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Strother Bullins on QSC TouchMix-30 Pro 32-Input Digital Mixer

QSC has been well known in the theater, house-of-worship (HOW) and fixed installation market for decades now for their superb loudspeakers. Clear leaders in powered loudspeaker technologies, QSC has thrived in a marketplace that has fully embraced such innovations, challenging their competition along the way.

More recently, QSC has set out to bookend the live sound signal chain by developing a front-end solution, the TouchMix Series, the company’s comprehensive line of digital mixers packed with useful and extremely user-friendly proprietary features and layout in a small footprint. I have used both of their introductory mixers, the small-yet-feature-packed TouchMix-8 and TouchMix-16 products, with great results. Here, we examine the series’ flagship product, the TouchMix-30 Pro 32-channel digital mixer.

The TouchMix-30 offers 32 mixing channels in total—with 24 Class A mic/line preamplifiers, six line inputs and stereo USB input—and 16 outputs with a selection of key features that make the unit notably more in line with the needs of larger and/or commercial or institutional multichannel live mixing applications with multiple users. These include a 10-inch multi-touch touchscreen to ease deep DSP (digital signal processing) manipulation on the left, paired with a notably ergonomic physical button array plus central “touch and turn” encoder knob on the right. As such, its setup is user-friendly and remarkably intuitive.

Other features include useful antifeedback, room tuning, gain and effects “wizards” for simplified EQ-based tasks (especially helpful in HOW and theater environments depending on revolving teams of users with varied mixing skills); dual built-in RTA (real time analyzers); intuitive touch and route patch matrix for simplified “multing” and input channel distribution; eight subgroups with six-band full parametric EQ, variable high- and low-pass filters and limiter; 32-channel direct-to-HD recorder/playback functionality—opening up the TouchMix-30 Pro to content creation applications (more on that later); a 32-channel Mac OS-compatible DAW interface with bidirectional I/O; direct MP3 playback via USB; remote control via TouchMix Control App for iOS or Android OS; useful built-in Info System; and more. Notably, a half-dozen great-sounding stereo effects processors, plus pitch-correct, are onboard.

My frequent review collaborator—producer/engineer and TV music composer Rich Tozzoli (FOX NFL, Pawn Stars, Duck Dynasty, Oprah & Deepak Chopra)—first used the TouchMix-30 Pro before I brought it to a HOW and a theater for subsequent auditions. He shared the following insight with me:

“Simply put, the TouchMix-30 Pro takes powerful, portable, and affordable live mixing to a whole new level,” explains Tozzoli. “To get a quick look at this thing, I took it to [veteran singer/songwriter] Scott E. Moore’s studio and we plugged in a set of QSC K-12 powered loudspeakers. Going simply with a classic Shure SM-58 for vocals and a good DI for his ’30s-era Martin acoustic guitar, we decided to dial it in ‘cold’ and see how far we could get. Plugging the vocal into XLR 1 and the DI acoustic into XLR 2, I simply turned up the first two gain knobs on the top of the unit until I had some good strong signal. I hit the Home quick button and a row of eight faders appeared, along with a variety of other software buttons and a fixed master fader on the right that will always be on-screen.

“From there I was able to touch the EQ tab to quickly dial in a vocal EQ, hit the FX tab to add some Dense and Lush reverb and a tempo-mapped delay,” continues Tozzoli. “I then went to the guitar channel and did the same, but added the RTA above the EQ so I could see the frequencies in real time. Also, by hitting the RTA button on the front of the unit, I was able to see the RTA of the Main L/R out. You can also view the RTA of talkback, cue and any of the 14 auxes. I then assigned a touch of Compression and Gating to the vocal channel, and we were in business. All this was accomplished in just a few minutes of setup, on a console I had never seen before.”

It is the intuitiveness and the qualities of the built-in anti-feedback, room tuning and effects “wizards” that make this a desk ideal for HOW and theater installation. Upon bringing the TouchMix-30 Pro to a church and municipal theater, respectively, for casual auditions by largely volunteer staffs, I was able to consider the time the novice users were able to grasp and dial in acceptable-to-good aural results and hear about the mixers they were used to using. Almost entirely, these users—both in the HOW and theater groups—noted that the QSC was “simpler” than any other digital mixer they had used of similar capability. “This one doesn’t scare me,” was my favorite quote from one particular enthusiastic church mixer. That said, one user regretted the mixer’s lack of physical faders, which may make active mixing a bit more challenging for some; other mixing products exist to best serve such end user’s needs.

Upon considering the TouchMix Control App for tether-less, mobile system tuning, and mixing, a TouchMix mixer makes even more sense for HOW, theater and various live environments. Factor in the need for post-event content distribution and the TouchMix-30 Pro’s ability to grab 32 channels of multitrack files with no DAW or external CPU required, and suddenly it is a realistic alternative to a traditional DAW for HOWs, theaters/performance centers, and beyond.

Best of all, the TouchMix-30 Pro is affordable for all that it offers, priced at $1,899 street. I would recommend anyone intrigued to audition one today—but the fact is, you probably already know how to use it.

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