Happy Birthday Virtua! Soundtracs Celebrates 10 Years Of Digital Consoles

Happy Birthday Virtua! Soundtracs Celebrates 10 Years Of Digital Consoles

30 April 2006 / For Immediate Release
A decade has passed since the launch of the acclaimed Virtua. In that time, Soundtracs consoles have changed the face of the audio industry forever - first in post production and, since the launch of DiGiCo in 2002, in live music, theatre and houses of worship. They have taken digital sound from being something that audio engineers were deeply suspicious of, to being the normal - and increasingly essential - way of getting sound to broadcast and live audiences.

Virtua demonstrated just how flexible and user-friendly the digital future was to an industry still rooted in the analogue past. And what happened subsequently has proved nothing short of an audio revolution.

Technical Director John Stadius has been with the company for 28 years, so he has seen just how far digital audio has come. "When we made the transition to digital in 1996, we realised this was the future and if we didn't embrace it we would be left behind," he says. "With Virtua, we realised it was the start of a new beginning for the entire industry."

The company has never rested on its laurels, it has remained nimble, continually developed new products and bringing them to market in astonishingly short timescales. The Virtua was quickly followed by the DPC and the DS3 - both taking the concepts established on the Virtua further and improving them.

"As new technologies have become affordable and reliable we have incorporated them in our console designs," says John. "The only condition is that the user interface and interaction must not be compromised. We are fortunate in that we have very close relationships with our end users in fact, a number of them are now on the staff - and our design team has an in-depth knowledge of how engineers need to work. This link to the real world means we can maintain the leading edge in both user interface and electronics."

Soundtracs celebrated the new century with the launch of the D4 and then, in 2003, the DS-00, a console that saw years of product development reach a peak in what is probably the most flexible post production and broadcast console ever produced.

It was obvious to the team that now runs the company that Soundtracs cutting edge technology could also revolutionise the live audio industry. And so, under the direction of Bob Doyle, David Webster and James Gordon, a team already well versed in the business of mixing console technology, DiGiCo was born.

Along the way, a host of new technologies have been introduced, including the first use by a console manufacturer of the revolutionary Sharc DSP from Analog Devices, a faster, more efficient processor than any previously on the market, the first (and still the most comprehensive) use of multiple TFT LCD touchscreens, pioneering use of a 96kHz sample rate, and the first use of simultaneous multiple sample rates. " And all our products are expandable," says Gordon. "So when you invest in one of our consoles, you can be sure it can grow with your needs. And they all interface with each other, giving immense versatility."

"If you look into post production now it's hard to find an analogue facility," concludes Stadius. "The change is well in progress with live sound and is moving at a faster pace than it did in post production.

"Think about it: 10 years ago few people had mobile phones and the internet was almost unheard of; 20 years ago we were all using typewriters. Look at us all now. The digital future has well and truly arrived!"