SOS Magazine Review | CADAC LIVE1

Published in SOS January 2013

Cadac’s large-format consoles are legendary in touring theatre circles, but their Live 1 range aims to clean up in the compact-mixer market…

Hugh Robjohns

The Cadac mixing-console brand has been associated with live-sound applications — and theatre sound, in particular — since the company’s inception in 1967, and Cadac have built an enviable record in those marketplaces. Now under Chinese ownership, the company’s current range includes both analogue and digital products, with the huge and totally customisable J-Type automated console being their analogue flagship. Cadac’s S-type is a more modest (but still very sophisticated) fixed frame-size console, available in 17-, 25- and 33-channel versions, all with fully balanced bussing to eight groups, plus stereo main outputs, 10 auxes and eight DC masters! The company also make two digital console variants; the compact 16-channel CDC Four (which loosely resembles Yamaha’s DM1000), and the very much larger CDC Eight, which can accommodate up to 128 input channels!

These are all seriously high-end consoles, of course, and built to a specification rather than a price. Total reliability over long and arduous working lives is designed in as an essential quality. Naturally, the prices reflect this level of engineering, and so the biggest 128 channel CDC Eight digital console can be yours for a cool £96,000, while the S-Type analogue consoles cost from £44,400 down to £26,400. Even the ‘baby’ CDC Four digital console costs around £7000 — so still pretty serious money. Nonetheless, the customer base is very loyal, because they know that they are paying for world-class engineering and getting exactly that.

As you can see, Cadac have never really produced a ‘compact’ analogue mixer before — their previous designs have all been highly sophisticated and relatively large modular constructions, all carefully optimised for the demands and rigours of large-scale theatre and touring markets. So the announcement of the new Cadac Live 1 series of compact, non-modular analogue consoles at the Pro Light & Sound Association exhibition last year garnered a lot of interest and excitement.

The company say that the Live 1 has been developed using the most modern computer-aided design and manufacturing techniques available, and it is that approach that has enabled them to produce the new Live 1 console with “unrivalled quality and performance” for the price — which ranges from just under £7000 in the UK for the range-topping 3242 model, down to a little below £4000 for the base 1642 version. The mid-range 2442 channel console reviewed here costs around £5400. So we’re still not talking bargain budgets, but the price is directly comparable to many similarly sized and specified high-end consoles.

Overview

Here you can see the layouts for the mono and stereo input channel strips (with white and red fader caps, respectively), the four mono buses (blue caps), the two stereo aux returns (red caps) and the master section (grey cap). Unusually, the six aux masters are controlled via faders, rather than knobs. The Live 1 is very obviously designed as an FOH or monitor console for live-sound and theatre applications, although it would also make a great tracking console for location recording duties. It could be employed in a recording studio environment at a push, but it lacks some essential monitoring features for that market and isn’t ideally suited.

From first sight, the console is unmistakably a Cadac design, with its very solid construction and light-brown, one-piece control panel, covered with a dense collection of small but elegant knobs and 100mm, long-throw faders. The console’s compact wedge profile is slightly extended at the front to incorporate a traditional wooden armrest, which adds to the classic British design styling.

Download a PDF of the SOS Article here.

LIFT Distribution is the US distributor for CADAC Holdings Limited