A&H SQ-x vs Midas M32

Bormo Glot

Freshman
Oct 23, 2014
38
0
6
53
Hi Folks,

Does somebody compare between these 2 boards sound vise?

Is SQ sound any better than M32? Does it worth to switch?

Thank you
Bormo
 

Kevin Maxwell

Junior
Feb 6, 2011
313
4
18
Hi Folks,

Does somebody compare between these 2 boards sound vise?

Is SQ sound any better than M32? Does it worth to switch?

Thank you
Bormo

I think it depends on the application. I had an SQ6 (loaner for testing) and a Midas M32 next to each other in my home office and played with them for over a month. I regularly use the M32 for live concert and Musical theater work. For me the M32 is much more logical. I really like the freely assignable layers on the SQ6 and I like the sound of the stock reverb for vocals. But I have been able to come up with reverb settings on the M32 that sound just like the SQ6. With my testing the sound difference wasn’t significant enough for me to suggest the SQ6 in its present firmware state. And some of the same complaints that I have on the SQ6 seem to be how the dLive also works so not a good fit for me.

The logic behind the scene management in the SQ6 and the dLive to me is definitely not theater ready. The only hope on that front would be if they were to ever make it able to be properly controlled by external theater software. At least FULL midi capabilities.

If you already have a Midas M32 you will be extremely frustrated by the SQ6.
 

Bormo Glot

Freshman
Oct 23, 2014
38
0
6
53
For me, one of the big problems of SQ - missing offline app. It is one I use very often for my M32.
They (on Infocomm) told me that it will be fixed, but it is a feature I really need.
 

Kevin Maxwell

Junior
Feb 6, 2011
313
4
18
Love to hear some details on what's missing in the dLive scene management. I am interested in the dLive system, but also am big on scene management.
As you know, there is MIDI control for the dLive, what functions do you feel are missing?

The scene management in my opinion is not ready for theatrical use. I had this discussion with A&H many years ago (at a trade show) after using an iLive for Musical theater and they just didn’t seem to get it. I am sorry I am in the middle of an insane week. I am sure I have written about this in the past but I don’t have the time to look up those things now. While discussing the SQ scene management with the full time audio guy at my church the subject of the scene management came up and the same weirdness that I though the SQ has he said the dLive also has. It is fine for storing a concert setup but not for sequencing thru cues for a Musical or editing those cues on the fly during rehearsals. I would have to get my hands on one again because I basically put them out of my mind for consideration due to the behavior. I can guess but I don’t want to say exactly what the behavior is without playing with it again. If you want after this week things slow down a little for me and I can go play with one of them that is available to me.

The dLive Midi isn’t fully implemented yet, to the best of my knowledge, you can’t do channel EQ control and there may be some other things it can’t do. There also isn’t a windows driver that they make or that they are willing to recommend for their Midi over TCP/IP and if they can’t get that right and support that that is a problem for me. The scene management program I use is a windows program. It can run on a mac if it has a true version of windows running on it. It can talk Midi or OSC or actually Midi and OSC at the same time and can control up to three mixers from different or the same manufacture at the same time. I have been using 2 Midas M32s at the same time for Musical Theater lately.

So that is why I say it depends on what you want to do with the SQ6 or even the dLive. They like the dLive at church. They went from an Avid Profile surface with a house rack and 2 stage racks. But they had problems with the main processor card in it at least twice so they sold it off and got the dLive. They also bought and SQ6 for the youth room and an SQ5 to somehow incorporate in to the dLive for IEM monitor usage. I don’t know all of the details.

I was lent the SQ6 to evaluate to see if it would be appropriate for a relatively small church where the Music Minister is unbelievable fussy. He is a very good musician. And I told the sound company that tasked me with that, that I didn’t think he would like it because of the illogical operation of the console. I also didn’t think it was capable enough for their needs.

I hope this is of some help.
 
Kevin, if it's been a few years since you looked, you should definitely have another look, since they have extended the scene management significantly. You can download "Director", their Windows/Mac editor to look at any functions, you don't need the console to see what features/functions are available.

Maybe have a look at this video when you get time. I'd be interested to know what you see as limitations in this updated system.

The 1.60 version adds "roles" as well which is yet another level of scene management

I still haven't used the console myself, but my understanding is that there is MIDI over TCP/IP support for Windows now.
You use what they call the "DAW Control" software.
https://www.allen-heath.com/dlive-home/software/

I see that they do not have MIDI control for eq, so you're right about that.
 

