VENUE 4.5 and EuControl 3.2 Software Overview

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Photo courtesy of Anders Olsson.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 9/10/14 to reflect changes in the product information since the article’s original publication on 5/28/14.

Since its debut, live sound professionals have been choosing the head-turning Avid S3L for its amazing sound, powerful processing, and ultra portability. And now we’ve made it even better with the VENUE | S3L-X System. Fortunately current S3L owners can upgrade to VENUE 4.5 and EuControl 3.2 software to add a host of powerful new capabilities to their systems.

VENUE 4.5

VENUE 4.5 is a software update that offers a number of significant performance enhancements, including I/O sharing and automatic gain tracking of multiple systems networked over Ethernet AVB; optimized surface operation and navigation through custom fader layouts, VCA and Group spill, and more; an updated operating system and the expansion of available sound-processing tools with support for 64-bit AAX DSP plug-ins. With VENUE 4.5 you can:

  • Share I/O across two or more systems reliably, with auto gain tracking
  • Explore infinite sonic possibilities with support for 64-bit Pro Tools AAX plug-ins
  • Customize the S3 control surface for your workflow with user-definable fader layouts
  • Have fast access to channels with VCA and Group Spill
  • Get enhanced surface workflows, navigation, and visual feedback

EuControl 3.2

EuControl is a software release that enables the VENUE | S3 control surface to be used as a standalone studio controller and audio interface with Pro Tools and any other EUCON-enabled DAW. With EuControl 3.2 you can:

  • Mix and record live shows with the full system, then mix down the recorded session with just the S3 control surface and your laptop—making it the ideal cost-effective mixing/recording setup to take to any gig, as it easily loads into a car, van, truck, bus, or plane
  • Use the S3 surface to mix sessions recorded in Pro Tools, Apple Logic, Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo, MOTU Digital Performer, Cakewalk SONAR, and many other popular EUCON-enabled DAWs
  • Record and monitor (though speakers or headphones) with Pro Tools and other DAWs over Ethernet AVB—S3 control surface I/O functions as a 4-input, 6-output audio interface
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VENUE 4.5 and EuControl 3.2 add significant capabilities to an already powerful system—many of which break new ground to enable workflows never before offered by a live sound system.

Software Availability

VENUE 4.5 and EuControl 3.2 software are included with all VENUE | S3L-X Systems, and will also be available as software updates to current Avid S3L owners—check back soon for upgrade details.

  S3L-venue-5.29.14-WEBVENUE 4.5

  Features In-depth

I/O Sharing and Gain Tracking

Many (if not most) live sound workflows require two or more consoles (such as for FOH and monitors), which typically requires using a passive splitter and analog cabling. I/O sharing and gain tracking provides you with the ability to intelligently share audio streams over Ethernet AVB between a Stage 16 remote I/O unit and multiple E3 engines, with automatic gain compensation applied on a per-channel basis.

This innovative capability dramatically reduces cable management complexity, overall system complexity, and equipment setup times. Transportation costs go down as well, as the number of stage boxes in a networked system is reduced and the need for passive analog splitters is eliminated entirely.

VENUE | S3L-X (and S3L with VENUE 4.5) is unique in its implementation of I/O sharing. When multiple systems are networked, all users on the network are provided with the exact same experience. Each user is given fully independent control of his/her input gain—removing all confusion of analog gain stages versus digital trims—and gain settings for all systems are intelligently managed between show files, master/slave configuration changes and even within snapshots.

I/O sharing and gain tracking capabilities include:

  • Four Stage 16 remote I/O units can be shared by multiple E3 engines
  • Automatic gain compensation on a per-channel basis across all E3 engines
  • Independent control of the full range of input gain control (+10dB to +60dB) is provided to every user on the network
  • Intelligent communication between E3 engines provides ongoing device connectivity, assignment, health and status monitoring
  • Automatic gain compensation is applied at all times, even during a snapshot store or recall
  • Redundant connections to shared Stage 16 units in supported connectivity schemes
  • Current plug-and-play, drag-and-drop workflows are maintained in networked system configurations

 

User-Defined Fader Layouts

When mixing in the live environment, you need to be able to navigate the control surface quickly and intuitively to get to channels fast. VENUE 4.5 software enables you to create custom fader layouts on the S3 control surface, providing you with direct and efficient access to the most critical components of your mix and placing them under your fingers at all times.

  • Place any channel of any type in any order on the S3 control surface
  • Configure User Layouts via the S3 control surface or in the VENUE | Software, using Multi-Assign workflows or right-click operations
  • Operate the S3 control surface directly from the User fader bank at all times with full channel parameters displayed in the VENUE software
  • New USER tab appears in the INPUTS, OUTPUTS and SNAPSHOTS pages of the VENUE | Software
  • Store, recall and preview User Layout assignments using the VENUE snapshots system
  • Recall User Layouts using the events system to trigger snapshot recalls
  • Save and load User Layouts configurations using the existing preset folder system
  • Default User Layout provided consisting of 8 VCAs and a single Mains Fader
New USER tab in the INPUTS, OUTPUTS and SNAPSHOTS pages of the VENUE | Software.

