For years, I've been using Soundcraft mixers, and it was the console in the first studio I worked in. It was also my brand of choice, when I bought my first console.
The Ui24r is a faithful Soundcraft mixer, just in a less conventional form factor ...
When given the opportunity to review and use this new digital rack mixer, my biggest question naturally was, "Does this sound like a Soundcraft?"
Good news! It is a faithful Soundcraft mixer, just in a less conventional form factor. It sounds great and also has several nice features, that makes it a good choice for churches, coffee shops and bands.
This 24-input console has 20 Studer-designed preamps, 10 aux outs, and a direct-to-USB drive recording feature. Plus, it has excellent, name-brand processing by Lexicon, dbx, and DigiTech.
The Soundcraft Ui24r would be an ideal choice for musicians on the move. For example, the unit can be put in a rack, but it is built tough and can be set up as a stage box just as easily. Setup for a guitar, singer, and powered speakers only takes a few minutes.
Unlike some rack units that require either a physical connection to a computer, AVB switch, or WiFi access point, the Ui24r has a built-in WiFi network, eliminating some of that extra equipment and IT know-how. Plus, the inclusion of physical main output volume knobs was a great convenience for quick adjustments.
It's called the "Ui" series and certainly the user interface was a main focus here. I was a bit apprehensive that the software, being browser-based, rather than a dedicated mobile app. Without any physical controllers on the mixer out than headphones and main out volumes, I was concerned about the speed of navigating the system.
However, the Ui software far surpassed my initial expectations. The way the user can page from managing preamps, to working the main mix, to adjusting an aux bus is easy and natural.
Without consulting the manual or help videos on the website, I was fluidly setting my levels, loading presets, customizing effects, and mixing the show.
The Ui focuses on big faders, big controls, and many levels of navigation. This spreads the information out to form easy, at-a-glance controls. Where some manufacturers jam as much information on one screen as possible, that design can slow down the experience of quickly and accurately running your mixer.
Trying to quickly turn a virtual EQ knob on an iPad when there is not enough room in the software design can be a clumsy experience. The Soundcraft layout, though, of big, easy to use controls, actually sped up my workflow, compared to similar products.
Also, using browser-based software instead of a dedicated app was not a major obstacle. I could get my personal device on to the mixer quickly, without needing to visit an app store.
In the time I used it, I never found the browser interface to be any hindrance in terms of workflow, connectivity, or latency.
Soundcraft set out to make its own rack mixer, rather than a clone of similar products. The brand name partnerships with Studer, Lexicon, dbx and DigiTech are all great inclusions that can set this unit apart from others in its class. For example, guitarists that want a light load in and minimalist setup will enjoy the two channels of DigiTech amp modeling; They can plug in directly from the guitar and start playing quickly without a big setup required. The dbx feedback suppression on the aux busses, the dbx channel processing, and Lexicon effects reduce the need to look out of the box to other equipment.
In summary, the Soundcraft Ui24r is definitely worth consideration for those looking for a mixer that sounds great with minimal setup. Mobile churches especially should consider the Ui24r for its rich features, ease of use, and portability.