I remember the very first time I saw the VENUE | Profile console. It was on a Saturday in June 2006, in a tiny ground floor hotel room on the banks of Lake Geneva amidst the chaos of the Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Profile console was a prototype and the only one in the world to leave the hands of Avid engineering in California. As the newest, youngest, and least experienced member of the fledgling Live Sound team in Europe, it made perfect sense that it should fall to me to look after this top secret, priceless prototype and make sure it got into Switzerland somehow.
The purpose of all this was to reveal Profile in secret to special guests by invite only, including some of the world’s leading live sound engineers. Avid had launched the VENUE Live Sound Environment only 18 months before and the flagship VENUE | D-Show system was taking the world by storm. The industry was rife with speculation that there might be a smaller-format, baby-brother on the way.
Here it was in my hotel room—a beautiful, slimline console born from D-Show. A 34-fader surface that somehow provided all the same controls as the larger D-Show surface but in a far smaller footprint. Instantly familiar as a VENUE console, sections of controls were scaled down to make navigation quicker, with switches, colours, labelling, and workflows all maintained. Even the famous mushroom knobs were kept.
I’ll never forget the response from one of the world’s foremost sound designers when he first saw it. He took a step back, placed his hands on his hips and loudly proclaimed, “Gentleman, you are looking at the future of musical theatre!”
He was right.
The VENUE | Profile system went on to be used for numerous Broadway and West End shows, and installed in countless theatres, performance venues and houses of worship across the globe. In rock n’ roll, Profile went on to be the number #1 live sound system for concert sound and touring and Avid’s most successful mixing console.
The fact that Profile had a smaller footprint than D-Show allowed theatres and performance venues to add in more seats without compromising on processing power or sound quality. The surface was small enough to squeeze into OB vans, and small and lightweight enough to reduce shipping costs for touring.
Profile’s control surface layout and simple ergonomics were instantly familiar to engineers experienced in using D-Show. The VENUE software, common between D-Show and Profile, enabled Show file portability between the systems and allowed existing VENUE operators to jump onto Profile and get up and running in minutes. This made proved to make perfect sense in festival environments where there is a little or no time to prep before the set.
The VENUE family was designed as a platform. D-Show and Profile surfaces were both designed to connect to the FOH Rack processing engine and were therefore interchangeable (they were even hot-swappable live). This allowed sound companies to add Profile consoles to their existing inventory and offer two different-sized VENUE systems.
This interchangeability meant Profile could do everything D-Show could do, just in a smaller footprint for a smaller budget. The hallmarks of the VENUE platform, studio-grade sound quality, VENUE software, Pro Tools connectivity and onboard plug-ins were maintained in Profile systems, realizing Avid’s first steps towards a unified platform for live sound.
Skip forward to 2015 and the launch of Avid’s 2nd generation live sound platform: VENUE | S6L. Like the flagship D-Show system, S6L was designed as a premium-level system and designed to build on the legacy established by VENUE, with the additions of huge advancements in processing power, modern user interface and touchscreen workflows, and exceptional sound quality.
VENUE | S6L has been hugely successful for Avid, being adopted across the world for the highest-profile tours, houses of worship and theatre performances, even outselling the industry-standard Profile and SC48 systems. This is due to the unique capabilities of S6L which we call these the hallmarks of S6L.
As an engineering team we deeply understand the supporting technology and intellectual property that provides these hallmarks. By taking this technology—realized in the modular architecture of S6L and scaling it down into new packages—we can design new products. These new products can achieve new price-points while maintaining the same build quality, stability, audio quality, software, workflows and features of our premium-level S6L systems. This concept is the heart of our design methodology for Live Sound at Avid. We call it the VENUE | S6L Unified Live Sound Platform.
The Unified Live Sound Platform strategy is simple: expand the S6L family of products into new price-tiers by introducing new surfaces, engines, and I/O racks built with the same components and modules of S6L, so that all new products benefit from a single hardware and software architecture.
