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Road-Tested:Korg MW-1608 Hybrid Analogue Digital Mixer

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Road-Tested:Korg MW-1608 Hybrid Analogue Digital Mixer

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As gigs start their most awaited comeback we had one of our experienced technicians take the Korg MW1608 out for a spin. Christian Peterson is a veteran of audio, having worked on prestigious productions like the Cirque du Soleil, Kooza, Toruk and Corteo in Australia and abroad.

Here is Christian’s experience with the Korg MW1608 Hybrid Analogue Digital console at a recent performance.

This week, I road-tested the new Korg MW-1608 hybrid analogue/digital mixer, on a show here in Perth, Western Australia. This particular concert is one of a quarterly series, put on by a local private college’s production company, and held in their performing arts theatre.

An assortment of musical genres and instrumentation, these shows are held on the stage, with the audience seated in a semi-circle around the band onstage also. The theatre staff spend a lot of time creating a beautiful, intimate atmosphere, and these performances demand the same aesthetics sonically.

The chosen act for the night was an eight-piece Persian-inspired jazz act, which featured several traditional Iranian instruments, such as the setar, nay and oud. Supporting these was an upright bassist, drummer, saxophonist, trumpeter and pianist- who was seated at an incredible Fazioli grand piano.

The acoustic pallet onstage called for an equally impressive audio system, so with the power of Adamson’s CS7P cabinets as the PA, a range of microphones from AKG (including C451’s and a C414) and the Korg MW 1608, the night was set for success.

Setting up the mixer was a breeze, as it feels like driving an analogue board; you can get audio in and out and fast as you can plug the microphone in. There’s no guesswork, as everything is right at your fingertips. The difference here is the built-in digital features that set this apart from your regular analogue console- graphic EQ’s, fantastic effects and a record-out function go a long way in this format.

In addition, the pre-amps designed by industry-veterans Greg Mackie and Peter Watts had plenty of gain available- several of the instruments onstage needed a hefty amount of gain due to the delicate nature of their playing, and the MW 1608 had plenty available without introducing hiss or issues related to the noise floor. The one-knob compressor was another valuable tool that I used on the upright bass and oud, mostly. It was subtle enough to keep the dynamics alive, yet maintain the consistency of the player’s intent throughout the evening.

The unique part of these shows is they’re all filmed and recorded for the artist, so I gave the video team a mix from the console, via the auxiliary outs. I could dial in a separate mix and incorporate the room mics I had set up without compromising the FOH send. In these environments where the sound reinforcement is a careful balance of what’s heard acoustically, you need to have a completely different mix for a video recording.

The MW 1608 also has a USB record/playback feature, and I used this as the back-up recording device for the show. On the latest M1-powered MacBook Air, there was no driver download required, and my DAW saw the device instantly. The audio is automatically routed from the main bus, so it really is a plug-and-play solution for recording live shows, or studio recordings.

What astonished me, is how easy the board was to walk up to and work on- it was as if I’d used it before! Despite there being a number of features I hadn’t even touched (such as the feedback control system and the musician’s phones monitor section), I felt I had all the tools for the show in one format, and would gladly take this board out for shows such as this in future.

The SoundLink range of Korg mixers come in two variants; the MW-2408 and the MW-1608 and retail for $2999 and $2499, respectively.

By Christian Peterson

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