In part 1 of this three part series on Alan Elliot’s experiences using an Avid S3 system Alan introduced himself and explained why they chose an Avid S3 system for the private 225 seat concert and conference Theatre in Toronto, Canada where he works.
In part 2, Alan described their first live concert using the Avid S3 with multi-platinum selling country artists Florida Georgia Line.
In this final part of this series Alan is going to share the refinements they have made to their S3 setup to help them overcome the small number of issues they wee having and to improve the workflow. Over to you Alan…
A Second Avid S3 System
A few months later and after many successful shows using the S3L system, it was decided to add a second S3L system to replace our Yamaha digital FOH console. We didn’t require additional Stage 16 Remote I/O boxes and at the time, but there wasn’t an option to purchase just the S3 surface and E3 Engine. However, our local dealer spoke to Avid directly and we were able to purchase the system we required.
Just In Time For New Features
Not only that, but an imminent Venue software upgrade was to include incredible new features, one of which was the ability for up to three S3L systems to share the same I/O. The upgraded S3L system is marketed as the S3L-X. The S3L-X has a few hardware differences to the original S3L system. The E3 Engine has been mechanically reinforced for improved road performance with the RAM doubled to improve software performance and the S3 surface has a new upgraded headphone amp.
Avid Commissioned The New System
As the first users of a dual S3L system in Canada, we were fortunate to have local Avid reps come to our venue to commission the new system. To properly run the new Venue software, our original E3 engine required a RAM upgrade which Avid provided free of charge. In addition, Avid will replace our existing E3 engine with the new reinforced E3 Engine in due course.
Connecting Up The Dual System
Like the single S3L system, connecting two S3L systems is easy. Starting from S3 Surface 1, Network port A is connected to Network port A on E3 Engine 1. Network port B on E3 Engine 1 is connected to Network port A on the first Stage 16. Network port B on the first Stage 16 is connected to Network port A on the next Stage 16. The connections are continued in this way through all the Stage 16 boxes then Network port B on the last Stage 16 is connected to Network port C on E3 Engine 2. Network port B on E3 Engine 2 is connected to Network port C on E3 Engine 1. Network port A on E3 Engine 2 is connected to Network port A on S3 Surface 2. It is possible to connect one Pro Tools computer to each S3 Surface, for main and backup recordings. The port labelled ECx on the either E3 Engine allows a computer or router to be connected for ECx Ethernet control.
Although an E3 Engine will automatically connect to first S3 control surface it detects on the network, you can assign any S3 to any E3 on the network. Once S3 surfaces and E3 Engines are assigned, you can then assign Stage 16 boxes to available Stage slots in the Options > Devices page.
I/O Sharing With A Dual S3 System
I/O sharing requires that each Stage 16 box be set up in a Master/ Slave configuration. It is up to the users to decide who has Master control of any Stage 16 box. This could be at either the FOH, monitor or broadcast mix locations. When an E3 Engine is assigned to a Stage 16, it becomes Master of that Stage 16. Any other E3s in the network are Slaves to that particular Stage 16. The Master/ Slave status is not global, it is possible for an E3 Engine to be Master of one Stage 16 and Slave to another. In use, the I/O sharing is easy to set up and completely transparent to the user. In fact, our Avid rep told us that in blind tests, everyone assumed they had Master control of the I/O.
The Avid Venue Software Features
The new Venue software has many other great features. A particular favourite of mine is that the S3 surface OLED display is inverted for a selected channel, making it easy to see at a glance which channel is selected. Another feature allows easy creation of custom fader layers which I have found to be extremely useful.
When I first used the S3L system, I focused on using our ELO touchscreen to control parameters, but over the past year, I have become much more familiar with the S3 surface and find it intuitive and quick to navigate. The touchscreen is great for quickly selecting tabs and larger elements in the Venue software, but it is far easier to adjust EQ or dynamics parameters using the S3 surface. Having said that, I would love to see full multitouch support for touch monitors in the future. Of course this depends on the capabilities of the touch monitor as well as the software.
Only Two Touches
At present, the system can handle two touches at once if supported by the touch monitor. A companion iPad app for remote control is a popular request of many users and that would be great to see. The Venue software will evolve over time and Avid are keen to hear suggestions from users.
Alan’s Feature Requests
I would like to see further integration with Pro Tools where channel strip settings, plug in parameters, colour codings, group assignments etc. are transferred over to the Pro Tools multitrack session.
I Think He Likes It…
The newly added support for 64 bit AAX plug-ins further expands the capabilities of the S3L system and I look forward to using it for many years to come. In the S3L and now S3L-X, Avid has an incredibly powerful and scaleable system and with AVB technology has created one of the most powerful and easily configured audio networks in live sound.
Thank You Alan
Alan Elliot has been an Audio Engineer for over 20 years. He has worked in live sound and recording studios in numerous countries around the world and several studio recordings have been released internationally. He currently teaches Sound Design at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada and is a member of the Audio Engineering Society.