Eric Snodgrass

Freshman
Oct 31, 2012
23
0
1
Having used both consoles, I can say that I think the SQ for me is a superior console. I do like the sound of it, and, unlike Kevin, I think the layout of the console and the touch screen is vastly superior to the M32. Different strokes...
I do agree with Kevin concerning the Scene management. On the SQ there is no way to edit the order of Scenes or even edit the Scenes in an offline editor. That does make it difficult to do any musical theater with the console if one relies on scenes to control mutes and DCA assignments. It is a feature that folks on the A&H forums have been wanting for years. They are still waiting.
For corporate work the SQ is terrific. The Automatic Mic Mixing (AMM) feature on the SQ is a life-saver for me - I had a gig recently that had 23 headset mics on stage for a stage reading of a script. I didn't have the script, there was no rehearsal and we didn't even get a sound check with the cast. It was really throw and go with the mics. I did have time during the day to set gains, measure the room and P.A. and ring out the headsets. The AMM worked flawlessly for this gig. I don't think the M32 has any sort of automatic mic mixing algorithm, but if it does, someone please correct me.
I would personally recommend the SQ over the M32.
 
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Art Nadelman

Freshman
Jul 24, 2014
51
3
8
Bradenton, FL
It is a feature that folks on the A&H forums have been wanting for years. They are still waiting.
I would personally recommend the SQ over the M32.

Not sure how the forums have been waiting for years for a feature on the SQ's since they've just been out for slightly more than 6 months.

I don't think the M32 has any sort of automatic mic mixing algorithm, but if it does, someone please correct me.
I would personally recommend the SQ over the M32.

Yes, it has it. But only for the 1st 8 channels.
 

Bormo Glot

Freshman
Oct 23, 2014
38
0
6
53
So I'll try to summarize:
SQ:
Pros
Lighter and smaller
96kHz
More channels
Better sound ??
Better Effects
Potential 64 in/out 96kHz Dante
On-board 16 channels recording

Cons
Bad schene management
No offline app
Poor iPad app
Routing limitation (stereo buses only)
Expensive stage boxes
The choice of only one USB thread - flash drive or card

M:

Pros
Better Online and Offline apps (actually best in the area)
Excellent scene management
Reasonable stage boxes and better choice
Very reasonable prices of extension cards
More possible inputs (up to 167) with max 38 on faders same time
MIDI on board and on stage boxes

Cons

48kHz
No User layer
Only 8 channels auto mix
 

Kevin Maxwell

Junior
Feb 6, 2011
313
4
18
Kevin, if it's been a few years since you looked, you should definitely have another look, since they have extended the scene management significantly. You can download "Director", their Windows/Mac editor to look at any functions, you don't need the console to see what features/functions are available.

Maybe have a look at this video when you get time. I'd be interested to know what you see as limitations in this updated system.

The 1.60 version adds "roles" as well which is yet another level of scene management

I still haven't used the console myself, but my understanding is that there is MIDI over TCP/IP support for Windows now.
You use what they call the "DAW Control" software.
https://www.allen-heath.com/dlive-home/software/

I see that they do not have MIDI control for eq, so you're right about that.

I downloaded the dLive Director when it first came out and have played with it on and off. I am on version 1.61 and I see that 1.70 is the latest so I am downloading that one now.

I am watching the dLive V1.5 webinar as I write this. I have some time now but these 2 videos you imbedded are long. And one of the presenters talks slow, so I go into the settings on the videos and I change the play back speed to 1.25 and sometimes to 1.5. It is a silly thing I do when watching slow speaking training type of videos. I did the same thing with some Yamaha videos.

The SQ6 is not a bad board and it will suit some people very well, but I believe in people knowing all of the facts as best as they can be shared and understood. My problem come in with the limitations that when I talked to the paid sound guy at my church the problems I had with the way the SQ6 works (mostly user interface or capabilities) he said they are the same on the dLive. Like limited number of things that you can assign to the “Soft Keys”. It also doesn’t help that there are only a limited number of scribble strips on the “Soft Keys”. And some of it doesn’t make sense to me, but this is already too long so I can address some of that at another time.

Some of the behavior regarding scene navigation is the same in the dLive and the SQ6 as far as I can tell. Not what I consider the best way to do theatrical events. If you have a LOT of time to preconfigure the show and there will never be any quick changes you need to do (like during rehearsals) then it is powerful. But I have never worked in that kind of environment. I will spell out some of this below.

