Stuff just keeps getting smaller. Not all that long ago, recording a gig meant calling in a totally separate company with their own engineers and a whole truck full of gear. Then it became a rack or two of stuff and maybe one extra guy on the crew. And lately, it is just another hat that many of us wear and the extra gear often fits under the console that is already 1/4 the size it used to be.
But it’s not done yet. And being the sadists we are here at SPLNetwork World HQ, when we found something even smaller and lighter we had to also find a mix engineer to temp with it. Ken Van Druten is best known for his work with Linkin Park (a gig on which he records and mixes every show for online release) but lately, he has been on a run with Alter Bridge doing arenas in Europe. And we told him that instead of a Mac Pro tower and external monitor, we could get him a full on recording system that would fit in a backpack. A smallish backpack.
So armed with the Sonnet Echo Express Pro loaded with an Avid Pro Tools Native card and a pair of 500 GB solid state drives, a Thunderbolt cable and a MacBook Air along with a likely misplaced trust that we would never do anything that might cause him pain or suffering, our brave engineer dove in head first. Videos taken during rehearsals in FLA and on the gig in the UK follow.
A note on just how fast this stuff changes. We just got this stuff a month or two ago. And the Echo Express Pro can already only be found in the “Legacy Products” area of the Sonnet Technologies Web site. It has been replaced with the Echo Express III. Differences: The Pro that we sent with Pooch will take two full length PCIe cards and use the Apple-centric Thunderbolt protocol as I/O. The new ones weill take THREE cards and will—soon—use the even faster Thunderbolt 2 protocol. We say “soon becasue as of right now there are no Thunderbolt 2 hosts available. The highly anticipated new Mac Pro due sometime in the Fall of 2013 will be the first one and those who buy the III will get a user-installable upgrade to the faster version as soon as hosts are available for it.
For purposes of the review, just figure that the new ones hold an extra card and move data even faster as long as you have a host that can handle it. Size, ease of use and how it works is all the same.