In front of the assembled European and American press last month, Midas announced its ‘most significant and strategically important’ product for several years. It’s a digital console, in two variants, at the smaller end of the company’s PRO range.
The most significant aspect of the PRO2 and PRO2C live audio systems is their price. The PRO2, complete with stagebox and power supplies, costs just over €20,000; the PRO2C, similarly equipped, is priced at €15,000. “Now our customers will be able to buy a digital Midas for no more than a regular mixing console,” commented Richard Ferriday, brand development manager.
Two things have made the competitive pricing possible: the units are to be built at The Music Group’s Chinese factory; and dearer hardware components such as faders have been reduced in number compared with other models. Software features have made faders, buttons and switches even more multifunctional.
The two models are fundamentally similar: they both have 56 mic/line inputs with Midas mic preamps, 64 input channels and 32 analogue outputs (including two stereo local monitor outputs), and feature the same components and finish as the rest of the PRO series. The compact PRO2C can be thought of as the PRO2 with the left-hand section (which contains eight input faders) removed: its footprint is just 750mm x 850mm.
Midas users will already be familiar with POPulation groups, which allow logical sets of channels to be grouped and recalled together; and VCA (variable control association) groups, which allow groups of channels to be manipulated together in the output mix. To these have now been added MCA (master control association) groups, which act similarly to VCAs but only affect the channels on a selected buss. The new ‘hide unassigned channels’ feature is likely to be useful when working with MCAs.
The PRO2 and PRO2C have once again been designed by Midas consultant (and console guru) Alex Cooper. Care has been taken to ensure that users less familiar with Midas technology are not swamped by the more advanced features. Three modes of operation are available. In FOH Normal and MON Normal modes, operation is similar to many other digital consoles. In Advanced mode, additional navigation features can be called up as required.
Above the input faders on the PRO2 is a space for an iPad. The new Midas iPad app permits a user to control remotely, via wireless, all console fader positions, including inputs, outputs and VCA faders. It also allows remote control of all onboard GEQ, and provide the operator with a console overview, including all input and output meters in real time.
The inbuilt display on the PRO2 and PRO2C is not a touchscreen. This is partly so that it can be read in daylight, and partly because Midas believes that timing of effects can be achieved much more precisely with conventional hard switches and buttons, which provide tactile feedback.
Ferriday admits that the lower price point of the new consoles may cannibalise sales of other consoles in the range, particularly the (next-largest) PRO3. However, the PRO3 can be upgraded to a PRO6 or a PRO9, while the PRO2 cannot.
The PRO2 and PRO2C are shipped with a 5U stagebox and a 100m, 48 x 16 digital snake. The consoles can be networked to other Midas digital consoles, and showfiles compiled on any console in the PRO range (and the XL8) can be run on any other.