I was so curious as to the exact behavior of the SQ6 and since it has been a little while since I last played with one I went and picked it up again (while writing this) to play with it. I have next to me for a few days. Some of what I have written below I had already written before I just picked up the SQ6. I will edit where appropriate but I may just comment about my testing results.

As I was watching the video the one thing that they keep doing is having to click on a scene and then hit go. It seems as though there isn’t a just single recall to next scene function. And I remember something like that when playing with the SQ6. Actually there is a way (the only one that I have found) to recall sequential scenes, just set a soft key or the footswitch to “Scene Recall Go” / “Auto Increment”. When you press that soft key it recalls the settings of the next scene but it then is really cued up on the scene after that one. If you step thru to scene 6 (Current: scene) you will notice that the scene list is actually on scene 7 the (Next: scene) so if you make a change and then hit Store, you will be storing your changes to scene 7 not 6. The “Scene Previous” function doesn’t recall the previous scene, it just moves the cursor up the list, you have to then hit the “GO” key on the scene page or you could set one “Soft Key” to “Scene Previous” and another key to “Scene Recall Go” without the auto increment turned on. And if you do jump back in anyway, either with the 2 different soft keys or by touching the scene that you want to go back to, on the scene screen you will see at the top that the current and the next scene both are on the same number so to go ahead one scene you will have to hit your soft key “GO” twice. I don’t see a way to insert a scene on the SQ6.

In summery the basic “GO” functionality mostly works but the “BACK” is way too awkward to use in a theatrical situation. There really needs to be a way to jump back quickly in case of a mistake on somebody’s part. The footswitch jack on the SQ6 is very good because none of the “Soft Keys” are in a convenient place to be able to rest your hand on and then hit the “GO” when you need to. For that same reason I have a “GO” “BACK” box that I made for the Avid Profile and the SC48. I was able to put that right next to the mixer for recalling scenes on these mixers when using them for Musical Theater.

There is a lot of granularity to the scene management on the dLive and some on the SQ6 and I have been familiar with that. But what they are calling tracking isn’t what I would call tracking. With Palladium the fader moves I make are automatically tracked so if you mix a scene and have the relationship of the faders the way you want them they stay that way in subsequent scenes until you change them again. This includes if you make a change in the middle of a series of cues from that point on that change you made will stay till you make another change. It isn’t manipulating snapshots, it is seamless. I don’t need to hit a bunch of buttons to keep changing these modifications. When I go to the next scene (as long as I have “Learn” turned on) that is how that scene will be when I next return to that scene. There is a separate function in Palladium if you want to change the trim of your faders. And regarding the trims, from the Palladium used guide - “Trims can be channel, character or actor based”. In this video they seem to be referring to something similar as relative mode, auto tracking.

Also I just heard (on this video) what the Midi capabilities are and the DAW thing that you mentioned doesn’t replace the need for a windows driver to do what I am referring to. They say that they are working on a windows version. And last I talked to them and asked the question on their forum the windows drivers still don’t exist from them.

I want to add that the M32, as it comes, I don’t think is capable for my required work flow to do theater sound. I only recommended the purchase of one (now we have two to use at the same time) after I found Palladium. For concert work or repetitive events the scene management built into the M32 is just fine. I just did 2 events where I just recalled the scene from last year and I didn’t have to spend hardly any time configuring or changing anything.

I hope this explains some of my issues with the SQ6. As I said not a bad board for the right applications.
 

Kevin Maxwell

Junior
Feb 6, 2011
313
4
18
So I'll try to summarize:
SQ:
Pros
Lighter and smaller
96kHz
More channels
Better sound ??
Better Effects
Potential 64 in/out 96kHz Dante
On-board 16 channels recording

Cons
Bad schene management
No offline app
Poor iPad app
Routing limitation (stereo buses only)
Expensive stage boxes
The choice of only one USB thread - flash drive or card

M:
Pros
Better Online and Offline apps (actually best in the area)
Excellent scene management
Reasonable stage boxes and better choice
Very reasonable prices of extension cards
More possible inputs (up to 167) with max 38 on faders same time
MIDI on board and on stage boxes

Cons
48kHz
No User layer
Only 8 channels auto mix


So I'll try to summarize: - And I will try to respond point by point regarding the comparisons to the Midas M32. In Blue if this works.
SQ:
Pros
Lighter and smaller – Yes it is smaller because it has less preamps built into the surface and less outputs.
96kHz – I don’t know how much difference that really makes for live work. But it is a nice feature to have.
More channels – Yes but not built in. Definitely a nice feature to have.
Better sound ?? - Debatable
Better Effects – Debatable – not much included at the moment.
Potential 64 in/out 96kHz Dante – That sounds like it could be nice I have very little experience with Dante
On-board 16 channels recording – M32 can do 32 channels with the relatively new X-Live card. But only at 44.1k or 48k.

