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The latest addition to the Vi range is refined and intuitive, and might be the best one yet, writes Simon Allen.

hen the Vi6 was launched about eight years ago,

not only did it firmly establish the Soundcraft brand as a serious contender in the digital live sound market, but it also offered the simplest transition from the analogue world to digital with quality assurance from the likes of Studer, dbx, BSS, and Lexicon incorporated into the product. However, Soundcraft’s huge success in the digital live console market is partly down to the implementation of Studer’s Vistonics, which gave engineers one of the simplest digital live sound consoles to use.

I visited the Harman HQ

in Potter’s Bar, UK, to meet with product manager Andy Brown with the question on my mind of whether or not the Vi3000 will help spread the Vistonics method to an even wider audience.


Probably the largest development in the Vi3000 is the Spidercore DSP technology. Tis is Soundcraft’s terminology for a new arrangement of processing chips, combining its FPGA and SHARC DSP technologies for higher levels of routing and processing power. Tis is lifted from the Studer Vista 1 and, along with increased power and flexibility, also uses a smaller footprint, allowing the processors to sit inside the control surface. Tis is unlike the Vi4 and Vi6, which require external DSP processing racks. Obviously, this is a huge advantage to a wide variety of customers, from permanent

36 June 2014

installations short on space, to hire companies that have less to transport. Combine this with the on-board local I/O, you don’t need to have a stagebox, so installs that wish to continue to use their already integrated analogue looms don’t require anything other than the control surface itself. However, stageboxes can still be integrated with the Vi3000, offering a versatile solution, which I will go into more detail on later. Te Vi3000 operates

around a 40-bit floating point processing engine, with Lexicon, Studer, BSS, and dbx algorithms that are also found inside the other Vi series consoles. In fact, they all run the same software, of which Andy Brown and the rest of his team are very proud. Any Vi console showfile can be loaded onto any other Vi. Tere are, of course, certain considerations you have to bare in mind, such as channel count and available effects engines, but these interchangeable showfiles are part of Soundcraft’s commitment to its end users.


Soundcraft has continued its pursuit for simplicity and as such has given the Vi3000 a facelift to set it apart from the existing Vi consoles. Te Vi consoles were already some of the most striking consoles around, and the Vi3000 is no exception. One of the much-loved features from the Vi consoles, FaderGlow technology, is also here to stay. I’ve loved FaderGlow whenever I’ve found myself on a Vi6, which is part of the Vistonics display method

to aid speedy operation through colour recognition. Te layout of the

Vi3000 is simple and clean with all the standard Vi controls and terminology, but with some small refinements. As this is a 96-channel mixer, these can now be recalled easily in four layers compared to the ‘button-short’ Vi4. Outputs too are now always to hand right from the control surface. It’s these small changes, along with a simple metering view on the central touchscreen, that make the Vi3000 very ergonomic and allow best use of the layout

the input channels for this. Tere are four built-in

quality, but it does display the higher-powered graphics chips that come in the Vi3000. Combine this with the DVI monitor output and possibly this is a hint at future developments?


As mentioned earlier, as well as the on-board processing, the Vi3000 comes with

“The Vi3000 has done more than fill a gap in the already successful line of professional products from Soundcraft. It sets a new level of integration via endless I/O options and control features.” Simon Allen

of which existing Vi users are already familiar. Brown also explained how the split 24 input faders, with the last eight on the right side of the master section, allows for dual engineer operation. Tis is quite rare for many digital consoles, and unseen in this price bracket. Other visual improvements added to the new-look Vi3000 are the 3D graphics. Soundcraft has completely revamped the graphics for all sections of the Vistonics software, which certainly add more depth to the screens. Tere isn’t a significant improvement in sound

local I/O. Tis too can be customised, which isn’t something every manufacturer offers. Tere are four I/O card slots, which can be any configuration of XLR inputs and outputs. For example, a standard configuration might be 48 mic pres in, and 16 XLR line outputs. Having said that, the console can also work with stageboxes offering up to 64 channels in conjunction with its own I/O for greater flexibility and channel count. Te Vi3000 is a 96-channel mixer but doesn’t offer independent effects returns, so you have to use some of

Lexicon effects engines. As well as L-C-R master output busses there are 24 mono or stereo busses, which can be user-assigned as auxiliaries, groups, or matrixes. Tese are true mono or stereo busses, rather than a stereo bus taking up two of the 24. Graphic EQs are available on all output busses by default. Also on the rear of the

console, along with dual redundant power supplies as standard, there is a built-in Dante connection. Tis is really interesting as it shows Soundcraft’s commitment to the networked audio protocol as manufacturers are all going their different ways. We might be some time away from an industry standard, if it happens at all, but this is a stepping-stone and Dante is certainly gaining strength. Te other initiative is that the Dante card also offers parallel MADI connections. I don’t think we’ve seen this before, but it makes perfect sense. Te Vi3000 has two D21m option card slots for further I/O expansion. Tese could become useful, for example, when using Soundcraft’s new Realtime Rack. Realtime Rack was only launched this year, but is something to watch out for. It offers some additional, hardware- based DSP processing, for 16 channels of UAD plug-ins. As well as the connectivity

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