The realization of this development methodology is the industry’s only live sound platform with 100% software, hardware, and show file compatibility, delivering unprecedented performance, coherent workflows and exceptional sound quality across the entire family.
In April 2018 we announced the first six new products to be developed with this design methodology and added to the VENUE | S6L unified platform—all fully compatible with each other and existing S6L devices.
Avid Updates Its Profile
Since we introduced the S6L in 2015, live sound engineers, sound designers, and sound company owners everywhere have been waiting what the successor to the Profile will be. The answer is the new VENUE | S6L-24C. Let me tell you why:
The S6L-24C system has been designed to drop-in replace your Profile system:
S6L-24C systems, like Profile systems, are made of three components: a compact control surface with elegant ergonomics, powerful processing engine rack, and a stage rack of exact size and base configuration as Profile’s VENUE Stage Rack. We have made sure that the S6L-24C system configurations available to purchase from Avid match that of Profile.
Not only does the configuration of S6L-24C match that of Profile, the price does too. The S6L-24C-144 (S6L-24C surface + E6L-144 engine) is the exact same price as Profile at launch, while offering a far more capable and better sounding system. Scale the S6L-24C system down in capability by choosing the lower budget E6L-112 engine, and you achieve a very capable system for less money than a Profile system.
S6L-24C has maintained the most important features provided by Profile:
Like Profile, S6L-24C is powered by the VENUE software providing complete Show file portability between S6L-24C and all the other S6L systems. Deep interoperability with Pro Tools is provided together with an onboard HDX-based plug-in ecosystem. S6L-24C even supports the latest version of Waves plug-ins by connecting to the Waves SoundGrid processing platform, providing unmatched control of plug-ins in the software or surface knobs, storing/recalling settings in snapshots and saving the Waves plug-in settings in within the VENUE Show file.
Moving from Profile to S6L-24C is easy:
VENUE | S6L-24C will load your settings from Profile. Put your Profile Show file onto a USB key and load it into S6L-24C. No transferring of file types is required—S6L-24C will accept the file as is, maintaining all your mix settings, snapshots, channel/bus configuration, plug-ins and even Patchbay assignments.
If you have Waves plug-ins loaded within your Profile Show file, simply connect the S6L-24C system to a SoundGrid processing server and VENUE will automatically load all of your Waves plug-ins into SoundGrid and the VENUE software. It could not be easier!
S6L-24C provides the features requested by Profile operators:
VENUE | Profile has been out in the world for over ten years now. Profile owners and operators have been telling us what they want to see in a 2nd generation system and we have designed these requests directly into S6L-24C. Here are some of the primary asks:
- More mix busses (96 busses with E6L-192, 64 busses with E6L-144, 48 busses with E6L-112)
- Dual screens to see mix settings and other things like Snapshots or Plug-ins simultaneously
- Audio networking connectivity provided in Ethernet AVB and Dante formats
- 96 kHz processing engine facilitating exceptional audio quality
- iOS application (VENUE | On-Stage app is now available)
S6L-24C is fully integrated into the S6L Unified Platform, raising the bar of what’s possible in a mid-level live sound mixing system:
S6L-24C is an integral component of the S6L Unified Platform, supported for use with all E6L engines and I/O devices with 100% software, hardware and Show file compatibility. This means S6L-24C inherits capabilities designed for the original premium-level S6L systems at a mid-level price-point. Build quality, processing capabilities, workflow, connectivity and audio quality are the same in S6L-24C systems as in the larger S6L systems.
We are hugely excited about the release of the VENUE | S6L-24C control surface, the E6L-112 engine, and the Stage 32 remote I/O rack, as well as new VENUE 6.0 software—all of which are now shipping and available. We hope that these new components will provide our customers with even greater flexibility to configure the perfect system to meet the demands of even more of your tours, events, and installations.