After spending more than a decade as the premier mixing desk on Broadway and other live shows, Cadac slipped into analog oblivion for a while as digital consoles became the go-to choice. Years after many digital desks of all abilities and sizes have flooded the market, Cadac came back last year with what looks to be a very smart digital console: the CDC Eight series.
While Cadac is admittedly late to the digital game, it seems that the copmany was sitting on the bench, learning from the competition, and listening to designers and engineers. The desk looks to be a culmination of what we’ve all come to love on some consoles and despise on others. I love how straightforward the Yamaha PM5D is, but some users don’t like the layers of screens and Yamaha-based logic. I love how incredibly flexible the DiGiCo SD7T is, but some dislike how many different ways you can do the same thing and how long it takes to feel comfortable. With the CDC Eight, what you see is what you get, and what you get is pretty much what you want.
According to Cadac, one thing hasn’t changed in its move from analog to digital is the sound quality. A bit of history: The Cadac brand was built on seriously pristine sound and sophisticated automation software (SAM). The engineers spent time making sure that the Cadac standard of quality is at the forefront of its flagship digital product. “This is a Cadac. No, really. A C-a-d-a-c.” And what I find intriguing is that with this, the company has to introduce itself to some smaller budget markets for the first time.
In the days of analog, only big-time shows got their hands on Cadac consoles. They were expensive, large (and heavy!), and required maintenance. You’d never find one in a church or with a touring band. With this venture, the desk is much more accessible. It is priced to compete with Yamaha, Digico, Studer, and Avid for sure. Bring on the churches, regional theatres, and rock 'n' roll, baby. With that, Cadac has been trying hard to explain the history behind the desk. It’s a funny place to be, trying to say “We’re so good, you may never have heard of us.”
The CDC Eight console is configured with 128 input channels (and can accommodate up to twice that) and 48 buss outputs (eight of which are fixed, 40 are floating). That’s an impressive I/O ratio for any console. All processing is at 96kHz and 24-bits via the eight SHARC processors. The desk centers around an impressive 24” beautiful touchscreen. There is a clean row of 16 encoder knobs along the top (aligning with the 16 channel strips) and 12 encoder knobs down the side. Cadac describes this interface as "nimble" and "seriously simple." There aren’t any layers to shuffle through, and it’s said the console "will show you what you want to see, when you want to see it." The designers suspect that, after five minutes behind the console, any experienced engineer will feel like he or she knows the console. It’s just that easy, that clear, that familiar.
Physically, the CDC Eight is available in two frame sizes, 16 or 32 faders. Either desk can do the same thing, but it’s just a matter of how big a control surface you want. The CDC Eight-32 has 16 faders with a 24” touchscreen on the left, a small center section (with a 6" touch screen) and then a second 16-fader and 24” touchscreen bank on the right. Within this physical layout, you can flip through all of your input banks, all of your output banks, and your VCA bank, of which you can have an impressive 16 VCAs, something that was available on the analog Cadac J-Type but hasn’t been seen in a digital console yet. The bulk of your I/O resides in a stage rack that can live up to 300' away from the control surface. Stage racks are made up of a 64 input-by-48 output box, and you can add a 64-input only box. There is also a select amount of local I/O at the control surface.
Cadac has also announced a sidecar expansion console (CDC Eight-16S) that adds another 16 faders and an additional touchscreen to either of the CDC Eight consoles. Cadac is hoping this scalability will help the console appeal to rental shops and various applications throughout the industry.
According to Cadac, what the CDC Eight adds up to is an appealing package: the finest sounding, easiest to use, most flexible, affordable digital desk out there. That’s an impressive goal, but with Cadac’s extensive history of being a leader in serious mixing consoles, combined with the smart design of the CDC Eight, it just might be time that goal is achieved.