Avid S6 Modular Control Surface

Scalable control surface for Avid Pro Tools

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Industry-standard Pro Tools meets the Avid S6, a forward-thinking, user-configurable, scalable control surface

The Avid S6 modular control surface combines the myriad advantages of digital audio technology with the ergonomic response and feel of large-format analog consoles. Designed to be the physical manifestation of Avid’s Pro Tools software, the modular approach of the S6 not only allows audio professionals to “spec out” and configure a console precisely for their needs (just like days of analog when Malcolm Toft and Barry Porter designed and built the A-series desk for Trident Studios), it also can also accommodate future growth. With the Avid S6, you can start with a basic system and add fader packs and rotary control modules as need dictates. The Avid S6 comes in two flavors, the M40 version, which allows you to expand the S6 up to a 64-fader mixer, while the M10, geared for smaller spaces, expands up to 24 faders.

As audio engineers have long been aware, to achieve the best performances, the recording process needs to be invisible to the artist. The Avid S6 embodies the same invisibility between its functionality and Pro Tools, which is why it’s the first choice for mix engineers and recording professionals.

Avid S6 Modular Control Surface in one take:

  • Highly cost-effective, custom-configurable control surface lets you select only the modules and options you need
  • Custom-configure system both horizontally and vertically to match your workflow, plus room to grow
  • Precision controls combined with flawless ergonomics enable you to mix faster with ease
  • Multipoint touchscreen provides convenient access to multiple aspects of your mix
  • Detailed visual feedback and versatile metering
  • Seamless integration with Pro Tools
  • Able to control Logic Pro, Cubase, and other EUCON-enabled DAWs
  • Incredibly responsive, integrated control via high-speed EUCON connectivity
  • Control up to eight audio workstations simultaneously—even remotely across multiple rooms
  • Configure, scale, and reconfigure the surface easily via Ethernet network

Superior Ergonomics

The ergonomics of present-day analog consoles evolved over time, but always in accordance with recording workflow and human physiology. Workflows change, but human physiology doesn’t. However, not all digital control surfaces that emulate analog consoles offer the same feel and straightforward functionality. Avid engineers understand that a digital control surface doesn’t have to pass audio in order to be an effective mix tool, but it has to feel like it does. By combining innovations and technologies derived from Avid’s ICON live sound mixers and industry-leading System 5 (formerly Euphonix) control surface technologies, the S6 is perfect synthesis of digital control and analog feel.

 Avid S6 Modular Scalability

Future proofing has been a promise of digital technology that it failed to keep due to ever-shorter periods of relevance followed by rapid upgrades breaking existing software. For studio owners, the goal became holding out with what you had for as long as possible before your equipment or software was no longer supported. In response to the frustrations of digital studio owners, Avid has devised a revolutionary means of extending the life and usefulness of the S6 control surface by taking each processing section of the console modular and expandable. From its inception, stability has been the Pro Tools’ prime directive, if you will. The S6 can add software features and “learn” new hardware, while the size and physical configuration of the S6 can also grow. The combination of Avid Pro Tools and Avid’s S6 Modular Control Surface will keep your studio on the cutting edge for the long haul.

While the scalability of the S6 is an important feature, not everyone wants or needs to design a custom system. For those users, the S6 comes pre-configured systems. (Read more.)

Avid S6 M40 and M10 Configuration Options

The Avid S6 Modular Control Surface is available in two form factors. The M40 is geared for larger facilities with the ability to add up to 64 faders. The M10 is a more affordable version for smaller rooms and project studios looking for large-format functionality with a smaller footprint.

Avid S6 M40—The M40 is the large-format version of the Avid S6. While it may be the conventional wisdom to say that the M40 is for large productions, world-class studios, post-production facilities, and A-list mix engineers, the scalability of the S6 M40 allows a small or mid-level studio owner to plan for and accommodate success and future growth. With the M40 Master Touch Module (MTM) you can build a 46-module system with up to 64 faders, nine control knobs per channel, plus two additional Expand Zones (see knob modules). The M40 MTM also supports the Display Mode, which provides high-resolution metering and waveform display, plus the ability to control up to eight simultaneous workstation connections.

