AVID’s new flagship live desk, the S6L, was so popular at PL+S that they had two of the new systems in a roped-off area that you needed an appointment to get in to. The decision-makers from the world’s biggest production companies were all in there through the show, pulling out their chequebooks and ordering what would have amounted to hundreds of units. Eventually, when they needed a break from selling, they let us in.
The S6L is a departure for AVID in terms of interface construction. The hardware has been completely re-thought and now looks and feels reassuringly high-end. The encoders, faders, screens and buttons are all top-notch, inviting the hand. Full control over channel EQs, compressors and plugins spill beautifully onto the four-deep rows of encoders for fine adjustments. VCAs and Groups spill effortlessly across faders. The LEDs and screens look detailed and bright enough to operate outside in sunlight, though I’d want to test that first – being inside in a tradeshow full of lighting gear warps your perceptions.
Most impressive are the specs of the beast. There are two engine sizes. The ‘small’ one gives you 144 mix channels to 64 out plus LCR, two monitor busses and a 16×16 matrix, and runs 125 plugins, all at 96 kHz. The big engine gives you 192 mix channels into 96 busses, plus LCR, two monitor busses and a 24×24 matrix, while running 200 plugins at 96 kHz. There are three surface options, all compatible with either engine; the S6L-32D with 32+2 faders and four 12” touchscreens, the S6L-24D with 24+2 faders and three 12” touchscreens, and the S6L-24 with 24+2 faders and one 12” touchscreen.
It’s the thoughtful touches that really make the S6L a winner. The stageboxes have a headphone amp built-in so stage techs can PFL lines without the console getting involved. Each engine has three hot-swappable power supplies, one to run and two redundant. The same power supplies run the surface; one to run, one redundant. As you’d expect, transport control for ProTools is built-in, as is connectivity. Depending on configuration, an S6L system will range in price fr0m $70,000 to $100,000 USD ($90,000 to $130,000 AUD).