Last night audio legends AMS Neve held their Christmas party at Goldcrest in London. The night's star turn was the incredible Dolby Atmos mix room, which has the first ever DFC 3D console, installed in a hybrid format, where AMS Neve DFC modules can be swapped with Avid S6 modules. The console can be completely re-configured to have as many DFC or S6 modules as suits the production, in under 20 minutes.
As this was an AMS Neve party, the focus was obviously very much on AMS Neve equipment, but in order to show how they can interface with other manufacturers, they kept a token S6 "Pod" in place. I have previously seen this console in a 50/50 split configuration between DFC 3D pods and S6 pods. Goldcrest commissioned an external company to fit S6 modules into custom pods that fit in to the AMS Neve DFC 3D frame. The DFC pods have also been upgraded so that they all connect via ethernet, rather than the traditional ribbon cable. This also makes them "hot UN-plugable", which means they can be removed without crashing the desk, but plugging in pods requires a reboot.
What stole the show for me was the new AMS Neve DFC 3D Atmos panner. Using two joysticks you have complete control over object placement, and the display gives you just the right amount of information as to which objects are placed where. The panner and display also integrate very well with the console surface - there is no need to use the keyboard and mouse, and allows for many parameters to be controlled simultaneously, which saves a lot of time in a mix. Combined with the automated routing and non destructive stem monitoring that the DFC has had from the beginning, you have an incredibly powerful immersive mixing solution.
When you first walk in to this studio, after descending three stories of stairs, you can't help being struck by the sheer scale of the installation. Every detail is looked after, from the four "edit stations" to the custom KVM system that can route control and viewing of anything literally anywhere.
I've loved the DFC from the first time I saw the prototype up at AMS Neve's Burnley HQ. It is a masterpiece of ergonomic design, which gives the mixer unparalleled visual feedback and control. This came about from intense feedback from working mixers, not just design engineers. All the controls are in the right place and AMS Neve pioneered assignability on control surfaces, and with the (still unequalled) Logicators and magnetic motor faders found an ingenious solution for how to give the mixer feedback in the most intuitive way.
As a reminder of AMS Neve's heritage in Analogue they had also brought along a Genesys Black console (as shown in James Ivey's videos), examples of their analogue outboard gear, and also a UAD system to show their RMX16 and other Neve plugins in action. A great hybrid of analogue and digital.
AMS Neve have a history like no other, though have been willing to work closely with other manufacturers. With a Neve 88RS starting at £275,000, their collaboration with the likes of UAD really helps bring their legendary sound in to the hands of mere mortals like us.
If you're ever invited to go and see the Atmos room at Goldcrest, jump at the chance. Even if you're not in post production, the scale will take your breath away.