What is a Live Sound Computer?
Since Digital Audio Workstation software has become readily available and widely used in the music recording industry many people wonder if it is possible to do live sound reinforcement mixing on a computer. Some have tried using their DAW software to mix sound. The requirements for realtime live audio and studio work are different and DAW software is optimized for use in the studio.
Now you can have a virtual live mixing console on your computer that rivals the digital mixing consoles that have been on the scene for several years. Digital consoles are becoming more prevalent in live sound production as time passes. There are many advantages to the digital hardware. The boards incorporate digital signal processing that eliminates much of the traditional outboard gear. Each channel has dynamic processing in the form of compression and gate. Effects processors are incorporated into the boards or standard external processors can be used in most cases. The modern digital mixing console provides the complete live mixing environment onboard.
The heart of any digital mixing system is a dedicated computer. The hardware consoles incorporate control surfaces that emulate the controls of an analog console. They often include touch screens that add to the control system.
The Software Audio Console
There is now a software available for a Windows PC that gives you the functionality of the big hardware consoles in a virtual environment. The studio business has used this model for many years. Now it is available to the live sound reinforcement community. The virtual console gives you the features of the hardware consoles without the hardware. While control surfaces can be interfaced with the software for special effects they are not necessary for most live audio mixing functions.
The software package has been developed by experienced live sound engineers for live sound engineers. The navigation is set up to get to any part of the virtual console with only a couple of clicks or by keyboard commands. The User Interface is set up to look like a physical console, with channel strips, aux send and return modules, and output modules.
Through the magic of code the channels can be reordered and sessions can be saved and recalled. You can save a mix that you are using in a particular venue and the next time that you work that room you can start exactly where you left off the last time that you played the room.
The code base for the SAC software is written in assembly language. Because of this it is very responsive and it is conservative of resources. Assembly language programming bypasses much of the Windows environment.
Mixer In A Box is my website that is dedicated to this software and the virtual live sound mixing experience. There is more information about this Live Audio Workstation software there as well as links to the developer's site. Please visit Mixer In A Box.