Avid S6 M10—The M10 is built for DAW users who want a major step up in functionality from entry-level control surfaces, but don’t require, or have space for the large format M40. The M10 Master Touch Module allows you to build a system of up to 14 modules and 24 faders with up to 5 knobs per channel (plus one additional for Expand Zones). The M10 supports up to 2 simultaneous workstation connections (Display Module not supported).

Avid S6Avid S6 Master Touch Module—Control Surface Engine

Like the master section of a large-format console but so much more, the Master Touch Module is the central nervous system of the S6, and a prerequisite component of all S6 M40 and M10 control surfaces. The Master Touch Module comes in two formats (M40 & M10), which determine the size and scalability of the S6. Both M40 and M10 Master Touch Modules feature a tilting 12.1-inch multipoint touchscreen with eight rotary encoders (four on each side of the screen), plus dedicated knobs and keys for banking and navigation, and user-configurable functions.

The Master Touch Module has the ability to access function and views for every parameter of the S6. It has meter scrolling at the top of the unit and track scrolling at base of the screen, which allow you to navigate through high track counts with the swipe of your finger and select tracks to be processed. The touch screen has a matrix view of up to 72 track buttons that also allow you to select tracks for processing. Touching or swiping the Function scroller lets you access views for various control parameters including dynamics, panning, EQ, inserts, sends, inputs and preamps, metering, channel fader, busses, groups, instrument, and HEAT. (Harmonically Enhanced Algorithm Technology software allows customers to add the realism of vintage analog sound to the Pro Tools mixer via a single global control.)

Master Modules—The Avid S6 Command Center

Avid S6Automation Module—The Automation Module lets you write automation and navigate projects quickly and easily. While the Automation Module is optional, anyone who’s used a control surface finds it the most used section—in essence, a resting position for the right hand. The Automation Module is included in all preconfigured systems. However, if you’re configuring a custom S6 M40, you’ll definitely want one. Along with a shuttle/jog wheel, it features a complete transport control section, focus fader, automation control, color shortcut displays and switches, a numeric keypad, and more.

Avid S6 Joystick Module—An available option for both S6 M40 and M10, the Joystick Module provides comprehensive controls to mix surround sound projects. It features dual touch-sensitive joysticks to position sound precisely in the surround field. Control sound positioning, divergence (distributing sound across front LCR speakers), and more using the two LED top-lit encoders, 16 panning mode switches with color LEDs, and other panning control switches. Plus, it can be used to control any other knob parameter on S6 to create a wide range of effects.

The Joystick Module also has a 3.2-inch TFT display. The display employs thin-film transistor (TFT) technology, which is a variant of the liquid crystal display with an active matrix (as opposed to simple direct-driven LCDs). TFTs improve image quality, sharpness, and contrast, while reducing eyestrain. TFTs are also more energy efficient and give off less heat. Along with the TFT display, the Joystick Module also has OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays. OLEDs consume less power than crystal displays, produce sharper images, and offer a wider viewing angle, which comes in very handy when you have to move your mix position.

Avid S6 Post Module—Another feature derived from Euphonix’ industry-leading post production consoles, the S6 Post Module is a mixing/monitoring option that enables you to work much more efficiently when mixing multiple channels and stems (e.g. dialog, music, FX, localized FX, and print master). Available for all S6 systems, the Post Module features two rows of 10 PEC/Direct paddles* that provide seamless switching between two signals, recorded tracks/stems and their inputs, with the ability to punch into record.

Because you can match levels and EQ between recorded stems and input, you can drop in changes for the producer on the fly, making the process faster and easier. Each PEC/Direct paddle has solo and mute buttons and an OLED that displays track/stem names.

For even greater flexibility, stems can be spread (aka spill) onto adjacent paddles for individual control, plus you can create soft keys to perform complex tasks instantly. The S6 Post Module also has a speaker control section that allows you to switch between monitors and dim, cut, or fold down your mix. Plus, VCA support on the paddles enables you to control over 200 tracks with ease.