S3 Control Surface Workflow Enhancements

In addition to the User-defined Fader Layouts, VENUE 4.5 offers a wide range of control surface workflow enhancements for S3L that significantly improve console operation, navigation, and visual feedback. These new features include VCA and Group Spill functionality, bank safe, snapshots and transport control via the Global control encoders and the innovative Expand mode for both Channel Control and Global Control.

VCA & Group Spill

Members of a VCA or group can be spilled onto the faders to speed up control surface navigation and access to channels. A double-press of the channel select switch of the VCA or group master activates the spill, which can be engaged from the faders and the Global control encoders.

Expand Mode

Engage Expand mode with the Expand buttons on the S3 control surface to target the parameters of Channel Control or Global Control sections of the S3 control surface across the entire top row of 16 encoders. In the Channel Control section, use Expand mode to target 12 encoders for EQ parameters, 16 encoders for channel compressor and gate, have access to 16 Aux sends 16 user-defined parameters at once. In the Global Control section, use Expand mode to access 16 bus outputs simultaneously.

Bank Safe

Bank Safe enables you to target any channel fader strip to the control surface at all times, irrespective of the currently active fader bank. This ensures that your most important channels stay assigned to the faders at all times—even when changing fader banks, recalling user-defined fader layouts, or spilling VCAs or groups.

Bank Safe is added to the OPTIONS > Interaction page.

Expand Mode

Engage Expand mode with the Expand buttons on the S3 control surface to target the parameters of Channel Control or Global Control sections of the S3 control surface across the entire top row of 16 encoders. In the Channel Control section, use Expand mode to target 12 encoders for EQ parameters, 16 encoders for channel compressor and gate, have access to 16 Aux sends 16 user-defined parameters at once. In the Global Control section, use Expand mode to access 16 bus outputs simultaneously.

GEQ on Faders is added as an action in the OPTIONS > Events page.

Hidden Bank Clip

When a channel assigned to a fader bank other than the currently active bank is clipping, the associated fader bank switch flashes red to indicate the clipping. Press the flashing fader bank switch to navigate to the bank with the clipping channel.

Snapshot control via Global Control encoders

You can now select snapshots, recall targeted snapshots, recall next and previous snapshots, store snapshots and even set snapshot crossfade times all from a new group of controls in the Global section of the S3 control surface.

Transport control via Global Control encoders

Fully integrate playback and recording systems directly into your control surface workflow with a new selection of parameters in the Global Control section of the S3 control surface. Control the onboard 2-track USB record/playback system or Pro Tools transport directly from the S3.

User-defined color coding for input and output channels

Speed up your S3 control surface workflow by color coding your channels. All channel types can be color-coded in the VENUE | Software and are shown on the S3 control surface itself. Right-click on a channel or a multi-selection of channels in the VENUE | Software and choose from a palette of colors. Your color choices are saved with Show files.

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All channel types can be color coded in the VENUE | Software.

64-Bit AAX DSP Plug-Ins

Avid live systems pioneered on-board plug-ins to deliver powerful processing without the expense and configuration hassles of outboard systems. For S3L, VENUE 4.5 software updates the E3 engine with the latest 64-bit operating system, providing you with support for 64-bit AAX DSP plug-ins—the same plug-ins used by Pro Tools 11 HDX systems. This provides you with access to all the latest effects and sound processors available from Avid and other top audio developers with which to expand your sonic palette.

S3L-eucon-5.29.14-WEB  EuControl 3.2

  Features In-depth

DAW Control

EuControl Version 3.2 Software is a software release for VENUE | S3L-X and S3L that enables the S3 control surface to be used as a standalone studio controller and audio interface with Pro Tools and any other EUCON-enabled DAW. More than ever, artists, performance venues, broadcasters, and churches need to distribute and/or monetize their live assets. Whether it’s recording and mixing shows for posting to fan websites, archiving performances, or distributing church services to the congregation, workflows that allow you to quickly record and mix these live assets are more important than ever.

S3L-X already offers the most streamlined way to record performances into Pro Tools—not only enabling you to record up to 64 channels into Pro Tools over a single Cat5e cable with no audio interface required, but Pro Tools automatically sets up the session based on your VENUE show file, complete with snapshots, etc., saving you valuable time at the gig. And now with EuControl 3.2, you can mix those recorded Pro Tools and other DAW sessions using just the S3 control surface and laptop, enabling you to set up a mobile recording/mixing studio anywhere.

