Allen & Heath's Qu-24 Digital Mixer is the middle child in a family of compact digital mixers'"its siblings include the (rackmountable) Qu-16 and big brother Qu-32. All three share a common design and feature set'"aside from the obvious differences in channel count, the Qu-24 (and 32) adds a few additional features, as well. While its primary application would be live mixing & recording in small/medium-sized venues, the Qu-24 could function equally well as the heart of a small studio, thanks to its ability to interface with a DAW.
The A&H Qu-24.
The Layout'"Basic I/O
The Qu-24 has 24 (mono) mic/line inputs, 3 stereo line ins, and a dedicated talkback (mic) input. On the output side, there are stereo Main & 2-Track outs, along with 10 Mix outputs (configured as 4 mono and 3 stereo outs), a stereo Alt Out, and a digital (AES) out. The Qu-24 also has 4 Group outs and 4 Matrix outs, not found on its smaller stablemate, the Qu-16 (the Qu-32, besides the additional 8 mic/line inputs, also doubles the number of Group outs).
The Qu-24's rear panel.
Besides the analog audio I/O, the Qu-24 sports some other connections as well. There's Ethernet (100 Mbit/sec) and USB (2.0, labelled USB B) for streaming multitrack audio to and from a computer/DAW (and note, the USB connection now works with both Mac and PC computers too). The Qu-24 can also send & receive MIDI, allowing it to function as a control surface.
Additional Connectivity & Accessories
For recording, there's a second USB connection, on the front panel, labelled Qu-Drive. This is for a USB hard drive, which provides stereo or multitrack recording capabilities. The drive can be formatted from the Qu-24, and records up to 18 tracks of 48 kHz, 24-bit WAV files, which can then be played back or transferred to a DAW. This could be a great convenience for live recordings of smaller ensembles (within the limit of the Qu-Drive track count), eliminating the need to bring along and interface with a separate DAW rig.
Besides the standard industry connectors, the Qu-24 features A&H's proprietary dSNAKE connector, which allows for a long (≤ 390') multichannel cable run from mix position to stage over a single Cat 5 cable. A&H offers an 8x4 (I/O) remote unit, the AR84, and a 24x12 box, the AR2412. The larger remote rack can also interface with A&H's ME-1 Personal Mixing System, which can provide musicians with individually-controllable personal monitor mixes.
So while the basic audio I/O for the Qu-24 is all self-contained, all this additional connectivity would let the mixer serve as the hub of a larger, more elaborate system, making it highly adaptable to different situations and installations. To top it off, A&H offers an iPad app, Qu-Pad, which provides for remote control of mixing functions from your iPad. With the appropriate network connections in place on the Qu-24, the Qu-Pad app could be a great convenience for dealing with any number of mixing-related scenarios, like letting a second engineer deal with monitor mixes while the primary engineer handles FOH, or the like.
Qu-24 System Block Diagram.
The Mixer'"Features & Functions
The Qu-24 packs a lot of routing & processing flexibility into a relatively small space, but I found it easy to acclimate to. The front panel should be immediately familiar to anyone who's ever used a digital mixer.
The Qu-24's channel strips.
There are 25 motorized faders (24 channels + Master), and each channel strip consists of the fader, Mute, Select and PAFL buttons, along with simple metering (Sig, 0, Pk). There are three banks: Bank 1 = mono ins 1-24, and Bank 2 = stereo ins, group & mix masters, and FX sends & returns; Bank 3 is for a custom arrangement. The faders also provide other functions (like graphic EQ control) as well, depending on the application. On the right side of the mixer are master controls, mix selection, and 10 assignable soft keys (the Qu-16 has only 4). Toward the top there's a Talkback button, and a (generously powered) headphone jack+level knob.
The SuperStrip & Touchscreen.
Along the top is A&H's 'SuperStrip'