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Product focus: QSC – Q-SYS

Following the introduction of this feature last issue, we get in-depth, real world insights on QSC’s flagship DSP/control platform from Tim Robinson, installation design at Adlib Audio

What environments do you typically install Q-SYS?
We use processors from several manufacturers to address different client requirements, with Q-SYS as our top-tier installed DSP. As such, it has made appearances where one might expect, such as bars, restaurants and corporate meeting rooms, but also in some more unusual places such as royal palaces, or anywhere else where we need to do something a bit clever. It is a highly scalable solution: our smallest Q-SYS installation uses just a Core 110f with no inputs (audio comes from the built-in multitrack player) and eight analogue outputs, whereas network peripherals can be attached to make systems of a size limited only by the network architecture or the capacity of the Core (the smallest of which supports 128×128 channels).

Why do you specify this product over competitor offerings?
As a standalone DSP, Q-SYS is very good, but so are many systems by other manufacturers. Where it really starts to shine is in its ability to act as a combined DSP/control platform, whereas most, if not all, competitor solutions would require separate, fully-featured audio and control platforms to deliver the same functionality. The fact that it can do almost everything one could conceivably wish for in the audio domain is quickly taken for granted as one delves more deeply into using it to provide a seamless interface for the entire AV system.

“Where it really starts to shine is in its ability to act as a combined DSP/control platform”

What are the most impressive elements of its feature set?
Although a relatively new feature, the Block Controller has undoubtedly saved us days (if not longer) of scratching heads or poring over a code book to locate an errant character in a script. It makes scripting simple things extremely fast and makes scripting more complicated things less daunting, safe in the knowledge that one can revert to good, old-fashioned hand-coding if trying to do something especially esoteric. Other things, such as a built-in multitrack audio player/recorder are great, even just as commissioning/tuning aids if they’re not used in the finished system. The USB audio interface is extremely handy too, appearing to devices such as an external, PC-based background music player as a soundcard, negating the requirement to rely on the player’s noisy onboard 3.5mm output.

What elements of the feature set make your job easier?
One of the great joys of using Q-SYS is the comfort that comes from knowing that when, inevitably, the client changes the specification at the last minute, or says “Ooh, can you make it do that..?”, the answer is almost always “yes”, even if that means spending several hours thinking about how to code it. Special mention must also go to the dedicated Q-SYS support team who are, in my experience, second to none and, thanks to their global offices, available 24/7.

If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see?
Updates are regular and often include exciting new features and/or support for new hardware. In terms of audio processing features, there is little left to do, although native Dante support and a ‘cheap’ wall plate controller, to sit beneath the comprehensive touchscreen range, are things on the wishlist, in bold, underlined in red ink. The ever-growing arsenal of QSC-managed plugins for third-party products is only going to make one’s life easier as it develops. And Q-SYS’s ability to handle video which, when launched, was limited to videoconferencing cameras, is now growing to support more flexible presentation options and this is an area to watch. As a Q-SYS Developer, one is given a few sneak peeks at things which may appear in the future and some of them are game-changing.