Cons – I think I agree with all of these.
Bad schene management
No offline app
Poor iPad app
Routing limitation (stereo buses only)
Expensive stage boxes
The choice of only one USB thread - flash drive or card

M:
Pros
Better Online and Offline apps (actually best in the area)
Excellent scene management – In my opinion it is fine for concert work but not ready for Theatrical use.
Reasonable stage boxes and better choice
Very reasonable prices of extension cards
More possible inputs (up to 167) with max 38 on faders same time
MIDI on board and on stage boxes

Cons
48kHz – Not a limitation for live work in my opinion.
No User layer – That one is really annoying the SQ6 is so much better in that regard.
Only 8 channels auto mix – I use automixers all of the time for dialog in Musicals or for corporate work/ panel discussions and more than 8 channels would be nice. I have used the 8 channels of automix on the M32 and it has come in handy a few times. But for me to use the capability on any mixer when doing a musical it has to be able to be seamlessly turned on and off. The M32 doesn’t seem to be able to do that and I don’t know about the SQ6. But if you read my reply to Andrew you will see that I have an SQ6 here for a few days so I can try and run a test on that.

I really hope they fully enable the Midi capabilities on the SQ6 and come out with a Midi over TCP/IP driver for windows so I can write a Palladium mixer file for the SQ6 and the dLive.
 
As I was watching the video the one thing that they keep doing is having to click on a scene and then hit go. It seems as though there isn’t a just single recall to next scene function. And I remember something like that when playing with the SQ6. Actually there is a way (the only one that I have found) to recall sequential scenes, just set a soft key or the footswitch to “Scene Recall Go” / “Auto Increment”. When you press that soft key it recalls the settings of the next scene but it then is really cued up on the scene after that one. If you step thru to scene 6 (Current: scene) you will notice that the scene list is actually on scene 7 the (Next: scene) so if you make a change and then hit Store, you will be storing your changes to scene 7 not 6. The “Scene Previous” function doesn’t recall the previous scene, it just moves the cursor up the list, you have to then hit the “GO” key on the scene page or you could set one “Soft Key” to “Scene Previous” and another key to “Scene Recall Go” without the auto increment turned on. And if you do jump back in anyway, either with the 2 different soft keys or by touching the scene that you want to go back to, on the scene screen you will see at the top that the current and the next scene both are on the same number so to go ahead one scene you will have to hit your soft key “GO” twice. I don’t see a way to insert a scene on the SQ6.
The dLive does not work that way.
Hitting "Go" executes the highlighted scene, and after hitting "Go", if you make changes and then hit store, it stores to that same scene that you just recalled, as you'd expect. It does highlight the next scene in Green to show this will be the next scene recalled when you hit "Go" again. It auto-increments as you would expect. You can also turn off auto-increment if you like, and you can also turn on "Auto Store" which will save whatever changes you made to the scene you're on before it recalls the next scene. Very useful when programming quickly.
The Update functions are not there on the M/X32 and with the inclusion of the Relative Mode, it's more like the DiGiCo than the Yamaha or M/X32 system. The ability to update multiple scenes is cumbersome on the Yamaha, and I don't believe even possible the M/X32. This can also be done on the dLive.

In summery the basic “GO” functionality mostly works but the “BACK” is way too awkward to use in a theatrical situation. There really needs to be a way to jump back quickly in case of a mistake on somebody’s part. The footswitch jack on the SQ6 is very good because none of the “Soft Keys” are in a convenient place to be able to rest your hand on and then hit the “GO” when you need to. For that same reason I have a “GO” “BACK” box that I made for the Avid Profile and the SC48. I was able to put that right next to the mixer for recalling scenes on these mixers when using them for Musical Theater.
Jumping back can be done by hitting "Back" and "Go" or "Reset" and "Go" to undo the scene Recall or Scene Store.

