On The Road  
Thinking Inside the Box with VENUE
By Robert Scovill


Have you heard the news? Digidesign is once again breaking new ground in an emerging market. The sonically powerful world of TDM plug-ins is coming to a concert hall near you!

The VENUE live sound environment from Digidesign is the first live sound console of its kind to offer complete compatibility with hundreds of TDM plug-ins. As you might imagine, this has far-reaching implications for the currently exploding sound reinforcement market. It’s a huge paradigm shift in a market that can be steadfast, to say the least.

In the recent history of sound reinforcement, we witnessed a shift in attitude that clearly pointed toward what Digidesign is now offering with VENUE. Not so awfully long ago, the closest thing to studio-grade dynamics processing you’d see in front-of-house or monitor effects racks was a slew of DBX 160Xs. There were numerous reasons for this, not the least of which was a need for lots of processing with minimal cost and rack space. The 160X fit this bill nicely: It sounded great, and was relatively inexpensive.

By the early ’90s, things began to change. Concert mixers with studio experience began to emerge on the scene. Record production techniques grew to include vintage processing to target and address specific sounds. The vintage market—and for that matter, the vintage mindset — began to grab hold of users, and changed the criteria for choosing processors. The manufacturers responded by releasing processors influenced by, if not direct copies of, now-legendary designs. As a result, in a short period sound reinforcement vendors were scrambling to stock their shelves and their racks with the latest in-demand vintage processors, and it was getting very expensive. The market prices of vintage compressors and equalizers skyrocketed to ten or 20 times their original value. Consequently, front-of-house positions at concerts started to resemble and rival the offerings of world-class control rooms.

"VENUE users — myself
included — are replacing
scores of outboard racks
full of vintage equipment
with TDM plug-ins."
The fluid nature of the music production business means that today, manufacturers are faced with a new wave of criteria. The current user base is well-versed in digital recording techniques, and influenced by the home and professional recording market. Today’s concert sound mixers are comfortable with digital audio workstations like Pro Tools|HD and LE systems. They require vintage sound quality simply as a choice, and programmability as a must.


With the VENUE live sound environment, both of these demands are being addressed — and frankly, it is shaking the sound reinforcement industry to its core (in a good way)! A VENUE system offers an incredible 100 plug-in slots and a total of 45 DSP chips for use with plug-ins. These plug-ins often emulate the vintage equipment that engineers craved and demanded in past decades, some of which only the most eccentric mixer would dream of including in a touring package. Now VENUE users — myself included — are replacing scores of outboard racks full of vintage equipment with TDM plug-ins, and are mixing entirely “in the box.”

Artists are also joining the party, bringing their plug-in settings straight from the recording studio to VENUE. No longer are concert mixers left scratching their heads and wondering, “How did they get that sound on the record?” Now the EXACT sound is only a preset away. Concert mixers can now experience a rewarding new world of sound quality, processor choices, and ease of programming with TDM plug-ins for VENUE. Even sound reinforcement companies are rejoicing at the ease of handling virtual effects racks, as opposed to the physical ones that cost so many man-hours to assemble, maintain, and disassemble. With all the current plug-in options on VENUE, it looks like a new day just got a lot brighter — and it sounds a lot better to boot!