A Big Team Effort Delivers Soundcraft's Latest Digital Console Platform
“The launch of the Soundcraft Si3 is the culmination of a real ground-up research programme – an Engineers dream opportunity,” according to Stefan Ledergerber, Vice President of R&D for Soundcraft and Studer. “The console is completely new - new DSP, new light-weight surface materials, new user interface with newly developed - distributed display technologies, all designed to meet a new lower price point, whilst providing the customer with more new features.”
James Shears, Product Manager (whose track record includes the hugely successful Soundcraft GB Series and LX7ii) added, “When we started the Si3 project, our initial objective was to develop a technology platform that would provide us the flexibility to spin more models out downstream. Having secured a significant market position with the Vi Series and at the very top-end of the market, the Studer Vista 5 SR, we wanted to launch the first Si Series into the mid-low range price point but offer â€˜more than the rest'.”
Shears continues, “Our intention is to provide engineers still using analogue consoles an easy transition to digital through simply switching to the Si3. This is a single box solution – you take your old analogue console out, and drop this one in its place – simple! The user-interface is precisely designed to align with current user interfaces and engineers' â€˜comfort zones'. We see it perfectly positioned for installations, touring and particularly suitable for house of worship applications. In fact we carefully selected beta test users to specifically represent these markets just to ensure we've designed into the specs what these type of customers need.”
Matt Rowe is the R&D Project Manager for the Si3. Matt transferred from the BSS team to lead the engineers developing the Si.
Rowe describes in a bit more detail about what's under the bonnet (hood!). “Inside the Si3 is a totally new DSP engine – we call it EMMA which stands for â€˜Embedded Multi-processor Mixing Architecture'. Being custom designed and using embedded software provides us the absolute maximum processing power with minimal latency all on a single board – in other words - it's designed to mix audio, and only audio - unlike many processors that are designed for general pc activities.”
He continues, “We structured the team in such a manner as to enable as much concurrent engineering as possible. Cross functional groups were given individual responsibilities for various parts of the programme; there's the EMMA team, surface design and styling (incorporating Studer frame design techniques), screen design, GUI and software writers. At various stages we went through an integration phase where we connect it all together and see how it looks and works.
All of this is managed on our web-based Product Lifecycle Management system (PLM) which ensures we're driven through review-stage-gates involving the management of every function of the company.
Production and service departments have been heavily involved from day one and at all stages of the process to ensure we're firstly following our DfM (Design for Manufacturing) rules guaranteeing that this is a product we can manufacture to high quality standards, and secondly, that we have designed in all the features to make it serviceable and simple to provide routine maintenance for our distribution partners.
Contributing to this, we pioneered a new knowledge-based tool for PCB rule checking that speeds up our time to production for new boards. The system is interfaced to Harman's Global component libraries which gave us confidence in the new designs and maximum benefits on price and supply.”
Ledergerber concluded, “I'm looking forward to the team being there to see the launch and hear the customers' comments first hand. We've had a number of pre-launch visitors come to see it at the Potters Bar factory and they have left very excited. But we all have to keep focused as digital consoles enable us to develop new software features over and over, so we'll be back in the office the next morning developing even more features!”
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