Undoubtedly the cornerstone of Soundcraft's tradeshow presence this year was the stunning new MH4 live performance console. The manufacturer's first foray into the triple-mode mixer market, the large-format MH4 is equally at home serving as either a dedicated front-of-house or monitor desk, or as a combination of both, without any of the compromises often associated with multipurpose consoles. Flexible group and aux bus structures adapt quickly and easily to changing applications and provide 8 group busses with 12 aux busses in FOH mode or 16 monitor busses (8 mono + 4 stereo) in monitor mode.
Currently available in 24, 32, 40 and 48 input frames, with 56 inputs to follow later in the year - all with 4 stereo inputs - the MH4 features 20 auxiliary busses, 8 VCA and 8 mute groups with snapshot automation, true LCR panning and outputs, an integral 20x8 matrix and integrated control of dbx DriveRack and BSS Varicurve processing. With modular construction, a newly designed, highly focused EQ and new high-headroom mic amps, the MH4 is set to build further on Soundcraft's already legendary reputation for sound and build quality.
And if that wasn't enough, the MH4 is visually every bit as beautiful as its comprehensive feature set. Needless to say, it attracted a constant stream of admirers, including industry magazine editors, noteworthy touring and SR companies, theatre and club engineers, and many others who were instant fans, even before hearing about the console's extremely competitive price point. Expect to see plenty of demand for this product for quite some time to come.
The second biggest attention-getter on the Soundcraft stand at NAMM was the new 328XD. The next generation of the popular Digital 328 production mixer, the 328XD builds upon the success of its predecessor by offering several major updates and additions.
Firstly, there are now dynamics processors on every individual channel, in addition to the two global Lexicon effects processors, and effects can easily be routed to groups for recording. Configurable direct outputs provide more opportunities for recording feeds, while overall connectivity has also been improved. Soundcraft has additionally built upon its already impressive performance characteristics by enabling the 328XD to MIDI control desktop sequencers and synths, as well as be controlled by them. This will permit it to be the production control center for computers, DAWs and dedicated hard disk recorders, including dynamic automation and moving faders.
Among the mixer's many other standard amenities are 16 mic/line and 5 stereo inputs, 16 digital inputs (or tape returns) in ADAT™ Optical and TDIF™ formats, up to 42 inputs at mixdown, plus 8 groups and 16 direct outputs, AES/EBU and S/PDIF compatibility, and the celebrated 'E-Strip', which continues to bring the intuitive "feel" of an analogue mixer into the digital realm.
Other key pieces of gear on the stand at the mid-January show included the full M Series range, 324 Live digital mixer, economical Series TWO house console and ever-popular Ghost recording desk.