* Paddles are 2-way vertically mounted switches named for their physical resemblance to fraternity or parochial school spanking paddles (TMI?)

Channel Modules—Essential Mix Controls And Metering

From faders and knobs to processing and metering, channel modules provide the control and visual feedback to craft your mix. All modules feature high-speed Ethernet connectivity for easy set-up and reliability. All channel modules, with the exception of the TFT Display Modules, have high-resolution OLED displays, which provide a deeper black background and brighter display than any type of LCD screen. OLED displays are perfect for low-light environments.

Avid S6 Fader Module—Each of the Fader Module’s eight channels feature a 100mm motorized fader with HQ brushless motors for smooth operation during subtle fader moves. Alongside each fader are dual 32-segment LED meters that display level and gain reduction. The eight OLED displays keep you apprised of current automation mode as well as track names.

S6 Fader Module in one take:

  • 8 OLEDs display full track names and automation mode
  • 8 HQ brushless motorized faders for smooth analog feel
  • Dual tri-color LED meters per channel (with gain-reduction metering)
  • Control levels for eight simultaneous tracks
  • Mute, solo, and other switches with color LEDs

Avid S6

The Fader Module has an automation delta display that tracks automation changes. There are 11 switches per channel, including attention key, mute, solo, select, automation, and others, with color LEDs for easy identification. At the bottom of the S6 Fader Module is a row of full-color modifier keys and additional function keys that match the selected track color in Pro Tools. You can build a 64-fader M40 control surface with eight Fader Modules, or a 24-fader system (three modules) in an M10.

 Avid S6 Process Module—The Process Module lets you select process modes for the Avid S6knob modules, allowing control of up to nine simultaneous encoder values. It comprises eight channel strips, each with an OLED display and freely assignable, multi-color top-lit knob that complements the rotary controls on the Knob Module. Each channel has 22 dedicated function-select switches per channel with color LEDs for easy visual confirmation. The channel switches control functions including, inputs and remote mic preamp (hold for instruments); insert plug-in view (hold for HEAT); dynamics view; EQ view; instrument track view; sends view; panning view; bus assignments; clear mode; global bypass; group assignment; editing mode; and expand mode, which “spills” parameters across multiple controls on any Knob or Process Module.

S6 Process Module in one take:

  • Mode selectors for Knob Modules to control up to nine simultaneous encoder values
  • 22 function-select switches per channel with color LEDs
  • 8 multicolor LED top-lit knobs (one per channel)
  • 8 OLED displays for labels and visual feedback

Avid S6Avid S6 Knob Module—The Knob Module comprises eight channel strips, each with four multicolor top-lit knobs and a corresponding OLED display that shows encoder function, position, and values. With control of 32 simultaneous encoder values, these knobs control EQ, dynamics, sends, and pan. There are also 11 additional function-select switches per channel including, navigation, insert, and select switches with color status LEDs. Expand Mode breaks out the parameters of the selected function (EQ, dynamics) on the channel strip to encoders within the local knob module. Parameters map in a logical and predictable manner for both Avid and 3rd-party plug-ins.

Avid S6 Knob Module in one take:

  • Control up to 32 simultaneous encoder values; stack two Knob Modules to get up to nine knobs per channel (S6 M40-based surfaces only)
  • 32 multicolor LED top-lit knobs (four per channel)
  • 32 OLED displays for labels and visual feedback
  • 11 function-select switches per channel with color LEDs
  • Works in conjunction with the Process Module

 Two knob modules can be stacked on the M40 for nine knobs per channel (including the bottom row of encoders on the Process Module), and a single row on the M10 for up to five knobs per channel.

Avid S6Avid S6 Display Module—Available on M40 systems only, the Display Module provides the visual connection between control surface and DAW. More than a display, it’s a fully networked EUCON module with an integrated processor that performs all graphics rendering without touching your DAW’s CPU. The missing link of large-format control surfaces, the Display Module supports all Pro Tools metering modes and provides an extraordinary and unprecedented level of visual feedback, including high-resolution metering, scrolling waveforms in the same track color as the DAW, and clip names.