At the heart of EuControl 3.2 is EUCON, Avid’s high-speed Ethernet control that is supported by the world’s leading DAW’s, including Pro Tools, Apple Logic, Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo, MOTU Digital Performer, Cakewalk SONAR, and more. EUCON provides tight, bi-directional communication with applications for both control and feedback, and is the same protocol used by Avid Artist Series, System 5, and Pro Tools | S6 controllers and consoles. And unlike “dead” control protocols like MIDI, Mackie Control, and HUI used by competitive systems, EUCON is actively developed and improved by Avid and other developers.

But S3’s integration with these DAWs doesn’t stop there. When connected to Pro Tools or other DAWs over Ethernet AVB, S3 also functions as a 4-input, 6-output audio interface, enabling you to easily record and monitor your sessions though speakers or headphones without needing an additional audio interface. This makes S3L-X the ideal cost-effective live mixing/recording setup for any gig—in any size space—as it easily loads into a car, van, truck, bus, or plane.

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S3 control surface back panel I/O.

DAW mixing and I/O capabilities provided by the S3 control surface include:

 

16 touch-sensitive motorized faders

Get accurate and smooth mixing control through 16 high-quality, motorized, touch-sensitive faders. You can easily select tracks for editing just by touching the corresponding fader, and bank tracks (16 at a time) or nudge tracks (one at a time) to quickly navigate through projects.

32 touch-sensitive encoders

Control everything from panning and gain to plug-in parameters, EQ settings, and more using the 32 touch-sensitive rotary encoders, with instant positional feedback displayed on the high-resolution OLED displays. You can easily select what parameters are being controlled using the six Encoder Assign keys.

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S3 offers a full complement of faders, encoders and displays.

32 high-resolution OLED displays

Easily view track names/numbers, detailed metering data (from mono to 5.1 surround), parameter names/values, current automation mode, and more through 32 OLED displays. Get instant feedback about the item you’re modifying the moment you move the corresponding rotary encoder.

Automation Softkeys

These preprogrammed Softkeys enable you to quickly set global automation modes for all tracks, including Read, Write, Touch, Trim—16 functions in total.

Dedicated controls and metering per channel

Each of the 16 channel faders offer signal level metering, as well as Solo, Mute, Select and Record/Automation switches to speed up mixing.

Custom mixer layouts

You can lock individual tracks to faders and store them as Layouts that are saved with your project for easy recall, making mixing large projects a breeze. You assign faders to layouts in the EuControl software and recall them directly from the surface. Create multiple Layouts (up to 12 per session) to mix drums, keyboards, guitars, and so on, or just lock a fader to act as a master fader.

Integrated transport controls

The Touch strip at the bottom gives you direct access to transport controls from the surface.

4×6 audio interface

The hardware inputs (mic/line) and outputs (monitoring/line out) on the back of the S3 control surface are controllable from the encoders—control parameters for the two mic preamps include input gain, pad, 48v, and link.

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Hands-on control of I/O parameters from S3 surface.

Take Advantage of VENUE 4.5 and EuControl 3.2

The VENUE 4.5 and EuControl 3.2 software updates will be shipping with all new VENUE | S3L-X Systems and available to current S3L customers—check back soon for details.

Check out the seven-part blog series by Al McKinna, Principal Product Manager, Avid Live Systems & Consoles, that provided a look inside the design of Avid S3L.

  • Rodrigo Falcão

    iPad app?

  • Davoetta

    Super News – looking very good! But where the hell is the Channel Delay???

  • Kristo

    Can’t you use a plugin on Channel for delay? Personally I would hate to see large amounts of DSP spent on channel delay that I most likely never use…

  • Brandon

    That’s the Extreme Networks X440, not X400.

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  • Arik Semagin

    I like everything about S3L EXCEPT surface design style. Plain stupid! Who came up with this idea of a pitch-black layout with black encoders and black buttons with barely visible LEDs that naturally blend into each other? It may look good in a lab or in a museum, or in studio may be, but in the dark club it’s nonsense. And outdoors under the bright sun there’s no way you’ll see which button is illuminated and which is not. The $1500 Presonus 24.4.2 wins both hands in this: bright, contrast surface with bold buttons that lights up entirely (and also glow up slightly when not in use). What was so complicated to make a surface in style of Profile or SC48? It was a shame to see them both side-by-side at Guitar Center in North Hollywood: Presonus looks like it came from Apple, Inc., S3L looks like it was made by bunch of kids with no clue about industrial design.

    I’d suggest to change the color of surface as soon as practically possible, to grey or silver, something more contrast, and copy buttons from Presonus or at least from Profile. Come on guys, you can do better! It’s a shame to see such a brilliant idea (modular system) so poorly executed in the least complicated area: surface colors.

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  • Damian Chennells

    Any Idea when this is expected to land?