I am the Performing Arts Center Director for the High School I teach at. We are in the process of developing requirements for the equipment retrofit that will be happening this school year. Part of this retrofit involves going to all digital audio. I am recommending the Avid SC48 ( have used this console mixing for several churches.) but the consultant wants to place the Allen Heath ilive. We currently use Protools LE 7 for recording all of the campus based musical events( Band, Choir, Orchestra) and live mixing( we have hosted concerts from Ricky Skaggs, large church Bands, Ballets, Musicals, and straight theatre events). We also use the current equipment as a digital audio workstation for FX creation and music manipulation for the Theatre Department. I am currently refitting a room next to the current Audio equipment location as a dead room to have a small recording studio to offer better quality recordings for students who are creating audition pieces and demo tracks for school. I have not had any opportunity to get my hands on a iLive yet, but thought I might get some feed back from others about it. Based on how we currently use the existing equipment, which of the 2 console would fit our needs best. What makes one console better than the other based on our requirements. If you need further info before answering then let me know and I will fill in any info you need. Cost/cost difference is not a major issue so I am focusing on performance, quality, flexibility, and more bang for the Buck. I believe it is with the SC48 but believ getting as much info as possible is the first step. Thank you for any information you can provide me.
I am personally a fan of Allen & Heath and have been for years. I have owned 4 A&H mixers, including the ILive T-112 and iDr48. I chose it partly because of my satisfaction from past experience and moreso because I like their design philosophy of this board. I do not have experience with the Avid and I'm quite aware of some of the prevailing prejudice against A&H in some circles. I would not hesitate to suggest this board.
Both are fine consoles which are plenty capable of doing the job, but there are two things which (in my opinion) make the SC48 the right choice: your current Pro Tools integration, and the fact that you appear to host touring and outside acts. The SC48, being a Venue product, is generally more rider friendly at the B and C-level national act level than the A&H (at least it is in my market), and it integrates with Pro Tools very well (obviously). Those two things put it over the top.
As far as functionality, both consoles do basically the same things. The SC48's TDM plugin compatibility would be a plus in my book over the iLive, but whether you need that sort of functionality for school PAC work is another question.
Unfortunately I have to agree that the Avid is probably more rider-friendly though I do what I can to change that perception. For now my live sound activities are more of a part-time activity, so I do have some luxury of not having to make a living with it. Having used A&H for many years, I have to say I believe that they are highly under-rated, but the reality of the perceptions still exist.
Overall the mistakes in technique often far outweigh the differences in any real advantage of any mixer.
I haven't any background with the Avid so I cannot speak to their layout or functionality versus the iLive. I can only say that I am happy with the design and functionality of the iLive. However it is probably true that your barriers to entry in the sound business would be less with the Avid.
I did get a chance to use a Soundcraft Si2 recently and I will say that I found it's layout less friendly. Due to the room acoustics and design of the remaining PA I don't feel I can critique the sound quality, and I saw first-hand evidence that inputs were being blown at times when connecting inputs. I'm sure it is quite capable. However I found a number of features less desirable for me that the iLive.