With combined record sales of over 70 million units, 100 years of performances across world stages, and storied histories spanning from gospel to classic rock, the Little River Band and The Oak Ridge Boys each meet the definition of musical icons. After a search for a more modern and flexible mixing console to serve the diverse needs of both acts, Nashville based Brantley Sound wholeheartedly recommended the Allen & Heath Avantis Digital Mixing System.
“Little River Band had been carrying a [non-Allen & Heath] console for quite some time at monitors,” noted Brantley Sound Director of Operations Zachariah Orbin. “Avantis checked all of the boxes and then some when it came to finding a next-level replacement. Its compact design, overall ease of use, and horsepower under the hood were primary factors in that decision.”
Avantis is the third console based on the XCVI engine, pioneered by the Allen & Heath R&D team using next generation FPGA technology, with parallel virtual processing cores generating enough power for 88×42 channels of processing (including FX returns) at a 96kHz sampling rate. The massive power of XCVI (25 billion operations per second) allows Avantis to its high channel count full audio processing duties, variable bit depth for ultimate precision and noise performance, virtually infinite mix headroom thanks to a 96 bit accumulator, and class-leading latency at an ultra-low 0.7ms.
“We set it up for a day of rehearsals and I used that time to get the console in-between the artist and their inputs,” adds Orbin. “Immediately their was response was an overwhelming, ‘Yes, this is it!’” Speaking to his approach during the demo process with the band, Orbin explains how he configured an easy A/B comparison by “using the free Director software, cloning EQ and dynamics from the previous console and setting them out on various channels and busses.” For the initial test, Orbin “didn’t engage them since I wanted to see what the Avantis would do naturally.” Using this method, the band could hear a close approximation of the previous desk, the more direct ‘flat’ Avantis mix and then an easy flip to engage Avantis preamp models and more advanced sonic tools.
“I was excited when I could apply some of the preamp models in this manner on the fly and see how the band would react to them—all with positive responses,” Orbin notes. “Some of the features I appreciate the most is being able to use the console’s setup flexibility mid show, changing my workflow as I become more aware of the breadth of navigation possibilities. I love this desk!”
Marko Hunt, front of house engineer for The Oak Ridge Boys, shared a similar story about their recent transition to Avantis. “I had the pleasure of checking out one of Mike Bangs’ (Allen & Heath Live Sound & Touring Manager) dLive training classes a while back,” says Hunt. “One of the things I took away from Bangs was how simple and straightforward the dLive workflow is. I felt I could just go out and do a show. This type of workflow approach carries through to the Avantis. But the truth is it’s as simple or complex as you want to make it.”
While outfitted with a robust suite of native dynamics and effects by default, an optional Avantis dPack provides an upgrade of additional dLive processing including Dyn8 (up to 16 instances), DEEP Compressors, the Dual Stage Valve Preamp, plus more models as they’re added. Trusted by platinum selling artists on sellout tours, DEEP puts incredible emulations directly within Avantis’ input and mix channels with no third party gear hassles, no burning of effects slots, and no issues with latency or with phase coherency. Avantis dPack also delivers Dyn8, a powerful processor boasting 4 bands of dynamic EQ and 4 bands of multiband compression. With endless applications including taming vocals, tightening sub-groups or adding sonic glue to a mix, dPack enables 16 Dyn8 engines for inserting on Input and Mix channels.
“What struck me from the first show was the clarity of the preamps and how quickly I could dial in the vocals with the channel EQ’s, Dyn8 and great selection of compressors in dPack,” says Hunt. Keen to share a Dyn8 tip he recently picked up, he adds, “To get crisp side-stick on the snare, use the dynamic EQ by setting the high mid just above 1kHz, set narrow and boosted several dB. Adjust the threshold so that when side-stick cracks, the peak remains—but when the snare is hit hard, the peak flattens out. Solves an age old problem.”
Asked to sum up his thoughts on Avantis, Hunt adds, “It’s amazing that a desk that is this compact can be so powerful. The two very large touch screens are less than an arms reach away and with 24 easily accessible SoftKeys programmable for a large variety of functions, I’m not hunched over my desk hunting for stuff when I need it. We’re really happy with the rig all around.”