Would you like to mix on a computer?

Some Thoughts About SAC

SAC was designed from the ground up as a virtual mixing system. It allows the engineer to mix sound in the box. It is designed to use a mouse and keyboard as the primary input devices and a monitor screen as the physical representation of that virtual mixing console. There is support for some external fader packs to be hooked up to the system, but I believe that the limited provision for external faders and hardware controls were intended as secondary/auxiliary input devices in the developer's conception of the software. The design objective of the software was to provide an alternative to the big hardware to the live sound engineer, the Software Audio Console.

The normal features of a modern digital console, actually multiple consoles, are available in the software. The feature set is quite extensive and some of the features of the software are only available on the higher end digital consoles. In addition to the features normal to digital consoles are navigational enhancements designed to make using the mouse and keyboard as the primary input devices for mixing live sound viable.

At the time of its introduction there was a void in the reasonably priced digital console market. There were some low end toys available but the entry point for anything that could be considered even semi-serious was over $10,000 and the workhorse production boards were over $20,000 and you needed two of them. Even those workhorse boards were considered a bare minimum and were themselves a fraction of the price of the in demand touring class digital consoles. A basic SAC system could be put together for less than half the price of even the 'semi-serious' hardware offerings and one SAC system would handle both FOH and monitors. To an extent the competitive landscape has changed since that time but the lower priced options seldom offer the features of the SAC software.

Because of the low cost of entry and because the software was under active development at the time some people bought in to SAC who really wanted/needed a hardware desk. They were attracted by the features and hoped that future development would make SAC more friendly to their purpose.

The developer remained true to his vision of producing a virtual digital solution. He was not swayed by those whose vision for his software was different. There were many suggestions offered by the user community. If the developer felt that the suggestion would enhance the virtual mixing experience he would add them to the feature set. If he did not see benefit to the virtual user he could not be convinced to spend his time on developing features he saw as worthless to the virtual live mixing experience.

Some of the early adopters have moved on to other solutions. The most vocal of this group are those that had hoped that the development path would take a different direction. Some users of the software, myself included, that embraced the idea of mixing live sound 'in the box' have used the software successfully since the early days.

Would you do sound on a computer?

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