the advent of the SD7, we at DiGiCo have not only increased the power of our latest generation of products dramatically, but I believe we have opened up a new world of opportunities in the fixed installation market. No longer are our products just mixing consoles; they now have the potential to provide specifiers, contractors, and integrators with a new option for a compact, yet extremely powerful audio networking system.
DiGiCo has always been keen to explore new technologies. Even before its launch, Soundtracs [the company that DiGiCo purchased in 2002] was way ahead of its time. John Stadius, our technical director, was the first person ever to put MIDI into a mixing console. He worked in conjunction with Analog Devices in developing the Sharc processor and Soundtracs was the first company to ship a working, Sharc product, Virtua, in the early 1990s. This is the technology that the majority of manufacturers (including us, in our D series products) are still using.
However, we’ve now taken a quantum leap forward and are using a single Super FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) that makes DiGi- Co the only single chip solution for a live performance console. This, combined with the new Tiger Sharc processors, gives us our Stealth Digital Processing platform—providing an incredible eight times more processing power than what we have in our D5 engine. This combination is a fraction of the size of any alternative, uses a fraction of the power, and so creates a significantly smaller carbon footprint. It also means we can provide full redundancy of the audio path and operating system, because we can install two engines in the same space that one would have previously sat.
With the SD7, processing for inputs, outputs, and the matrix is all within the user interface. The SD7 has the capability to run 696 inputs and 696 outputs, and because its cabling system is digital, the amount of cabling required is dramatically reduced, and long distances are no problem as these can be connected via optical fiber—sources can even be in different buildings. All DiGiCo racks can be shared between multiple consoles, reducing installation costs further with no requirement for ‘splits.’
The potential is enormous: you can EQ, mix, select sources from different buildings at the same time, and the SD7 provides an audio network and signal distribution system which fits within the user interface. The only things we don’t have within the console are crossovers, which will typically either sit within the loudspeaker or the amplifier.
What all this means is that there are some digital mixing consoles out there that are no longer just mixing consoles. We believe this makes the SD7 the world’s most advanced audio distribution network device, combined with the world’s easiest user interface. Or to put it another way, a very useful tool indeed.