Working on the Allen&Heath QU-16

Initially founded in 1969, Allen & Heath has long been a standby of the audio industry. The company has innovated in several ways over the years in audio console design, and has attempted to continue this with the QU series.

My experience with the QU-16 has been in a somewhat stressful scenario; having only an hour to set up an entire show. From the first time I used this board(after consulting the manual briefly), the controls proved to be intuitive and easy to navigate. There are a few things about the console that I would like to see changed, but for the most part it has come through as an invaluable tool for setting up a show with limited time.

It carries what you might expect of a digital console: Scene saving&recall for all channels and auxes, various routing options as well as digitally controlled signal processing. That being said, below the surface lies a powerful tool for live sound. The onboard graphic eq proves extremely useful in almost all situations, with the “fader flip” option allowing each frequency band to be mapped to one of the 16 flying faders. Those who are used to working with tangible controls will find this very helpful. A full 4-band parametric EQ is available on all channels as well. 12 separate mixes are available with two FX sends and returns, each easily accessed at the touch of a button. This provides the user with the versatility to accommodate almost all monitoring and FX scenarios.

The ability to record directly on to a USB drive is extremely useful, though the options for recording are somewhat limited. The user only has the option to record all 16 tracks plus a stereo mix, or just the stereo mix. This does not allow for many recording options, especially with limited disk space. I would like to see this addressed in future versions, with an option to select which tracks are to be recorded individually. The QU-32 offers subgroups for more routing options and cleaner mixing, but the QU-16 lacks this. I would also like to see this feature added in the future.

There remain a few features that I have yet to explore. The ability to control the mixer remotely with an iPad without the use of a router sounds enticing. A CAT5 connection on the rear of the console allows for the use of a digital snake as well as the ME personal mixing system.

There is little to complain about when using this console. It has, aside from a few small details that I have mentioned, almost everything you could need for a small to medium sized show. Be it the easy scene recall, versatile DSP, or intuitive controls, the QU-16 proves to be a powerful tool for live sound, and worth a look for application in many different scenarios.