Today, we had the privilege of speaking with Nicola Beretta, Director of Product at Allen & Heath. Nicola has been with Allen & Heath for nearly 15 years. In 2010, when he joined the company, Allen & Heath was launching new digital iLive mixers. Initially, Nicola served as a product specialist before advancing to the role of product manager. In 2015, he began leading the product management and support team. Today, Nicola is responsible for building a team of product managers who oversee different lines and ranges.

During the interview, we took a glance at the Avantis series, which won The NAMM TEC Awards in the Small Format Console category in 2021. Additionally, Avantis V1.2 firmware was also awarded another NAMM TEC for Outstanding Technical Achievement in 2023.

Iwona [AV Tech Magazine]: Hi Nicola, it’s a pleasure to talk to you. We’re meeting today to have a glance at Allen & Heath’s Avantis series. What are the surfaces available in this series, and what characterizes them?

Nicola Beretta: We launched the Avantis series in 2019. In fact, it was just before COVID hit, so I remember we did a tour of launching events and training. We came back after it, and we went straight into the pandemic and lockdown. But the original event was obviously a dual-screen console, which for us was a step in terms of taking all of the technology that we had developed for the dLive: FPGA processing and the 96 kHz engine built into the console, a standalone mixing console as opposed to a separate MixRack and control surface design like it was in the case of dLive.

So that was the big step in terms of getting the product more affordable, cutting down on the overall size of the components, and getting into something which was much more attractive from a cost point of view for many smaller rental companies and regional customers owner-operators as well who could not afford a full dLive system in terms of size or budget.

The Avantis console has dual screens. We decided to use larger screens, so it’s two 15.6-inch screens, which allows us to display more channels at a time, widgets, and simply offers more space to operate.


It’s really a different workflow compared to the dLive. In dLive and in every previous console that we brought to the market, we had lots of physical control knobs for gain control, high-pass filter, and all of the EQ bands. With Avantis, we took a fundamentally different approach, which was to say, let’s make more use of the touchscreen and less use of dedicated rotary encoders. That was a bit of a gamble because, yes, we know that younger generations come from iPad environments, so they’re much more familiar with that workflow. But the question was, would more experienced engineers adapt and use it comfortably? And the answer is yes, we’ve seen Avantis being used pretty much in all applications in the industry.


Avantis Solo was released in October last year. So essentially, it was an attempt to take that concept and shrink it down to something which was single screen, with a single bank of 12 faders, and really enter a space where the budget is lower. It’s the same machine running the same capacity of channels and processing inside, but it’s really tailored for venues where space is at a premium—small theaters, conference centers, and also for owner-operators. These are engineers who like to invest in their own gear and take it out for gigs, festivals, perhaps locally in the region. So, that’s what Solo is really good at.

Which are the most popular applications of Avantis and Avantis Solo?

We’ve seen Avantis used in various settings, from conference centers to broadcasts of football games, all around the world. In fact, there was a special during the COVID pandemic where a broadcast service company called Volume was feeding into Fox Sports, for the broadcast of football games. During COVID, they were mixing in surround sound with virtual crowd contributions because obviously, there were no crowds in the stadiums. So they were bringing in samples of crowd chants and so on to add to the mixing feed. Another great example of Avantis use is Carnaval Salvador in Brazil. For the second year in a row, Allen & Heath was powering the floats and tracks bringing music to the city. Every day of the Carnaval, ‘tríos eléctricos’ (motorized floats carrying musicians and singers), were configured with Avantis or dLive systems for FOH or monitors. Next one that I recall now – Avantis is installed as the main Front of House console, and a second surface serves as MON on the stage at the newly built 2,500-seater Patna Women’s College’s New Auditorium in Bihar. And a couple of weeks ago, we had Avantis at South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. Many festival venues featured Allen & Heath mixing consoles. Avantis and dLive systems handled the most demanding live sound environments. On top of that, SXSW Artists had exclusive access to a range of Allen & Heath products, including Avantis Solo.

Can you elaborate about FPGA processing that’s used in Avantis?

In our mixing systems, we implement FPGA technology, which is quite unique in the industry. Not just because of the sample rate and so on, but it’s how we implemented FPGA to give users sub-millisecond latencies and class-leading latency in the industry, along with phase coherence. This means that all of the mixes are coherent in phase with each other, no matter which routing you take inside the console. And again, that is quite unique in the digital mixing industry out there. So, the benefits obviously are sound clarity and sound quality, ultimately for the mix.

Avantis is designed to be a part of the whole Allen & Heath Everything I/O Ecosystem. Could you tell us what the possibilities of connectivity are and how it can be helpful in the rental and installation world?

Avantis is equipped with a port that we call SLink. It’s an intelligent connection that can detect what’s on the other side of the cable. So it will expand the mixer we are connecting and switch to the appropriate Allen & Heath protocols. We have developed several different protocols over the years, but what matters to the user is that now they don’t really have to worry about which protocol or which sample rate their expanders are working with because the SLink port can detect the device and auto-switch to the correct sample rate and protocol. That means the users can explore the full range of audio expanders. We also have modular rack-mounted and wall-mounted expanders stage boxes, and you can connect one device to another. Wall-mounted expanders are more suited for installations, whether it be performance centers, conference centers, schools, universities, etc. With audio I/O points and solutions, you can also connect ME personal monitoring systems. So Everything I/O is a concept that allows all of our digital mixing platforms to share accessories and audio lines between them.

Is it popular in installations and smaller concert venues?

Yeah, definitely. Concert halls but also smaller theaters like town theaters and so on, where there’s not much space at front of house. And again, it’s because of its size. It’s not rack-mountable as such, but it can sit on a shelf on top of a 19-inch rack, which is an application that many AV companies are looking for. It can be for conference centers, multipurpose rooms like ballrooms in a hotel etc. I also wanted to ask you about dPack processing options. What can one find in the dPack, and do you have plans on developing this set of processing tools?

So essentially, dPack unlocks a number of processing models and plugins, such as compressor models 1176 style, different graphic EQ models, or preamps. And all of these come with zero extra latency, which is a big difference when compared to a plugin system like Waves rack or similar systems outside the console. dPack can be used across every input channel and output channel. So you’re not limited in the amount of resources that the external server can give you; you can use that across every channel. dPack also comes with Dyn8, it gives an advantage of 16 Dyn8 engines which can do full dynamic EQ for band- and multiband compression. When we started with dPack, we did say that essentially every future update to the advantages of the processing suite would be included in the price of dPack so you’re guaranteed to have future updates. Through the last couple of updates, we added new tools like the 12-band PQ, we added different compressor styles, and to answer your question, yes, we are always working on new things: modeling classic analog gear or inventing completely new models.

Sounds great. Thank you for sharing the interesting insights and for your time. It was a pleasure!

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