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November/December 2021

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lackmagic Design's Fairlight Desktop Console is an audio mix- ing control surface designed for DaVinci Resolve's Fairlight page. I may examine this new bit of kit differently than most. Let me explain. I've been in the audio post world for 40 years, and for more than half of that time, I've used Fairlight products to record, edit and mix my projects. I know and love Fairlight as an audio editor. Along comes COVID-19, and all of a sudden I have to work from home. My kids are grown and out of the house. My wife's textile studio is upstairs where the kids use to be, so the living room was ripe for the taking. I couldn't really move one of our Fairlight EVO consoles from the studio to my living room, given its large size, so I took the opportunity to jump into DaVinci Resolve Studio's Fairlight page. As a sidebar, Blackmagic Design acquired Fairlight in 2016 and began in- corporating it into DaVinci Resolve (free) and DaVinci Resolve Studio ($295), its post production software. While I have been using a pre-Blackmagic Fairlight EVO system, Blackmagic Design has been adding to the dedicated Fairlight page in DaVinci Resolve, as well as developing and updating things on the hardware side. I'd been using DaVinci Resolve Studio a bit for about a year, knowing that it would be the next big upgrade when we retired the EVOs, but I hadn't taken it se- riously. Now with COVID-19 and working remotely from home, I had to. iMac in hand, I set up my mixing space in my living room. In a short amount of time, I was accomplishing all the tasks I normally did at the studio. Maybe not as fast, but the results were good, the workflow was doable, and the clients were happy. When the reality set in that working remotely was going to be a long-term solution rather than a short-term fix, enter the Fairlight Desktop Console. Another sidebar. I'm very familiar with the Fairlight Audio Editor, which is part of the EVO console. The Fairlight Audio Editor is a dashboard that houses an LCD screen, control knobs, macro but- tons, keyboard and more. In its current Blackmagic Design iterations, it comes as the Fairlight Console Audio Editor ($4,395; part of a full console) and Fairlight Desktop Audio Editor ($4,395; standalone desktop model). If you're interested in learning about the different models and their features, Blackmagic Design has a dedicated 'tech specs' page on its website. Back to the Fairlight Desktop Console. It was time to put it through its paces. The installation was so simple — plug and play. To quickly run through the specs as advertised by Blackmagic Design, the mixer has 12 motorized faders, touch-sensitive encoder knobs and illu- minated buttons. The console's controls can be used for functions, including pan, solo, mute, dynamics, EQ, plug-in param- eters and more. Each channel strip LCD displays meters, panning, track name and more. An HDMI output provides graphic feedback for all channels, bus and effects from the desktop console. I started to edit with it, but soon gave up. It has all the editing features I needed, but I was so use to the bigger Fairlight Audio Editor that my fingers were just not going to the right places. At this point, I was faster with a mouse and keyboard. In the middle of all this, I took on the editing, sound design and mixing for a narrative podcast. I gave the Fairlight Desktop Console another try, since editing these stories was a task. There were hundreds of edits and wasn't the purpose of the console to increase effi- ciency? Muscle memory be damned! By the end of the first episode, I was pretty comfortable with its editing functions. If I hadn't used the Fairlight Audio Editor for 20 years, the Fairlight Desktop Console's editing features would have felt great from the start. Some of the editing features, such as cut, copy, paste, split and clip level, are handy, but I don't think this is where the console's strength really lies. It's really the mixer that shines. I dove into my next project, Magnificent Madness, a four-part doc- umentary that tells the story of Piero Dusio, Tazio Nuvolari, Ferdinand Porsche, Benito Mussolini, Evita Peron, World War II and a car. I would be doing all the post audio (editing, sound design and mix) in DaVinci Resolve Studio. Surprise! The Fairlight Desktop Console is a fabulous little mixer. I mixed all four hours of the documentary on it — I'm talking stereo and 5.1 mixes and stems all at once. It works like a big, grown-up board, just in a more compact and portable size. It even has external monitor capability, so you can really keep an eye on everything the console is do- ing. One glance at the external monitor gets you all the info you need without scrolling through menus. EQ, dynamics, busses, plug-ins, etc., can all be con- trolled via this console. There is even a jog wheel! Now, back in the studio, I have the Fairlight Desktop Console-based work- flow in my office/mixing room, replacing my EVO. I'm able to do lots of work on this little system, and if needed, hand the project over to a larger Fairlight system in one of the other studios. For its price, capabilities and portability, it makes a great deal of economic sense. THE FAIRLIGHT DESKTOP CONSOLE BY RANDY BOBO FOUNDER/SOUND DESIGNER INDEPENDENT STUDIOS INDEPENDENTSTUDIOS. TV A COMPACT MIXER THAT GIVES FAIRLIGHT USERS FULL CONTROL B REVIEW 36 POST NOV/DEC 2021 VITAL STATS PRODUCT: Fairlight Desktop Console MANUFACTURER: Blackmagic Design PRICE: $3,595 WEBSITE:

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