What’s New in VENUE 5.1 Software for S6L

By in Live Sound, Tech Talk

The new VENUE 5.1 software is now available to download at no charge for all VENUE | S6L customers with a valid Avid Advantage ExpertPlus support contract. VENUE 5.1 adds significant capabilities to this already powerful system, including expanded networked I/O capabilities and control surface enhancements. To download the VENUE 5.1 software update free of charge, S6L customers just need to log in to their Avid Account and find the installer link.


What’s new in VENUE 5.1

  • Support for two AVB-192 Ethernet AVB Network Cards, which enables users to expand their VENUE | S6L systems to support up to 192 remote mic-pres and 96 outputs using three fully loaded Stage 64 I/O racks to take on the biggest live sound productions
  • Spill Mode, which allows engineers to quickly spill any Aux, Group, or VCA members onto the surface faders for immediate access to these channels
  • Enhanced visual feedback of parameters and states on the high resolution OLED displays for faster navigation and mixing
  • Improved Show file compatibility with other VENUE systems

Rich Steeb mixing FOH for Blue Rodeo

Support for two AVB-192 Ethernet AVB Network Cards

The VENUE 5.1 software update enables you to increase S6L’s I/O capabilities to support up to three fully maxed out Stage 64 I/O racks on a single AVB network ring—up to 192 inputs and 96 outputs—by adding a second AVB-192 Card to your E6L Engine. This is in addition to your local control surface I/O and 64 channels of Pro Tools recording and playback. If you are using a single AVB-192 Ethernet AVB Network Card that ships with system, you still can connect up to 64 inputs/32 outputs with one Stage 64 rack, and up to 96 inputs/64 outputs with two Stage 64 racks (48 ins/32 outs each). Each AVB-192 Ethernet AVB Network Card provides two independent Gigabit Ethernet ports, copper and Fiber (via SFP), and also includes a built-in 7-port switch.

VENUE | E6L Engine

This is a significant expansion of the S6L’s I/O capabilities, enabling you to take on even the biggest shows. The VENUE | E6L-192 Engine has always had the processing power to handle these high channel counts, which offers a processing channel for every mic pre in your remote stage boxes, but this represents a major enhancement even for those S6L systems running the E6L-144 Engine which supports 144 input processing channels. Not only does the second AVB-192 Card offer you more inputs than before, but you can now connect up to 192 Stage 64 inputs and switch between them—perfect for festival scenarios where you might be switching assignments between acts and stages. You can even switch between I/O assignments via VENUE Snapshots.

To connect a redundant ring network using three Stage 64 I/O racks:

  1. Connect an audio network cable from Network port A on the back of the S6L control surface to Network port B on the second (middle slot) AVB Network card of the E6L engine.
  2. Connect an audio network cable from Network port A on the first (lowest slot) AVB Network Card of the E6L engine to Network port B on the first Stage 64.
  3. Daisy-chain the first Stage 64 to the second Stage 64 by connecting an Ethernet cable from Network port A on the first Stage 64 to Network port B on the second Stage 64. Connect another Ethernet cable from Network port A on the second Stage 64 to Network port B on the third Stage 64.
  4. (Redundant) To make a redundant audio network connection:
    1. Connect an Ethernet cable from Network port A on the last Stage 64 in the chain to Network port B on the first (lowest slot) AVB Network Card.
    2. Connect an Ethernet cable from Network port A on the second (middle slot) AVB Network card to Network port B on the S6L control surface.
  5. (Optional) To connect to a qualified Pro Tools computer, connect a supported Ethernet cable from Network port C on the S6L control surface to an available Ethernet port on the computer (or to a Thunderbolt port using a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter).*
  6. (Optional) To connect to a router or computer for ECx Ethernet Control, connect a standard Ethernet cable from the port labeled ECx on the S6L control surface to the router or client computer.

* Do not connect network equipment such as routers, hubs and switches to any S6L system Network ports.

Duke Foster mixing monitors for Blue Rodeo

Spill Mode

VCA Spill is a feature that was first introduced in SC48 before making its way into other VENUE consoles along with Group Spill. With VENUE 5.1, this functionality has been significantly enhanced in S6L to include VCA’s, groups, and auxes. If you’re familiar with VENUE’s VCA Spill, it will work the same on S6L–you double press your Attention key and the console will spill the members that are assigned to that VCA onto the faders, offering access to the channels assigned to that VCA. In S6L’s default banking configuration, what we call “Profile mode”, when you bring up your VCA’s on the faders and then spill your VCA’s from there, you can basically stay in this mode the whole show. It’s a very easy way to access everything, and especially useful when your dealing with the high channel counts that S6L supports.