Avid S6 Display Module in one take:

  • 8-channel high-resolution TFT display
  • Provides deep visual feedback, including channel names, audio meters, routing, groups, DAW affiliation, scrolling Pro Tools waveforms, and more
  • Integrated single board computer
  • Displays include audio meters, channel names, clip names, routing, groups, automation modes, active DAW, and more

The scrolling waveforms allow you to focus on the control surface without diverting attention to a limited project window view, improving your ability to manage sessions with high track counts. Additionally, display presets can be selected during the mix when different visual feedback is required. For example, you can have full-screen meters with scrolling waveforms alongside them and switch to meters across the top with waveforms below, or meter and pan position without waveforms.

Preconfigured S6 Surfaces

The following preconfigured S6 surfaces are available to handle most music and post workflows. You can customize any S6 by adding a Producer’s Desk, Leg Assemblies, or customize the surface further with different channel module combinations.

M40-based S6 configurations:

  • 16 faders, 5 knobs per channel, and TFT displays (S6 M40-16-5-D)
  • 24 faders, 5 knobs per channel, and TFT displays (S6 M40-24-5-D)
  • 32 faders, 5 knobs per channel, and TFT displays (S6 M40-32-5-D)
  • 16 faders, 9 knobs per channel, and TFT displays (S6 M40-16-9-D)
  • 24 faders, 9 knobs per channel, and TFT displays (S6 M40-24-9-D)
  • 32 faders, 9 knobs per channel, and TFT displays (S6 M40-32-9-D)

M10-based S6 configurations:

  • 8 faders, 5 knobs per channel (S6 M10-8-5)
  • 16 faders, 5 knobs per channel (S6 M10-16-5)
  • 24 faders, 5 knobs per channel (S6 M10-24-5)

 M10 custom-configuration starting base:

  • 8-fader starting base
  • 16-fader starting base
  • 24-fader starting base

Frame Components—Desk Or Freestanding Mixing

Frames, Ethernet, and power supply

Whether you place S6 on a studio desk or provide a leg assembly to stand on, all modules need to be housed in a frame, which comprises a number of 1-foot wide chassis that attach together to hold the S6 control surface modules. Your surface can range from mid- to large-format depending on the number of modules you choose. Each chassis has its own power supply and wiring harness to provide Ethernet and power to each module fitted in the chassis. The chassis comes in two depths: a 4-module version including display module, and 5-module version included the display module (M40 only).

The Ethernet switches (differently sized depending on number of modules) are also housed internally in the frame. Once you’ve selected the number of chassis you want, bolster, back-, and side-panels are added to the frame, which can then sit on a desktop. For frames that are five, six, seven, or nine chassis wide, a leg assembly option is available for a freestanding console.

Surface Options—Ergonomic Extras To Personalize Your Desk

Blank Panel—Cover empty module spaces with a smooth surface.

Display VESA Arm—Mount your computer monitor (DAW display) on the surface with an adjustable arm.

Producer’s Desk—Integrate a keyboard and monitor display directly into your control surface.

Sliding Keyboard Tray—Horizontal sliding tray across the width of the S6 lets you move your computer keyboard wherever you’re sitting.

Sliding Script Tray—Keep pen, paper, and your personal electronic devices within easy reach.

Speaker Bridge Mount—Place speakers in an optimal listening position over your S6 frame.

Genius studio control

With the Avid S6 as the physical extension of your Pro Tools DAW, increase your productivity with accelerated workflows, comprehensive visual feedback, and unique features to enhance your creativity. Not just for Pro Tools, with the Avid S6 as the bridge of your enterprise, you can expand your universal domination to Logic Pro, Nuendo, and other EUCON-enabled DAWs; simultaneously mix projects on multiple workstations; and switch out sessions in seconds—all from a single control surface.

For more information and assistance configuring an Avid S6 control surface for your specific needs, call or chat with a Westlake Pro sales consultant today.

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