There is a lot of granularity to the scene management on the dLive and some on the SQ6 and I have been familiar with that. But what they are calling tracking isn’t what I would call tracking. With Palladium the fader moves I make are automatically tracked so if you mix a scene and have the relationship of the faders the way you want them they stay that way in subsequent scenes until you change them again. This includes if you make a change in the middle of a series of cues from that point on that change you made will stay till you make another change. It isn’t manipulating snapshots, it is seamless. I don’t need to hit a bunch of buttons to keep changing these modifications. When I go to the next scene (as long as I have “Learn” turned on) that is how that scene will be when I next return to that scene. There is a separate function in Palladium if you want to change the trim of your faders. And regarding the trims, from the Palladium used guide - “Trims can be channel, character or actor based”. In this video they seem to be referring to something similar as relative mode, auto tracking.
Never used Palladium, but I'm sure it's very powerful. Tracking on the dLive just means that as if you change a value of a parameter, with Tracking on, it automatically scopes just those changes and updates all selected scenes. Much easier than manually selecting the scope as you have to do on the Yamaha (or the Avid I believe).

Also I just heard (on this video) what the Midi capabilities are and the DAW thing that you mentioned doesn’t replace the need for a windows driver to do what I am referring to. They say that they are working on a windows version. And last I talked to them and asked the question on their forum the windows drivers still don’t exist from them.
I linked you the Windows driver in my last message. It's existed for a while.

I want to add that the M32, as it comes, I don’t think is capable for my required work flow to do theater sound. I only recommended the purchase of one (now we have two to use at the same time) after I found Palladium. For concert work or repetitive events the scene management built into the M32 is just fine. I just did 2 events where I just recalled the scene from last year and I didn’t have to spend hardly any time configuring or changing anything.

I hope this explains some of my issues with the SQ6. As I said not a bad board for the right applications.
 
Last edited:

Kevin Maxwell

Junior
Feb 6, 2011
313
4
18
I linked you the Windows driver in my last message. It's existed for a while.

The one you linked to is the DAW midi driver and it doesn't work the way that is needed to communicate with anything but a DAW.

This is a reply from an Allen & Heath USA, Commercial Solutions Specialist from February 13, 2018.
Unfortunately, A&H does not currently have a Midi driver for Windows OS.

I then asked – “Is there a 3rd part one that they recommend?”

And the reply was – “Not that I know of at this time.”
 
The one you linked to is the DAW midi driver and it doesn't work the way that is needed to communicate with anything but a DAW.

This is a reply from an Allen & Heath USA, Commercial Solutions Specialist from February 13, 2018.
Unfortunately, A&H does not currently have a Midi driver for Windows OS.

I then asked – “Is there a 3rd part one that they recommend?”

And the reply was – “Not that I know of at this time.”
I'll admit, it's not clear why they don't call it a driver rather than DAW control, but I'm sure there's a historic reason. It's also very odd that they didn't just use rtp-MIDI instead of a custom driver, but sometimes there's reasons for these things that make sense to the companies implementing them.

Anyway, I'm not sure what you mean when you say "it doesn't work the way that is needed", but if your software can access a virtual MIDI port, it should work fine. Just select "thru" as the protocol if you don't want HUI or other emulation.

Here's what the DAW Control/Driver looks like on Windows:
Capture.JPG

I haven't tried it yet as I don't yet have a dLive or A&H mixer, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. (I don't see SQ in the dropdown, not sure about MIDI support on that console)

No idea why the person you contacted at A&H gave you the wrong information, but I've had that happen more times than I can count, where I actually have to send the CS person a link to inform them of something about their own product.
 

Kevin Maxwell

Junior
Feb 6, 2011
313
4
18
I'll admit, it's not clear why they don't call it a driver rather than DAW control, but I'm sure there's a historic reason. It's also very odd that they didn't just use rtp-MIDI instead of a custom driver, but sometimes there's reasons for these things that make sense to the companies implementing them.

Anyway, I'm not sure what you mean when you say "it doesn't work the way that is needed", but if your software can access a virtual MIDI port, it should work fine. Just select "thru" as the protocol if you don't want HUI or other emulation.

Here's what the DAW Control/Driver looks like on Windows:
View attachment 208652

I haven't tried it yet as I don't yet have a dLive or A&H mixer, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. (I don't see SQ in the dropdown, not sure about MIDI support on that console)

No idea why the person you contacted at A&H gave you the wrong information, but I've had that happen more times than I can count, where I actually have to send the CS person a link to inform them of something about their own product.

I have been told by support people that things wouldn’t work only to find that they will. Midas support told me that the M32 Midi ports didn’t have power on them to power a small midi device, like the Midi Solutions Event Processor. And it turns out that the M32 does have power and it will power the device.

I will have to try that driver and hook it up to a dLive and play and see what I find, and if it will work with Palladium.

BTW They say that the Midi support will be released in the next SQ firmware in 3erd quarter 2018.