What we’ve done with S6L is to expand this even further by adding Aux Spill, which allows you to spill any channel that is assigned to the aux onto the faders. If the aux send for a channel is turned on, that automatically makes it a member of the aux bus. So when you double press the attention key of an aux bus, you’ll spill its members. Why would you want to do that? Because it allows us to then engage sends on faders. S6L has two distinct workflows that work really well in conjunction.

Imagine the workflow: you’re a monitor engineer and you want to access the mix for the singer on stage who’s monitor mix is fed by Aux 10, and you’ve got all your input channels up. In a conventional sends on faders workflow, you’d access the bus that you want to see the sends for, and then engage sends on faders. The limitation with this conventional workflow is that you’re presented with whatever bank you’re on (for example input channels 1-24), irrespective of whether those channels are actually assigned to Aux 10. For some channels the fader might be down at minus infinity with no send going to that bus. What you really want is a more filtered view, where you’re only getting those channels that are assigned to the aux.

That’s the beauty of S6L’s new Aux Spill—it takes advantage of two workflows simultaneously. First you’ll spill the aux master to get the channels assigned to the bus, and then engage sends on faders. The result is the control surface send contribution on the fader for only the channels assigned to the bus.

Spilling is done by double pressing the Attention key, and engaging sends on faders is done by pressing the solo button—the AFL for the output bus (make sure the “Sends on Fader Follows AFL” option is active in the OPTIONS > Busses page). If you go into the Options > Interaction page of the software and link solo and attention, you can keep the console in this mode for the whole show if you wish. At that point you engage the spill, AFL up the channel, and anything that you attention or solo from that point on will spill and give you the sends on faders, offering you quick access to all the relevant elements in the bus you’re working on.

Although operating Aux Spill is very simple from the control surface, we’ve made it even faster by integrating it into S6L’s Universe Screen. The whole point of the Universe Screen is to provide you with quick access to any element that exists in the massive collection of channels, and with VENUE 5.1, you now have a Spill button in the function bar of the Universe Screen for auxes, groups, and VCA’s. By using the Universe Screen and putting the console into Inputs Mode where all faders are inputs channels, you can just spill stuff from the screen—you don’t even need to see the VCA master. If you’ve got one of your flex channels (the two faders at the top of the master section) assigned to follow the “attentioned” channel, it will always give you the master of the spilled members. This is a seriously powerful new workflow that gives you unprecedented speed in accessing and tweaking your channels.

S6L at FOH for Carols by Candlelight in Adelaide, Australia

Enhanced visual feedback

S6L’s Channel Knob Modules (the sections above the faders with 32 encoders) feature a high resolution OLED display that displays the information for its associated encoder. VENUE 5.1 makes it easier than ever to mix and navigate using this section by improving the visual feedback provided by the OLED displays. The encoder is not only a knob, but pressing it toggles the channel for whatever is function is assigned to it—for example, aux send on/off. The OLED displays what parameter is currently assigned, and when you press it, the center of the ‘halo’ graphic illuminates showing that the function is engaged. Additionally, the parameter name is displayed on top, the parameter value is below it, the function of the associated “select” switch and “in” switch are shown down at the bottom left. This enhanced visual feedback will make it much easier for you to see the status of each know at a glance when you’re scanning across the console.

Improved Show file compatibility

Finally, Show file compatibility with other VENUE systems has been improved with the addition of automatic configuration of FX returns. In the legacy VENUE systems, FX returns are a completely different kind of channel than an input channel, which is how the S6L system handles them. So if you’ve got a show file from Profile and bring it into S6L, the software is now clever enough to identify your Profile FX returns and will automatically preconfigure some of your S6L input processing channels to behave like FX returns. Let’s say, for example, that you have a 48 input show file built on Profile. When it’s time to import the show file into S6L, it will automatically map your 48 inputs 1 for 1 and then place your stereo effects returns starting from channels 49 onwards. S6L will also preconfigure those inputs to behave like an effects return—it will make the channels stereo and keep the channel names from your original Show file. And unlike the old FX returns which had a reduced EQ and no dynamics processing, in S6L these channels have complete channel processing, including a 4-band parametric EQ, compressor, and gate.

Gerard Albo mixing the a-ha world tour

As you can see, the VENUE 5.1 software update represents a major increase in S6L’s power and flexibility, and we encourage all customers to log in to their Avid Account and upgrade their systems with this no-cost download.


VENUE | S6L Now Available

The next stage in live sound is here—with the award-winning VENUE | S6L system, you can take on the world’s most demanding productions with ease.

Sr. Marketing Manager for Avid Live Sound Systems and Music Notation. I previously worked at Euphonix and E-MU Systems before joining Avid.