I got a request to write a report on using my A&H GLD board as a monitor console. My church put on a festival in about a 2500 seat auditorium with 3 bands of varying composition over 2 days, with practices interspersed. I set up stage right, which in this venue is about the least obvious place monitor world can be while still having a sight line to the performers. My table was the fold out door of my EWI workbox. The GLD on its case overhangs the workbox table slightly, and makes for a very low-profile monitor world.
The GLD has 2 fader banks – 12 faders on the left, 8 on the right. The default layout of the GLD is the 48 input channels on four pages of the left bank, and various combinations of mixes on the 4 pages of the right bank. Everything is fully assignable, but this is the starting point.
The GLD has a variable bus structure. You can mix and match L+R, LCR, L+R+M, monitor mixes, and groups to be any combination up to a maximum of 20 mix busses. Effects sends don’t count against the 20 mix busses, which is a nice feature. For this show I ran 18 monitor mixes, no mains. Input count was 32 channels. The GLD has all the usual functions you expect on a mid-range digital board – full-featured EQ and dynamics, PEQ and graphics on all the mix busses, scene memory, etc.
I started out with a general festival patch matching the FOH patch with drums starting at channel 1. Not every band used 32 inputs – some were much less. I had 9 wedges, 6 IEM mixes, 2 butt kickers for bass and drums, and a cue wedge for me. Again – not all of these were always used.
Setting up the board is pretty straightforward, though the ability to plug in a USB keyboard would save a lot of screen typing. Typing in channel names is absolutely mandatory to keep track of things since there are so many layers. I set all mixes to be post fader and set the channel faders to 0 so I could mix the monitors a little.
The first day I struggled a little, since I started from the complete input and output patch. This meant working around a lot of unused channels, and also increased the number of layers I had to dial through. I got smarter after the first practice, and removed all channels and mixes that were unnecessary.
The biggest mental shift coming from a standard analog or fixed format digital board is the need to let go of the 1 – 1 patch model. With so few faders, you just have to be intelligent about what you put where. In the default layout with a standard “drums start at 1” patch, you waste much of the top layer with drum channels that often go minimally adjusted. Either start with vocals and guitars/lead instruments at channel 1, or go ahead and put the drums starting at 1, but then move the drum channels to a lower page. Since I was trying to match the FOH patch (M7), I chose option B – drums started at channel 1, but I moved them to the 3rd page.
The other thing I’ve struggled with on the GLD coming from many years on Yamaha boards is knowing when to go to the screen for something, and when to go to a function button on the surface. The GLD is intelligently designed, and when I can’t find what I’m looking for on the screen, I’m usually pleasantly surprised that there’s a really easy way to accomplish the function I’m looking for with a hard button on the surface. Some of the functions that I still find myself looking for in the wrong place are the channel gains (available on the encoders above each channel in addition to the channel strip), copy/paste/reset, and graphic EQs (press “mix” button on desired send, press GEQ button on surface). The Yamaha is more consistent in that everything is on the screen. The GLD is faster for many functions, but requires more familiarity to take advantage of that.
We debated a bit on which board should go where. We ended up with our M7-32 at FOH because the FOH engineer had never used my GLD. In future years we may reconsider this, since the digital snake potentially eliminates 250’ each way of analog cabling. This venue does have a little bit of trouble with grounding and power issues, so that would have been nice.
The GLD and M7-32 are very comparable in terms of overall capability. The M7 has 32 channels plus 4 stereo (40 channels total) and up to 24 mixes plus mains (though that requires expansion cards to access all 24 outputs). The GLD when fully expanded has 44 XLR mic inputs and 2 stereo channels (48 total) and 20 mix busses, of which the mains come out of that number. This is compensated for in that effects don’t come out of the mix bus pool.
I prefer the Yamaha concepts of “On” vs. “Mute”, and “0dB” being the point of clipping, vs. the GLD’s more analog-like concept of “+dB”. I ended up running most of my inputs at -6dB, since normalizing at 0dB put me closer to clipping than I’m comfortable with.
The GLD has a nice feature – reverse sends on faders. Pressing a “mix” button on a mix fader makes all the channel faders sends to the selected mix. Pressing a “mix” button on a channel fader makes the mix faders be the send level of that channel to the respective mix busses. This is a convenient feature missing on the M7.
I’m going to sidestep the whole “which one sounds better” question. The apparent general consensus is the ILive/GLD sounds better than low to mid-end Yamahas. That may be true, but I certainly haven’t felt limited by the sound of the M7, and I have yet to have an opportunity to A/B the GLD. Both boards were more than adequate sonically for this gig.
This was my first gig as a monitor engineer. I learned a few things, and now that I know a little better how to use the GLD under fire, I’m looking forward to the next chance to do that.