Based in Orinda, California, just outside Berkeley, Diablo Digital specializes in live recording systems for tours, festivals and outside broadcasts. With the motto “It’s live. We get it” the company has worked with an impressive roster of bands, including U2, Florence & the Machine, Katy Perry and The Rolling Stones.
Digital Diablo Founder Brad Madix and sound engineer Greg Price have over 45 years’ experience in live sound production between them and they rely heavily on Sonnet products to deliver a second-to-none live recording service.
We started with the xMac mini server, RackMac mini and the Echo Express III-R, which was the workhorse of the company for a long time,comments Brad.When we were first deploying the Echo III-R we thought it would be great if we could have a 2U unit that had the three PCI slots AND the computer in it. We've been talking with Sonnet about that for some time and the DuoModo materialized!
Greg Price adds:The DuoModo module here at Diablo Digital has the xMac mini module and the Echo III module. The Echo III module allows us to embed three Avid HDX cards. That gives us 192 tracks at 96K!Diablo Digital pairing the unit up with the Avid matrix products so they can ingest both Dante and MADI.It’s four rack spaces giving us 192 channels of record. It's really huge,says Greg.A band like U2, they're topping out at 128 tracks. Now we can afford them 192 tracks at 96K. They're going to be thrilled.The fact that the xMac mini module supports M.2 NVMe storage is key. Diablo Digital has installed two 2TB, M.2 SSD cards for 4TB of SSD on board.It's super handy that it also has a USB port for the Pro Tools iLok, so that the iLok fits inside the xMac mini module, as opposed to dangling out the back, or run off to a cable on the side, which is how we've had to handle it before,added Madix.
On the front of the xMac mini module there’s a range of easy access ports.
Somebody can transfer their file to a drive, or if you have a Thunderbolt 3 drive, you can record directly to it - just come out the front and hand that off to the client, right after the show.
The Apple Mac mini, in this configuration, is so powerful. It outperforms a laptop and it's really industrial. It’s a really underestimated computer,adds Madix.With the last Intel version and the current version of ProTools, we were ingesting 192 tracks, via Dante, to the matrix and recording 192 tracks at one time in a 192 by 192 mix matrix, within ProTools, and the CPU usage on the computer was running at approximately 2%. The computer itself is hardly doing any of the work, which means it's less likely to crash. In fact, we've yet to see it actually crash. So, we’re porting basically all of the required power onto the HDX cards and all of the matrixing into the matrix.
We don't just send a box out. We do rigorous testing,says Price.We've recorded hundreds of hours on this thing already. Some of it just in the shop here, putting it through its paces. Just to make sure it will record and playback day in, day out without any issues. Madix asserts:It's rock solid. And that's critical because it's not acceptable at a live concert, to lose the recording, or for the computer to crash or to lose communication with the HDX cards. There's a very, very low tolerance for failure on these things and so far, the DuoModo has really held up great.
Reliability and dependability are crucial factors. Price explains why:
Remember, this gear goes in an airplane. It goes on a bus. It goes on trucks, bumping up and down the highway in Brazil. Guess what? The Sonnet rig comes back in perfect condition.Diablo Digital has been working with Sonnet for several years now, and they just love the relationship, the DuoModo, the xMac mini and the Echo III modules in it.It’s a game changer for us. It's really going to consolidate our systems and make them even more powerful. We need to be able to count on that and we can count on Sonnet, concludes Madix.
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