Soundcraft's new Si Expression mixing consoles combine all the power of digital with the usability and functionality of analog. I received a 24-channel Si Expression 2 for this "Hands On" article - Soundcraft also makes the 16-channel Si Expression 1 and the 32-channel Si Expression 3. (All three models feature up to 66 channels for processing.) Each input channel has an XLR mic input with preamp and phantom power; four line ins are provided on 1/4" connectors. There are also 16 XLR balanced outputs. Rounding out the I/O are AES digital ins and outs, MIDI I/O, and a word clock in.
There's so much power in this console; we're talking, for example, four independent Lexicon effects processors, and EQ and dynamics on every channel. But even with all that power, it's easy to navigate the Si Expression. The front panel has a large section up top, with dedicated control sections, knobs, and switches for input, dynamics, EQ, and output, which follows whatever channel you select. No paging through menus to grab those oft-used controls; they're right there under your fingers. The motorized faders give you instant feedback on how your mix is dialed.
The master section includes four mute groups, global mode switches, headphone out and level control, effects control, and a touchscreen for managing everything. An expansion card slot allows for a variety of additional functionality, including interfacing with a recording system. You'll find the Si Expression fast to learn and very fast to use - wielding an iPad running the Soundcraft ViSi app streamlines it even further.
Of course, the crux of the biscuit is that Si Expression consoles sound great, and they have the complement of features required for live sound, whether you're rocking a band or providing sound for worship. If you're an old hand with live sound consoles or new to the game, the Si Expression is a mixer that will do the job for you, with stellar results!