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Allen & Heath ME System  PERSONAL MONITORING SYSTEM The ME-1 personal mixer aims to put musicians in charge of their own monitor mix. Alistair McGhee tests it out.

SOME QUESTIONS have bothered philosophers for thousands of years, while others have a more recent origin, like, ‘can we have everything louder than everything else?’ And the answer is… yes. Now onstage (or in studio) you can have exactly what you want, here’s your ME-1 personal mixer – everything can be just as loud as you want it to be. The ME-1 personal mixer

from Allen & Heath gives your talent on stage a 40-input mixer, allowing them to mix in-ears or wedges to their heart’s content. The ME-1 is a hardback book-sized mixer, mountable on a mic stand and A&H even throws in a clamp. The mixer is solidly

constructed in a metal housing with pro connectors. It is fed by a single Cat5 cable and has a daisy chain output for the next mixer in the chain. Mixers can be powered down the Cat5 by Power over Ethernet (PoE) or they can accept a DC input from a power supply. If you daisy chain your MEs the first one in the chain can take PoE while the subsequent mixers will need power supplies. You might be thinking, ‘what I need here is a hub that can feed multiple ME mixers and provide power to each one’, and that is exactly what Allen & Heath has been thinking too, hence the release of the ME-U 10-way PoE hub.

THE ME-U Let’s start with the hub: the ME-U is a solid 2U box fitted with EtherCon input and 10 EtherCon outputs along with a network port for control and data. You can use a standard PoE switch as a hub but the clever thing about the ME-U is that it broadens the connectivity options you have with your ME system. The hub comes standard with the ME-D interface that allows

42 March 2014

connection to GLD/dSNAKE and Allen & Heath ACE and Aviom (note, no power over Ethernet with Aviom). However, and this may be the genius of the system, the digital interface card on the ME-U is interchangeable and other interface options include MADI, Dante, and Ethersound (which must be a spinoff of the ground work A&H have done in the iLive series of desks and stage boxes which also support these formats).

One thing to note – when

you connect into a GLD system the channel names and stereo linking information will be automatically transferred to the hub or directly connected ME-1. There’s a little bit of assigning jiggery pokery as the ME system sits ‘above’ the normal 20 outputs of a dSNAKE system, however this process is implemented to be invisible to the user. You also get auto-naming with the A&H ACE system by plugging in a second Cat5. This does involve you in a bit of configuration offsetting but you can overwrite this auto-naming locally on the ME-1. At the moment the QU-16 doesn’t make the channel names (now available in firmware v2 but only in the app) available on the network. Instead you get one-to-one mapping of channels and outputs.


The ME-1 will plug directly into your Allen & Heath digital desk or stage box depending on which series of desk you have. Round the back of the ME you get a loop output for the audio, headphone outputs on mini jack and 0.25in, and a mono output to drive a stage wedge. Each personal mixer offers you 40 inputs on the 16 physical keys on the surface. Selecting a key allows you to adjust the level and pan for that input. The clear OLED orange

display enables metering, naming, and configuration. You can assign a key to be a

group master. So a single key labeled ‘Kit’, could control 10 drum mic inputs. Once grouped you can balance the levels and pans of the individual members of the group or adjust the overall gain. There are limitations, for instance each input can appear in only one group, but that input could also appear on an individual key. I was using dSNAKE from

a QU-16 for this review. You get all the inputs (picked off at the direct output feed, so set that up to reflect your choice of pre-fade or pre-processing options) and all the outputs so you might want to slap main left and right on key 16 so on every one you have a default cue feed but it also means you can mix monitor grouping on a desk output with local groups created on the ME-1. In addition to the audio from the desk you can also add a local Aux source using the mini jack input – a built-in mic means you can hear what is happening around you on stage. Each ME mixer also has a USB interface to allow you to save and load configurations direct to and from your ME-1. The configuration interface is menu based.

Each configuration holds up to 16 presets or ‘songs’, each of which holds a different nameable mix. There’s basic three-band EQ on the main output and a variable threshold limiter. Each key channel can be solo’d or muted and when muted the key flashes to remind you of the mute status. There’s no doubt that Allen & Heath considers the ME-1 a pro product, the finish and connector quality are all at pro level and the flexibility of the system will appeal to gigging engineers and musicians alike. When you get your mix just right pop in a USB stick and save it and you can carry that setup wherever you go. The icing on the cake is the extra digital formats on the ME-U


ME-U • 10 ports with locking EtherCon connectors (each providing power + 40 audio sources) • Daisy chain for more outputs

ME-1 • 40 sources from GLD or iLive • Compatible with MADI, Dante, or EtherSound • Daisy chain or use standard PoE Ethernet hubs • 16 assignable keys to suit application • High-quality sound for accurate, personalised monitor mixes

hub. The curse of digital is standards, the ME-U goes a long way to guaranteeing that the ME-1 will be as close to a universal solution until the day we all live under one digital world government. The current plethora of formats doesn’t look like going away and the ability to bung in a MADI card protects your investment and makes hire companies’ lives a lot easier.

THE REVIEWER ALISTAIR McGHEE began audio life in Hi-Fi before joining the BBC as an audio engineer. After 10 years in radio and TV, he moved to production. Most recently, Alistair was assistant editor, BBC Radio Wales and has been helping the UN with broadcast operations in Juba.

“The flexibility of the system will appeal to gigging engineers and musicians alike.” Alistair McGhee

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